Three Cups of Mismanagement?
Not for Most SC Nonprofits

There has been much controversy surrounding the Central Asia Institute, the nonprofit home of Greg Mortenson, author of the book Three Cups of Tea.  

The following is a letter to the editor penned by SCANPO president Madeleine McGee on the issue and how it relates to our work. 

Help nonprofits

Originally published in The Post and Courier
June 9, 2011


A recent Ken Burger column titled “Brewing up a nice cup of skepticism” spoke to recent allegations regarding Greg Mortenson’s nonprofit organization. However, such improprieties are the exception, not the rule, for the nonprofits with which the S.C. Association of Nonprofit Organizations (SCANPO) has had the privilege of working.

The majority of our 700-plus member organizations are run by committed, dedicated professionals and volunteers who do not profit from their efforts. On the contrary, most work long hours for low wages and make invaluable contributions of time and talent without compensation, all for the good of the community.

The situation with Central Asia Institute (CAI), the nonprofit organization Mr. Mortenson founded, provides a “teaching moment” for all who volunteer and work in the nonprofit sector, not just the College of Charleston, which hosted Mr. Mortenson this year. Where was responsible CAI board leadership? Why was there what appears to be a blatant lack of financial reporting by CAI?

Now that the Montana Attorney General’s office is investigating, this story promises to provide a more in-depth case study of the do’s and don’t’s of nonprofit management. In addition, two Montana State legislators have brought suit against CAI, Mr. Mortenson and its board.

For those who prefer more constructive resources, SCANPO offers excellent tools to help the state’s 4,000-plus nonprofits improve their governance and accountability and to help boards of directors hone their oversight skills.

We hold the nonprofit community to the highest standards of ethical responsibility and are here to support their efforts to be successful, strong contributors to South Carolina communities. Those they serve and those who support them deserve no less.

Madeleine McGee


S.C. Association of Nonprofit Organizations