Really, Nick?

Dear Mr. Kristof,
I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed. In your debilitatingly biased op-ed on the scandal surrounding Greg Mortenson (Author of Best Seller Three Cups of Tea) you brush off the serious accusations of Moretenson’s charity mishandling funds on the basis that we should be thankful that they are at least doing some good work.

“I don’t know what to make of these accusations. Part of me wishes that all this journalistic energy had been directed instead to ferret out abuses by politicians who allocate government resources to campaign donors rather than to the neediest among us, but that’s not a real answer. The critics have raised serious questions that deserve better answers: we need to hold school-builders accountable as well as fat cats.”

“My inclination is to reserve judgment until we know more, for disorganization may explain more faults than dishonesty. I am deeply troubled that only 41 percent of the money raised in 2009 went to build schools, and Greg, by nature, is more of a founding visionary than the disciplined C.E.O. necessary to run a $20 million-a-year charity. On the other hand, I’m willing to give some benefit of the doubt to a man who has risked his life on behalf of some of the world’s most voiceless people.”

Are you kidding me? Did you seriously just say that part of you wishes journalists wouldn’t expose corruption and mishandling of funds in the non-profit community? That somehow corruption in charities is some how less offensive than corruption in corporations or government? Mr. Kristof, you are seriously deluded by your friendship with Mr. Mortenson. Mishandling of funds in the non-profit world, even if done by so called “do gooders” has even more catastrophic effects than in other arenas: it hurts the causes that these organizations claim to support. The donor won’t care if the mishandling came out of disorganization or greed, they simply won’t give any money, and they will look suspiciously upon other organizations which are actually putting more than 40 percent of funds raised toward the causes they purport to support.

New edition will include a few more footnotes...

I agree that in our system you are innocent until proven guilty, but according to your editorial, it sounds like you would prefer if nosey journalists didn’t raise such trouble about good people. Would you really blame the whistle blower for the crime of the corrupt official? I also agree that Mortenson’s book has potentially helped many Americans to see past the Islamophobic rhetoric of our time, and to be honest, I am less concerned with the accusations that part of his personal story is fictional. What truly troubles me is the casual nature in which you are approaching the accusations of mishandling of funds, in which you sound more annoyed at the expose than at your friend for betraying the trust of the millions of donors.

Personally, I don’t think that the misuse of donations and abuse of donor trust is a light matter, and it angers me that someone like you would dismiss it so casually. There are plenty of organizations that do good work AND properaly manage their finances, and the “disorganization” of Mortenson is only going to make it harder for them to do their work.

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