Nonprofit news roundup for July 24, 2008

Gates, Bloomberg pledge $500 million to fight smoking

Bill Gates and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced they will spend $500 million to stop people around the world from smoking, The New York Times reported July 23 (see antismoking effort story).
The campaign will concentrate on five countries where most of the world’s smokers live — China, India, Indonesia, Russia and Bangladesh. The World Health Organization estimates tobacco will kill up to one billion people in the 21st century, most of them in poor and middle-income countries. Bloomberg’s foundation plans to commit $250 million over four years on top of $125 million he announced two years ago. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is allocating $125 million over five years.

Templeton Foundation anticipates big gain

The $1.3 billion John Templeton Foundation may see its assets increase by 50 percent by the end of 2009, following the death this month of its founder, Sir John M. Templeton, the mutual-fund pioneer, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported July 22 (see Templeton Fund story). Templeton, a billionaire whose foundation focuses to a large degree on reconciling science and religion, had much of his fortune in a series of trusts and his estate may not be settled until late 2009. , “I think it’s realistic that the assets could increase by 50 percent,” says his son, John M. Templeton Jr., who has been the full-time president of the Templeton Foundation since 1995. The increase would lead to expanded grant-making by the foundation, which paid out about $70 million during 2007.

Charities’ efforts still curtailed in Zimbabwe

Six weeks after a directive from Zimbabwe’s government brought aid work in the country to a halt, charities’ efforts to resume operations have largely been thwarted, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported July 18 (see Zimbabwe ban story). More than a million people are still living without food aid and medical care. A letter this week from CARE, Plan International, Save the Children UK, and other groups asked the government to lift its ban on humanitarian work but was rebuffed by Zimbabwean officials, who said the informal nonprofit coalition wasn’t registered with the government. While World Vision plans to partially reopen its office next week and resume a feeding program to schools, most charities are still in limbo.

In brief:

* An organization that supports nonprofit groups in Alaska has teamed with the Rasmuson Foundation to provide health insurance to employees at nonprofits, The Anchorage Daily news reported July 18 (see nonprofits insurance story).

* The Cultural Equity Group, a coalition of arts organizations in New York City, has asked city officials for $15 million for culturally specific organizations that serve blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and American Indians, The New York Times reported July 24 (see arts equity story).

*Old manufacturing cities trying to invigorate struggling economies are turning to an alternative to tax incentives, The New York Times reported July 24 (see shifting careers story). Homegrown nonprofit groups are providing seed money to promising new businesses.

*Online auctions are becoming increasingly popular tools for charities looking to raise money in a short amount of time, Business Week reported July 23 (see online auctions story).

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