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Akshaya USA
April 12, 2011

I began volunteering for Akshaya after reading the CNN report. Initially I was also very impressed with the touching videos and pictures. But I was in for a nasty surprise. In a few months, I realized that the organization was not really as transparent as it claimed. There were several inconsistencies in what was said and done in the organization. I saw a lot of lies and misrepresentations.

Narayanan Krishnan had been using his personal ICICI account (account #601601504494) to collect the donations. The account details were on his website until Nov 2010. Not all the money sent to that account is not shown in the books. A donation of $10,000 I had sent to that account was written off as "cash purchases". A registered non-profit with IT exemption must not be using a personal account for donation collection. After I pointed this out to this to Narayanan Krishnan, he removed the account details from his website in Nov 2010 right before the CNN program. However he has collected a substantial amount of money as donation on this personal account and he does NOT issue receipts for the all money received on his personal account. I was refused a receipt for the donation. Fortunately I have an email correspondence from their senior volunteer Mr R.Parthasarathy to prove my claim.

Earlier the Akshaya trust website would mention that there were zero administrative expenses. But the truth was that they have
always had salaried employees. The information was put on their website merely to mislead donors. They removed the misleading statement after I questioned them on that. Here is another interesting discrepancy. The CNN report published last year mentions the cost of his daily operations is $327.
Source:
http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/04/01/cnnheroes.krishnan.hunger/

But when you check out his website today (4/12/2011) he reports his daily operation expenses to be $450 per day.
Source: http://www.akshayatrust.or/donation_foreign_currencies.php
I know the cost of food prices has risen but an increase of
$123 PER DAY in just a year sounds far too fishy !!!

I discovered several other discrepancies in this organization and lost my complete faith in this "CNN hero". I had contributed $62,000 to the Akshaya home shelter. My donations were supposed to be used to sponsor the 5th block of the shelter. I did not receive even a single third party vendor receipt to show me how the money was spent. I received occasional pictures on the progress of the construction. There was absolutely no visibility. I got a rude response when I asked N.Krishnan to be more accountable. His behavior and attitude was most unprofessional and unethical.

I got in touch with several donor families in Madurai and realized that several families had been fleeced. With great difficulty I managed to get my donation money refunded. I wrote to CNN just before the CNN hero's program. They threatened to sue me for defamation and I threatened to sue their US office for financial misappropriation and they refunded my money slowly. They promised to refund all the money before the CNN program. But right after the CNN hero's program was over one of the checks they had sent to me for $45,000 bounced. I can prove all that I have written with my bank audit trail and email correspondences with Akshaya.

It was one of the most painful experiences in my life. A lesson well learned indeed !!! In addition to donating a large amount of money I spent a lot of time volunteering for them only to discover the truth was far different from the reality. Please do your homework before you fall for the media reports and touching story. There is much more to this organization than the rosy media reports.

If you dig a little more deeper you will find out that Narayanan Krishnan and his family live in an opulent home in Madurai and own several properties in India. In India where corruption and tax evasion is rampant property can be acquired far below the market value under the aegis of a charitable trust. I came to know that many more families in Madurai have been misled by this organization. Please, please do your homework before you fall for the rosy reports. I learned it the hard way. Krishnan must have started the organization with a good intention. But all the fame and fortune at such a young age corrupted him. Please contact families in Madurai and get to know the organization and its founder better before you donate to this organization.

The Great!

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

Yes.

Ways to make it better...

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

Make them financially more accountable and transparent.

MY ROLE:
Volunteer & Volunteer, Program Coordinator and Donor.