Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Charity Wednesdays: Should Donors Be Able to Sue?

An article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy about efforts by donors to the Central Asia Institute (CAI) to recoup their gifts has a lot of people talking about whether donors should be able to sue charities if they feel they were misled. 

Central Asia Institute's founder, Greg Mortenson, wrote the best-selling book Three Cups of Tea. Questions have arisen recently about the accuracy of Morteson's story and a group of donors are attempting to sue CAI because they feel they were misled into supporting an organization that does not exactly do what it says it does.

I worry that if this lawsuit is allowed to go through, it will create another brand of frivolous legal battles and suck time and money from the good work that the vast majority of nonprofits do on a daily basis.

At the BBB, we advise donors to always make informed giving decisions.  Our charity reports help you do that. Please don't give to a charity solely because of what you read in a book by that organization's author. 

Incidentally, the BBB's report on CAI reveals that it chose not to disclose its information to us.  I'll let you draw your own conclusions as to what that might mean about Greg Mortenson and his commitment to nonprofit ethics.

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