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Nonprofit news roundup for July 29, 2008

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Charlotte United Way could face competition

The American Cancer Society is lobbying Charlotte companies to allow employees to make direct payroll donations, a new option that would compete with the United Way, The Charlotte Observer reported July 27 (see United Way story). For the first time, the cancer society is focusing on choice campaigns in selected cities, targeting Charlotte, N.C.; Washington, D.C.; and Richmond, Va. No Charlotte company has accepted the cancer society’s proposal, according to Steve Rabb, the society’s senior corporate development officer. It typically takes a year or more of discussions, he says, before companies commit to broadening their campaigns. Across the country, “There’s a pent-up desire among employees to have more choices,” Rabb says. U.S. workers give roughly $3 billion annually to charities.

National Night Out leader’s pay sparks concern

The federal government has ended its support of the nonprofit-run National Night Out, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported July 27 (see Night Out story). Some local jurisdictions have started to follow suit in the wake of news that Matt Peskin, executive director of the National Association of Town Watch, makes more than $300,000 a year. Peskin says the event planned for Aug. 5 will be bigger and better than ever and that his pay is “just one measure” of the group’s success.

Opinion: Philanthropic freedom could be eroded

Foundation leaders, board members, and those with charitable aspirations should pay attention to legislative efforts that might compromise the freedom of charities nationwide, The Wall Street Journal says in an editorial July 28 (see philanthropies). The focus of the commentary was a bill, intended to ensure diversity, that was introduced in California. It would have required foundations with more than $250 million in assets to report the race, gender and sexual orientation of their board members, employees and grant recipients. It was abandoned by its sponsors in exchange for an agreement worked out with 10 of the state’s biggest grantmaking organizations to make an investment believed to total $300 million to $500 million over five years in giving minority-led groups greater access to foundation money and developing a more diverse pool of nonprofit and foundation executives, staff and board members.

In brief:

* The Disaster Preparedness and Response Program of the Human Services Council of New York City, an umbrella group of local nonprofits that handled disaster coordination in the aftermath of September 11, closed this month after the state declined to renew its financing, The New York Times reported July 26.

* The American Cancer Society has received $8.5 million from an anonymous donor to support a five-year research program to investigate a genetic disorder that increases the risk of developing cancer, particularly thyroid cancer, the charity reported July 25.

* United Way of King County in Washington State, raised $117 million in the fiscal year ended June 30, the Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle) reported July 28. Once again, King County was the largest fundraiser in the United Way system, although its total dipped from last year’s record $121 million.

* Guardian Trust, which manages more than 450 charitable trusts that disburse $26 million annually, has launched the Centre for Philanthropy to help philanthropists identify the charities that meet their aims, The New Zealand Herald reported July 29.

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