September 2010

(Seattle Times)  Though the nation is aware of many nonprofits facing despair from the troubled economy, anecdotes never get easier to hear.  A nonprofit ballet studio called the Pacific Chamber Ballet in Lynnwood, Washington, has closed, due to the recession, after 27 years of operation.  Judith Ross, dancer and founder of the Pacific Chamber Ballet, needed 20 more students to remain open–the equivalent to $1,300.00–but because of tough economic times, she could not survive.  Mrs. Ross has given up much in order to keep the studio running, most notably not paying herself a salary for 10 years.  Mrs. Ross said, “I do this because it’s my passion.”  Mrs. Ross plans to give her landlord notice October 1.

(Forbes)  In North Dakota, over 300 charities run gambling operations, chiefly in bars, to raise money for everything from the arts to people with disabilities.  Currently, the state levies a 3% excise tax on bingo and pull tabs along with a gambling profits tax that increases depending on the profits won.  The 2011 Legislature will consider a 1% tax on wagers before winnings are paid.  In the tough economic times, heads of charities in North Dakota are grateful for this prospect.  Charlie Bremseth, director of Listen, Inc., said “It’s difficult enough for charities to raise money in this economic climate.  To have the North Dakota Legislature take a look at this as a way of helping charities … is just a real blessing.”

(The Age)  The Australian Football League is giving $400,000 to charities and charitable projects; four major groups will receive $100,000 each:  Ladder, Reach,  Reclink, and the AFL Cape York Alliance for Education and Training.  Two hundred seats will also be distributed to charities and people who would not otherwise be able to watch the match.


(The Wall Street Journal)  Facebook CEO and creator Mike Zuckerberg plans to set up a foundation to improve education in America.  His first substantial donation will be $100 million to the notoriously poor education system in Newark, New Jersey, marking his debut as a major philanthropist.  Mr. Zuckerberg is very interested in improving education and is particularly concerned with low salaries for teachers, but specific details about how this gift will be spent have yet to disclosed.  Mr. Zuckerberg will announce his donation on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” this Friday.  Facebook, a social networking site with over 500 million international users, is estimated by investors to be worth over $20 billion.


Actor Mark Ruffalo raised money for The Felix Organization.

Photo taken from The Wall Street Journal Online/by A. E. Fletcher

(The Wall Street Journal)  On Monday, several celebrities became brokers for a day at the Cantor Fitzgerald affiliate BGC Partners in honor of BGC’s Charity Day.  Monday’s revenue–an estimated $13 million–will be divided among 75 charities worldwide.  Celebrities, who included John McEnroe, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Hilary Duff, helped close deals.

(Bloomberg)  Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, in their efforts to recruit the world’s wealthiest to give more money to charity, are planning a trip to China.  In a letter, Mr. Buffett and Mr. Gates said, “The present generation of successful entrepreneurs has an opportunity to set an example for future generations in China.  It is very likely they will have a substantial impact on how large- scale philanthropy grows and develops in modern China.”

(San Francisco Chronicle)  Zimbabwe has freed four members of an Oakland-based ministry on $200 bail.  The aid workers, who were part of a church program to help orphans and victims of AIDS, were arrested and put in jail due to claims that they were illegally distributing medications.  Their court appearance is scheduled on September 27, and they are currently staying near the Mother of Peace orphanage.  Church officials reported that this is the first legal issue that has resulted from their ministry in Zimbabwe.  Gloria Cox-Crowell, one of the four Americans arrested and co-chairman of the AIDS ministry at Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, said, “Things seem good.  We are all well and eager to get home.”

(USAID Press Release)  The US Agency for International Development has sworn in Mr. Wayne R. Nilsestuen as the Director of Bolivia Missions.  A Wisconsin native, Mr. Nilsestuen holds two Masters’ degrees, one in Agricultural Economics and one in Development Economics/Public Administration, both from the University of Wisconsin.  He also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and has more than three decades’ worth of development experience.  Mr. Nilsestuen looks forward to a long-lasting and productive relationship with Bolivia.


Photo by Oliver Alabaster, taken from The Washington Post

(The Washington Post)  Longtime international development advocate Horst Wagner died after a battle with gallbladder cancer at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore.  He was 73.  Mr. Wagner worked for the World Bank for over twenty years and was especially concerned with forestry and conservation on an international level.  Among other major projects, he reforested 2 million acres of barren land in China, and he has provided his expertise to every continent except Antarctica.  His work in 49 countries was no easy task–he suffered from an unknown virus that caused his lung to collapse, typhoid, hepatitis, a serious injury from being run over by a motorcycle, and he has survived two plane crashes.  Mr. Wagner refused several promotions that would have kept him in an office and out of harm’s way; he preferred working with local foresters in the field.  Many will miss him, including his wife of 41 years, Maria Luise Alber Wagner.