May 2010

Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton

(The Chronicle of Philanthropy)  “Just as the best ideas don’t come from Washington alone, we believe Washington shouldn’t be alone in funding them either,” said First Lady Michelle Obama at an event promoting the White House Social Innovation Fund on May 27.  Various grant-makers have contributed almost $50 million to the White House Social Innovation Fund, a federal initiative designed to remedy social problems.  The money will then match donations to organizations with the same goals–helping communities–in mind.  “The [fund] is not about doing it by itself,” director of the Social Innovation Fund Paul L. Carttar said.  “It’s about being the catalyst for the collaboration of a lot of different parties at a lot of different levels who want the same ambition of improving American communities — and have different capabilities, assets, or resources to bring to bear.”


(IRS)  Registration is open for the IRS Nationwide Tax Forums, located in six different locations this year.  A new Exempt Organization Seminar will be featured entitled Charities and their Volunteers: Working Together to Help the Public.  Attendees will have the opportunity to network, earn CPE credits, and hear about the latest news and products for tax professionals.  Registration is available here.

John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times

(The New York Times) Mr. Efrain González Jr., a former Bronx senator, has been convicted of fraud and corruption; prosecutors say that he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from nonprofits in order to fund personal expenses.  The judge, William H. Pauley III of Federal District Court in Manhattan, called the circumstance “an American tragedy,” saying that Mr. González “undoubtedly performed some good and generous acts” but ultimately “brought public disgrace onto himself and the New York State Senate.”  Prosecuters asserted that Mr. González misappropriated over $500,000 to pay for various expenses such as  jewelry, his daughter’s tuition, Yankees tickets, and a luxury apartment in the Dominican Republic.

(Washington Post Blog)  Ms. Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network charity is no longer accepting donations and will be closed down as soon as the last of its grants are distributed.  The charity began in 1998 and has donated almost $80 million to various efforts; it was established so that Ms. Winfrey’s fans could donate to their cause of choice.  Ms. Winfrey’s decision to desist her talk show is said to be related to Angel Network’s end.  Ms. Winfrey’s two other charities, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation and The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation, will remain active.

(Orlando Sentinel)  When it comes to philanthropy, age doesn’t matter.  Just consider eleven-year-old Winter Vinecki, whose nonprofit organization, Team Winter, was one of the two official charities at the Orlando IronKids triathlon at Disney World this year, raising over $200,000 for prostate cancer research.  Ms. Vinecki’s father died of prostate cancer at the age of 40, and she has since made it her mission to fund research that will benefit others who suffer from cancer.  Her work is impressive, but it is especially noteworthy coming from a person who isn’t even old enough to vote.  Similarly, Brandon Wood fights for animal rights by blogging, writing letters, and setting up outreach efforts.  He was even recently honored by a Save the Chimps gala in New York, and he is only 9 years old.  Living the life of a young philanthropist does have its downside–parents are concerned that their children are in the spotlight too much, gaining unwanted attention–but all in all, it speaks volumes about the next generation’s charitable tendencies.  Mr. Mickie Rinehart, director of field operations for The League, noted, “This is a giving generation–and we’re seeing it as young as kindergarten.  Part of it is a reflection of what’s going on in the country.  We’re led by a president who made promoting service one of his priorities.  And part of it is that kids today are much more connected to each other and what’s going on in the world.  It empowers them.”

(CNN)  Three aid workers have been kidnapped in Darfur; two are Sudanese, and one is an American citizen.  The American is a 36-year-old woman from California.  The aid workers were working for a North Carolina-based international relief organization called Samaritan’s Purse.  They were traveling in a two-vehicle convoy on Tuesday about 25 miles outside of Nyala when they were kidnapped by armed men.  Spokeswoman Judith Razen confirmed that the US Embassy is working toward their release, and Samaritan’s Purse is likewise working with US and Sudanese government officials so that the workers can be freed.

(The Associated Press)  Nearly 200,000 small charities who missed the Monday deadline for filing taxes are getting a break from the IRS.  In 2006, a new law mandated that nonprofits with receipts under $25,000 had to file tax returns for the first time in 2007.  If these nonprofits neglected to file for three years, they would forfeit tax-exemption.  Churches are excluded from the provision.  IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman is urging charities to file as soon as possible so as not to lose tax-exempt status.  In a statement on Tuesday, Mr. Shulman said, “The guidance will offer relief to these small organizations and provide them with the opportunity to keep their critical tax-exempt status intact.  Filing a tax return for the small organizations is easier than you’d think. It just takes a few minutes to fill out the electronic notice Form 990-N.”

(The Associated Press) “Take what you need, leave your fair share.”  That’s the motto for Panera Bread Company’s new nonprofit bakery and cafe in Clayton, Missouri.  The menu is the same as Panera’s 1400 other locations, but the prices are up to customers to decide.  It might seem risky, but other restaurants have operated on similar principles.  Ms. Denise Cerreta, founder of The One World Salt Lake City restaurant, a nonprofit establishment since 2003, said, “It somehow stays in balance.  I think ultimately people are good. They want to contribute.”  Panera’s new restaurant is funded by a nonprofit foundation and will be used to support the restaurant and hopefully to open other stores; if the experiment fails, the parent company will not experience losses. 


BBC News Photo

(BBC News)  Charles Dickens once wrote, “we can all do some good, if we will,” and it seems a Northumberland millionaire is taking those words to heart.  Mr. Brian Burnie, a 64-year-old father of three, put his estate on the market for £9 million, promising to give all the money to charity.  His wife, Shirley, is a breast cancer survivor, and the money will be given to improve cancer care in the region.  “We live in a me, me, me society and it has always been important to me to think of others,” Mr. Burnie said.  “We can all do something by leaving money to charity when we die, but why don’t we do something while we are still living?”  Mr. Burnie and his family will live on their private pension after the estate is sold.  Though Mr. Burnie is “sad to leave” his estate, he insists, “To be able to do something to help people has a much bigger return than any financial gain.”

Oil spill cleanup, San Francisco Cosco Busan.  Photo taken from Matter of Trust website.

(USA Today) If you’re worried about the oil spill in the Gulf, go get a haircut.  San Francisco Nonprofit Matter of Trust is accepting donations for “booms,” or donated pantyhose stuffed with hair or fur.  Because hair and fur naturally absorb oil, these basic instruments are very efficient cleaners.  Matter of Trust’s co-founder Lisa Craig Gautier said, “For past spills such as the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, these simple booms have been highly effective and efficient at cleaning up oil.”  In 60 seconds, Ms. Gautier said, a pound of hair can absorb a quart of oil, and volunteers can wring out and reuse hair mats up to 100 times.  Gulf Coast cities are doing their best to donate hair, and washed pantyhose—even with small runs—are also being accepted.  Matter of Trust has received hundreds of thousands of pounds of hair from every US state and other countries and has been cleaning up oil spills with booms since 1998.

(DC United Press Release) DC United is competing against El Salvador in pursuit of the common good.  Ticket sales for the June 19 match will benefit the Spanish Catholic Center and United for DC.  Reverend Mario E. Dorsonville, executive director for the Spanish Catholic Center, expressed gratitude for the charitable game: “The Spanish Catholic Center has been serving families in the Metro DC area for more than 43 years. We open our doors to the needy and sick and provide them with the aid and hope that so many immigrants need. We hope this event awakens solidarity within the Salvadoran and Hispanic communities in Washington, DC so that together we can all make a positive impact in the lives of those who are in need of health and social services.”  United for DC’s mission is to foster literacy and healthy lifestyles for DC youth.

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