Endless viewers of this documentary have been crying at their desks eager to donate money or find other ways to help the cause.
But conversely, many organizations and publications are questioning the authenticity of Invisible Children. Most of the negative critiques have been targeted at Invisible Children’s practices as an organization, not whether Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, is a war criminal.
A Tumblr dedicated to the critique of the KONY 2012 campaign, called Visible Children initiated a buzz on Wednesday with this post:
“Invisible Children has been condemned time and time again. As a registered not-for-profit, its finances are public. Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services, with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production. This is far from ideal, and Charity Navigator rates their accountability 2/4 stars because they haven’t had their finances externally audited. But it goes way deeper than that.”
You can evaluate Invisible Children’s 2011 budget, which is public online, for yourself: $1,074,273 was allocated to travel and $1,724,993 was allocated to staff compensation.
Yes, these figures are disturbing, but we know that this campaign was not as ‘organic’ as we would all like to think. On this side of the curtain, we know how tech savvy pr firms and online marketing agencies initiate campaigns to give the illusion of a grass roots grow. Because these agencies are for-profit and emotionlessly goal oriented, these avenues are not cheap. But let’s not forget that these tactics work and have us all talking about the atrocities happening in Africa.
Many question whether the KONY Campaign is capitalizing off the trend of slacktivism – the self-deluding idea that by sharing, liking, or retweeting something you are helping out. Could this type of passive participation fall victim to scams?
Zoe Fox at Mashable put it best, “As with all charitable giving, individual research is necessary to evaluate one’s level of comfort with an organization,” she says. “Read through what Visible Children, Invisible Children and others have written if you’re interested in taking a stance on the campaign, which has undoubtedly gone viral.”
This video puts it in perspective: (Courtesy of SoJasmine)