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Nonprofit news roundup for July 23, 2008

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Gates Foundation breaks ground for new headquarters

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation broke ground on its new $500 million headquarters, which the world’s largest charitable foundation hopes to occupy in late 2010, the Associated Press reported July 22 (see Gates Foundation story). The foundation’s campus will house 1,200 employees plus large meetings and events. There also will be a 15,000-square-foot interactive museum that will tell the story of the foundation’s work. The foundation is using its $37.3 billion endowment to fight diseases such as AIDS and malaria, start a green revolution in Africa, improve American high schools and provide Internet access at libraries throughout the world.

Congress ready to end charity-assisted downpayments

Programs that allow nonprofits to provide homebuyers with money for downpayments would be eliminated in legislation Congress plans to pass this week, The Washington Post reported July 22 (see downpayment assistance story). More than half a million people have availed themselves of this assistance to buy homes in the past decade using loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration. But the FHA says these borrowers go to foreclosure at nearly three times the rate of borrowers who use their own money to make a down payment.

Restricted deductions stifle art donations

Lawmakers may lift some restrictions on tax deductions for gifts of art made over time, The Wall Street Journal reported July 22 (see art deductions story). Before Congress capped deductions on these “fractional gifts” nearly two years ago, donors could give small stakes in their artwork to a museum over time and take increasingly larger deductions as the collectibles appreciated. Museum directors have said the restrictions on deductions have dissuaded donors from giving. Democratic U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York and Republican U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa are working on a plan that would once again allow partial-gift donors to take ever-larger deductions as their artwork appreciates.

In brief:

* Cellphone company Virgin Mobile USA has modified its recent online ad campaign that encouraged people to disrobe for charity, The Wall Street Journal reported July 21 (see cellphone ad story ).

* High gas prices are fueling interest in an unusual bicycle recycling program in Carrboro, N.C., WRAL.com reported July 22 (see Triangle nonprofit story).

* The University of Illinois’ Champaign-Urbana campus is two-thirds of the way to reaching its goal of raising $1.5 billion by 2011, the Associated Press reported July 23 (see fundraising goal story).

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