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Nonprofit news roundup for Feb. 24, 2009

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Google.org director steps down

Larry Brilliant, executive director of Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, announced plans to step down as the company introduces changes to its philanthropy, The New York Times reported Feb. 23 (see Google story). Brilliant announced the company might curb funding to nonprofits that do not closely correspond with Google’s projects. Megan Smith, vice president for new business development at Google, will replace Brilliant, who said he will become the company’s “chief philanthropy evangelist.”

Maryland considers uniform standard for charity healthcare

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is pushing state lawmakers to establish a uniform standard for hospital patients’ eligibility for free treatment, The Baltimore Sun reported Feb. 23 (see hospital story). The voluntary standard currently in place could create financial incentives for hospitals to demand payments from low-income patients instead of treating them free of charge, says a report by the Health Services Cost Review Commission. U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa stressed the need for a uniform standard following the release of an IRS report showing that a small number of U.S. nonprofit hospitals provide nearly two-thirds of free treatment for the poor.

Churches hold steady, brace for rough times

Though most U.S. churches are holding their own during the recession, some are grappling with a dearth of funding and an increase in demand for services, The Dallas Morning News reported Feb. 20. Donations at more than six in 10 churches held steady or improved between 2007 and 2008, says a survey by the National Association of Church Business Administration. However, nearly half of churches froze or cut employee benefits last year, up sharply from fewer than two in 10 the year before.

In Brief:

* Including matching donations from the company, Microsoft employees gave a record $87.7 million, or an average of about $1,523 each, to charitable causes last year, The Seattle Times reported Feb. 23. Nearly six in 10 Microsoft employees made charitable donations in 2008.

* Madeleine Pickens, wife of billionaire philanthropist T. Boone Pickens, has asked Oklahoma State University to redirect a $5 million donation away from animal research at the university’s Center of Veterinary Health Sciences, The Oklahoman reported Feb. 24. Pickens, a longtime supporter of animal-rescue programs, disagreed with the center’s policies permitting the use of live animals for research.

* Changes to the Michigan Limited Liability Company Act will make it easier for state foundations to offer non-grant financial support to for-profit companies with charitable missions, Crain’s Detroit Business reported Feb. 22.

* The Baltimore Theatre Project, which holds experimental theater, dance and musical performances, may be forced to close in the fall due to funding cuts, The Baltimore Sun reported Feb. 23.

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