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The Nonprofit QuarterlyFalling Short, Some United Ways Extend Drives
Dec 1, 2009; Williamsport Sun-Gazette | In Pennsylvania, the Lycoming County United Way finds that it is only halfway to its modest goal of $1.4 million in the final week of its campaign, and in Marathon County, Wisconsin the United Way has raised only two thirds of its $3.1 million goal and its campaign was due to end Tuesday. Both have decided to extend their drives. We have noticed this in previous news reports this year and wonder what it will mean for the other organizations doing their own end of year fundraising in those communities. As with retail sales, November and December are treasured months for bringing in donations. We’ll keep an eye on this but would also appreciate reader feedback.Ruth McCambridge

The Nonprofit QuarterlyPhilanthropy and strange bedfellows
Winter 2009; Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report | Conservation and environmental philanthropist, Robert W. Wilson, has pledged $1 million to nativist group, Federation for American Immigration Reform. FAIR, as it is commonly known, is the most important organization fueling the backlash against immigration today. We’ve reported about the extreme challenges immigrants in this country face and the nonprofits that serve them. I suppose we can be glad that Wilson has been as restrained as he has in this donation since early in this decade he pledged more than $100 million each in matching funds to the Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Wildlife Conservation Society. He made a similar promise to the World Monuments Fund, which protects endangered works of art and architecture. He also gives mightily to the New York Public Library and funds scholarships to Catholic schools in New York City.—Aaron Lester

The Nonprofit QuarterlyTransparency, nonprofits and charter schools
Dec 2, 2009; Los Angeles Times | Los Angeles charter school founder Steve Barr, a national figure in school reform, has repaid his organization more than $50,000 after an internal review determined that expenses he had charged were undocumented or unjustified. The expenses came to light in an internal review as the rapidly growing nonprofit transitioned from Barr’s ad hoc creation to a nonprofit run according to proper accounting standards. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has cited Green Dot’s approach as one model for the essential turnaround of the nation’s high school “dropout factories.” What’s interesting here, apart from the misuse of funds by a top executive, is the question of transparency for publicly funded organizations. California Charter schools are not subject to the state law that requires the disclosure of public records despite its public funding. The LA Times was only able to access Green Dot’s tax return because of federal laws governing nonprofits. Cities and towns may be willing to cede public money to charter schools to combat an under-performing public education system—but are we ready to cede transparency too?—Aaron Lester



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