Nonprofit news roundup for Oct. 8, 2008

Harvard gets largest one-time gift to date

Hansjörg Wyss, billionaire chairman of Switzerland-based Synthes Inc., gave Harvard University $125 million, the largest one-time gift in the school’s history, The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 8 (see gift story). The gift from Wyss, whose company specializes in medical devices and implants, will go toward expanding a biological-engineering institute.

Projects aim to make philanthropy mainstream

Virgance, a for-profit startup company aiming to harness the power of social networking, plans to launch two efforts this year to give the masses more control over charitable giving, The New York Times reported Oct. 7 (see networking story). “Lend Me Some Sugar” will allow Web users to redistribute the money that big corporations give to charity, and CarrotMob encourages consumers to support socially-responsible businesses.

Norfolk gets $20M for library

Frank Batten Sr., retired chairman of Landmark Media Enterprises LLC, plans to donate $20 million to help construct a $50 million library complex in downtown Norfolk, Va., The Virginian-Pilot reported Oct. 7 (see library story). The gift, Batten’s largest to date for Norfolk, will allow the city to build the library at least 10 years earlier than originally planned.

In Brief:

* Even when companies are feeling the financial pinch, cutting down on charitable giving can cause more harm than good, says Carol Tice in a column in U.S. News and World Report Oct. 7.

* The U.S. Air Force has brought in nonprofit Logistics Management Institute to help evaluate rival bids for a $15 billion contract for search-and-rescue helicopters, Reuters reported Oct. 7.

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