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The Pitfalls of Non-Profit Accounting

Posted by Amanda Gustin on April 25, 2011 in forum not temple, potpourri |

So sorry for going dark for a little while – it’s been an eventful few weeks for your industrious blogger. We’ll be back to regular posting this week. As always, if you have any suggestions for posts or would like to contribute by guest posting, please email me: amanda.gustin[at]tufts[dot]edu.
If you’ve seen the news lately, you know that author, mountaineer, and lecturer Greg Mortensen, famous for building schools in Afghanistan through his book Three Cups of Tea and its concomitant foundation, the Central Asia Institute, is in more than a bit of trouble. The accounting at his non-profit has gone awry, and it appears that he’s not doing everything he said he would.

Over at The Atlantic, economics blogger Megan McArdle has an interesting post about “instant development,” or, the perils of expecting one messianic genius to change the world. She cites John Krakauer’s initial expose into Mortensen’s business practices, as well as a very thoughtful post from Swarthmore professor Timothy Burke about exactly what projects make the most sense to fund.

There are more than a few parallels to start-up museums in this story. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Keep your books straight. Beware of mission creep. Focus on the smaller, less-glamorous practical results.

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