Nonprofit Newswire | July 10, 2009

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Study Reveals Lack of Board Diversity
Jul 2, 2009 Hispanic Business | Foundations have not been happy with the various reports of the California-based Greenlining Foundation, and this latest one probably won’t get philanthropic plaudits either.  According to Greenlining, of the 46 largest independent foundations in the U.S., a quarter of their trustees or board members are African-American, Asian-American, or Hispanic.  But 28 percent of the foundations had absolutely no people of color on their boards.  The monotone white foundations are named in the article.  Rick Cohen

FreeFest concert tickets come with a price: Volunteerism
Jul 2, 2009 USA Today | Promoters for the festival set aside 3,000 more tickets as rewards to fans willing to volunteer time for the homeless.  Thirteen hours of service at select homeless organizations gets a VIP pass; eight hours earns general admission, and those who already have tickets are being asked to donate $5.  James David Morgan

Baucus Optimistic Over Bipartisan Health Care Progress
Jul 9, 2009; Roll Call | Senator Baucus has apparently convinced Senate Majority Leader Reid that nonprofit coops might be an acceptable alternative to a government-run health insurance plan under comprehensive health reform.  Will someone please look at the history of the nonprofit insurance programs that converted to for-profits leaving us with health conversion foundations in their wake?  Why did they convert?  What would have kept them nonprofit?  What did or didn’t they achieve as nonprofits?  What are the lessons for Reid and Baucus?  —Rick Cohen

McKnight Foundation refocusing strategies
Jul 1, 2009 Minneapolis/St Paul Business Journal | After several years of a grantmaking on livable communities, the environment, the arts, and children and families, among other areas, the McKnight Foundation has changed course.  Helped by the Bridgespan Group, the Foundation will now emphasize early childhood development, specifically literacy of Twin Cities kids by the end of the third grade.  McKnight is hardly alone; the early childhood emphasis has been a longtime focus of many foundations and recently was adopted (or re-adopted) by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation as its new strategic direction.  Of course, increasing a focus in one area comes with a cost to grantees outside the new guidelines.  In an Education Week piece, the McKnight funding programs to disappear will include fatherhood development, parenting skills building, and family economic success.  It is not clear how some of McKnight’s signature community improvement programs will fare in this strategic change.  McKnight’s work has built in the Twin Cities a phenomenally active and capable community development sector, critically needed now given the still burgeoning subprime and conventional mortgage foreclosure crisis.  Environmentalists (thinking about over $2 million in grants to the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and significant investments to many organizations focusing on the conditions of the Mississippi River watershed) and others might have similar qualms.  Typically, when a foundation announces a strategic change, grantees and we in the media are expected to simply acknowledge and try to figure out how the nonprofit sector adjusts.  Given that these are quasi-public dollars—tax exempt funds entrusted to foundation trustees for their stewardship and allocation in the public interest—the nonprofit public has an interest in taking stock of what these strategic changes in philanthropy might add up to.  —Rick Cohen

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