Nonprofit news roundup for Aug. 7, 2008

Harvard endowment posts strong gain

Despite a down market, Harvard University’s endowment increased 7 to 9 percent in the fiscal year that ended June 30, the Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 7 (see Harvard story). The endowment, worth $35 billion at the close of the 2007 fiscal year, was boosted by investments in commodities, Treasury bonds and some strong
hedge-fund performers, the paper says, attributing the information to sources familiar with the figures. The gain was, however, less than the endowment’s average annual return of 15 percent over the previous decade.

United Way of Central Carolinas toughens rules

Charities affiliated with the United Way of Central Carolinas now must meet additional standards of disclosure on spending and operations set by the Better Business Bureau, The Charlotte Observer reported Aug. 7. The new policy, which affects 91 nonprofits, comes in response to controversy stirred last fall, when the BBB published the names of 44 charities in the region, including about a half dozen United Way agencies, that did not respond to its multiple inquiries about their practices.

IRS posts preview of new Form 990 instructions

The IRS is offering a glimpse of some of the changes being made to instructions for the new Form 990 and says the full instructions will be posted by Aug. 15, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported Aug. 6. Form 990, the primary document that charities file annually with the federal government, was redesigned for the 2008 tax year.

In brief:

* The decision by the Chinese government to revoke the visa of a former Olympic speed skater, apparently because of the charity he founded and for speaking out on behalf of people in the Darfur region of the Sudan, undermines the purpose of the Olympics, Sally Jenkins said in an opinion column in The Washington Post Aug. 6.

* Utah State University, after an impressive run of gathering pledges, has doubled its fundraising goal to $400 million as part of a multi-year comprehensive campaign, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Aug. 7.

* Scott McCormick, chairman of the Memphis City Council, is resigning to become executive director of the Plough Foundation, the Associated Press reported Aug. 6.

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