Central Asia Institute

Rating: 3.08 stars   50 reviews

Issues: International

Location: PO Box 7209 Bozeman MT 59771 USA

Mission: Central Asia Institute (CAI) works with communities in remote areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan, to promote education, especially for girls. At home and abroad, CAI is committed to sharing its expert knowledge with the public. Together we can cultivate peace, nurture hope, and change the world, one child at a time.
Results: Central Asia Institute has: - Built and or supported just under 300 schools - Constructed or sponsored 48 women’s vocational and literacy centers - Created 34 public health programs - Established 9 scholarship programs - Undertaken 16 community programs
Programs: Since its founding in 1996, Central Asia Institute has:
  • Built and or supported just under 300 schools
  • Constructed or sponsored 48 women’s vocational and literacy centers
  • Created 34 public health programs
  • Established 9 scholarship programs
  • Undertaken 16 community programs
  • CAI’s service-learning program, Pennies for Peace (P4P), was started in 1994 to teach children that a little goes a long way. By raising pennies to donate to impoverished schoolchildren in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan, kids discover their potential as humanitarians and philanthropists. While a penny is virtually worthless in many societies, it can open the door to literacy for a child in Central Asia.
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    EIN 51-0376237
    406.585.7841
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    Community Reviews

    Role: General Member of the Public
    Rating: 1 stars  

    2 people found this review helpful

    Not impressed... if I want data on a publicly trade company I can access that data without registering, or being "authorized" to review the data. At first glance it appears that you are hiding something. I bought the book, but I have not donated and at this point will not donate.

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    I have no experience with this organization.

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    Transparency

    Was this review helpful? 
    Review from Guidestar
    Rating: 4 stars  

    2 people found this review helpful

    Charities that do this type of work are desperately needed in places where war zones are present in Pakistan/Afghanistan. Greg M had the foresight to see the need for schools and then figure out a way to implement his ideas after voluntarily deciding to get involved in this activity. From the beginning as he states in his books he is a much better volunteer than a businessman or accountant. Unlike many of us fellow Americans safe in our homes he is risking his life every time he goes to Pakistan alone. Often he has to deal with the diverse and confusing Pakistani political scene to travel and to procure materials. Logistics are a nightmare and often require extreme patience and money to protect and store supplies. His campaign for building schools starts and ends with the local population in each village. This most significant fact was omitted in the 60 Minutes interview. On top of all this he has had to deal with religious leaders and issues that could have not only stopped him in his tracks from continuing but could have lead to his death because he would be viewed as an infidel as well as an American in terrorist infested areas.

    I don't know of John Krakuaer's involvement other than that he is complaining about a fellow mountain climber and has some strange idea about what it takes to do the things Greg and his family have accomplished.
    Clearly, some accounting must be made to clear up Greg's good name and to reaffirm his voluntarism. I plan to continue my support of CAI as I know of no other similar organization that has had such a positive impact on the Northern tribes of Pakistan.
    They rely on CAI much more than on the broken promises of the Pakistani government.

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    NO

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    Conduct routine accounting of finances typical of charitable organizations like CAI.

    Was this review helpful? 
    Review from CharityNavigator
    Rating: 1 stars  

    2 people found this review helpful

    The news about CAI's alleged fraudulent activities continue to grow. I would like to know how Charity Navigator can continue to list them as a 4-star charity given the amount of data that is now available.

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    I'm sure this organization has done loads of good, but the lack of transparency and truthfulness must be considered.

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    Keep the good work but fire everyone and develop a new, professional management team.

    Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

    No

    How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

    Some

    Was this review helpful? 
    Review from CharityNavigator
    Rating: 1 stars  

    3 people found this review helpful

    I have discontinued support of this organization because the funds are not being used properly. Something is amiss when travel accounts for more than 50% of service expenditures. Something is amiss when no per diem monies received by GM are returned to the organization despite it paying for his travel to events where he earns per diem (sometimes first-class according to the 990). Something is amiss when the CAI publication purchases exceed $700,000 and the obvious purchase option is GM's books. I don't agree with the conclusion of the internal review of potential conflict of interest; GM has a conflict of interest that has not been adequately resolved.

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    N/A

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    Resolve the conflict of interest - if GM wants to keep his book revenues and speaker per diems, then he has to pay his travel expenses. CAI should only pay travel expenses associated with direct school support activities (e.g., to school sites).

    Was this review helpful? 
    Review from Guidestar
    Role: General Member of the Public
    Rating: 1 stars  

    1 person found this review helpful

    Guidestar apparently does not rate these charities, but must regurgitate whatever marketing comes from the organization. Don't just watch "60 Minutes", read Jon Krakauer's unbiased report. I am only adding this ZERO (but made into a 1 because the system does not allow below that) rating to neutralize some of the 5star opinions listed here. BUT I am informed.

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    Friends who become engaged in educating girls.

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    Shut it down.

    Was this review helpful? 
    Review from Guidestar
    Rating: 2 stars  

    1 person found this review helpful

    I think Charity Navigator needs to explain how it arrived at its 4 star rating (and stands by it). In particular, how idd you calculate that 88% of funds go for "Program Expenses"?

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    reading his books

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    A large part of the royalties of Mortenson's books should go to CAI>

    Was this review helpful? 
    Review from CharityNavigator
    Rating: 1 stars  

    1 person found this review helpful

    The fact that this has 4 stars is a major blow to charity navigator's credibility.
    $4,607,300 spent on "domestic outreach"(telling people in America about the problem) while 3,954,644 was spent on actually building and supporting schools.
    "A donation to Central Asia Institute, at least in 2009, was more likely to be spent on costs related to educating people in the U.S. about problems in Pakistan and Afghanistan than on helping children in central Asia with their education." -American Institute of Philanthropy
    Having these two completely different costs lumped in together as "program costs" on charity navigator's rating page is just not helpful. The rating should compare how well the finances line up with what the charity purports to care about, not what they can legally define as "program costs". If CAI rebranded as a charity partially devoted to educating Americans about the importance of education in Afghanistan and Pakistan, they would have a much harder time gaining funding.
    My faith in Charity Navigator is seriously shaken, and the donor advisory warning is ridiculous: "Charity Navigator, as an impartial evaluator of publicly reported financial information, takes no position as to the seriousness of the issue(s) nor does it seek to confirm or verify the accuracy of such reports."
    Why have a rating system then? Reporting numbers without context is just helping the organization whitewash it's numbers and lend false credibility. This is serious problem.

    sources:
    http://www.charitywatch.org/articles/CentralAsiaInstitute.html
    https://www.ikat.org/about-cai/financials/

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    the internet

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    Take a serious look at what the goal of the organization is.

    Was this review helpful? 
    Review from CharityNavigator
    Rating: 5 stars  

    2 people found this review helpful

    Shame on Sixty Minutes for creating a tempest in a teapot!

    Had Sixty Minutes investigated Greg Mortenson himself, I believe they would have found a modest man, living rather modestly with his wife and 2 children in Bozeman Montana. No yachts, no jets, no vacation homes on every continent, no bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, no garage full of expensive cars. In short, no evidence of using CAI funds for his personal benefit.

    Instead, Sixty Minutes published ugly innuendos made by Jon Krakauer, a former CAI board member who has had no personal experience with the organization for over a decade and who, for reasons known only to Mr.Krakauer, chose today to throw stones at Greg Mortenson's Schools.

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    I have read Greg Mortenson's books, and have heard him speak on behalf of women and young girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I have seen first hand impact he has made raising awareness of the plight of women and girls in this important region of the world.

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    Conduct annual audit reports.

    Was this review helpful? 
    Review from Guidestar
    Rating: 1 stars  

    1 person found this review helpful


    SCAM

    I looked at their website... It reads like a hustle.

    I would not trust this organization.

    - Just my subjective belief (opinion).

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    I have not.

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    Make them fully reporting.

    Was this review helpful? 
    Review from Guidestar
    Role: Professional with expertise in this field
    Rating: 5 stars  

    2 people found this review helpful

    Regardless of whether or not CAI has exaggerated its reports, one should pay particular attention to the impact that CAI has had at the grassroots levels - on the "local" populations. It appears to me that those higher up the bureaucratic chain are quick to join the bandwagon in pointing out how CAI could have been sounder in its decisions, or conducted better work. However, at the end of the day, let us be realistic. We are dealing with areas of the world where the government, NATO, or US security forces had a minimal presence and most definitely did not address the education needs of the marginalized. CAI has been performing and continues to perform great feats under great challenges.

    Thank you

    A helpful article to put what I have said into perspective:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13125953

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    My conversations with a few individuals from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    With better transparency and less pay for Mr. Mortenson, CAI should be supported in its work. I think his personal salary in comparison to CAI’s revenues is too high, especially when your compare his salary to those leading international organizations such as the American Red Cross. I suppose further investigations over time will provide CAI the opportunity to restore is image.

    How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

    Life-changing

    Will you recommend this organization to others?

    Definitely

    What is unique about this organization?

    The area where it functions. The scope of its work.

    Was this review helpful? 
    Review from CharityNavigator