Investigation into La. horsemen’s association expands; feds look into sound system installed in home of group’s president

Jun 9, 2009; The Times-Picayune | Among the several surprising beneficiaries of Katrina relief was the Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, ostensibly to help horse owners and trainers whose facilities and businesses were damaged in the hurricane. In this case, the feds are looking into how some of the money ended up being spent to install a new sound system in the home of the Association’s president because of losses he had suffered, because of his hard work, and because he likes karaoke. If anyone has ever visited the backstretch at a horserace, you’ll know that the walkers and grooms there need something different than karaoke sound systems.  Where was the board here? Federal investigators are also asking. —Rick Cohen

Gates Foundation giving $20M to World Bank
Jun 8, 2009; Puget Sound Business Journal
| Acknowledge the Gates Foundation, please, for putting its money where its mouth is, with a mammoth grant to provide access to financial services for poor people through the World Bank’s to-be-established Agriculture Finance Support Facility. —Rick Cohen

Cardin Favors Help For Newspapers—But No Bailouts: Maryland Senator Wants Government To Save Struggling Industry While Preserving Media Independence
May 14, 2009; National Journal Online | There has been a lot of public discussion that the future of for-profit print journalism is just about nil. Maryland senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski think newspapers are in trouble, but instead of a TARP-like bailout, they’ve introduced a bill that would, according to Cardin’s press release, “allow newspapers to operate as non-profits, if they choose, under 501(c)(3) status for educational purposes, similar to public broadcasting…[N]ewspapers would not be allowed to make political endorsements, but would be allowed to freely report on all issues, including political campaigns.” S.673 may have only been introduced as an idea to get the concept of nonprofit newspaper ownership on the public’s radar screen, but it will be interesting to see who picks up on the idea—if anyone. —Rick Cohen

Nonprofit works to restore green canopy to Detroit
Jun 8, 2009; Associated Press
| The nonprofit group Greening of Detroit is pushing urban reforestation—even during a tough economy—with projects like a Christmas tree farm, neighborhood gardens and thousands of tree plantings along busy streets. —Jon Pratt

Hospitals build resistance to charity plan > Subscription Required
Jun 8, 2009; Cranes Cleveland Business |
Proposal in Congress calls for minimum levels of free care, which could put some systems at risk. —Jon Pratt

Rialto California to regulate nonprofit thrift store locations
Jun 8, 2009;
Contra Costa Times | Rialto City Council proposes ordinance to regulate where nonprofit corporations can operate thrift stores, similar to requirement for smoke shops, check-cashing stores, pawn shops and massage services that must obtain a permit and go before the Planning Commission for approval to operate in a desired location. —Jon Pratt

Gates Foundation CEO sees room for improvement
Jun 3, 2009;
The Seattle Times | Jeff Raikes, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, admits that the world’s largest charitable foundation needs to improve its internal processes and the quality of its outside partnerships —Jon Pratt

Nonprofits fight to stay open during economic crisis: Budget cuts force agencies to limit some services
Jun 1, 2009;
Times Herald | The latest “nonprofit pulse” survey of the United Way of the Bay Area yielded what one might expect nonprofits to report about the impacts of a national economic crisis: one-fifth have laid off staff in the last 6 months, 37 percent considering future layoffs, half have gone into their reserves and 15 percent have spent more than half of their reserves, most are expecting increases in service demands, more pressure to diversify funding sources, all the kinds of information that NPQ is uncovering wherever we look. The news in this survey?  One-third of the 391 surveyed nonprofits admitted being concerned that they might “fold” within the calendar year.  Maybe the nonprofit sector needs its version of a TARP bailout, else the post-recession 501(c)(3) picture will be thin indeed. —Rick Cohen

Group Tallies Families’ ‘Hidden Health Tax’
May 28, 2009;
Wall Street Journal | Nonprofit Quarterly has pointed out the importance of comprehensive health reform to the nation—and to nonprofits. Now Families USA has released a report calculating that $42.7 billion in health care costs for uninsured people was passed on to health insurers who in turn essentially billed the American public for the cost through higher insurance premiums. The average American family paid a “hidden health tax” of $1,017 in 2008 to pay for providing health care to uninsured families. It might have been larger, except that government and nonprofits paid ¼ of the $116 billion in health care provided to families without insurance. Health care reform isn’t some other sector’s problem, it belongs to all Americans and all industrial sectors—including the nonprofit sector. —Rick Cohen

Troubled Genesis officials get raises: Questions are raised about agency’s board
May 16, 2009;
Fresno Bee | Sometimes you have to wonder about what goes on inside nonprofit board meetings. As the Fresno Bee reported, the two sisters who founded the Genesis Family Center were rewarded by the board with raises after they were both convicted of embezzlement, even though the terms of their conviction bar them both from even stepping foot in the agency’s group homes and foster homes. Even while defending the organization, which still maintains a lease on a beemer for the organization, certainly a needed perk in a government-funded social services agency, the county supervisor had a minor epiphany and realized that the board might be in “denial.” The Genesis lawyer was “too busy” to answer inquiries from the reporters. You can’t make this stuff up. —Rick Cohen