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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

Philanthropy Center For Children Opens

by Sheila Ash

Officials with the Louisville Community Foundation and Junior Achievement of Kentuckiana held a ribbon cutting Tuesday on a new store to teach kids about charitable giving.

The new Philanthropy Center is part of the Sam Swope Junior Achievement BizTown in which school age children learn what it’s like to manage a business or run a city. Susan Barry, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Louisville, says anyone can be a philanthropist.

“And as you can see from being in BizTown philanthropy comes in all shapes and sizes and all ages too,” she says.

The center is based on the book “Philanthropy…a big word for big-hearted people” written by a local mother-daughter team. Proceeds from the book will support Blessings in a Backpack, a Louisville-based organization that fights child hunger.

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Local News

AIDS Walk Fundraising Lower Than Expected

The Louisville AIDS Walk is Sunday, but donations for this year’s event have fallen short.

Last year, the AIDS Walk raised about 200 thousand dollars. About a quarter of which was donated in the days leading up to the event.

So far this year, one hundred thousand dollars has been raised. Director Brad Hampton attributes the drop to the economy and waning interest in AIDS-related issues.

“HIV-AIDS is just not in the forefront of concern of Louisvillians anymore,” he says. “There’s a misconception that AIDS is no longer a crisis, that you just take one pill a day and everything’s okay. It’s just really not to that point yet.”

Hampton says if more money isn’t donated by January 1st, the AIDS Walk will have to cut services it funds for patients next year.

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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 on "Why People Give" Surprises Researchers

A new study from Indiana University’s Center for Philanthropy aims to help nonprofits perform better at fundraising by indentifying why people donate. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

IU researchers collected data from more than 10,000 households and found that reasons for giving correlated with education levels and income, no matter the region.

The study challenges earlier research that states people in different regions throughout the country give for different reasons relating to shared regional values.

The center’s Melissa Brown says people with incomes more than $100,000 say they give to improve their communities, while different reasons were behind responses from households earning the median income of $50,000.

“People with that median income level and lower, responded that ‘meeting basic needs’ and ‘helping the poor help themselves’ — those were the kinds of things that mattered to them in their giving,” she says. “Those were their top motivations.”

Brown is the center’s associate director of research.

The study comes during a deep recession and aims to help nonprofits perform better at fundraising.

“We’re very interested in helping nonprofits generate the revenue that they need to do the work that they want to undertake,” Brown says. “And we started this study thinking and expected to find strong regional differences in part because of that history of other people’s work that talked about culture heritage and we found that it’s not there.

Brown says the center is now working on another study that seeks to pinpoint the feelings that cause people to make charitable donations.

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Arts and Humanities In-Depth News Local News

Library Getting Outpouring of Donations After Flood

Individual households and organizations as large as the University of Louisville are continuing the clean-up and reparations after this month’s flash flood. And the Louisville Free Public Library is working on overcoming nearly $5 million in damages to its main branch. Meanwhile, the response the library has received since August 4 has come from both the local community and via the virtual world. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

Greg Schwartz is a manager at the library, and on August 4th, he was downstairs at about 9 that morning when he saw water near a men’s room door.

“I was completely surprised,” he says, “to open the door and find both urinals and both toilets overflowing — just gushing water.”

Library FloodedHe and other staff tried to stop — then sop — the water, before evacuating the building. Then he sent out a message via Twitter to librarians he’s befriended through a loosely-knit group calling itself the Library Society of the World.

Steve Lawson, a librarian in Colorado Springs, Colorado, says he read this note: “’It’s a hell of a day so far. Thanks to everyone sending the well wishes.’”

Through links Schwartz sent, Lawson looked at photos and read news reports. They got him thinking about what he could do.

“Late that night,” he says, “I wrote a post on my blog.”

Not only did he write about the calamity, he put a PayPal button up so people could give money for the library and set a $5,000 goal by Sept. 1.

“The first donation was at 5:30 in the morning my time,” he says.

And in less than 24 hours he raised $1,000. His total so far stands at more than $3,000 from 94 people.

Since then generosity towards the Louisville Free Public Library has come from far and wide.

At the library’s main branch up to 160 people have been at work on some days: cleaning, hauling, sorting and starting to rebuild. Library director Craig Buthod has been splitting his time between the donated space for library staff in the Heyburn building and here. He says one early encounter with the largesse was when a library staffer went to purchase computer equipment.

“We had to capture the data on the library’s file servers and offload it to external hard drives. So, we went out to Best Buy and the manager at Best Buy said, “You need some help this week. We’re going to donate the hard drives.”

Other businesses have been giving as well — from area grocery stores donating food for the workers’ lunches to an Indiana publishing company donating $3,000 worth of services to help restore any books. And a local blogger has organized a bake sale.

Mary Hunt is executive director of the Louisville Free Public Library Foundation, which raises money for the library.

“I immediately started getting calls,” she says, “about people wanting to help: people wanting to help dry out books; help clean up; make gifts. It was amazing.”

So far, the Library’s Flood Recovery Fund has raised about $60,000, but the library’s losses — including the massive damage to the building’s heating, cooling and electrical systems — cost nearly a hundred times that. Buthod and Hunt say they are still waiting to find out how much insurance will cover.

Hunt says that the enthusiasm she’s seen from so many people is something she hopes the library can channel into long-term support.

“Our priority now is to be sure the library gets back to the condition it was before the flood and preferably even better,” she says. “Of course, we want to keep the people who have made gifts for the Flood Recovery Fund — we’d like to keep them as donors for the future. You know, we hope that they will continue to appreciate the library not just because we need help right now because of the flood. But the library always needs help.”

And many fundraising experts agrees. One is Lucy Bernholz, president of Blueprint Research and Design, an advisory firm that publishes a blog on the business of giving.

“The thing will be to keep up the attention,” she says, “because the library, no doubt, has both immediate needs and ongoing needs, and really take advantage of this opportunity to keep a very public conversation about the public library as a resource.”

In the two fiscal years, the library foundation has raised about $1 million annually. But for now, it’s not clear if the current outpouring will translate into more needed dollars.

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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.

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Local News

Beshear Creates Philanthropy Commission

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says the current economic climate requires innovative solutions to public funding priorities. Therefore, he’s creating the Kentucky Commission on Philanthropy, to find ways to meld public and private resources for state needs.

“But let me be clear,” says Beshear, “this is not the private sector supporting Frankfort. These are local organizations and people who will be investing in local programs that support local communities.”

Beshear says the philanthropic sector in Kentucky, including nearly 850-foundations, collectively gives away more than 120-million dollars a year.

Initially, his 29-member commission will seek ways to leverage private funds to assist the state in areas like early childhood and child health. The group will hold its first Summit on Philanthropy next June.

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Local News

Metro United Way Receives $200,000 Challenge

An anonymous donor has pledged a large sum to the Metro United Way if the agency can raise the same amount by month’s end.

The United Way will get a $200 thousand matching grant if it’s able to generate the funds before 2008 comes to a close. Spokesperson Mark Zanni says he expects the organization to meet that goal.

“Now is the most heavy time that we experience and so we should be able to easily reach that, not easily, but we should be able to reach that,” he says.

Zanni says so far this year, Metro United Way has raised $24 million.

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Local News

U Of L Cancer Center Gets $20 Million Grant

Brown Center DoctorsThe University of Louisville has received the largest single grant in school history. School administrators hope the funds will protect U of L from the faltering economy.

The James Graham Brown Foundation is giving $20 million to U of L’s cancer center of the same name. University President James Ramsey says, despite the state of the economy, giving has not slowed down lately, but the funds will help the center continue its work if it does.

“It’s a hard economic time for everybody. It’s hard to speculate,” he says. “But certainly many investors are looking at their portfolios and their giving and what they can do. It’s a hard time, we understand that.”

The money will be given to U of L in installments for the next five years.