Don’t give your money to KONY 2012

This 30-minute video has been bombarding every corner of the internet for the past couple of days. There is no hiding from it, there is no running from it, and there is no denying that its message is laudable. HOWEVER, the problem is not KONY 2012, the problem is Invisible Children, the nonprofit organization behind KONY 2012.

According to the Daily What: On Kony 2012

The organization behind Kony 2012 — Invisible Children Inc. — is an extremely shady nonprofit that has been called ”misleading,” “naive,” and “dangerous” by a Yale political science professor, and has been accused by Foreign Affairs of “manipulat[ing] facts for strategic purposes.” They have also been criticized by the Better Business Bureau for refusing to provide information necessary to determine if IC meets the Bureau’s standards.

Additionally, IC has a low two-star rating in accountability from Charity Navigator because they won’t let their financials be independently audited. That’s not a good thing. In fact, it’s a very bad thing, and should make you immediately pause and reflect on where the money you’re sending them is going.

By IC’s own admission, only 31% of all the funds they receive go toward actually helping anyone [pdf]. The rest go to line the pockets of the three people in charge of the organization, to pay for their travel expenses (over $1 million in the last year alone) and to fund their filmmaking business (also over a million) — which is quite an effective way to make more money, as clearly illustrated by the fact that so many can’t seem to stop forwarding their well-engineered emotional blackmail to everyone they’ve ever known.

My verdict:

I am always dubious when social activism campaigns go viral and garner so much support in so little time. It makes me question whether the people who are retweeting #stopkony, circulating the KONY video on facebook, liking each other’s statuses, and joining “blanket the city…” events a) have actually taken 30 minutes out of their day to watch the video from start to finish and b) are well-versed enough in Joseph Kony and Invisible Children to fully understand what they are rallying for/against. The rapid domino of KONY 2012 events makes me wary, because I can’t help but feel like I am witnessing a mass brainwashing. With that said, I do think the campaign has some merit. I applaud the people behind Invisible Children for creating a powerful inspiration-generating machine to unite a world that too often leans towards apathy. At the end of the day, it’s better to care than to let the invisible stay invisible. However, I will still say this: keep your money safe. consider donating to more transparent charities like MercyCorps. there are other ways to support KONY 2012 than with your money.