While the recent scrutiny over the U.S. based Central Asia Institute is based on questions of personnel gain, all nonprofits need to internalize the need to be not only consistent and clear about their actions, but aggressive in countering the negative publicity (even on the blogs they claim not to read). In our post-Madoff world, transparency isn’t going away – and it’s past time for the professional and lay leaders of all our communal organizations to take note.
from The Chronicle of Philanthropy:
At a time when trust in charities has eroded, the scandal over the Central Asia Institute, the nonprofit founded by Greg Mortenson author of Three Cups of Tea, threatens to cause even more questions for organizations of all kinds.
… Charities are under a magnifying glass like never before. Advances in technology have created an era of transparency. No longer can charities rely on just the good will of their name and historical record. Now they must continually justify their relevance and nurture and protect their credibility. Public trust is of paramount importance, and to lose it may mean losing everything.
To be sure, the problems at the Central Asia Institute are unusual, but the controversy should serve as a cautionary lesson for all nonprofits.
… Charities should exercise care with the information they produce about the organization and monitor their sources for consistency and transparency. Every piece of information disclosed to the public contributes to how a charity builds a relationship and trust with its supporters and donors.
We encourage all of those responsible for stewarding donor money to read the complete article, ‘Three Cups of Tea’ Scandal Offers Lessons for Charities and Trustees.