Nonprofit Newswire | August 25, 2009

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3 Signs the Housing Crisis Is Over
Aug 24, 2009; Smart Money | About the positive prognostications regarding housing, not everybody agrees that we’ve hit the market’s “bottom” but even if you do, there appears to be a long road ahead for many.  This piece does a nice job of talking about what a “recovery” is likely to look like. As with jobs, the news for those most vulnerable is not so positive in the near term.  —Ruth McCambridge

A Little Too Cozy in Carmel
Aug 09, 2009; Indianapolis Star
| Nearly every day, there’s some sort of nonprofit rejecting legitimate public questions about financial transparency, claiming that as a nonprofit entity, disclosure isn’t required—and then under accumulating evidence that the disclosure is in the public interest, reluctantly acceding to the request.  In Carmel IN, the sponsoring nonprofit foundation of the Carmel Performing Arts Center, or at least its director and spokesperson, initially rejected a request to reveal how much the Center would pay Broadway musical star Michael Feinstein to serve as artistic director.  The recipient of a recent infusion of $400,000 from the City’s redevelopment commission, the director who also happens to be a city employee, apparently, suggested that the Center’s nonprofit status even allowed it to keep secret how it was spending the public dollars, not just its privately raised charitable and philanthropic support.  Conflicts of interest?  Try the presence of Carmel’s mayor and City attorney serving on the board—and rejecting calls for financial disclosure.  The members of the redevelopment commission are appointed by the mayor.  Asked if he knew how much Feinstein was being paid, the head of the redevelopment commission pled ignorance.  If one assumes that rejecting financial transparency is a legitimate protection for typical 501(c)(3) public charities, the Carmel example doesn’t fit for two reasons:  (1) the nonprofit is largely an appendage of local government, with city officials playing significant if not controlling roles in its governance; and (2) the organization lives based on a not insubstantial infusion of public capital.  When public officials or agencies establish and significantly control (and finance) nonprofit entities, like the private foundations established by public universities (as we have written here in the past), the “we’re a nonprofit and don’t have to disclose” shield shouldn’t apply.  —Rick Cohen

A Depressed Housing Market: Foreclosures Spark Mental Health Crisis
Aug 23, 2009; Seeking Alpha | In a blinding flash of the obvious, this study proves that more foreclosures means more mental health problems among people who are without insurance. It is particularly interesting because apparently people who go through a foreclosure are significantly more likely to have serious depression than people who are just desperately poor. These, of course, are the kinds of interconnections that will be bringing more people with more acute problems to nonprofits over the next few years.  —Ruth McCambridge


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