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Nonprofit news roundup May 21, 2009

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Wealthy givers meet in secret

Some of the world’s richest givers met secretly in New York City, possibly to coordinate giving their fortunes to charity in the face of the financial crisis, ABC News reported May 20 (see rich philanthropists story). The group, who were invited by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and included Oprah Winfrey, Ted Turner, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, George Soros and David Rockefeller, together have given over $70 billion to charity since 1996.

Effort launched to fight fundraising fraud

State and federal officials launched a national effort to fight fraud by groups that claim to collect donations for public-safety agencies and veterans but they give misleading information about how much of the money actually will go to those groups, The Miami Herald reported May 20. ”Operation False Charity” includes 76 actions against 32 fundraising firms, 31 individuals and 22 nonprofits or groups claiming to be nonprofits. Leading the effort are the Federal Trade Commission, and 61 attorneys general, secretaries of state and other law enforcers in 48 states and the District of Columbia.

Philanthropists give away all their money to have quicker impact

A growing number of philanthropists plan to give away their money sooner to address urgent global needs more quickly, The Wall Street Journal reported May 21 (see charity spending story). By donating all their money with a specific period of time, the givers aim to have a bigger immediate impact than that of traditional foundations, which typically are organized to operate forever and pay out roughly 5 percent of their assets a year.

Ohio nonprofits fear fundraising competition from state

Some nonprofit fundraisers in Ohio fear they might need to compete with the state for donations, the Associated Press reported May 20. Gov. Ted Strickland push through a last-minute amendment to let state agencies create and run their own nonprofits raise money and seek in-kind support. But United Way leaders and others say the state should keep off their turf.

Nonprofits counting on past donors

With the recession putting growing financial stress on nonprofits, they are counting on donors who have supported them in the past, The New York Times reported May 20 (see nonprofit fundraising story). And in tough times, an expert says, donors tend prefer to give to direct service because they want to see the impact of their giving, rather than to advocacy and public education.

Gift annuities work, official says

Except for isolated cases cited in an article in The Wall Street Journal, donors receive their annuity payments on time and as expected from reputable charities running legitimate programs, the counsel to the American Council on Gift Annuities said May 21 in a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal (see gift annuities letter).

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