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Nonprofit news roundup for Sept. 11, 2008

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Grassley scales back threats to universities

Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa has scaled back threats of legislation regarding higher endowment spending for universities, instead focusing on stricter disclosure requirements in federal tax filings, The Harvard Crimson reported Sept. 10 (see endowment story). He urged federal agencies to create a special Form 990 schedule for colleges and universities, but did not specify which information should be included on the form. Grassley has been pushing for several months to force universities to spend at least 5 percent of their endowments annually.

‘Crowdsourcing’ boosts public participation

Nonprofits increasingly are turning to “crowdsourcing,” using technology such as the Internet and cell phones to bolster volunteer participation and donor dollars, MSNBC reported Sept. 10 (see crowdsourcing story). One example of this trend is “cause videos,” short home-made documentaries produced by the public and posted on nonprofit sites to garner public attention and drum up support.

Engineering students required to ‘volunteer’

As part of the engineering school’s curriculum at Columbia University, students are required to design equipment and facilities that would improve the lives of Harlem residents, The Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 10 (see engineering story). “Service learning,” which has been a graduation requirement for engineering majors for the last six years, includes such projects as creating better walkers for the elderly and designing swings for children with disabilities.

In brief:

* The Metropolitan Museum of Art has appointed tapestry curator Thomas P. Campbell to succeed Philippe de Montebello as director and chief executive effective Jan. 1, Bloomberg reported Sept. 9.

* Nearly nine in 10 Americans say they have given to charities and six in 10 say they have donated for international disaster relief, says a survey commissioned by the Center for International Disaster Information, Reuters India reported Sept. 10.

* New philanthropic website Causecast.org brings together celebrities in politics and entertainment to promote 10 charitable causes a month, The Washington Post reported Sept. 10.

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