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Nonprofit news roundup for July 7, 2008

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For-profit fundraisers pocket big share of nonprofit funds

A Los Angeles Times investigation has found that hundreds of charities pocket only a sliver of what commercial fundraisers collect in their names, while others even lost money (see for-profit fundraisers story). The low returns were a problem at charities large and small, obscure and well-known, and the investigation found a state law requiring commercial fundraisers to file detailed fundraising reports is not aggressively enforced due to limited staffing.

Altruism meets weak job market

Together, the weak economy and increasing civic mindedness are driving grads to work for social causes, The Wall Street Journal reported July 2 (see altruistic jobs story). Service groups that employ recent graduates like Teach for America, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and Jesuit Volunteer Corps, have seen record numbers of applicants this year, as many defer the corporate job search in hopes of a more favorable market.

‘Scary’ times for Jewish nonprofits

Some venerable Jewish nonprofits have been forced to close their doors completely, Debra Nussbaum Cohen said in a column in The New York Jewish Week July 2 (see Jewish nonprofits story). While some say Jewish organizations are suffering more than others, and economic impact varies by region, many say the cutbacks are not yet widespread and often affect groups that were troubled even during better economic times.

Nonprofit newsroom not measuring up

Pro Publica, a nonprofit investigative-reporting outlet, may not be living up to its mission to produce “truly important stories” that the mainstream media ignores, Edward Wasserman, Washington and Lee University professor of journalism ethics, said in a column at The Miami Herald July 7 (see Pro Public story). With no means of reaching its own audience, the nonprofit group is forced to pander to media giants like 60 Minutes, and while there is a dire shortage of investigative reporting, it has been mostly mid-range national stories, not high-end national stories, that have been Pro Publica’s focus, Wasserman said.

In Brief:

*Catholic leaders in Richmond, Va., have apologized after Catholic Charities’ staff helped a 16-year-old in their care get an abortion, The Associated Press reported July 2.

* Recent revelations that Leona Helmsley’s billions may go to dog welfare has Weekly Standard editor Christopher Caldwell questioning the “generosity” of bequests meant to settle lifetime feuds or whimsies (see his column in The Financial Times July 4.)

* Recent Midwest disasters have caused major financial struggles at the two largest nonprofits that provide disaster relief to Kansas, The Wichita Eagle reported July 7.

* New York charities are still waiting for $318 million in “member-item” money promised to them by Long Island state senators in 2005, Newsday reported July 7.

* School districts, hospitals and other nonprofit agencies will soon face new responsibilities in managing employee retirement plans, The Pittsburgh Business Times reported June 27.

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