The Three Cups of Tea Scandal has highlighted many issues in the nonprofit world. I’ve written about two of them already and over 160 posts and articles have been written about the various aspects of this scandal.
One area that has received far too little attention is the the wildly different scores that CAI received on the various charity rating sites. One of the few articles to address this issue was written by Lucy Bernholz in her post Tea, lives, and trust. There she links to the American Institute of Philanthropy’s (AIP) page which called out CAI for their questionable response to requests for audited financial reports. AIP also appeared on the 60 Minutes expose‘.
Lucy also linked to Charity Navigator’s 4-star rating of CAI - which Charity Navigator later amended with a donor advisory once the scandal broke.
Posted on May 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm
Today Congress is holding a hearing related to people that have been raped in the Peace Corps (PC) and the way the Peace Corps treated them both in country and after they returned to the states. You can read a New York Times piece on the issue and here’s the post that got me thinking about this again, Rape and the Peace Corps.
My own experience in the Peace Corps leads me to believe that what is coming out is not surprising. I had several incidences where the PC was not looking out for my best interest or even working counter to it.
The first issue came with site placement. The official co-worker that PC assigned to me was quite the womanizer with several minor wives. He had set his sites on having an American girlfriend through his role with the PC. When I arrived for my…
Posted on May 11, 2011 at 9:12 am
I’m spending my days getting ready to take a hiatus from the aid world for the summer. As such, I’m having a hard time concentrating on writing serious blog posts, so I thought I’d share with you a personal post instead.
As some of you might have noticed, I have a rather long and unusual last name. And I have a love/hate relationship with that name. Schimmelpfennig has in many ways defined me. You cannot fade into the background when roll is being called or business cards are exchanged. When the teacher or instructor gets to the S’s and then stops and looks puzzled, you know they’ve gotten to your name and you will now have to publicly answer the myriad of questions that always ensue. So here, dear readers, are some of the answers to those questions.
How do you pronounce your last name?
The Americanized pronunciation is Shim-mel-fen-nig with the emphasis on…
Posted on May 10, 2011 at 8:35 am
It’s been a long and difficult six years, and it’s taken a toll on my mental, physical and financial health. So I’ve decided it’s time to get away for a while and recharge my batteries. I’ve accepted a laid back job in Yellowstone National Park, a place where I worked many years ago and often think of as home.
I leave next Sunday and will be away until early October. Although I will have limited internet access while I’m in Yellowstone, I don’t plan to blog or tweet much during that time. I need to be able to step away from the aid world for a while so I can come back refreshed and ready to go.
While I’m away I’m scheduling a once weekly repost of a previous post. I’m also inviting guest bloggers to submit posts. I’d like to make this an opportunity to share a wide range of voices…
Posted on May 6, 2011 at 5:10 pm
Let me just start this review by saying that I like the term “Base of the Pyramid” (BoP) rather than other terms that have been used including “bottom of the pyramid,” “bottom billion,” “developing countries,” “the poor,” etc. There’s dignity in being the base, everything needs a base.
Next Generation Business Strategies for the Base of the Pyramid is authored by Ted London and Stuart L. Hart and published by the Financial Times Press. The book’s focus is on how to “create a fortune with the base of the pyramid” or essentially how to build a business that sells goods to the large number of people that live on the lowest incomes.
The first chapter is my favorite and focuses on both the ability and necessity of the people in the BoP to contribute to the design and selling of products. Even though this book’s focus is on business and on…
Posted on May 5, 2011 at 4:15 pm
Reposting a modified version of the Dos and Don’ts given the recent tornadoes in the southern U.S.
The following is a series of dos and don’ts to help you make the best donation decisions after a disaster.
Do look at a variety of nonprofits before giving
There are hundreds of organizations that respond to most disasters, take the time to evaluate a few before giving. Also, just because they have name recognition does not mean they’re best able to respond to the disaster. Look for organizations that were operating in the country before the disaster, they will be able to respond quicker and know the local culture, politics, and needs better. Giving to local organizations is great.
Do look for organizations with prior experience and expertise
There is a great deal of money after well publicized disasters. The ease of raising money makes it
Posted on May 4, 2011 at 12:15 pm
Last night’s events show just how astonishingly fast social media is these days. And it was a pretty amazing show.
I first saw news of the upcoming speech by President Obama over twitter about 20 minutes before the scheduled start time. Within in those 20 minutes, the news of Osama bin Laden’s assignation was leaked and then independently confirmed.
Then news came over twitter that the Wikipedia page for bin Laden had been updated to include his death. This was done before President Obama even made the official announcement.
Before the president even finished speaking, word came over twitter that Google maps had been updated to show where bin Laden’s hideout was located.
Shortly after Obama’s announcement, my state representatives took to twitter to make their public statements on the unfolding events. These were retweeted by my local paper. The paper then asked for people’s reactions to the death,…
Posted on May 2, 2011 at 6:41 am
It seems fitting that the Three Cups of Tea scandal coincides with the release of the book More Than Good Intentions: How a New Economics is Helping to Solve Global Poverty. And no, although our titles are similar, I’m not the book’s author. It was written by Dean Karlan and Jacob Appel.
One of the issues around the Central Asia Institute (CAI), the nonprofit started by the author of Three Cups of Tea, is the apparent lack of any evaluation of the schools it constructed. In response to the question posed by 60 Minutes “Has CAI ever commissioned an independent assessment of the effectiveness of its schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan?” the governing board’s answer was:
“No. CAI is unaware of any organization qualified to undertake such a study. However, it is clear that the effectiveness of its schools and…
Posted on April 25, 2011 at 2:29 pm
The scandal behind “Three Cups of Tea” has highlighted many problems currently surrounding aid and philanthropy. I’ve written about most of these issues in the past, and there have been so many brought up in this current scandal that it can be hard to know where to even start.
Here is a quick run down of what I see are the major issues:
- Whites in Shining Armor/founder stories are emotionally resonant but meaningless. People become so attached to the story that they don’t try to evaluate the project itself. (see Eureka and other myths, Disruption Isn’t Just for Entrepreneurs: The Three Cups of Tea Lesson and The Dangers of Hero Worshipping)
- Problems with the way we represent the people and places we are trying to help. Is the representation accurate or is it inaccurate to increase donations? What is the impact of misrepresentation? (see The
Posted on April 19, 2011 at 1:14 pm
I’m still deciding what, if anything, I will write on this scandal. But in the meantime I thought I’d track the numerous posts springing up on the topic today. If you’re not familiar with the story, here is the original 60 Minutes report.
This post will be regularly updated with the most recent posts at the top. Please include links to related posts that I’ve missed in the comment section.
166. ‘Three Cups of Tea’ Lawsuit Could Open Path for Many Donors to Sue – Chronicle of Philanthropy
165. Three Cups of Tea highlights weaknesses in charitable rating systems – Good Intentions are Not Enough
164. Needed: 3 cups of compassion - The Lead
163. Nonprofit Authors Take Notes From ‘Three Cups’ Scandal - The Chronicle of Philanthropy
162. Greg Mortenson and CAI Roll Out a Defense – Outside Magazine
Posted on April 18, 2011 at 7:11 am