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Solar Storm Could Play Havoc With Modern Technology; How to Raise a Billion Dollars; The Hottest Pepper in the World: Today on Here and Now

1:06pm: The largest solar storm in five years is battering the earth today with particles traveling at four million miles per hour, and the potential to shake the planet’s magnetic field, disrupt utility grids & satellite networks, and make GPS less accurate. The storm could also trigger communication problems and additional radiation around the north and south poles, a risk that has caused airlines to reroute some flights. The event started with massive solar flares earlier this week and grew as it raced outward from the sun, expanding like a giant soap bubble and astronomers warn that more storms could be on the way. Kelly Beatty, senior contributing editor with Sky and Telescope magazine, joins us to explain what exactly is going on up there.

1:12pm: The U.S. has a unique and outstanding tradition of philanthropy; there were over 1.3 million charities and foundations in the U.S. in 2010, but over 300,000 of those groups were in danger of losing their status due to administrative and financial problems, and the country’s top 400 charities have been struggling through the economic downturn. Howard Stevenson has a new primer on fundraising based on his long experience as a donor and his involvement in raising over a billion dollars for a number of non-profits. He says successful fundraisers need to think like entrepreneurs, because non-profits and new businesses share a key problem: both have missions that exceed their resources. Stevenson joins us this hour to let us in on what else he’s learned about fundraising.

1:40pm: Danise Coon knows her chile peppers. She’s with the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University. According to that august body of experts, the hottest pepper around is the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. It’s about the size of a golf ball and packs quite a punch—so much of a punch that while Coon and her students were harvesting them, the peppers burned through their protective gloves.

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Local News

Zoo Meets Goal For Glacier Run Fundraising

The Louisville Zoo’s fundraising campaign for the Glacier Run exhibit is over due to last-minute donations that helped the zoo secure a matching grant.

In the fall of 2008, the Kresge Foundation promised to donate $900 thousand if the zoo could raise about $8 million by the end of this year.

Director John Walzack says as of last month, the zoo was still several hundred thousand dollars short of that goal.

“These are certainly trying economic times, but we had faith and we are so overwhelmed by the generosity of our community that we just always had a positive outlook that were going to meet this goal,” he says.

Humana and the Ogle Foundation gave two large donations to top off the campaign. The money will go toward two exhibits within Glacier Run, both of which will open in 2012. The polar bear exhibit will open this spring.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Report: Charities Not Faring Better Than Last Year

Despite recent reports of an improving economy, a recent survey says charities faced many difficulties fundraising this holiday season. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

The news comes in the latest Philanthropic Giving Index, a report prepared by the Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University. The report is comparable to the Consumer Confidence Index.

Nonprofits in the survey say they are not faring better than they were a year ago although their expectations that they will do better with future fundraising has increased somewhat.

Adrienne Davis is with the Center for Philanthropy.

“Nonprofits’ overall confidence in the charitable giving climate has risen slightly,” she says, “but is still at record lows for the 11-year history of this study.”

The study also indicates that most fundraisers for nonprofits say they have made changes to how they do business in the past year.

“A majority [of nonprofits] reported that they have put more focus on stewardship and on communicating with their donors,” Davis says. “And they’ve also put greater emphasis on setting organizational priorities and making tough budget decisions.”

Davis says these changes are ones that many donors have requested of nonprofits, especially during the recession.

Over the past two years, several Louisville nonprofits have used many tactics to reduce their budgets, including sharing resources with other organizations.

Davis says attitudes about future fundraising efforts vary according to the type of nonprofit concerned.

“Educational fundraisers and those were more optimistic than most of the rest of their peers and other nonprofit organizations,” she says. “Fundraisers for human services organizations were the least optimistic.”

During this recession human service organizations have seen an increase in demand for their services, putting greater expectations on their staff members and their need for funding.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Study Shows Confidence Dips among Fundraisers

A new study shows nonprofits are more uncertain than ever about their ability to raise funds. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

Twice a year, Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy creates a Philanthropic Giving Index from its survey of nonprofit professionals. It’s similar to the Consumer Confidence Index.

The current study shows their confidence levels near 65 percent. That’s 27 percent lower than a year ago.

The center’s Kim Gattle says that doesn’t mean that failure is necessarily imminent for nonprofits.

“Donors have a strong desire to give back to the community, and so give them different options. Don’t stop asking,” she says.

Gattle says that people will still give during recessions, but some groups will give at lower levels while some will increase their amounts.

The study shows the current confidence level among fundraising professionals at its lowest level since 1998, when the center began the survey.

Gattle says during touch economic times nonprofits need to focus on communicating specific issues to the public.

“Transparency of the organization is critically important to donors,” she says. “And now even more than in the last decade, donors want to know how their money is used and is it being used in the most effective way.”

Gattle says good communication can keep current donors giving what they can afford now and stir others to give in the future.