Recently, on April 5, the non-profit organization Invisible Children released another video about Joseph Kony. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard, Kony 2012 is a campaign to raise awareness about a Ugandan warlord, Kony, who captures children and forces them to be child soldiers in his army, the Lord’s Resistance Army.
The first video tugged at heart strings the world over and has 90 million views on YouTube. Some of you readers might feel compelled to donate your money to their cause. It’s noble enough to want to save children in another country, right? Of course it is. But there are problems with Invisible Children.
According to Charity Navigator, an organization that keeps charities accountable to their money, Invisible Children had revenue of $13.8 million in 2011, but only spent $8.9 million of it. According to the Invisible Children Web site, only 37.14 percent of that $8.9 million went to programs in Africa. Compare those numbers with another charity like Doctors Without Borders, where 89 percent of their expenses are directly related to their programs. A whopping 35.5 percent of Invisible Children’s funds go to raising awareness. That is, getting the word out about Kony. That seems a little redundant in this post-“Kony 2012” video world where everyone has heard of him, but this was in 2011.
Maybe you’re OK with your money being put to use raising awareness. After all, the word has to get out somehow. But even then, the goal of Invisible Children is less than angelic. Kony isn’t in Uganda anymore; even Invisible Children’s first Kony video admitted that fact. But in wanting to pursue Kony with the Ugandan government, what they’re inadvertently advocating is military intervention in other countries. Need I remind everyone of the conflict in the Middle East? Politics get dicey when the army of one country enters another, which is what they ultimately want to happen.
There are better charities to give your money to, such as Save the Children, which helps impoverished children the world over, including Uganda. Charity Navigator says Save the Children spends only 10 percent of their costs on administration and fundraising and the rest on programs.
It’s a noble goal to want to give to charity, and I respect that. But don’t just go with the newest and hippest thing; know what the charity you’re going to give money to is doing with that money first.