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Buzz is Changing Our World's news and commentary blog, covering the latest stories and updates in the world of philanthropy.

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December 30, 2010

News Briefing: China embraces modern philanthropy era, legislation lags

China embraces modern philanthropy era, legislation lags [Xinhua]

India's new rich prove reluctant philanthropists [AFP]

Economy dampens Connecticut nonprofits’ fund campaigns [Hartford Business Journal]

December 29, 2010

News Briefing: Charity begins at the ATM: UK seeks more donations

People will be asked to give to charity every time they use a cash dispenser or pay with a bank card under government plans to increase philanthropy in Britain. [The Washington Post]

Charities Optimistic After Year of Lackluster Giving [NPR]

December 28, 2010

News Briefing: Brands Help Fight Childhood Obesity

Big brands are steering millions in charitable dollars to building neighborhood playgrounds for children to help fight Childhood Obesity.  [New York Times]

Boston Foundation grant will pay for teacher development, curriculum development in math and literacy, and a clicker system that will boost participation.  [Boston Globe]

July 14, 2008

News Briefing: Samueli's Guilty Plea a Ticklish Issue for Schools He Gave Millions To

  • Four aid workers in Somalia are held hostage.  [Reuters]
  • UCLA and UC Irvine must decide what to do about buildings named after a donor who plead guilty to a felony charge.  [Los Angeles Times]
  • Small businesses tie contributions to causes, believing strategy can boost profit.  [Los Angeles Times]

October 15, 2007

News Briefing: Riggio's Big Arts Break-up

  • Prominent patron Leonard Riggio's bitter divorce from the Dia arts center gets the in-depth treatment. [New York Times Magazine]
  • Paris Hilton, seeking to change her image, will visit schools and health-care clinics as part of a five-day charity mission. [Washington Post]
  • Silicon Valley companies give proportionately more money to philanthropic causes than businesses nationwide, according to a new survey. [San Diego Tribune]

July 19, 2007

News Briefing: Bush Donates WWII Revolver to Center

  • George H.W. Bush donates his WWII revolver to the Constitution Center.  [Associated Press]
  • For the Crossroads Community Foundation's new grant program, small gifts make a big difference.  [Boston Globe]
  • University of Iowa moves to reconsider a $15 million gift tied to the renaming of the college.  [Des Moines Register]

March 09, 2007

Popular Blogger Challenges Nonprofit

Andrew_sullivan A blogger with a large audience has used his platform to challenge one of the nation’s largest nonprofit organizations devoted to gay rights.  In a series of posts, popular blogger Andrew Sullivan, himself a gay man and equal rights advocate, has challenged the effectiveness of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which describes itself as "America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.”

Linking to both the HRC Foundation’s Charity Navigator rating (with one out of four stars overall and zero out of four stars for efficiency) as well as the Foundation’s latest IRS 990 forms, Sullivan publicly challenged the organization to respond to questions “about their operation, what it spends, how it spends it, and what achievements they have won for the money.”  He also encouraged readers to review the financial information and submit their own questions. 

To be sure, Sullivan's criticisms about the HRC not only about the nonprofit's fundraising and financial  management; rather, he's questioning the nonprofit's track record in achieving its stated objectives of achieving equality.

Hrc_logo The HRC responded that they “are committed to the transparency of the organization. Ninety-three percent of our total income comes from individuals, reflecting the importance of our work as seen by the broader community, and it is important they understand how their dollars are being put to work.”  The nonprofit then went on to detail how the expenses from their recent capital campaign – to raise money for a headquarters building in Washington, D.C. – was the reason for their low rating. 

So a gay-rights organization with nearly 600,000 members now has to answer to a gay-rights blogger who has an estimated 60,000 daily readers.  This episode raises the power of blogs and other new technologies, which are forcing nonprofits to be more open about their operations, holding them accountable not only to their financial supporters, but also an increasingly skeptic (and engaged) public.

Is this the future of nonprofit transparency?  Public fights online between multi-million dollar nonprofit organizations and self-styled online watchdogs? 

According to Sullivan, the nonprofit has “asked for a private meeting with me. I'd rather bring a few thousand readers along.”

February 05, 2007

Salvation Army Unit Seeks to Gain More of a Huge Gift

New York Times:  The Salvation Army has gone to court in Seattle to challenge a trust dividing more than $260 million among eight charities, including Greenpeace. 

December 21, 2006

Rich Donors Help Calif. Fund Stem Cell Research

Washington Post:  Two years after California voters passed a landmark $3 billion bond measure for stem cell research, not a single bond has been sold and not a penny of bond money has been spent. The fund is caught up in court challenges.

November 27, 2006

A Pre-Nup for Donors

Wall Street Journal: After a spate of damaging incidents in which donors backed out of high-profile gifts, many colleges, cultural centers and other nonprofits are making it tougher for philanthropists to renege on pledges. A number of institutions, including the San Francisco Symphony, are asking donors to sign legally binding gift agreements rather than rely on the looser arrangements some used in the past. Others, such as New York University, are keeping better tabs on pledges, sending frequent reminders or calling givers to keep better track of money coming in. Some are investigating the finances of potential givers to ascertain their ability to complete pledges.

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