I’ve been watching with sadness the controversy surrounding Greg Mortenson and the nonprofit he heads up.

I think it’s made my heart so heavy because I just read “Three Cups of Tea” which tells the story of how he got started.  I was very moved by the story and even wondering how I could help.

Then I started seeing news stories online about how money isn’t being used wisely, etc.  I hate it when any nonprofit has to face these kinds of situations.

Whether you believe in the allegations being made about Greg or not, it doesn’t really matter – the damage is done.

Lots of people will hear the accusations and believe them instead of digging in to find out what the real story is (by the way, the accusations never tell the whole truth).

There’s a HUGE lesson here for everyone: Do EVERYTHING you can to protect your nonprofit’s reputation.

I’ve always said that your reputation is about all you have.  Once it’s damaged, it takes a lot of time and energy to repair.  Once it’s damaged, it makes a big impact on whether the community wants to continue to support you or not.  Once it’s damaged, fundraising gets a lot harder.

How do you protect your reputation?  Be trustworthy and honest and ethical.

Be a good steward of the gifts donors have given.  Be willing to share your financial reports with anyone who wants to see them.  ALWAYS build trust with donors and the community.

Nonprofit leaders who don’t pay attention to this or gets complacent thinking “that will never happen to us” are asleep at the wheel and put their nonprofit’s reputation on the line.

It’s time to wake up! One person grumbling about how your nonprofit handles money can be the start of an avalanche you don’t want to be in.