Revelations in recent days about alleged abuses and fabrications by author and international nonprofit leader, Greg Mortenson, leave many crying over spilled
Mortenson co-wrote the international bestseller, Three Cups of Tea, an autobiographical account of his escape from death on K2 and recovery in a remote Pakistani village. Through his survival, Mortenson committed to building a village school, which he has now done over and over again in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Much of the narrative is alleged to be fiction and has many outraged. Add to the falsehoods, abuse of nonprofit status and quite a controversy is brewing.
So, what can nonprofit organizations learn from this debacle? The Chronicle of Philanthropy editorial offers insight from which all of us can learn. Their top tips:
- Consider public expectations in every report and publication.
- View the informational tax return as a public-disclosure document, not just an Internal Revenue Service form.
- Watch for potential conflicts of interests involving top executives and board members.
- Prevent sweetheart deals that benefit a charity’s officials or board members.
- Structure the board to engender public trust.
- Conduct independent audits regularly to avoid trouble.
- Adopt clear and fair travel policies.
- Draft an emergency-response plan long before any problems arise.
For fans of the Blue Mountain Community Foundation, we have all of these practices in place with the exception of clear and fair travel policies, mostly because we rarely travel. What do you think nonprofit organizations should do to assure trustworthy stewardship?