Since my original post on Joseph Kony and the Invisible Children charity, the video, “Kony 2012,” has been viewed over 86 million times on YouTube. Considerable discussion and debate has taken place about the video, the charity’s financials statements, and one of its founders who ended up in the hospital recently. Jokes and critical videos about the organization have surfaced on the Internet.
A Google search landed me at Invisible Children’s Website, http://www.InvisibleChildren.com. It has videos and information galore which addresses the criticisms of the organization’s alleged lack of transparency which explains how much funding goes to the actual cause. Ben Keesey, Invisible Children’s CEO, takes us through this group’s financials, and shows its three -prong approach, using media, awareness and development − to promote and continue its programs in Central Africa. Invisible Children’s revenues have jumped 66% from fiscal year 2010 to 13 million dollars in fiscal year 2011. Its total expenses are 8.8 million and, according to its website, about 85% of its revenues goes to actual support of “the cause”. One-third goes to media, one-third to awareness and one- third to development.
The Invisible Children website shows the programs and development this organization has initiated, including an early- warning radio network set up in Central Africa to alert the villages of Kony’s movements. We can even go to the website and sign up for real time updates on the actions of Kony’s military organization, the “Lord’s Resistance Army” (LRA). It describes the Schools for Schools program and the eleven schools set up to help improve conditions in post- conflict communities.
Since my original posting on March 9 (On HinsdalePatch.com) I have also watched a number of videos that are not supportive of Invisible Children. One criticized its oversimplification of the Ugandan conflicts, but this video’s spokesperson didn’t elaborate on what they would want in place of the Invisible Children organization and its programs. Another such video criticized the fact that the organization’s co-founder, Jason Russell, was white and alleged that he had an ego. Yet another video criticized old video footage of Invisible Children from six years ago being used.
The Invisible Children website states that a new, updated video will be out within a couple of weeks, and the Network Tracker shows what is happening now with the LRA in Central Africa.
I understand that whenever large amounts of money are involved, there will always be criticism. Maybe that’s good; it leads to scrutiny and accountability, which is necessary in any organization. The Invisible Children’s charity seems to be answering the critics and their questions with a series of new videos detailing the organization’s structure, purpose and financial transparency.
I’ve recently seen video of a famous actor spoofing the Kony phenomenon, and found jokes about “Kony 2012” on the Internet. My advice is the same as before: Do your own research and homework, and then decide for yourself.
One thing I hope we can all agree on is that the atrocities committed by Joseph Kony and his “Lord’s Resistance Army” against children are real − and no laughing matter.