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46 Reviews
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April 18, 2011
2 people found this review helpful

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Review from Guidestar
April 18, 2011
2 people found this review helpful

If you are considering donating money to CAI, please understand that this organization has effectively been committing fraud. I have spent years in the development field and this is not an uncommon result when an individual sets up a program without a good management team, board of directors and other forms of proper oversight. Until the management team admit their mistakes and make the necessary changes you should consider giving your hard earned money to more effective organizations.

The Great!

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

No need for firsthand experience; the research has been done by many other respected individuals and institutions that confirm the serious deficiencies with CAI.

Ways to make it better...

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

New board, hire a staff accountant (!), admit mistakes, change policy concerning financial support for Mr. Mortenson's activities, replace Mr. Mortenson with a professional NGO manager who has solid experience in both management and international development.

April 18, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

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April 18, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

There is no accountability with CAI. One audited financial statement in 14 years is unacceptable for an organization bringing in $10M+ every year. Their operations appear more like an organization in its first year or two with very small revenues. In addition, 60 Minutes revealed that half of the supposed CAI schools either do not exist or were not funded by CAI.

The Great!

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

Reading about the organization.

Ways to make it better...

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

Ensure they are audited every year.

April 18, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

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April 18, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

The lack of transparency of this organization’s leader, and the personal use of the bulk of funds it raises, is cause enough to not support the Central Asia Institute. Continuing to rate them highly certainly calls into questions the basis by which GuideStar makes and monitors its ratings.

The Great!

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

--

Ways to make it better...

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

Replace its Board of Directors and leader.

April 18, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

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Review from CharityNavigator
April 18, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

I do not understand why Charity Navigator awarded this charity a 4 star rating. The annual tax filings prepared by the organization do not satisfy the need for annual, independent audits.

With respect to the other reviewers comments regarding the inspirational books, how can they inspire
when the author (exec. director of this organization) freely admits that these events never occurred?

Their response that they do not have time to respond to the concerns of the public is unacceptable. His book tour expenses should be paid by either his publisher or himself, not the organization. I also question the figures reported on the Form 990. It appears the organization materially understated both the fundraising expense figure and director compensation totals. If the charity funded all the book and speaking engagement expenses, they need to receive the income from those activities.

Unless and until they submit to annual independent audits, I sincerely hope their 501(c)(3) tax exemption is revoked.

The Great!

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

Reviewed their false assertions regarding projects completed.

Ways to make it better...

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

Revoke their tax exemption for the reasons stated above.

April 18, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
April 18, 2011

Despite the critical 60 Minutes report (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/04/15/60minutes/main20054397.shtml) and AIP report (http://www.charitywatch.org/articles/CentralAsiaInstitute.html), I currently still highly recommend this organization.

In the big picture this organization has
had a huge positive impact on how the general public and the US military understand what is happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Even its critics and 60 minutes admit that it has succeeded in educating many girls and having a tremendous positive impact.

No the organization or the leader can be expected to be perfect. CAI is working in an area that is extremely challenging. By his own admission in his books, Greg Mortenson admits to not being so great with administrative matters -- he is a doer, not a detailed administrator. It does appear that some issues need buttoning up. But it is important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Give CAI some time and I believe it will address the concerns that have been raised. The US government itself has made many much bigger errors, yet it has survived and continues to improve. Life is complicated and messy.

Even with some "inefficiencies", CAI and Greg Mortenson are still doing more for Peace with fewer dollars than any other organization I know. Greg's books are still worth reading.

The Great!

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

talking with CAI staff, talking with Greg, reading his books, talking with other volunteers and donors, and reading articles about his work.

Ways to make it better...

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

Improve its transparency and rectify some issues so there is no doubt that this organization is doing the right thing.

More feedback...

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

What specific problem, purpose, priority, or project prompted your gift?

Educating girls and world peace.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

April 17, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

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Review from CharityNavigator
April 17, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

This organization was on 60 minutes and I immediately started my computer to look for it on Charity Navigator.

I don't believe in donating to an organization that does not have an Audit Committee.

I don't understand how they received a 4 star rating.

The Great!

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

I have heard many good reports on media outlets until recently about this organization.

Ways to make it better...

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

I would consider the rating process and provide the public a clear understanding what a Audit Committee does to validate a charity.

April 17, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

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Review from CharityNavigator
April 17, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

Having watched the 60 Minutes segment on CAI, I would ask Charity Navigator, for which I have a great deal of respect, to review the rating on this charity. It seems there is a great error in your information and you have been conned along with many others.

The Great!

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

No.

Ways to make it better...

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

Separate its founder from the organization or, at least, his use of any of its funds.

April 17, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

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April 17, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

The 60 minute report did bring out that he has done some good but that is NO rationalization for what appears to be the lies, misrepresentations and perhaps fraud that appear to be going on. At the very least, the Montana Attorney General should be investigating this group and determining if there is enough evidence to file suit and begin getting statements under oath and filing subpoenas for documents.

The Great!

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

I have not experienced the results of this organization directly

Ways to make it better...

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

have them investigated, audited and dismiss anyone connected with malfeasance at any level.

April 17, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

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Review from CharityNavigator
April 17, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

Based on the 60 minute expose please explain your 4 star rating.

The Great!

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

60 minutes show

Ways to make it better...

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

60 minutes show

April 17, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

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Review from CharityNavigator
April 17, 2011
1 person found this review helpful

I sent this question to Charity Navigator on 12/20/2010 re: Central Asia Institute: The American Institute of Philanthropy has a detailed report about CAI in the April/May issue of Charity Rating Guide and Watchdog Report. I am concerned about this: "Having received many inquiries from donors about CAI, AIP sent a certified letter to the charity last year requesting its financial documents, including audited financial statements. When the charity failed to respond after many months, we followed up in November of 2009 and were told by CAI's operations director, Jennifer Sipes, that the charity "[does not] have audits." When asked why not, Sipes told AIP that CAI's board of directors is currently working with an attorney to "get this sorted out," but could not say for sure when an audit would be available, or what years it would include." Is this information consistent with your information? Seems pretty serious to me, and, if true, would jeopardize the 4 star rating of CAI. Disclosure: I am a donor to CAI but have no other affiliation and certainly no axe to grind.

Here is the response: Dear Stephen Smith, Thank you for contacting Charity Navigator. You can view their audited statements for FYE 2009 on their website: https://www.ikat.org/about-cai/financials/
Sincerely, Farhana Arastu

I sent the same question to Central Asia Institute on 12/22/2010 and received this response: Thank you for contacting us. Central Asia institute recognizes its obligations to provide information regarding its programs and activities for review by the public. To meet this obligation, our policy is to provide the reports and information to the official local, state and federal governmental regulatory agencies as required by law. These entities include the Internal Revenue Service and Attorney General Offices in the states in which we conduct activities. We address donor inquiries, and provide current financial information, including our tax Form 990 and our Audited Financial Statements, on our website (https://www.ikat.org/about-cai/financials/) to ensure transparency.

There are numerous charity watchdog organizations who have requested our information. Each have their own arbitrary analysis, guidelines, and application process to assess non-profit organizations. To apply with them all would be counterproductive to our limited overhead and low operational costs. Therefore, when donors request independent information, we direct them to organizations that receive their information and comply with IRS stipulations, such as Guidestar (http://www.guidestar.org) and Charity Navigator (http://www.charitynavigator.org/). We also direct donors to individual state attorney general offices, who can provide registration information on Central Asia Institute.

Please let me know if you have further questions or comments. Thanks for your support.

Best wishes,

Jennifer Sipes
Operations Director
Central Asia Institute

The Great!

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

I have not personally experienced the results of this organization.

Ways to make it better...

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

The organization should implement a mandate to be completely transparent with donors. Accounting ambiguities, if they exist, should be clarified and corrected. If any part of the narrative history of this organization has been fabricated, this should be corrected immediately. Finally, Charity Navigator should review their process to better ensure that potential donors have been fully informed about outstanding, unresolved issues that may impact the decision of a potential donor.

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