Invisible Children: genuine charity or money making scam?

  1. All of you social media addicts out there will be aware of the Invisible Children video circulating in cyber space. However, if you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks i will bring you up to date. Invisible Children defines itself as “a global community of young people that galvanizes support to bring a permanent end to LRA violence through mass awareness campaigns and strategic advocacy efforts…”

  2. They have recently gained worldwide publicity due to an online video highlighting their mission to stop Joseph Kony, who has abducted 30,000 children in the last 20 some years, forcing them to fight in his Lord’s Resistance Army. 

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  4. This video has circulated the internet and now celebrities like Rihanna and Angelina Jolie are said to be backing the cause.

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    Joseph Kony 2012 video: Rihanna gets behind Invisible Children …
  6. But is there more to this story than meets the eye? despite the endless coverage in support of invisible Children, more and more sceptics are coming out of the woodwork questioning the motives of the charity and its leader Jason Russell. Blog site ‘Now the End Begins’ believe that Russell and his charity are using the Joseph Kony saga to draw attention to their charity in order to further their careers in film making and music, while boosting their finances in the process. The site states that “for the last 2 years less than 10% of funds collected by Invisible Children are sent to the Ground to help the Ugandan Children. Previous to that, less than 30% of the money they collected was sent to Uganda to help the Ugandan People.  A preliminary survey of all projects and activity on the ground in Uganda to help the Uganda Children does not even total up to $1.5 Million of the $13 Million they have collected in donations so far.”

  7. Amidst these allegations Jason Russell and Invisible Children have hit back claiming they are false, but instead of proving they are false by showing how the money has helped the Ugandan children, they have simply picked up a hoard of celebrity followers in the hopes that this will convince people to ignore the sceptics and back the charity. Oprah, P Diddy, and Justin Beiber are just a few of the celebrities jumping on the Invisible Children bandwagon, but have they done their research?Just like ordinary members of the public celebrities can be easily influenced and are capable of making miss-judgements, yet just because they are of a higher status they are known to influence opinion which is a scary thought, particularly in this case as the charities motives are severely under question.The groups founders have been criticised for offering support to armies of Sudan and Uganda despite claims both have been involved in rape and looting. 
  8. Invisible Children are campaigning tirelessly and rubbing shoulders with politicians in order to stop Kony, yet they are known to support armies that are doing exactly the same thing, it just makes no sense. Since more allegations have come to light the public have been split in their opinions on Invisible Children.

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    big thanks to @Invisible children for coming to CSAS today. I completely support your cause. KONY2012!!!!!!
  10. There is no doubt that Invisible Children are good at giving heart felt, inspirational speeches to big crowds (as seen in the Kony 2012 video) so it is no surprise that people are won over by their speeches. However, all that Invisible Children do is give speeches and make videos which tend to promote them as an organisation rather than the cause they are supposed to be raising awareness for. 

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    KONY 2012: Invisible Children the Musical (High Quality)
  12. This video doesn’t go in to any detail on Kony and the problems in Uganda, instead it appears that the Founders of the charity have created it purely to show off their filming making and dance skills (which are pretty poor and tacky).  Is this what the publics money is being used to fund? Since these videos have come to light many have been taking to Twitter in an attempt to stop people donating to the charity.
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    I don’t care who you are, if you’re giving money to “invisible children” you’re a stupid bastard
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    RT @Dylan_Gregory: I can honestly say I regret donating to Invisible Children.
  15. Another point which puts the legitimacy of Invisible Children under question is that the’ Kony 2012′ video was released in a bid to get Kony out of Uganda, but as Charlie Brooker stated on 10 o’clock Live, Kony left Uganda 6 years ago and so the video is considerably out of date.  
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    Kony 2012 NWO sinister logo’s and invisible children – 10 o’clock live 14.03.12
  17. According to Converge Magazine, “even the Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has been tweeting with the tag #KonyisntinUganda 
    and he recently posted a video to YouTube denouncing “Kony2012” saying, “We do not need a slick video on YouTube for us to take notice.” He says that the authorities in Uganda and neighbouring countries know the situation with Kony and have been working for many years to get him arrested. “It would appear that In their effort to solve the problems in central Africa, Invisible Children seem to have forgotten about the people they are solving the problems for” which would lead further to believe that this is a money making scam constructed solely to benefit Invisible Children and not the children of Uganda. 

  18. Despite Converge Magazine highlighting the pitfalls in Invisible Childrens awarness pitch, it also acknowledges the impact social media has had on the charity and its message. None of the negative press surrounding Invisible Children havs been proven fact yet it has circulated the internet and put Jason Russell and other members under close scrutiny. At first Russell was seen as a hero doing good things for the people of Uganda, now he is receiving endless amounts of bad press due to recently being arrested.
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  20. “Late last week San Diego police detained Russell after he was running naked in the street, yelling, pounding his fists in the pavement and disturbing traffic. Before “Kony2012,” this episode wouldn’t have even made local news, but after “Kony2012”, this episode is international news precisely because it is bad press and perfect fodder for those who love to see our cultural heroes fall.”

Here Converge are highlighting how the media can twist a situation to make people with good, genuine intentions appear in a negative light, which can have seriously damaging effects like we have seen with Jason Russell’s breakdown. Even now jokes are being made out of his mental instability. 

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    Jason Russell the guy who made the Kony documentary was arrested last night for masturbating in public. I guess his new slogan is #Horny2012
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    the funny thing is Jason Russell could have been known for doing something good but now he’s just ruined it lol
  • Russell is now in hospital and will remain there for several weeks as his wife explained he had suffered from “reactive psychosis.” In an article by the LA times, his wife suggests that the criticisms against the ‘Kony 2012’ video may have contributed to his irrational/bizarre behaviour. 
      “Because of how personal the film is, many of the attacks against it were also very personal and Jason took them very hard,” the statement said.
    This further shows how the comments and opinions of people on social media sites can have a damning affect on the person at the receiving end. Even more so if the criticisms are true as experts said the Kony 2012 video misstated the facts about the current level of violence in Uganda, Kony’s current whereabouts and the strength of his militia forces. For someone who has “dedicated his adult life to this cause” there is a considerable amount of misinformation which explains why the public aren’t so forgiving. 

  • It was only a matter of time before someone used Jason Russell’s recent breakdown against him by creating a mock video entitled ‘Me So Kony’ 
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  • In it Russell is saying “It’s not about politics, it’s not about humanity, it’s all about money, we really want your money” . The video was only uploaded yesterday and already has 1,681 hits, showing how much publicity Russell and Invisible Children are getting at the minute. Most people have commented on how funny the video is rather than on the underlying issue which is being highlighted – that Invisible Children are scamming people out of money. 

    It would appear that the cause Russell was trying to raise awareness on (#stopKony) and the supposed money making scheme by Invisible Children has both been overlooked since Russell’s personal life hit headlines. 
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    So now that Jason Russell got caught doing “that” in public, no-one seems to give a shit about Kony 2012. #thatbandwagonlookscomfy
  • This highlights how individuals private lives take priority in social media. Instead of backing the cause celebrities, like Jason Biggs, are now making jokes out of the situation as he has released a video re-enacting the breakdown that Russell had. 

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    Jason Biggs Parodies Jason Russell’s Nude Breakdown, KONY 2012 Organization Strikes Back (Video)
  • More people appear to be against Jason Russell now than those supporting him as a lot of people still believe that they have been cheated out of money by Invisible Children.
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    I wonder if they’re going to use the Kony 2012 donation money to bail Jason Russell out of prison.
  • Website Wannabe Hacks posted an article on its blog today highlighting Invisible Childrens finances. 
  • Here they published figures stating that Jason Russell made around $90,000 for the most recent fiscal year while Invisible Children’s expenses was close to $9 million. “Invisible’s Children expenses for that year was close to $9 million. Of that, about $415k was used for employee compensation and over $1 million for travel expenses.” They also linked to a site called GuideStar which shows an organisations annual revenue and expenses. It shows that in the year 2009 to 2010, Invisible Children made $8,253,941 and of that they claimed 
    $8,064,426 in expenses. 

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  • This proves how much Invisible Children spend on making the videos, travel expenses, compensation and wages, as displayed above. The revenue and expenses don’t leave much left that actually go to the children in Uganda. The ‘charity’ are misleading the public by not explaining where the money goes as after seeing the Kony 2012 video they would rightfully assume that a large majority of the money would go to helping Ugandan people. 

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    Ex-Kony Soldier — Warlord May Have CURSED Jason Russell
  • The hype around Jason Russell’s mental state is still going strong with people coming out with bizarre, far-fetched explanations to what could have caused his extreme breakdown .Richard Akena, a former member of Kony’s child army, believes that Kony may have used ‘voodoo magic’ on Russell which could explain his strange meltdown. Highly irrational some might say, but a great way to detract from the issue of Russell and Invisible Children scamming money from the public. 

    One Daily Mail reader suggested that Russell ran around the streets naked as a publicity stunt which, judging by his previous videos, sounds like a more believable explanation. More money from newspaper deals and TV appearances talking about his ‘psychosis’ perhaps? 
  • Surely that would be below the belt for Russell? (should he be seen wearing one, or any clothes at all for that matter!) but one celebrity has come to the aid of the Invisible Children founder, Forgetting Saraha Marshall star, Kristen Bell replied to a tweet saying: 

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    @Bpd116 ur misinformed & r judging based on salacious headlines. Be Human. Drop the stones.”
  • Bell does make a fair point, very few people judging Russell actually know him and are forming opinions based on what they see/read in the media. However, this could also go against her as she is defending Russell without knowing him either. He has sprung up out of nowhere and become an overnight success, on one hand he could be a good guy who is genuinely out to help people, but on the other he could be a con artist using genuine causes to take innocent peoples money. If the latter is true then Kristen Bell could receive backlash for supporting him. 

    Still more people believe the organisation is a scam if Twitter is anything to go by. 
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    KONY12 is a scam only 35% of their funds go to Uganda and the Children. And Jason Russell is a streaker on the streets. See for yourself.
  • Some believe that Russell is an attention seeker and has used the videos not just for financial gain but also to boost his ego. Forbes Critic Marshall Crotty describes Jason Russell as an “Atrocity Tourist” (AT) and suggests that “
    outsized celebrity egos require larger-than-life problems to tackle,
    ” adding that Russell is an AT with “global media lust”

  • But not all the blame can be placed on the organisation. A student at Washington University believes that, although organisations have a responsibility to report the truth, we should also “engage with them and assess their honesty and possibility for deception”
    In a way he is saying that we are partly to blame. Jason Russell and Invisible Children would not have been able to take this money (which may or may not have been used for personal gain) if we had been wary from the outset and researched further without just giving it to them. It could be a case of ‘more fool us’ at the end of the day for being passive with the information. With any charity we want to believe that they are genuine, but we also know that some people are deceptive and it is up to us to research and be less careless with our money.

    Finally the evidence i have been waiting for, a video of a member of Invisible Children actually ADMITTING that he pocketed money for himself rather than donating the majority to worthwhile causes. In the video Jedidiah Jenkins is seen swigging from a bottle of vodka while slurring “I don’t know if you heard this or not but we won a, we won a million dollars, so … that’s pretty rad, here’s $100,000 for Haiti and $900,000 extra for me. Get on the bandwagon.”
  • So there it is, straight from the horses mouth. It will be extremely hard for Invisible Children to get out of this one, I wonder what ‘voodoo magic’ or Kony curse has been put on Jedidiah…

    Seeing the success of Kony 2012 has now inspired another Invisible Children co-founder to get in on the action. Bobby Bailey, who left the ‘non-profit’ organisation in 2009 has decided to put his multimedia skills out there for all to see, just like his friend Jason Russell. 

  • ‘I Am Mother’ aims to raise awareness about another issue in central Africa. According to Bailey, abducted children are afraid to return home due to the potential for reprisal attacks against them. This video doesn’t quite tug at the heart strings like the Kony 2012 video does as it just features various celebrities in scarves (which of course you are told to buy to help the children) and some good editing skills by Bailey himself, which take over the majority of the video. 
    Forgive me If I sound slightly sceptical, but after all the backlash Invisible Children have received for the Kony video, is this really the right time to ask the public for more money? especially being an ex Invisible Children member people may be slightly wary to donate to the cause. It is less personal than the Kony video and the story doesn’t seem as hard hitting. Selling scarves (at $34 each) so that radio towers can be built for mothers to broadcast songs urging their children to come home.Don’t get me wrong, it is a nice thought but will it really work? Or is it just a ply to gain more money?

    Surprisingly the ‘I Am Mother’ video hasn’t sparked a discussion on social network sites but the news that Invisible Children have released a sequel named Kony 2012: pt 2- Beyond Famous is bound to cause quite a stir.

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    KONY 2012: Part II – Beyond Famous
  • After watching the video I have to say I am slightly confused as it appears to be reinforcing the same message. ‘Deliver your voice’ is primarily the same message as ‘Make Kony Famous’ which was what the last video aimed to achieve and it did just that. Kony became known worldwide yet this video highlights that it didn’t make any difference. Political leaders from all over the word have been made aware and taken action yet Kony still hasn’t been stopped and if anything this video shows how the LRA have just been made stronger so I am confused as to what they are appealing for this time? The video does highlight that rehabilitation is needed and doesn’t directly ask for money but it is clear that is what Invisible Children are hinting at. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against giving money if I think it will help improve a situation but the video has already shown that despite efforts from people around the world after the first video, it has barely made a difference. 

    They are also holding a ‘Cover the Night’ event where they are urging people to get together with their friends, contact policy makers and promote justice for Kony. I am failing to see what difference it will make as that is precisely what happened the first time around. It appears that other people are feeling as equally uninspired as me about this video. 
    Website Jezebel published an article entitled ‘Here’s Everything You Need to Know about the Kony Sequel You Didn’t Ask For’ in which they state “we’re not planning to don Kony2012 t-shirts on April 20th — or anytime, for that matter.

  • The site has even gone one step further by putting together a ‘5-step guide to effective philanthropy’ which offers alternative charities and worthwhile causes to support. It is going to be hard to convince the public that this is genuine, judging by early responses to the video it isn’t looking promising
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    just saw knoy 2012: beyond famous (kony 2012 pt 2). sorry, that shit is not convincing. we already know about the shadiness going on.
  • It is going to be hard for Invisible Children to shake the negative stigma and this video doesn’t appear convincing enough to change peoples opinions but only time will tell. 
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