Nonprofit news roundup for Nov. 10, 2008

Obama urged to fulfill promises to nonprofits

Social entrepreneurs in the San Francisco area are calling on President-elect Barack Obama to make good on campaign promises to increase investment in the nonprofit sector, The San Francisco Chronicle reported Nov. 10 (see social entrepreneurs story). Those promises, which would cost an estimated $3.5 billion a year, include creating a Social Entrepreneurship Agency to drum up venture capital for socially-conscious nonprofits, and developing a Social Investment Fund Network to direct private and government funds to cities that identify innovative solutions to societal problems.

Falling donations squeeze nonprofits

The twin problems of rising prices and falling donations are forcing nonprofits to take a hard look at their operations and consider scaling back their efforts to serve people in need, The Seattle Times reported Nov. 10 (see falling donations story). Mercy Corps is having trouble raising money in New York City to fund its planned Action Center to End World Hunger, while United Way of King County in Washington State expects to raise $110 million during its fall fundraising season, down from $117 last year.

Gates Foundation plans expansion

Bucking the sinking economy, the $35 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will expand its grantmaking and operations “significantly,” the Seattle Times reported Nov. 10 (see Gates story). The funder must spend at least 5 percent of its assets each year, and this year it also must spend the latest $1.8 billion installment from billionaire Warren Buffett. But the funder is not immune to market woes; its endowment fell to $35.1 billion in October from $45.9 billion in June.

Obama urged to unleash supporters on societal problems

With the election over, President-elect Barack Obama should mobilize his unparalleled network of grassroots supporters to work through nonprofits and on behalf of causes to bring about the change he promised, Lawrence Downs said in an opinion column in the New York Times Nov. 10 (see Downs column). Obama should call on supporters to redirect their energy toward efforts like helping the homeless and the hungry, volunteering for an environmental organization or helping returning veterans.

In Brief: * Nonprofits serving the elderly and disabled in North Carolina may lose $2 million in funding increases due to efforts to reduce the state’s budget, Raleigh’s News & Observer reported Nov. 10.

* As New York lawmakers consider budget cuts in response to economic woes, charities in the state worry they will receive less funding to help people in need, New York Newsday reported Nov. 10.

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