Nonprofit Newswire | July 15, 2009

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Bill Clinton: Rural U.S. needs foundation help: Former president encourages charities to boost efforts in those regions
Jul 15, 2009; Associated Press | Here’s what President Clinton had to say to the foundations assembled in Little Rock to tout their accomplishments for rural philanthropy: “Former President Bill Clinton said Tuesday that the activity by nonprofit foundations to help rural parts of the country has been ‘woefully inadequate’ and encouraged workers in those areas to focus on alternative energy initiatives. Speaking at a conference on rural philanthropy, Clinton said that the White House can’t reduce poverty without focusing on rural development. Clinton said that anti-obesity efforts and programs to promote reforestation are initiatives that could help rural areas. ‘The foundation activity in rural America has been woefully inadequate,’ Clinton told members of the Council of Foundations.” Give ’em hell, Harry! (we mean Bill). We’ve said this about rural philanthropy for the past three years, ever since Senator Max Baucus made his famous challenge and got philanthropic lip service instead. We even said it in the June 25th Cohen Report on Rural Development Grantmaking—Problems and Prospects. For each of the several pieces we’ve done on rural philanthropy, the self-protective foundation trade association and its assembled consultants have bristled, responding that rural areas ought to pull themselves up by their charitable bootstraps and discover the latent wealth in rural communities that could capitalize new donor-advised funds and so forth. With the recent silence of Max Baucus on this topic (he’s sort of otherwise preoccupied with something called health care reform), we applaud President Clinton for his polite punch to the philanthropic solar plexus. Let’s see how much soft soap the foundation sector’s trade association can pile on this time around—or maybe this special interest group might finally decide that conferences and glossy publications aren’t what nonprofit communities live on, but vastly increased grants are. —Rick Cohen 

Don’t Ever Give Up..Don’t Ever Give Up
Mar 4, 1993 | The V Foundation for Cancer Research | Don’t get confused by the date. We heard Jim Valvano’s 1993 speech replayed this morning (July 15th) on the Mike and Mike show on ESPN, which is doing a big charitable fundraising drive this week. For those of us who remember Valvano as the coach of the NCAA championship NC State team and his death from cancer only a few months after this speech, hearing his voice is of course very moving. Most people who hear the speech come away inspired by his courage knowing that he was succumbing to the disease. But on rehearing it, we were struck by the responsible and public-spirited approach in Valvano’s announcement of his V Foundation for Cancer Research. It was a statement not just that he was suffering from cancer and therefore it should be a charitable objective, but that there was a significant underfunding of cancer research compared to other charitable giving for other diseases, and that the imbalance needed attention and correction. In light of other charities and foundations that collect and distribute funding for various diseases, Valvano’s speech should remind all of us that “private” charities and foundations are actually “public” instruments in that they raise and distribute tax exempt dollars. The priorities they choose should be examined, monitored, and evaluated by the giving public to see whether their priorities are the ones we want to make with our nation’s tax exempt charitable deductions.  Rick Cohen

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