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Central Asia Institute

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: International, International Development, International Relief

Mission: We empower communities of Central Asia through literacy and education, especially for girls; to promote peace through education; and to convey the importance of these activities globally.

Results: Central Asia Institute was started in 1996. Since then we have built 189 schools, supported 120 schools, 65 vocational & literacy programs, 14 community programs, 37 public health programs, 11 scholarship programs, and 14 teacher support programs. This past year we positively impacted over 100,000 people through CAI supported programs.

Target demographics: empowering girls and women in Central Asia

Geographic areas served: Afghanistan, Pakistan, & Tajikistan

Programs: We build schools, provide ongoing support to schools and children, women's vocational centers & literacy programs, public health programs, community programs, teacher training programs and scholarship programs.

Community Stories

17 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I was initially inspired by Three Cups of Tea - the story of how the idea of building schools in remotest parts of Asia all started. I have been a campaigner for the global environment for decades, and also for women's rights to control their own fertility - only when soaring rates of population growth are cut almost to zero, will efforts to conserve the natural environment really succeed. Vital to this is the education of girls, so that they can aspire to a wider future than constant child-bearing. As teachers, doctors, lawyers they will power the development of more harmonious societies.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

I have no idea why people would want you to take down your "Donor Advisory"; I, for one, appreciate it and it's one of the reasons I use Charity Navigator! No, simply reading the reviews and other info doesn't speak for itself - the advisory is helpful. As a co-founder of a non-profit that works with war-injured children, I'm appalled at the "salary" and perks that Greg Mortenson was taking from his "charity". I think what the CAI does is wonderful, but without removing Mortenson from the Board, I can't have much faith that the money is going where it should.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

People have to start looking into more and more charities. The public is just taking for granted that when the word charity is involved, that the money u give is being used in the charities best interest. What I am finding, is that alot of charities are benefiting contractors or members of these charities or services provided to these charities are profiting greatly and only a small % of funds are going to help the charities mission...please investigate the %of money made vs. money given to charity grants (not salaries, not expenses, not questionable payments to 3rd parties...one on my radar is Susan B Coleman that spends over 70 % for salaries and other questionable expenses...hundreds of millions collected for the AWARENESS OF BREAST CANCER...Im aware, how spending hundreds of millions on cure, research, care, and prevention

4 Dawn C.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Yes, I saw the 60 minutes report -- but did anyone actually take the time to read his responses (and the CAI's board of directors) to the 60 minutes report? You know, his side of the story? The fact that perhaps the reporters who questioned folks in Pakistan and Afghanistan might have talked to the wrong people? 60 minutes raised some good questions, but they gave him less than ONE WEEK and were in his FACE demanding an answer. Anyone take a look at the CAI tax returns on the CAI website? Mr. Mortensen was making $28k in 1996. In 1997, it was $31k. In 2003, something like $50k. TO LEAD AN ENTIRE ORGANIZATION AND BUST HIS TAIL DOING SOMETHING NOONE ELSE WAS WILLING TO DO! You can start criticizing the day you go over to Afghanistan and build a school. Give the guy a break. His compensation now takes that into account (again, read the response from the CAI board on the 60 minutes website, at the end of the article). Perhaps he needs to hire a PR person or a business manager to handle the reporting better, or hire someone to track exactly how many schools are built and visit them each once a year to check on their progress, but Krakauer himself said that Mortensen's a good guy with a good heart. Don't believe everything you read, but don't believe everything 60 minutes reports. Everything is ALWAYS slanted, on both ends of it. I'm giving it 5 stars to compensate for the ignorance of some of the other reviewers.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

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.

Review from Guidestar

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

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.

Review from CharityNavigator

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

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.

Review from Guidestar

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

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"?

Review from CharityNavigator

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

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/

Review from CharityNavigator

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

I'm only responding to the "60 Minutes" piece. Despite the glowing defenses made here, I think prospective donors should watch the piece and make their own conclusions. There is a transparency issue with nonprofits who believe avoiding journalists -- even "yellow" journalists -- will benefit them. By not participating in the dialog, it creates the impression that the charity has something to hide. In the case of this charity, at the least, it creates an uncertainty about the Board's veracity. At worst, it undermines trust in the nonprofit's governance. I'm putting this in the "Nice idea, but . . ." category. I have no problem with Mortenson's making $, either directly or indirectly through the charity. It's not even unseemly; this is America. The lack of transparency is my complaint.

I must confess that CharityNavigator's response to the report seems a bit complacent. True, they're just rating based on the public reports, but maybe it's time to look for additional metrics. I don't think this charity will be in the situation that the Philadelphia Orchestra finds itself anytime soon.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Need to release yearly finacial statements and to have an audit every year befor I would give money to this organization.

Review from Guidestar

1 Chris H.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

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.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

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.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

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.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

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.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

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.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

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

Review from CharityNavigator