June 2009


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Supreme Court to Hear Case on “Hillary: the Movie”

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on September 9th over the role of nonprofits in elections.  The case arises out of the production of “Hillary: The Movie,” a film critical of Mrs. Clinton that was produced during the 2008 primary campaign.  The Citizens United, the 501(c)4 organization that produced the movie, has refused to list its donors in accordance with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, claiming that the film was not a political advertisement.

Nonprofits Struggle to Replace Money from Madoff Investors

The losses due to the Madoff scheme have extended far beyond those who invested with him.  Nonprofit hospitals and health care organizations are having difficulty replacing funds they previously received from foundations that lost everything to Madoff.  The Schneider Childrens Hospital, for example, was forced to delay construction of a new addition as a result of losses, and raising funds has been made more difficult by the perception that the hospital may not be able to raise enough money to complete construction.

Report Says Microfinance May Not Help Poor

Two US economists completed a review of the effects of microfinance on poverty and have found that previous studies may have overemphasized  the relationship.  David Roodman, of the Center for Global Development, and Jonathan Morduch, of New York University claim that there is no solid evidence that microfinance systematically helps to reduce poverty.  While they have found no evidence of it causing harm to the poor, they claim that most of the studies promoting microfinance suffer from statistical flaws that overemphasis the effects of microfinance on poverty.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Blockade of Gaza Prevents Humanitarian Aid

The Israeli blockade of Gaza has made it nearly impossible to rebuild the infrastructure damaged in the fighting last December.  Palestinians are unable to get basic goods such as some medicines, building supplies, seedlings, calves, and schoolbooks, leading 40 international NGO’s and UN agencies to call for the “free and uninhibited access” of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Saudi Charity Linked to Weapons in Somalia

Newly released Department of Defense documents link an official government charity of Saudi Arabia to weapons given to the Somali warlord responsible for the 1993 Battle of Magodishu. The charity is accused of hiding weapons in containers that are supposed to contain food and humanitarian aid.  In a related story, President Obama has pledged to send the Somali government weapons to promote stability in the region.

Obama Gives Another $150m to Jordan

President Obama has signed a bill giving Jordan an additional $150 million in economic aid for 2009, bringing the total amount to $513 million for this year.

Friday June 26, 2009

Al Qaeda Killed Aid Worker in Mauritania

Al Qaeda has taken responsibility for the murder of an aid worker in Mauritania on Tuesday.  The attack was in retribution for “savage US bombs…mowing down our brothers in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Released Journalist Calls for Iran to Free Aid Worker

An American-Iranian reporter, recently released from prison on charges of spying, has called for the release of her former cell mate, Silvia Harotonian, an American aid worker with International Research and Exchanges Board.  The US based organization provides maternal and child health care services to those in need.  Silvia was arrested on charges trying to foster a revolution and is serving a 3 year sentence.

UN Conference on Development Falls Short of Hopes

The UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development ended today with limited success for the developing world.  The conference called on UN members to increase aid to developing countries but did little to ease concerns of a potential debt crisis.  Most of the aid has come in the forms of loans, burdening the developing world with debt.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Business Training Boosts Profits for Microfinanced Farms

A study by Innovations for Poverty Action found that Peruvian farmers that received business training along with microfinance loans were significantly more profitable than similar farms that only received loans.  This finding is supported by anecdotal evidence from around the developing world, and emphasizes the need to promote business and entrepreneurial skills as an integral part of poverty reduction.

Microinsurance Companies Profit from Insuring the Poor

Microinsurance is being introduced to the developing world as a way for businesses and individuals to protect their assets from natural disasters such as floods.  While this insurance provides financial stability to the poor, it is controversial.  Unlike microfinance, which is often funded by nonprofits, microinsurance is primarily a for-profit enterprise, usually run by larger insurers at a significant profit.

Small Boards Invested More in Madoff

A study by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy found a strong correlation between losses due to the Madoff scheme and the size of a foundation’s board.  The study found that the of the 105 foundations that lost 30% or more of their assets to Madoff, the vast majority had four or fewer board members and over a third had only one or two.  The study suggests that larger boards are more likely to have a due diligence process for their investments and thus avoid risky investments.


Wednesday June 24,2009

A roadside bomb killed three aid workers in Northern Afghanistan, a region of the country considered to be relatively safe compared to the South.  Two engineers and a driver of the Development and Humanitarian Services for Afghanistan, a UN partner organization, were killed on their way to build homes for Afghan refugees.

Roadside Bomb Kills 3 Aid Workers in Northern Afghanistan

An analysis of the brand value of nonprofits found that the Y.M.C.A., Salvation Army, and United Way of America had the three most valuable names.  The study by Cone LLC, a marketing firm, and Intangible Business, a brand-valuation company, emphasizes the need for nonprofits to build up and utilize name recognition in order to raise revenue.  It also notes that environmental groups seem to have the lowest value brand names despite an increasing following among donors.

An Analysis Ranks Brands of Nonprofit

Cone Nonprofit Powerbrand 100

Over half of all Washington, D.C. area nonprofits have less then three months budget in a financial reserve, and over a quarter have none at all, according to a study by the Urban Institute.  Striking the balance between having sufficient reserves and maximizing service is most difficult for organizations such as soup kitchens and homeless shelters that provide a direct service to the public.  The study suggests that a reserve of at least three months is necessary to ensure that nonprofits can weather financial hardship.

Nonprofits Imperiled By Low Reserves

Funding for programs that aid woman and girls is increasing at a significantly faster rate than general charitable giving.  From 1990 to 2006, charitable giving to women’s groups has increased by 223% while overall giving increased by only 177%.

Philanthropic Giving for and by Women on the Rise, Study Finds

Highlights of “Accelerating Change for Women and Girls: The Role of Women’s Finds”

Link to purchase full study

Join the Charity and Security Network in a discussion of:

“Dilemma for US NGOs: Counterterrorism Laws vs. the Humanitarian Imperative

July 1st from 2 PM till4PM in Washington, DC.

See the Events page for more details.

Tuesday June 23, 2009

The 2009 Global Humanitarian Forum is being held today and tomorrow in Geneva to prepare a humanitarian aid response to the disasters caused by global warming.  The forum is chaired by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and includes high ranking officials from UNICEF and the International Federation of the Red Cross.  Among other topics, the forum will focus on how climate change exacerbates existing vulnerabilities among people living in poverty, and why humanitarian organizations should link poverty alleviation work to climate change.

Climate change will cause greater humanitarian aid unless we act now

The UN has requested an additional $38 million in emergency aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo in response to an increase in violence between government forces and various rebel groups.  The increase in violence follows unsuccessful military operations by the national army composed partially of Rwandan Tutsi rebels who were granted amnesty.

Rise in Armed Attacks in Eastern Congo Prompts UN Aid Appeal

At a conference today, Her Royal Highness Princess Basma of Jordan discussed the need to increase investment in local agriculture to improve rural food security.  The Agricultural Credit Corporation and the World Bank have both nearly doubled microfinance loans to farms in Jordan.  The three day conference is to also cover the stability of financed projects, the financial crisis, food and commodity prices, and climate change.

Microfinance vital for agriculatural sector developement

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