Doing Good at a Distance

Town & Country • June 2008

When Christel DeHaan heard of the sexual abuse scandal at the Oprah Winfrey Academy for Girls, west of Johannesburg, South Africa, the private philanthropist didn’t tsk-tsk. She sympathized. Ten years after founding Christel House, an international academy based in Indianapolis that Winfrey studied before founding her own, DeHaan knew that bad things can happen even at charities with “the best of practices.” Horrible as they can be, however, such occasional violations in trust were once an unavoidable risk for donors supporting organizations abroad. But as news of criminal activity at charities—whether international or domestic—has spread, donors are increasingly wanting more than an assurance that their gifts are being put to good use. They want proof.

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