Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Greg Mortenson Asked to Step Down by American Institute of Philanthropy

by Gary Snyder

Nonprofit Imperative has covered the scandal about Greg Mortenson's Central Asia Institute with guidance from Nonprofit Quarterly. NPQ updates its readers that an article from American Institute of Philanthropy's magazine identifies continuing holes in Mortenson's and CAI's stories and explanations. Not only did Central Asia Institute report receiving little to none of the $25,000 fees he charged to speak at many of these events, its tax form showed that it was covering many of the expenses related to carrying out Mortenson's U.S. speaking tours.

In 2009 the charity's tax form also showed it spent $4.6 million on what it described as "domestic outreach and education" to fund these speaking events at which Mortenson promoted his books. This amount included expenses paid for things like domestic travel and advertising. The board confirmed that in 2009 CAI spent only 41% of its expenses on building or supporting schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but insisted that Mortenson's speaking engagements at which he promotes his books should also be counted as a program of the charity since their purpose is to educate Americans about the needs of people in central Asia. In addition, CAI confirmed that the charity "has purchased thousands of copies" of Mortenson's books over the years to give to schools, libraries, and others. Mortenson's royalty checks from book sales "are not split" with CAI, according to the board, but they claim he has donated "a percentage of his royalties from the books to CAI." The board admitted that the charity paid $1.7 million in book-related costs in 2009 that included "Advertising, events, film and professional fees, publications (books & freight), and some travel."

On learning of the fiction of Mortenson's supposedly non-fiction books and his use of Central Asia Institute to fund and promote his personal profit-making endeavors, "AIP believes it is appropriate for Mortenson to resign from the charity. A new board of directors should then be installed that, unlike its current board, has the ability to govern CAI effectively and independently of the personal business interests of Mortenson or any other CAI official. For a man who has dedicated so much of his life to promoting CAI's important cause, Mortenson's resignation letter to the charity is perhaps the most generous contribution he could now make to the people of central Asia."

Nonprofit Imperative gathers its information principally from public documents...some of which are directly quoted. Virtually all cited are in some phase of criminal proceedings; some have not been charged, however. Cites in various media: Featured in print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including: Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, B, USA Today Topics, ,, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times...and many more • Nonprofits: On the Brink (iUniverse, 2006)
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