Nonprofit news roundup for Aug. 18, 2009

Greater disclosure by California State University foundations sought

Free-speech groups are working for force California’s state universities and their affiliated fundraising foundations to make public any financial relationships worth over $6.25 million, Capitol Weekly reported Aug. 13 (see university disclosure story). The groups are questioning some foundation practices, including making loans to former board members, but universities say providing the requested information would cost million in staff time.

Nonprofit boards come under heightened scrutiny

Nonprofit board transparency and accountability is in greater demand as the IRS increases its level of scrutiny, McClatchy Newspapers reported Aug. 15 (see nonprofit boards story). Developing and maintaining an involved and transparent nonprofit board depends on picking the right board members, training them for oversight and helping them understanding how funds are used and whether they are being spent responsibly, the article says.

Philadelphia arts groups struggle during recession

The recession is hitting the Philadelphia arts sector, with large and small institutions forced to lay off staff and otherwise trim their budgets, The Philadelphia Daily News reported Aug. 17 (see Philadelphia arts story). Larger groups are seeing shrinking endowments, while six in 10 groups with budgets under $250,000 have fewer than three months of expenses in cash.

Nonprofit model seen as possible for newspapers

With the newspaper industry shedding jobs and shuttering venerable city papers, fewer investigative news stories will be written, a state of affairs that will leave public officials with little accountability, James T. Hamilton wrote in an column in the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Aug. 17 (see nonprofit newspapers story). This could be avoided by instituting a nonprofit model for newspapers that would be funded by charitable donations from individuals and foundations, a model similar to that employed by magazines like The American Spectator and Harper’s.

Former Knight Foundation grantee purchased by MSNBC

“Hyperlocal” news sites like Patch, which was bought by AOL for $7 million, and EveryBlock, which was purchased by MSNBC for an undisclosed sum, are becoming hot commodities, TechCrunch reported Aug. 17 (see EveryBlock story). EveryBlock, which aggregates hyperlocal news for about 15 U.S. cities, previously was funded by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Budget impasse threatens Connecticut nonprofits

The Connecticut Association of Community Providers is holding “emergency meetings” with the heads of state agencies to determine how to lessen the impact of the state’s current budget impasse, The Associated Press reported Aug. 17 (see Connecticut nonprofits story). The lack of a state budget could mean a delay of funding to groups serving vulnerable populations, including the mentally ill and disabled.

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