Saturday, April 26, 2008

State Board Blocks Charity Raffle for Being Too Large

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the Minnesota Gambling Control Board has blocked a proposal by the CLIMB Theatre, a section 501(c)(3) nonprofit theater company, to raffle off a $1.4 million house.  The Theatre had asked the Board to waive the the normal $100,000 annual limit on amounts raised by a single charity through charitable raffles.  The Theatre had hope to raise a total of $900,000 by selling $20 raffle tickets, with $200,000 going to the Theatre and the remaining $700,000 going to a variety of other nonprofit groups.  The article further reports that the Minnesota legislature is considering legislation to eliminate the $100,000 limit and to instead limit individual prizes to no more than $50,000 each, and that at least some Board members felt it would have been inconsistent to approve the proposed raffle when the Board had already expressed support for the new $50,000 prize limit.

This report highlights the importance of such gambling activities for many nonprofits.  For example, it notes that more than 1400 Minnesota nonprofit organizations raise income from raffles, bingo, and pull-tabs, and it is likely that this reliance is mirrored in other states.  For example, I recently discovered the local South Bend, Indiana chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police raised more than $3 million in a single year from bingo, although after taking accounts its bingo-related costs of $2.9 million it only had net revenues of approximately $100,000, according to its most recent IRS Form 990.

LHM

April 26, 2008 in In the News, State – Executive | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ben-Ner and Ren Post Does Organization Ownership Matter?

Avner Ben-Ner (University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management) and Tin Ren (a Ph.D. candidate at the same institution) have posted Does Organization Ownership Matter?  Structure and Performance in For-Profit, Nonprofit and Local Government Nursing Homes on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

We compare the structure and performance of for-profit (FP), nonprofit (NP) and local government (LG) organizations. These organizations differ in their ownership structure, objectives and agency relations. We conjecture that, compared to NP and LG, FP firms (a) delegate less decision-making power to employees, (b) provide more incentives and fewer fringe benefits, (c) monitor less, and (d) rely less on social networks to recruit employees. We also hypothesize that, relative to NP and LG, FP firms (i) are more efficient, (ii) provide similar levels of service elements that observable to their customers, (iii) provide lower levels of less-well observable elements, and (iv) provide less of the relational elements. Differences in structure and performance are likely to be tempered by market competition and institutional pressures for similarity. Our empirical investigation of Minnesota nursing homes (utilizing state, federal and survey data) supports these hypotheses.

Interestingly, their findings appear to be similar to initial findings by other scholars, such as Jill Horwitz (University of Michigan Law School) in her article Does Nonprofit Ownership Matter?, 24 Yale J. Reg. 139 (2007) (SSRN version), that in the hospital field nonprofit institutions are qualitatively different from their for-profit counterparts with respect to such items as the mix of services provided.  The still open question for many considering these fields is whether this qualitative difference, if it exists, is sufficient in a quantitative sense to justify the legal benefits enjoyed by the nonprofit institutions such as federal income tax exemption, access to tax-exempt bond financing, and property tax exemption.

LHM

April 26, 2008 in Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Benshalom Posts The Dual Subsidy Theory of Charitable Deductions

Ilan Benshalom (Visiting Assistant Professor, Northwestern University School of Law) has posted The Dual Subsidy Theory of Charitable Deductions on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Americans contribute billions of dollars to charities on an annual basis. Charitable contributions do not only represent American generosity, however; they also represent a form of giving that provides donors with tax relief. The current literature on charitable contributions suggests that this relief plays an important role in not only decentralizing the provision of public goods, but also in helping the non-profit sector provide public goods more efficiently than government spending. Even if these claims were indisputable, however, they are insufficient to justify the current scheme's anti-democratic function. This Article argues that, at their core, tax-subsidized contributions are part of a non-democratic mechanism that allows individual donors to direct public funds while bypassing majority approval. Despite their non-democratic attributes, this Article recognizes the virtue of charitable spending in voicing preferences not accounted for by the majoritarian process. Therefore, while the current literature suggests that charitable tax-relief represents a substance subsidy - by promoting the allocation of resources towards a confined set of legislatively enumerated public goods - this Article argues that it is also a process-subsidy that supplements the shortcomings of majority decision-making. This dual subsidy approach leads to the inevitable conclusion that current U.S. charitable tax relief scheme undermines the integrity of the majoritarian process, because it disproportionally subsidizes the process component of affluent taxpayers. To better reconcile with democratic theory, many of the scheme's attributes - e.g., tax-subsidies to corporate philanthropy - should be reconsidered and restructured. In raising this point, this Article opens a broader debate about the proper role of majority decision-making and efficiency claims in legitimizing democratic tax and spending decisions.

LHM

April 26, 2008 in Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Announcing Call of Papers: University of North Carolina 12th Annual Tax Symposium

The University of North Carolina is organizing its twelfth annual symposium designed to bring together leading tax scholars from economics, accounting, finance, law, political science, and related fields. The symposium will be held in Chapel Hill on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, January 23 & 24, 2009, and will be sponsored by the KPMG Foundation and the UNC Tax Center. The goal is to bring together scholars from different areas who share a common interest in current tax research. Previous conferences have been very successful, and we anticipate the same this year.

PAPER DETAILS:

Papers should be well developed, but at a stage where they can still benefit from the group's discussion. The symposium will include no more than six papers. Travel and lodging expenses for presenters will be reimbursed up to $500.

PAPER SUBMISSION PROCEDURE:

Please submit an electronic version of the paper no later than November 13, 2008 to:

CONTACT:   Professor Douglas Shackelford
Email:         MAILTO:doug_shack@unc.edu

Postal:        Kenan-Flagler Business School
                  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
                  Campus Box 3490, McColl Building
                  Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3490

Paper selection will be finalized by December 1, 2008.

AMT

April 25, 2008 in Paper Presentations and Seminars | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Sam's Club and Costco Limit Rice Purchases: Is It Realy About the Global Food Shortage?

NPR "All Things Considered" and various newspapers (see, for example, L.A. Times) are reporting on the decision by Sam's Club and Costco to limit daily purchases of rice to its customers.  At Sam's Club, the limitation only affects bulk purchases of 20 lb. bags or more.  The bags are primarily purchased by the small business customers.  Both Sam's Club and Costco are membership-based organizations that make their money from membership dues mostly.  Very little profit is actually made on the sale of the items in the warehouse.  These are volume-based businesses, meaning low profit on large numbers of sales.  In addition, while there is a global concern about shrinking rice supplies, there is no deficit in the U.S. rice market.  In the NPR story, Greg Mathis, a representative of rice producers in the United States, stated that rice production in California and other areas greatly exceeds the demand for rice in the United States.  He stated that most of the U.S. production is exported.  Specialty rices, like Jasmine and Basmati, are a little different than long grain and short grain.  According to one of the articles, rices is consumed within 100 miles of where it is grown.  So with the exceptions of rices like Jasmine and Basmati (which are grown in Asian countries), most rice consumed in the United States is grown in the United States.

The stories about rice rationing by Costco and Sam's Club run the risk of sending a false impression to the marketplace, i.e., that there is a rice shortage in the United States.  Who benefits from such an impression?  For one, Wal-Mart benefits because it has refused to restrict access to rice in its main stories.  Also, small businesses that patronage these warehouse wholesalers may choose those warehouses that don't restrict access, or those do so in a more limited way.  In addition, the impression that there is a shortage is likely to lead to stockpiling by these very same small businesses so as to avoid higher rice prices in the future.  This last consequence will lead to increased sales for the warehouse wholesaler.  The reaction of Costco and Sam's Club likely leads to a circuitous result -- more sales for the warehouse giants having to no relationship to the actual global food crisis.  The NPR "All Things Considered" story suggests that both Sam's Club and Costco benefit by driving home the point to their loyal customers that both would rather absorb the loss (i.e., increase in cost of rice) than raise prices in the warehouse thereby protecting the profits of their customers.

See links for in depth coverage of the stories.  See related blogs about Global Food Crisis.

AMT

April 25, 2008 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Chronicle of Philanthropy Reports on Federal Efforts to Police Charities' Reporting on 990 Form

In an article today, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports on the efforts of Senator Charles Grassley who, yet again, takes a close look at nonprofit accountability as he considers whether nonprofits who skip lines or misreport information on informational tax forms should face steep fines for doing so.  Below is an excerpt from the article:

Sen. Charles Grassley, the senior Republican on the powerful Finance Committee, says tougher penalties are possible if charities do not take steps to improve their reporting on the Form 990 informational tax return.

Mr. Grassley and his staff will be paying attention to what degree charities comply with upcoming changes to the Form 990. Many nonprofit groups will have to fill out an updated version of the form beginning in 2009.

Mr. Grassley said the new form — as well as the Pension Protection Act of 2006 — will make it easier for the public and the government to monitor the financial effectiveness of charities.

But, he said, more needs to be done.

“Time and again, problems at nonprofits come back to boards that aren’t independent or hands-on enough,” Mr. Grassley said. “Another challenge is making sure nonprofits are accurately reporting the amount of money going to their charitable purpose.”

The Chronicle further reports that, in addition to the steeper fines, "Congress could also revisit plans to calculate ratios that show how much of a charity’s revenue is used to fulfill its mission versus how much pays for executive salaries and fund-raising costs. "  The story also reports that, "Steven T. Miller, commissioner of the IRS’s tax-exempt and government-entities division, said, . . . at a conference . . . held by the Georgetown University Law Center Continuing Legal Education Department, that the IRS is still considering similar plans."

See Article for the full story.

AMT

April 25, 2008 in Federal – Legislative | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UN Officials Warn of Global Food Crisis

Recently, the Washington Post reported that "[m]ore than 100 million people are being driven deeper into poverty by a "silent tsunami" of sharply rising food prices, which have sparked riots around the world and threaten U.N.-backed feeding programs for 20 million children, the top U.N. food official said.

Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program (WFP) said that, "[t]his is the new face of hunger -- the millions of people who were not in the urgent hunger category six months ago but now are."  She also said, as reported, that, "[t]he world's misery index is rising."

The article reports that Sheeran and other private and government experts were hosted in Londan at the 10 Downing Street offices of the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who said that, "the growing food crisis has pushed prices to their highest levels since 1945 and rivals the current global financial turmoil as a threat to world stability."

The British Prime Minister also said that, "[h]unger is a moral challenge to each one of us as global citizens, but it is also a threat to the political and economic stability of poor nations around the world."  He further is quoted as saying, that "25,000 people a day are dying of conditions linked to hunger."

The article also reports that, "[w]ith one child dying every five seconds from hunger-related causes, the time to act is now." Brown pleged "$60 million in emergency aid to help the WFP feed the poor in Africa and Asia, where in some nations the prices of many food staples have doubled in the past six months."  Please see earlier blogs where mention has been made of the increasing pressure on nonprofits to meet the global food crisis with shrinking resoures in a recession economy were the U.S. dollar goes weaker by the day.

AMT

April 25, 2008 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Federal Lawmakers May Require Nonprofits to the Ratio of Fund-Raising Costs to Program Spending on U.S. Postal Service Website

Yesterday, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that "[l]awmakers who want to discourage charities from spending most of the money they bring in on fund-raising costs are considering introducing legislation to require nonprofit groups to post information for donors to a Postal Service Web site, including the ratio of their fund-raising costs to program spending."

The House Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia, held a hearing on April 24 which focused on the fact that current nonprofit law does not require nonprofits to disclose such information to their donors.  Representative Danny K. Davis, chair of the House Subcommittee, believes that such information, collected in "[a] central database with information on all charities would provide potential donors with the information they would need to make informed decisions on which charities to support."  Many, if not all, nonprofits use the U.S. Postal mail to raise funds, and the U.S. Postal Service regulates the conditions under which nonprofits can make those mailings at reduce postal rates.  As a result, it is a natural extension that the U.S. Postal Service would use its leverage with nonprofits to require nonprofits post the desired information in a central database as a condition of taking advantage of the reduced postal rates.

Earlier postings to the Nonprofit Law Prof Blog discussed hearings and increased pressure for more disclosure being brought to bear on nonprofits by Representative Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, as he focused on veteran charities and university endowments.  The Chronicle similarly references the hearings of Representative Waxman in this context, stating that he agreed with Representative Danny K. Davis that a central database, disclosing this kind of information to donors and potential donors is needed.  See Publication 417 for more information about Nonprofit Standard Mailing Rates.

The article further states that,

Mr. Waxman cited the case of Roger Chapin, founder of Help Hospitalized Veterans, a Winchester, Calif., charity that the committee found spent $500,000 on salaries for Mr. Chapin and his wife, and $444,600 for a Northern Virginia condominium used by the couple.

'Donors don’t know where to get the information about these charities,' Mr. Waxman said. 'They don’t know that Mr. Chapin’s organization spent only 25 cents per dollar on programs, with the rest going to fund-raising.'

Mr. Chapin has denied any wrongdoing, and said that he depended on professional companies that charge high fees to solicit donations.

I believe this call for accountability and disclosure by nonprofits is just one more in an increasing environment of corporate and organizational accountability brought about by increasingly limited resources and increasing needs.

AMT

April 25, 2008 in Federal – Legislative | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Study Finds that Corporations Increased Giving by 7% in 2007

On April 24, a story appeared in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, reporting on a new study (Key Facts on Corporate Foundation) by the Foundation Center, in New York, which concludes that "the nearly 2,600 corporate foundations gave an estimated $4.4-billion to charity in 2007."  This amount represents about a 7 percent increase over 2006 giving amounts.  Below is an excerpt of the story, highlighting the study's key findings:

Corporate foundations have long represented an important source of support for the nonprofit sector, and that remained true in 2007,” Steven Lawrence, senior director of research at the Foundation Center, said in a statement. “While the survey findings suggest that giving by corporate foundations may increase in 2008, the current economic downturn makes the future less predictable.”

Among the report’s other findings:

  • In 2006, the most recent year for which data were available, grants to support education comprised about one-quarter of all dollars given by corporate foundations, across all regions of the country. Human-services charities and public-affairs groups each received about one-fifth of all grant dollars.
  • Though it has nearly doubled since 1990, corporate giving continues to grow at a slower rate than overall foundation giving, and in 2007 comprised just 10 percent of all foundation giving, down from 17 percent in 1990.
  • Nearly 30 percent of corporate foundations expect to reduce their giving in 2008.

The top five corporate foundations, by total giving in 2006 were, in descending order: Aventis Pharmaceuticals Health Care Foundation, in Bridgewater, N.J.; Bank of America Charitable Foundation, in Charlotte, N.C.; Wal-Mart Foundation, in Bentonville, Ark.; GE Foundation, in Fairfield, Conn.; and Citi Foundation, in New York.

See Foundation Center website for more information about the Foundation Center Research Series.

AMT

April 25, 2008 in In the News, Studies and Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Government Investigation of Islamic Charities Called Into Question

The Chronicle of Philanthropy, through its Government and Politics Watchdog portal, includes a discussion of an article that recently appears in The New YorkerThe New Yorker article examines how the federal government investigated the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, located in Ashland, Oregon.  The New Yorker article is critical of the government's reliance on classified information and what the reporter, Patrick Radden Keefe, calls "'Al Capone-ing" type practices, meaning charging the charity on whatever will secure a conviction."  See the excerpt below for more of the story:

In an article in The New Yorker, the journalist Patrick Radden Keefe examines the case against the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, in Ashland, Ore. The group had its assets frozen in 2004 for alleged ties to Al Qaeda, which the charitable organization denies.

Mr. Keefe looks at how the government has relied on classified intelligence information to build a case against the charity and its practice of “‘Al Capone-ing’ suspects — charging them on whatever will secure a conviction.”

The Chronicle article includes references to commentary given during committee hearings of the Senate Finance Committee this month.  See below:

During a Senate Finance Committee hearing this month, Sen. Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana who chairs the committee, also raised concerns about how the U.S. Treasury Department is investigating charities.

“We have also seen prosecutions failing in some high-profile trials involving charities suspected of having ties to terrorist organizations. What happened here? Were these prosecutions off base? Does the administration need to do a better job of monitoring these organizations?” he asked in his opening statement.

OMB Watch, a government watchdog group in Washington that has criticized the government crackdown on nonprofit organizations, says the hearing left questions “unasked and unanswered.” The advocacy group says aides to Mr. Baucus have agreed to meet with nonprofit representatives to discuss their concerns.

See the Chronicle and the New Yorker for the full story.  Also, please see earlier blogs on the Nonprofit Law Prof Blog for earlier stories about Islamic Charities and the Government Crackdown in the wake of  9/11.

AMT

April 23, 2008 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Habitat for Humanity Beneficiary, Spokesman and Success Story Dies Violently

The San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday, on April 23, that a Habitat for Humanity Beneficiary from the 1990s, Mr. Ken Arthur, was recently found dead near his Habitat home in the Bayview community of San Francisco.  Mr. Arthur was described as a model father of three sons, and a very generous person who raised his family and two cousins in the Habitat home.  One of his sons is graduating from college in Tennessee next week, and Mr. Arthur was said to be very proud and excited about traveling with his family to the graduation.  See the excerpt below for more of the story:

Just last week, Ken Arthur told more than 500 people at the San Francisco Habitat for Humanity's annual fundraiser about his success.

The 46-year-old father of three had overcome poverty after becoming the city's first homeowner in the charitable program 12 years ago, he said. Now, after raising his family, he was giving the mayor an award. It was a proud time for Arthur - he invited everyone at the event to fly with him to Tennessee next month for his son's college graduation.

Early Monday, Arthur was found stabbed to death in the street, just blocks from the Habitat home in the Bayview neighborhood that he and his family helped refurbish and moved into in 1996.

His family and Habitat leaders expressed shock Tuesday at Arthur's violent death, mourning him as a model family man who, with his wife, raised three sons and three cousins at the home on Van Dyke Avenue. Arthur had championed the Habitat program that helped his family thrive.

"I was sitting here, literally crying all day," said Phillip Kilbridge, executive director for Habitat's San Francisco program. "It just shocks me - he was the most gracious, wonderful guy in the world. He was the most amazing guy. He was such a role model for his sons."

He added, "Ken's life needs to be honored and memorialized. His story is so much more than the city's (latest) homicide."

See Article for Full Story.

AMT

April 23, 2008 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Main Building of New York Public Library to be Carved with the Name of Wall Street Philanthropist

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that Wall Street Financier Stephen A. Schwarzman's name would be carved into the facade of the New York Public Library (made world famous by the movie Ghostbusters in the 80's and now a major tourist attraction for this reason among many reasons).  Mr. Schwarzman gave $100 million to the Library's $1 billion renovation project, which was described as a very, very generous gift.  In making the donation, he stated that he was motivated by the enormity of the overhaul project.  He did not ask to have his name be carved into the building (but he didn't object either).  Mr. Schwarzman is also a library trustee but there was no perceived conflict of interest in his making the donation and the decision to rename the building after him.  The decision to carve his name into the building was described as being similar to the decision a century earlier to inscribe the names of the first philanthropists benefactors (i.e., Samuel J. Tilden, John Jacob Astor and James Lenox).  Below is an excerpt from the story:

On Tuesday, the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission officially agreed to change the name of the library’s main building to the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, and revealed just how that name would be, if not shouted, then quietly yet firmly spoken to the world.

The main building of the library is being renamed in his honor after Mr. Schwarzman, a Wall Street financier, contributed $100 million to the institution, one of the largest gifts to a cultural institution in New York City. The gift is going toward a $1 billion overhaul of the library system.

The commission’s unanimous vote on Tuesday to approve the proposal removed the last hurdle to making the first major changes to the facade of the grand entrance of the building in a century.

While some opponents of the proposal worried that it could set a dangerous precedent, Paul LeClerc, the library’s president, promised the commission on Tuesday that there would never again be another name carved into the building’s facade.

See Article for full story.

AMT

April 23, 2008 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New York City Elected Officials Accused of "Nepotism" in Funneling Taxpayer Dollars to Family-Run Charities

The New York Daily Newspaper, in a story, reports that a Brooklyn Councilmember, Erik Dilan, "funneled more than $180,000 in taxpayer money into a small nonprofit run by his wife."  The story further reports that Dilan was the "sole sponsor of 'discretionary' city funds for . . . [his wife's nonprofit], North Brooklyn Community Council."  It is reported that [t]he nonprofit started out organizing youth football and has expanded almost entirely with government money."

In New York, "[e]ach City Councilmember gets a pot of 'discretionary' money to use for pet projects in their districts.  Potential misuse of these funds is at the heart of an ongoing probe by the city Department of Investigation and the Manhattan U.S. attorney."  The story reports that Dilan is not the only city councilman to come under fire.  "Two aides to City Councilman Kendall Stewart (D-Brooklyn) have been charged with embezzling $145,000 from a nonprofit supported with 'discretionary' funds. Stewart has not been charged and denies wrongdoing."  In addition, "City Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo (D-Bronx) sponsored $80,000 in member items for a Bronx nonprofit that employed her sister and a nephew."

In defense of the practice, the story reports that when asked, Dilan said that he told the city council but no one objected to the funneling of the discretionary funds to his wife's nonprofit.

See the full story for further discussion of the alleged misuse of nonprofits by elected officials in New York.

AMT

April 23, 2008 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Check Out The Chronicle of Philanthropy Website Where It is Tracking the Ideas of Presidential Hopefuls About Nonprofit Causes

Today, April 23, The Chronicle of Philanthropy announced that it has dedicated a portion of its website to keeping track of the viewpoints of the three presidential candidates, Senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain, regarding issues that matter to nonprofit causes.  Please click here to go to the website.

AMT

April 23, 2008 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Professor Robert A. Katz posts Working Paper on SSRN -- PAGING DR. SHYLOCK!: Jewish Hospitals and the Prudent Re-Investment of Jewish Philanthropy

Robert A. Katz, a professor of law at Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis, recently posted an abstract of his working paper, PAGING DR. SHYLOCK!:  Jewish Hospitals and The Prudent Re-Investment of Jewish Philanthropy on SSRN.  The abstract provides that:

This paper explores the history of Jewish hospitals in the United States as a case study in how Jewish philanthropy (defined as charitable giving from a Jewish perspective) reflects both Judaic concepts such as tzedakah (righteousness, imperfectly translated as charity) and the experience of Jews as a discrete and insular minority living in a determinedly hostile environment. For most of American history, Jews used philanthropy - and above all Jewish hospitals - to take care of fellow Jews, improve relations with non-Jews, counteract anti-Jewish stereotypes and prejudice, and provide enclaves from anti-Jewish discrimination.

The decline of anti-Semitism in the U.S. since World War II obviated most of the problems that Jewish hospitals were founded to address. Jewish philanthropy would be more robust today if more Jewish hospitals had sold their institutions and became grantmakers. Most Jewish communities can find more innovative and urgent ways to perform tzedakah and engage in tikkun olam (world repair) than by operating nonprofit hospitals. Additionally, the future of American Jewry would be more secure if foundations financed by hospital sales would devote more resources to Jewish education, religion, culture, and communal life. This grantmaking agenda advances what I see as the fondest and most fundamental hope of many founders of Jewish hospitals: to help American Jewry survive and thrive as a distinct community.

The denouement of Jewish hospitals and its opportunities for fresh and dynamic Jewish philanthropy - some pursued, a few squandered - offer lessons for other communities of faith and fate. When designing philanthropic enterprises to help ensure their collective survival, they should consider how, should an enterprise's value to that future fall, its resources might be recouped and re-invested in ways they deem more conducive to that end.

The paper is a chapter in the upcoming book:  Giving: For the Love of God , edited by David Smith.  It is due for publication by the Indiana University Press in 2009.

See SSRN for the more information.

AMT

April 22, 2008 in Publications – Articles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

BBC Reports on New UK Foundation Formed by UK Muslims

Today, April 22, the BBC reports that a group of UK Muslims launched a new nonprofit, the Quilliam Foundation, to eradicate extremism in British Islamic communities.  The group says that it "calls for renouncing extremism and promoting peaceful coexistence among various races and cultures."  The group also says that it "aims to alter the stereotype image that began forming inside the British society in the aftermath of the . . . September [11] attacks and the blowing up of two subway trains in the British capital, London, in July 2005."  The BBC report further provides that "[t]his development is in harmony with a similar development in some EU countries, despite some radical trends' opposition of this move."  The BBC report was taken from a televised report that aired on Al-Jazeera Satellite TV on April 21.  See below for the balance of the telecast as reported by the BBC:

[Begin recording of video report by Yusuf Nur Awad, read by Su'ad Abdallah]
[Abdallah] A call for supporting a multiracial and multicultural society was
launched by a group of British Muslims to eradicate what it termed tendency
towards extremism. The group, which calls itself Quilliam Foundation, said on
its internet website that it is trying to support the value of pluralism in the
British society in the face of what it termed cultural values imported from the
Indian subcontinent and from the political problems in the Arab world. This
tendency comes as an attempt to make up for the outcome of the 2005 London
subway bombings, which were carried out by a number of British Muslims who were
born in Britain but who are not considered to be representatives of the peaceful
majority of British Muslims in this country.

[Ed Husayn, Quilliam Foundation, in English with voice-over translation into
Arabic, translated from the Arabic] This is the first time since the 11
September attacks and 7 July attacks when such effort emerges among those who
were linked to extremism and who now call for combating the ideology of
Al-Qa'idah organization.

[Abdallah] The foundation realizes that reaching large sectors of the public
is not an easy task, but it is a mission that many are determined to undertake.

[Unidentified young man, in English with voice-over translation into Arabic,
translated from the Arabic] Well, I think it is a good idea actually. I am a
Muslim and do not like this extremism and so I support what we are doing.

[Abdallah] The Quilliam Foundation, which was named after an Englishman who
embraced Islam in the 19 century, succeeded in opening dialogue among the
Islamic organizations in Britain, such as the Muslim Council of Britain.
However, other elements of the British society do not support the goals of this
foundation.

[Unidentified man, in English with voice-over translation into Arabic,
translated from the Arabic] The individuals who are carrying out this action are
non-committed Muslims, who are in reality the voice of the British Government.
No one trusts them.

[Abdallah] Differences in viewpoints might be a normal thing with regard to
such moves, but what is more important is the presence of voices calling for
calm and not escalation in Britain, which echoes a new Islamic tendency in some
EU countries. [End recording] [Video of people entering a mosque]

Source: Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 1620 gmt 21 Apr 08

BBC Monitoring Middle East - Political Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring.  See BBC News for more in-depth coverage of this story.

The organization's website can be accessed by clicking here - Quilliam Foundation.  On the organization's website, the foundation is described as a counter extremism think tank created by former activists of radical Islamic organizations, making the founders familiar with the mindset and methods of extremist organizations.  See the website for more information.

AMT

April 22, 2008 in International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Georgia State University, a nonprofit, sued by Academic Book Publishers for Digital Distrbution of Books (or Parts of Books)

The New York Times reported on April 16 that three prominent academic publishers (Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and Sage Publications) filed a complaint the United States District Court in Atlanta against Georgia State University (a nonprofit) alleging that it committed copyright violations.  The article states that Georgia State distributes electronic course packets to students that contain scanned copyrighted material.  The publishers argue that the portion of material distributed exceeds the permitted limits for the fair use doctrine, which permits faculty/educators to copy and distribute a small amount of material without running afoul of the copyright laws.  This practice, as reported in the article, is widespread among many colleges and universities, and other academic settings, and it is surprising that this is the first case of its kind.  See New York Times Article for the Full Story.

AMT

April 22, 2008 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Charities Operating Abroad Struggle With Rising Food and Oil Costs, and the Declining U.S. Dollar

Today, April 22, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that charities operating abroad are suffering from rising food and oil costs, as well as the falling U.S. dollar.  One person posting a comment to the article on the Chronicle's website suggested that the article understated the severity of the problem because the declining U.S. dollar abroad is adversely affecting the quality of life of workers paid in U.S. dollars, making it much harder for such persons to maintain a decent quality of life, and in turn, leading to difficulty in hiring and retaining qualified persons to work overseas.  See excerpt below for more of the story:

Charities that work overseas have been battered by a spate of recent economic troubles, including rising food and oil prices and the weakening dollar. Nonprofit leaders say they are being pressed to meet growing needs, even as the costs of doing work are ballooning.

Some have even been forced to scale back services. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, in New York, dropped 25,000 people from a food and medical-assistance program in the former Soviet Union after expenses jumped by 20 percent.

“We’ve lost $4-million in buying power,” said Steve Schwager, the group’s chief executive officer. “We’ve had to cut off the least needy to ensure the most needy can still get food.”

Mr. Schwager said he may have to consider laying off staff members if the squeeze continues.

Charities that specialize in fighting hunger and poverty are worried that the high price of food could undercut their work. In the past few weeks, food riots have broken out in countries such as Egypt and Haiti.

“It’s a major concern for us,” said Nan Dale, executive director of Action Against Hunger, in New York, which combats malnutrition. “We’d like to put ourselves out of business, to be no longer needed, and this could make it much worse.”

. . .

Action Against Hunger, the Pan American Development Foundation, and many other charities are trying to raise awareness about the need for long-term solutions, such as increased spending on agriculture. The eight wealthiest nations plan to add the topic to their agenda when they gather this summer for the G-8 summit, a move promoted by the ONE Campaign and other organizations.

Declining Dollar

High fuel prices and the weak dollar are also making it more expensive for groups to deliver assistance abroad.

. . .

Meanwhile, charities are searching for ways to alleviate their financial woes.

Thomas Tighe, president of Direct Relief International, said his group has created a hub in South Africa to store and distribute supplies from so that it doesn’t have to ship as many medical supplies overseas. The charity has also consolidated how it packages its supplies, in an attempt to reduce shipping costs.

See Article for the full story.

AMT

April 22, 2008 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Did Nonprofit Professionals Lose Out on Oprah's Big Give?

The Chronicle of Philanthropy published an article today critical of the example of philanthropy and inefficient nonprofit professionals shown to average Americans by Oprah's Big Give television show that wrapped up its first season, yesterday, April 20.  Below is an excerpt of the story:

Television offers a great opportunity to educate and to make people passionate about causes — especially when a philanthropist and television personality as popular as Oprah Winfrey is sponsoring the lessons.

But the show ended up featuring amateur and embarrassing efforts at giving. It passed off as entertainment people wasting thousands of dollars of donated money and did little to help the American public learn what it really takes to change the lives of other people. Oprah’s last words on the show Sunday night were to encourage the television audience to “give big,” which is a worthy goal, but the television program failed to show average Americans how they can become effective and strategic philanthropists.

See Article for the Full Story.

AMT

April 21, 2008 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

British Newspaper Reports that Body Shop Owner Anita Roddick Gave Her Entire Fortune to Charity Before Her Death

The Daily Telegraph, a British newspaper, reported today, April 21, that the founder of The Body Shop, a well-known international cosmetics and toiletries company, Anita Roddick donated her entire fortune to charity before her death just last year in December 2007 (read her obituary), leaving nothing for her family and friends.  She left just enough in her estate to pay a British Inheritance Tax required when the donor dies within seven years of making monetary gifts.  Ms. Roddick died from a brain hemorrhage.  She is reported to have said that "leaving money to your family is obscene."  Most of her fortune went to green projects and issues affecting people in developing nations.  Below is an excerpt of the story:

Details of her estate, which were published yesterday [April 20, 1008], revealed that she had donated her £51 million fortune to good causes before her death from a brain haemorrhage last September.

Dame Anita, who was 64 when she died, once described leaving money to your family as obscene" and said instead she wanted her fortune to go towards green issues and curing Third World.

Dame Anita left a total of £665,747 when she died but this was consumed by inheritance tax, leaving her net worth as nil.

Under the rules set out by the Inland Revenue, individuals have to pay such tax if they do not survive for seven years after making monetary gifts.

See Article for the Full Story.

AMT

April 21, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)