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Kony Phony?

Alex Curtis, Staff Writer

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Over the past few weeks, the Internet has exploded with KONY 2012 on Twitter, Facebook, and other major social networking sites. The message was started by a charity who came out a with a video trying to make a Ugandan warlord the most infamous man in the world. He has committed unspeakable crimes against humanity such as child abduction, child armies, rape, and torture. The charity, Invisible Children, was created to fight the LRA (the group Kony fights under).

While this seems to be all in good intent, some things do not look right in the financial reports of Invisible Children. According to their own financial records, only 22% of the funds donated go to direct aid (2011 report). All other funds are used for production, compensation, and promotional costs. Some charities do use this method in trying to promote themselves (such as the Susan G. Komen Foundation), but the results are not very promising in this case. Granted, people can and will spend their money on whatever charity they wish.

A tumblr account, named visible children (, posts daily critiques of the charity and the cause. This is not the only counter to the viral campaign. Many people on youtube have created their own critiques and do not agree with the charity’s method. One critic states how the video simplified the issue and focuses heavily on only one man. Also, it was stated that the video doesn’t show the current story in Uganda and how things have improved.

Al Jazeera, a middle-eastern media company, showed the video to real Ugandans. The result was rage and the video was eventually shut down due to the people throwing rocks at the screen. Their disgust came from how it didn’t portray the actual suffering of the Ugandan people as much as they wished it would show. They saw an outsider and old events that happened in Uganda with little new or relevant information. Merchandise with Kony’s name on it offended the native Ugandans, as it commercialized his name rather than mourning for their suffering. The Invisible Children may stay active for now but how how long will it continue on? It is important to check the financial records of a charity before donating to ensure that you agree with their standards.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Kony Phony?”

  1. Lauren O'Brien on November 28th, 2012 2:17 pm

    How can I write a response to this editorial? I’m in class right now and I don’t have the proper amount of time to write, but I will try.

    Let’s talk about Invisible Children’s financials! First of all, Invisible Children just released their 2012 financials. This is their 7th consecutive year of releasing their financials to the public even though they are not required to because they have dignity and absolutely nothing to hide. Second of all, Charity Navigator, a highly ranked website that rates charities, gave Invisible Children a 4 out of 4 stars for their financials…
    “We give the charity 4 out of a possible 4 stars for its Financial Health. It spends upwards of 80% of its budget on its programs and services. As such, Invisible Children is actually outperforming most charities in our database in terms of how it allocations its expenses.”

    They also go on to recognize the key factor that nobody else seems to. Everyone seems to focus on the fact that 37% of their financials in 2011 went to Central Africa funds. Cool. But are you forgetting how important their awareness is? They have made around 14 documentaries. The entire organization started with a documentary for example. That is how their supporters found out about them. That’s how I discovered them. If it wasn’t for one of their documentaries I wouldn’t have raised $10,000 dollars for them. And look at Kony 2012, 208 countries, a hundred million people wouldn’t know about this conflict OR this organization if it wasn’t for one of their documentaries. Are you forgetting that? Awareness is SO important if they want a change in both legislature and donations. If you were looking at things that actually mattered you would see that they use every dollar they can towards things that matter. Unlike most organizations, volunteers rule the company. They have two offices and very very few actual paid employes. They only have five board members. However they have hundreds of interns and volunteers.

    My class is ending, but there will be more to come on other issues addressed in this article. Sorry for the inevitable spelling and grammar errors. I was very limited on time.

    I will have to remember to comment on how the awareness and action of the people have affected legislation.

    Sorry if this came across as hostile. I just hate when things are so one-sided. Invisible Children is an organization with more dignity and passion than most organizations I’ve come across. It is truly made up of incredible people.


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Kony Phony?