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Nonprofit news roundup for July 31, 2008

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Giving circles a growing, grassroots phenomenon

The African American Women’s Giving Circle, made up of women of varied ages and backgrounds in the Washington, D.C., area represents a growing movement in
philanthropy in which individuals pool their resources to further social causes, The Washington Post reported July 31 (see giving circle story). Across the country, hundreds of these informal groups, some of which are composed entirely of blacks, Asian Americans or Latinos, award tens of millions of dollars a year to community-based causes, according to the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.

Gates Foundation to encourage savings in poor countries

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation plans to donate hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years to programs designed to spur savings in poor countries, The Wall Street Journal reported July 31 (see savings story). The idea that small loans can awaken an entrepreneurial spirit among the world’s poor won a Bangladeshi economist the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 and released a flood of money into thousands of “microcredit” programs on the bet that the poor are good borrowers.

In brief:

* Food pantry operators in the Los Angeles area say the demand for free groceries surged this summer to the highest level in recent memory, the Los Angeles Times reported July 28.

* The Philadelphia Orchestra is starting an online membership option for concert goers as a way to lower its costs and expand its audience, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported July 30.

* Julio Frenk, a senior fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a former World Health Organization official, is the next dean of the School of Public Health at Harvard University, The Boston Globe reported July 30.

* The University of South Carolina brought in $106.2 million in private gifts and pledges for the fiscal year ending June 30, The Post and Courier of Charleston reported
July 31.

* James Madison University’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign concluded with $70 million committed, the Daily News-Record of Harrisonburg, Va., reported
July 31.

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