Nonprofit news roundup for March 23, 2009

Obama’s ethics-in-lobbying rules affect charities

President Barack Obama’s new ethics rules, which affect incoming administration employees, are causing many nonprofit and public-interest groups to rethink and retool their lobbying activities, The Washington Post reported March 22 (see ethics story). The new rules prohibit employees from making policy involving former clients or employers for two years, and bar them from working at an agency they lobbied during the previous two years.

Detroit funders practice ‘triage’

To help address Detroit’s long economic plunge, foundations in the region are changing how they do business, picking winners and losers in a practice a local expert calls “triage,” The New York Times reported March 22 (see Detroit foundations article).

Africa aid criticized

Despite calls to double the roughly $50 billion a year in international assistance to Africa, the author of a new book said in a March 21 article in The Wall Street Journal, “evidence overwhelmingly shows aid to Africa has made the poor poorer, and the growth slower,” leaving African countries “more debt-laden, more inflation-prone, more vulnerable to the vagaries of the currency markets and more unattractive to higher-quality investment,” and also has “increased the risk of civil conflict and unrest.”

Nonprofit silver lining seen in recession

The head of TechSoup Global, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that connects nonprofits to computer companies, says the recession will spur laid-off tech and finance workers to volunteer more and prompt companies to give more, The San Francisco Chronicle reported March 22 (see nonprofit technology article).

North Carolina funder invests in retraining workers

The Golden LEAF Foundation, the North Carolina-based funder tasked with using tobacco-industry money to build the state’s economy, will invest $3.5 million in nonprofits developing short-term programs providing workers with new skills, the Associated Press reported March 20. With retraining, workers can be prepared to take jobs in fields such as sheet-metal fabrication and weatherization.

Education endowments in Maine take drubbing

The tanking economy is taking a toll on Maine’s college and university endowments, which together lost almost $500 million dollars in value during the last few months of 2008, The Associated Press reported March 21 (see Maine story). Bowdoin, Colby and Bates colleges, which boast the largest endowments in the state, are reeling from a collective drop of about 22 percent.

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