New Regs for Massachusetts’ Charities
Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly has proposed state legislation that would enact stringent new regulations on foundations and charities, the Boston Globe reports. The proposed legislation, which would create one of the nation’s strictest regulatory regimes for tax-exempt organizations, is sponsored by State Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) and State Representative Daniel Bosley (D-North Adams). It would require board members to approve financial audits, limit executive salaries to “reasonable” amounts, and raise fines for infractions to $5,000, up from $500. ‘‘We want the boards and the management of charities to watch their money much more closely,” says Reilly.
The bill’s requirements for independent audit committees suggest that family foundations may not be able to maintain family control of their operations, and at least some Bay State foundations are considering the possibility of relocating if the legislation were to become law.
Paul Grogan, president of the Boston Foundation, told the Globe “he would look at Reilly’s legislation with two main questions in mind: whether it would burden smaller groups and whether it makes sense to step up enforcement of existing standards” rather than enact new regulations.
The bill would also permit the Attorney General to request a court to direct the removal of officers or directors who are found to be involved in excess compensation or improper related party transactions. The Globe added that Reilly’s office is setting up a computerized database to search charities’ filings electronically in hopes of finding abuses. “When finished, the database will be made available to the public, Reilly said.”
Dell and Walton Support New Leaders
The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation has pledged $9.2 million to New Leaders for New Schools, a project that fosters academic achievement by attracting and preparing teachers for the nation’s public schools. The Dell Foundation’s support, jointly announced with another commitment by the Walton Family Foundation of $500,000, follows on two previous pledges announced by FedEx in 2003 and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation earlier this year, each of which have contributed significant sums to the New Leaders’ project.
The Ireland Fund has successfully raised more than $100 million over the years from wealthy Americans to support needs in Ireland. Nonetheless, according to the Financial Times, the fund has some real challenges ahead. How, for example, do you continue persuading Americans to give to a country whose private economy is booming? Instead of depending upon American generosity, the fund now wants “to export the American model of philanthropy” not only to Ireland, but to the rest of Europe and Asia as well.
The Emerald Isle today counts more than 500 people worth in excess of $120 million, and a spokesman for the fund says “a lot of them don’t want to leave it all to their children. We believe that Ireland can be a world class philanthropy center. We just need to apply the American process.
A new book bucks conventional wisdom and argues that conservation is best handled at the community level. A joint publication of the Sand County Foundation and the Aspen Institute, Natural Resources as Community Assets: Lessons from Two Continents advocates community-based natural resource management, a system that grants ownership of the natural resources on their lands to individuals and private landowners. This motivates the owners to work together to ensure the longevity of their valuable resources.
For example, in 1997 the Namibian government enacted legislation allowing for community wildlife management, so long as communities registered the land they wanted to conserve. From 1998 to 2003, the total square kilometers of land set aside for conservation jumped from just under 20,000 to over 60,000. At the same time, income from wildlife and tourism doubled annually, from N $500,000 in 1998 to N $15 million in 2003.