Friday, October 26, 2007

Philanthropy and the law

Lots of news on the legal front for nonprofits and philanthropy. Namely, three rather big moves in the courts and an interesting new nonprofit development.

1) Robertson V Princeton case moves to court - big win for donors.
1a) Note that this last month also saw the launch of a new nonprofit that is essentially designed to help donors avoid having to nitpick with those fussy professionals looking out for the best interests of the universities they represent. The organization, The Center for Excellence in Higher Education, will do the matchmaking and negotiating for donors - taking a slice of the $28 billion given to U.S. Universities each year. An interesting twist - essentially outsourced, unaffiliated, donor-oriented, university development professionals.

2) Holyland Foundation case - mistrial declared. Some heated discussion here shows the degree to which the public interest in this case was linked to broad sweeps of power fueled by those who equate Muslims with terrorists. Governments pursuing organizations and shutting them down without evidence of misdeeds. Odd, I thought that was 1) unconstitutional and 2) something independent sector organizations help protect against.

3) United Way ruled as liable for debt of dead subsidiary Pipevine - $4.7+ million owed to Network for Good. The case will be appealed, but this decision should remind everyone that nonprofit or not, its still corporate law that underpins the system.

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