Kony 2012, the most recent campaign by the nonprofit organization Invisible Children, went viral nearly overnight. The campaign aims to bring awareness to the world about the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army of Uganda, Joseph Kony, and make him a household name.
Kony is responsible for kidnapping thousands of children in the night and forcing them to become assassins in his war for power against the Ugandan government. Kony has committed terrible, heinous crimes and is wanted by the International Criminal Court for his murders, rapes and kidnappings. Invisible Children has worked to increase awareness of this problem and raise funds to help Africa since it was founded in 2006.
Despite what appears to the public as good intentions to save suffering African children, the actions of Invisible Children are highly suspicious and questionable. According to Charity Navigator, the co-founder of Invisible Children Jason Russell makes a whopping annual salary of $89,669 a year. The CEO of Invisible Children Ben Keesey makes nearly the same salary, $88,241 a year. All of this money comes from donors. When someone buys a bracelet or a poster, the money they believe is being donated to help save invisible children is actually allowing these not-for-profit founders to live the high life; sadly, that’s not the only disconcerting thing about this charity.
Invisible Children only donated 32% of funds they collected to direct African aid, and used the rest for fundraising, their own filmmaking company, a million dollars in travel expenses and payment of staff members.
Invisible Children is also an advocate of military intervention in Uganda and is working with the Ugandan military, which Human Rights Watch, a global human rights organization, claims have “raped, beaten, arbitrarily detained and killed civilians in camps.”
And these are the people to whom Invisible Children is giving donors' hard-earned money.
Invisible Children repeatedly states that if people demand change, someone will listen. Fair enough. Use this against them. Demand Invisible Children change the way they do business or donate money elsewhere because overpaid employees, sketchy alliances and misused donations are not how the invisible children are going to be saved. It’s simply how Americans will enable people like Jason Russell and Ben Keesey to become richer.