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Invisible Children Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Human Services

Mission: Invisible Children exists to end violence and exploitation in our worlds most isolated and vulnerable communities.

Target demographics: end violence and exploitation facing our isolated and vulnerable communities.

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 140 communities and over 70 former armed group captives

Geographic areas served: Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan

Programs: An Early Warning System that connects isolated communities to one another allowing them to share life-saving security information with one another, and report violence against them to the outside world. Support to diverse local Peace Committees who work together to improve the safety of their communities. We work with Peace Committees to develop local action plans that can help them reduce their community's vulnerability to violence and help them respond safely to threats. Support for women, children, and men returning from armed group captivity. We arrange for immediate care, help former captives locate their families, and facilitate their travel home. Support to community-led efforts to address trauma, education and sensitization to the impact of conservation on community safety, and support for environmentally-friendly livelihoods.

Community Stories

119 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2

Donor

Rating: 5

I'm been a recurring donor to Invisible Children for 4 years and I am so pleased with how they are spending my money and how they keep me updated on how my money is impacting lives in central Africa.

3 Alex28

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I interned with Invisible Children for five months. As an organization, their integrity and passion are unmatched. The individuals that make up the team are some of the most inspiring and quirky people I've ever met. There are very few organizations I trust as much as Invisible Children, and their impact in conflict-affected regions is incredible.

Review from Guidestar

2 Fiona W.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer, employee and board member for various non-profits over the past 32 years. Invisible Children has captured my heart and the hearts of my husband and four adult children! Each opportunity to volunteer has been a gift to us! Over the past 10 years I have seen IC grow and change the lives of many Ugandans! I appreciate how they respect the time of each volunteer and are very organized. We always accomplish much during hours spent volunteering. This is a great organization!

14

Donor

Rating: 1

My 11 year old son was inspired by the KONY 2012 video and saved his allowance for months, which we sent to Invisible Children. He was heartbroken and discouraged to find out several months later that the money does not go to help the children, but rather to an organization that acts as lobbyists. The video and propaganda by Invisible Children led my son to believe he would be helping children - NOT that the money would be used as salaries for people in the US who raise awareness. I feel they were misleading. We were thrilled that my son felt philanthropic and did extra work around the house to earn money to donate, only to have that thrill turn to sadness. My now 12 year old son is now jaded when suspicious regarding charities. Not a lesson I wanted him to learn.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first found out about the organization in 2010. I was initially impressed by the programs they have in on the ground in Central and East Africa. I also liked how they had options to help that didn't involve just giving money; they also included activism and awareness as a students in particular could be a part of ending the conflict. I earn my degree in International Relations and focused on international non-profits through much of my time in college. I even did a research paper on Invisible Children in 2011. Therefore,I was greatly sadden by critics in 2012 who had accept and spread false information.

A lot of people don't understand is the purpose of Invisible Children. They clearly state that their purpose is to bring an end to the rebel group, the LRA. While helping those in Uganda and helping the children is obviously part of that, it is not the primary purpose. The main focus is bringing an end to a conflict that has gone on for 26 years and has affected 5 countries and is being fought for personal gain on part of the rebels.

Invisible Children started in 2004 and has made many videos in that time, since as they clearly state is the main way they have found effective in raising awareness for this conflict. You can find a sampling of some of their videos here http://vimeo.com/invisible/albums/page:1/sort:date. I personally recommend that you watch "The Rescue", which was made a few years ago.



Review from CharityNavigator

5

Volunteer

Rating: 1

invisible children submitted their own paperwork, they have not, and will not let an independent auditor look at their books. very little money goes into doing any good. they spend way to much money on fony marketing, yeah, fony, llike their kony 2012 phony junk, they supposed spend a fortune 'creating' videos, they have one video that they have been using for years, with very minor changes, which in no way justify the costs they claim! they raise lots of money, spend far to much traveling, parties, booze and drugs as some people now know is true. i hope more people wake up to the fact they are spending your money as their own private piggy bank. do not let their fancy accounting fool you, if they really are legit charity, they would let people actually look at their true costs and actual spending, AND they would allow independent auditors look as well!

Comments ( 1 )

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noelle2 01/11/2013

This is a bizarre and completely inaccurate review. I am very suspicious behind the motive for posting something so blatantly false. Invisible Children, as every registered non-profit in the US, is required by law to have their financials reviewed by a 3rd party auditing firm and posted online. Invisible Children has done so here: http://invisiblechildren.com/financials From what i can tell josephweglarz has never actually encountered this non-profit our their work and for some reason has a motive to undermine this organization, not sure why?

Review from CharityNavigator

3

Volunteer

Rating: 3

My first experience with Invisible Children was when 'Kony 2012' first came out. I was in high school and I held a rally at my school for the cause. When all the controversy about Invisible Children came out, I did my own independent research and I found out some things about Invisible Children that I didn't really like. I found out that a portion of their funds doesn't actually go to the children in Uganda. This surprised me because everything I had read before was painting them out to be a very financially sound company. Instead of this turning me off to Invisible Children completely, I did some thinking about what I wanted to believe. I figured out that Invisible Children is such a new organization and they are trying to accomplish something major for our time. I believe that they shouldn't have done some things and maybe should have done others, but they are a good organization with good intentions. Maybe people who think they are wrong should stop and look back at the good things that they have done: they have helped thousands of children return to normal society and be happy again, they have helped the Ugandan military significantly, and they have gotten people interested in an important cause. This, to me, is the true purpose of a charity.

Review from CharityNavigator

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

Throughout my experience researching Invisible Children, I felt many mixed feelings about whether I support them or if i am against them. Even though i discovered a few unpleasing facts about who they are supporting and what they choose to spend the bulk of their income on. I highly support their main cause however. I found out about Invisible Children when I watched the video "Kony 2012", which greatly encouraged me to take action and help in the fight against child-warfare and abduction. I believe that their campaign strategy is very effective in the sense that their target audience gets a view of who and what they will be fighting for by donating to their organization. They make their supporters feel like they are part of a family and make them feel powerful. So all in all, I definitely support Invisible Children and all that they stand for.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

In September 2012 I found out about IC, and their poor financial record that many people claim. The kind of person I am, I did my research on the financial data just so I has knowledge, and don’t just go with someones opinion. According to my research, all information on financial data can be found on IC website. I need to be transparent, even though IC has their financial statements on their website their are something are still questionable, like how much money not % is going to children in Uganda. I feel like its important to see number not percent. IC their main mission is to bring Kony to justice. Personally I would not support their mission just because I live world away, and I rather support some other organization that work with the Orphans. There are many different people and I think someone will support their mission, because they are fighting for a good.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

As a history and political science student looking to go to law school, I have this tendency to watch what's going on in the world. In March, I saw Invisible Children's viral video "Kony2012", spark many young students like me to take action against the crimes warlord Joseph Kony committed against the people of Uganda. Looking deeper into the situation over the last several months, I have come to the conclusion that although Invisible Children has a good heart, motivations, and character as a non-profit organization; they take a simplistic view of a very complex political situation in Uganda. Yes, Kony is a problem, but he is not the whole problem. If an actual government infrastructure isn't there to democratically and peacefully govern Ugandans, then there is every chance of history repeating itself. Another warlord--like Kony--can arise in a similar chaotic political situation if nothing is done to fix the current government.

Comments ( 1 )

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noelle2 01/11/2013

I understand that as a political science major you are hip to what going on in the world, so thank you for your evaluation of the strategy to stop the LRA (something not only being pursued by Invisible Children). I think what should be noted is that Invisible Children works with regional leaders, academics, administrators, government officials, the ICC, the UN, the AU, the US government and others in their effort to stop the LRA. Here are a few programs IC funds in collaboration with the groups above: the construction of safe surrender sites, defection messaging, HF security networks, Child soldier rehabilitation, advocacy, policy, micro-finance initiatives, scholarships. What you are proposing is that your evaluation of the work IC does is better than all of these respected institutions? I think that is a little bold and mis-guided of you?

Marcus W.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

Over the past few months, many people have taken issue with the allocation of Invisible Children's finances, accusing it of being an unproductive organization at best and a scam at worst. However, to argue against IC's financial distribution is to miss the point of what they're trying to accomplish. It has been widely assumed that Invisible Children is meant to send aid overseas and single-handedly precipitate the capture of Joseph Kony. The fact that this isn't the strategy that IC has taken is what has stirred up so much controversy. Much of IC's efforts have been involved in spreading the word about Kony. Their strategy is that the more people who know, the sooner Kony will be captured. As a result, 43.4% of IC's finances has gone into media and mobilization (quoting Invisible Children). Even with that consideration, Charity Navigator still rates IC's financials at a more than respectable 4/5 stars. With all this in mind, I just don't feel like it's an appropriate argument to say that Invisible Children is a scam considering all the good they've done. In the end, "Invisible Children exists to bring a permanent end to LRA atrocities" (IC).

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

Personally, I was a skeptic from the beginning of the campaign as I personally thought that the video oversimplified a very complex problem. While my views have changed to a certain degree, I still believe that Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 campaign amounts to a slacktivist movement and it does not produce true activists. However, I disagree with anyone who argues absurd claims such as the very popular assertion that too much money is being spent on top management. What I cannot figure out is the fact that the members who make these statements did so on Charity Navigator, a web site where they can easily read the facts. The individual salaries of both co-founders and the actual CEO of the organization all stand under $90,000. According to a study conducted by Charity Navigator, the median pay for top management positions in organizations of IC’s size stands around $130,000. If anything, IC’s top leaders are being underpaid. Invisible Children is a young non-profit that will work out certain specs but as for now, the facts are clear that in comparison with well-known and respected non-profits they stand reliable.

Review from CharityNavigator

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

Invisible Children is a young nonprofit organization with a lot of room for growth, but a lot of its bad reputation is misplaced or focused too heavily on the Kony 2012 campaign or the founder. I believe that this organization is doing well, but could do much better, if given the time. This is a nonprofit with a campaign of raising awareness and political pressure, which requires a heavy focus on media and personal image, which explains so much of their profits are focused on media and maintenance. True, they tend to gloss over details in their videos and websites, but personal research has shown that IC isn’t as poorly run as skeptics try to portray. I intend to investigate both sides of the story more thoroughly before I make a concrete decision, but I don't think IC is as terrible as I've been told.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

I first learned about Invisible Children when some of my friends were wearing the Kony 2012 shirts. I didn't think much about the organization until I saw the film, Kony 2012. Immediately after watching the film I wanted to buy the action kit and get involved in the campaign. I was hungry for more information, so I started to do some of my own research. I soon realized that the organization that seemed to be so passionate and honest was far from what they portrayed in the film. Then it suddenly hit me- Invisible Children lured in their audience through propaganda, and I was guilty of falling into the trap myself. They manipulated the audience in the film by simplifying the problems in Uganda to one man, the infamous warlord Joseph Kony. The film made me want to be a part of the Kony 2012 team, and I think that was their goal all along.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

When deciding whether or not to support Invisible Children, it’s important to note what the company is doing right NOW, instead of focusing on what it DID wrong in the past. When I first stumbled upon the KONY 2012 video on YouTube I was inspired. However, it didn’t take me long to notice the scrutiny and criticisms that IC was being associated with. I decided to do some research. Through the IC website and some other sources I came to my own conclusion. To be honest, many of the accusation made against IC are true. However, it is how IC has responded to the criticism and what they are doing now that has led me to give this organization a positive review. Its obvious that the company, though far from perfect, is willing to learn from their past mistakes. All of their information is posted on their website. No deception or over simplification, only honesty and passion for a cause. Invisible Children has the potential to make a great impact if others are willing to invest in them. They deserves a second chance, same as the children they are trying to help in East and Central Africa. I would definitely consider supporting this honest, improving organization.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

The actions and motives of Invisible Children have been a huge topic of discussion from the time the viral video Kony 2012 was uploaded. After watching it, I found myself asking a lot of questions. I have thoroughly researched the organization and I found some interesting facts. The involvement and motives of the United States government, according to Senate and Congress hearings is to "Capture or Kill Joseph Kony". The problem with this however is President Obama sent 100 U.S. troops solely as advisors. My problem with U.S. Involvement is that if Kony isn't found soon, I could see the U.S. government intervening. If this is the case then what motives are behind I.C. The children are the main focus. I do support I.C. for what they have done in prevention purposes, but I cant support how the search for Joseph Kony is being handled.

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 2

I have been doing research on Invisible Children for months. I’ve jumped back and forth on whether I support them or not multiple times. I think that Invisible Children definitely is a pure organization with a good heart, but I also have a hard time supporting how the organization goes about fixing the Joseph Kony problem. Invisible Children goes about trying to get rid of Kony mainly just by making him known. They have rallies, make videos, and put posters everywhere, but that isn’t enough to get rid of a warlord. If people are going to compare Kony to Hitler they would also have to know that Hitler wasn’t put to an end by making him famous. I like Invisible Children’s cause- I do. Until Invisible Children gets new tactics on how to stop Kony, I am not sure I would donate to them again.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

Through research I have done on Invisible Children’s website and a book written by the International Labour Office I have discovered evidence that Invisible Children is an organization that betters the lives of many people affected by Kony’s actions. Besides trying to help arrest Kony they provide many beneficial programs in Northern Uganda. For example, Mend teaches the skill of tailoring to women and provides counseling for the trauma they have experienced; another program Schools for Schools makes education more accessible to many children living in the area. Both of these programs are helping strengthen the weak economy of Uganda. While it is hard to look past many of the critiques in the media about Invisible Children, the fact that they are indeed changing the lives of many harmed by Kony shines through. Personally that is enough for me to consider supporting their organization.

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I first heard of Invisible Children when a friend sent me the Kony 2012 video. I was hooked just like many were, however, once the incident with Jason Russell happened, I was skeptical. Although, later I gave I.C. another chance when I joined my school’s chapter. I also did some research on whether or not it was a trustworthy organization. According to ethical fundraising books and an article from the Better Business Bureau, I.C. has all of the qualifications of a trustworthy charity. For example, they provide all their financial statements and show what percentages are going to fundraising, paying employees, schools in Uganda etc. Yes, Jason Russell was careless in some of his choices, but I.C. is more than Jason Russell. There are plenty of other responsible employees of I.C. working hard to achieve their mission while ensuring they are still being ethical in their choices as an organization.

1 WestPhifer

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

Following my first time viewing Invisible Children’s popular YouTube video "Kony 2012" I, like many, was emotionally moved. I made no initial action however to support IC, but instead critiqued both positive and negative aspects of this organization and their mission. Undoubtedly, IC has an admirable goal with the intention of saving thousands of lives from the Central African region. But, after watching the mission progress, I now find the emotional appeal of Invisible Children is no longer effective. The mission of Kony 2012 has surely been to raise awareness of Joseph Kony and the LRA from the beginning, but IC now overlooks the poor and broken people of third-world nations that were displayed so explicitly in "Kony 2012". IC has wasted valuable resources such as money and technology that should go to whom the company is named after: Invisible “Children”. This organization needs to be about the children.

Isaiah711

Volunteer

Rating: 3

By being well informed and doing extensive research on the main issues of the organization of Invisible Children, as well as watching Kony 2012, I have come to the conclusion that for being a young organization they have done a very good job. They have not only reached but exceeded their main goal, which was to capture the attention of literally the entire world. They have made good use of their resources by using the media, campaigns, advertisements and protests. In the beginning I was skeptical of the trustworthiness of the organization due to the fact that the media bashed Invisible Children by what happened to Jason Russell, not knowing that it was due to a mental breakdown. They have done their job with providing resources to Uganda to capture Kony and not let the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) take control of their land. Even though they have not resolved their financial management issues, I believe, for the time being, they are doing an excellent job, considering they are a young organization and all the experiences they have already been through. Their future looks bright.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

Personally, I wouldn’t become involved/donate to Invisible Children. Research shows that they are a charity group that not only struggles with completely supporting the cause financially, but they also don’t clearly state the ways in which they intend to help the problem in Uganda other than throwing money at the problem. That to me is the main problem that this organization has, which no clear objective. I feel uneasy not knowing precisely where my money is going and how it is going to be used. Would definitely not recommend Invisible Children as a quality organization to commit to.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

My first experience with Invisible Children was coming across the Kony 2012 video on Facebook. I watched it and my heart was torn for the children of Uganda, so I decided to research this organization a bit more. Shockingly, I was confronted with many controversies about the leaders, mission and finances of IC. I spent the next few months dissecting and researching to discover whether there were truths in those claims about IC. When it comes to finances, I found a chart with the breakdown of their budget on their website and saw that 80% of their budget goes towards their programs, leaving under 20% for the fundraising and administrative costs. I continued to learn that a multitude of the other claims were just due to false rumors and were not true. I am now seriously considering supporting this organization and fully believe it deserves your support as well.

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 3

Having been a volunteer for Invisible Children and researched Invisible Children as well as Kony 2012, my opinion of the organization has made a drastic change. Invisible Children is not helping Uganda by trying to get the Ugandan government to shift its focus onto Joseph Kony, because Uganda has larger problems than Kony. The economic state of Uganda is one of the worst states it’s ever been in, and the Ugandan government does not have strong leadership. Uganda needs to put their time, effort, and money towards making their nation stronger, and by becoming stronger, then going after Kony. Invisible Children has good intentions, but they need to look at the big picture and realize Joseph Kony is not Uganda’s biggest problem. I have volunteered with Invisible Children, and will continue to, I just do not agree with Kony 2012 and their goals.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

When I first saw the film Kony 2012, I was inspired to act to save the people who were being affected by Joseph Kony. I’ve been to Africa and I’ve seen how the people of Africa live, so it’s a priority for me to help those people. While at first I was excited about what Invisible Children (IC) was doing. I decided to research the organization to make sure they were worthy of my monetary and moral support. My conclusion after researching is, first of all; IC has questionable and unorganized finances according to their website. Not only that, but through the showing of Kony 2012, IC manipulates the facts they present, which causes them to be perceived as untrustworthy. Organization and evidence is essential for NPO’s, and unfortunately Invisible Children has neither. In conclusion, although I fully agree that the people of Africa should have a better life; after my research, it is my opinion that Invisible Children is an unworthy organization to support.

Review from CharityNavigator

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

Invisible Children’s goals are noble when it comes to helping children in another country. There will always be an organization that is not perfect or that will be criticized by the public. The problem is that Joseph Kony is no longer in Uganda. Jason Russell even confirmed it in Kony 2012 video. It may seem like a wasteful effort chasing someone who is no longer there, but as long as everyone remember that there is a criminal on the loose then one of I.C.’s goals have been met. Kony maybe out of Uganda, but one of the important things is to remember that he is still out there. This organization is doing well on getting everyone to remember that Kony still lives. This is an organization despite their flaws in some areas that deserves some support and attention. They got my support.

Review from CharityNavigator

JorgeLMachado

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

When I was in high school, four members from Invisible Children came to talk about the pressing issue in Uganda regarding the exploitation of children at the hands of Kony and the LRA. I was skeptical at first because this organization was fairly new and concerns were raised pertaining to how effective this organization is with their finances. However, after doing personal research about this organization, I found that their cause is honorable and that they should be given a chance because they are willing to take action and make a permanent difference for these children. No child should have to suffer or ever be ignored when they are being exploited and robbed of their dignity which is why I support this organization.

Review from CharityNavigator

Sarah107

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

Like most people, after watching the Kony 2012 video for the first time, it left me with a sense of compassion and a desire to take action. However, after doing a more thorough research on this NPO and it's ways of going about and solving Uganda's problem with Kony and the LRA, it would not be the best organization to invest time and money on. Where does all the money go? According to the Invisible Children's website, based on the 2011 financial statements, 80.6% went towards the programs, 16.2% to administrative, and 3.2% to fundraising. Personally, even based on this alone, I wouldn't donate to IC. Nonetheless, it is ultimately your decision if this organization is worth supporting.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

Volunteer

Rating: 1

Although Invisible Children has been and still is a successful non-profit organization, I feel that they may have missed some steps along the way. Their mistakes as an organization has raised a huge question, do we see where all the money goes? They only became financially transparent upon demand to do so. A huge issue I have is with some information I came across during months of research. I found that IC provided information via a spying operation to Ugandan authorities. This information was on the Museveni regime. The U.S. considers this regime to be an ally due to its fear of the regime becoming part of Al-Qaida. The Ugandan officials arrested the men involved and they were executed via death penalty. If I support IC do I now support the death penalty in foreign affairs my country should have no role in?

William25

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

Invisible Children is an organization for a good cause. They may have some flaws, but the organization as a whole has good motives. I am sure that Invisible Children wants to have a positive relationship with the general public, and is doing all they can do within their power to make everyone happy. However, the truth of the matter is that Invisible Children is a charity organization, and they cannot live up to that standard.
One of the many questions that you may have for Invisible Children staff is, “where is my money going?” In 2011 Invisible Children spent 80.64% on media, mobilization, protection, and recovery programs; 16.24% on administration and management costs; and 3.22% on direct fundraising. If you have further questions please feel free to visit the Invisible Children website and click on the questions and answers page. I believe Invisible Children is an organization worth supporting.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

When I first saw the video Kony 2012, I did not like the organization and what it stood for because I was evaluating the movie and not the organization itself. As I researched the organization in depth my opinion of the motives of the organization changed. I looked at the bigger picture which is getting Kony noticed so that he is one step closer to being captured,and the abduction of children are put to rest. Invisible Children is a work in progress and there is always room for growth.I am aware that Invisible Children has questionable motives regarding the Kony 2012 video but Invisible Children is a growing organization that realizes their mistakes and are learning from them which was stated in the recent video "Move." IC has good intentions which are to bring children out of harm's way.For this very reason I will consider supporting this organization.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

There is no other charity that has done more to support the end of the LRA conflict in the last 10 years. I've watched this organization's work since 2005 and also have been to N. Uganda to see their Rehabilitation and Recovery work first hand (FYI - the conflict is now in Congo, CAR, Sudan but they still work in the regions heavily hit my the LRA in the past). The organization is not just about rehabilitation work they also spend money on Advocacy and Awareness and some have pointed this out as a problem but to me that is a nearsighted evaluation. The political players that have the power to influence this conflict need to feel the pressure from the people so that is why advocacy campaigns are so important. If you want to put a band aide on the situation you can give money to groups that only do rehab work in Africa but i would advise to evaluate if the there is more needed for lasting change, which is what i feel is the case with the LRA that started in N.Uganda and now have spread to CAR, Congo and Sudan.

Review from CharityNavigator

Donor

Rating: 3

My school’s Invisible Children club raises and donates money each year for their cause; however, when I first saw the Kony 2012 video, it took the cause to a new level. I was so impacted by the video and realized the importance of Invisible Children’s work in Africa. At the same time, there were many criticisms surrounding the organization. Many of these criticisms came from money and amounts of donations. IC’s cause seemed so important that I had to figure it out for myself. After a few months of research, I found that – according to the Better Business Bureau – organizations should donate 65% to their programs. IC donates 85%. They also should release yearly financial reports, which IC has done since 2006. Ultimately, I would suggest that everyone should research for themselves before donating to any organization; but, I will definitely support them again and encourage others to as well!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

Along with the rest of the general public, I was blown away when the viral video "Kony 2012" outlines the horrible war crimes that Joseph Kony committed. However, I did want to research this campaign and the reasons behind it on my own. After researching IC, I realized that their organization was in some ways helping the people in Uganda. However their is still much room for improvement with this organization. For example only around 37 percent of their finances go to helping rehabilitate and protect the children that the LRA would take. This is a number that could AND should be drastically increased. I'm not saying to not donate to this charity, but do some research and carefully consider before you do

Review from CharityNavigator

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

I was pretty late in learning about IC, and I suppose that is a good thing. I say it’a a good thing because when I finally did watch the Kony 2012 video, I was already aware of the controversy surrounding it, which compelled me to do my own research. First off, I do believe that IC is a noble cause in what it is ultimately trying to achieve. However, based off my research, there are a couple things that just don’t make sense and make IC an uneffective charity. According to charitynavigator.com. a normal charity’s finances send about seventy five percent of their profits directly to their cause, while IC only sends about thirty percent. The rest goes to staff and management. And in a way, it’s not a huge surprise (I mean, it’s obvious that the level of skill in their cinematography must have cost a great deal) because that is what sells in this generation. However, just because it caught our attention for a bit does not make it ok for their finances to be split in such a way that does not make much of a difference to their cause. While IC’s hearts may be in the right place, the way they go about change is simply not working.

Lauren K.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

In the Kony 2012 video, Invisible Children claims that in order to keep the US advisors in Uganda Invisible Children and its supporting members need to raise awareness about the atrocities of Joseph Kony and his army. To raise this awareness, they would wear the t-shirts and put up the posters that came in the action kits. In my research, though, I found that President Obama has not threatened to pull the advisors out of Uganda so the reason that Invisible Children gives for the action kits doesn’t exist. If the action kits don’t serve the purpose that we are told they do, then what purpose do they serve? I will not support Invisible Children, but anyone interested should do their own research and decide to support or not support Invisible Children based on that research.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

After being initially drawn by the emotional appeal of the Kony 2012 video, I did a considerable amount of research. It became obvious though Invisible Children’s campaign was well intentioned, ultimately your resources are probably better off with a sturdier charity. Any human being with any emotion of course feels compassion for the children suffering under Kony’s regime, but Invisible Children’s approach to ending this crisis is a drastic oversimplification of the solution. The organization claims by sending a few dollars and purchasing the Action Kit somehow the Ugandan warlord will be captured. This is simply not feasible considering according to Invisible Children’s website 80% of their funds go toward accomplishing their “three fold purpose” (meaning only 1/3 of the money actually makes it to Africa). Ultimately, the cause falls short of accomplishing their goal, and your money and/or time are better off elsewhere.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

My first experience with this organization was watching Kony 2012. After seeing the brokenness left by Kony, this film had me sold. The mission of Invisible Children directly fits with my heartbeat for humanity in undeveloped countries. It encouraged me to intensify my desires and make them actions. I went home eager to share about the charity with friends. Instead, I was shocked to see so much controversy surrounding this organization-- criticisms about their leaders, purpose, and impact. These harsh arguments did not parallel with the excitement I’d first experienced about joining the mission. This confusion left me to explore Invisible Children for myself. After months of researching their website, the form 990, and other sources, I found that the majority of claims are simply slander based on wrong assumptions, impossible to prove by evidence. Now I am seriously considering supporting Invisible Children and encourage others to do the same.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

Personally, I wouldn’t donate to Invisible Children. After doing a lot of research about it, I have come to find that stopping Kony isn’t Central Africa’s main problem. According to the CIA World Factbook, contagious diseases like HIV and malaria need to be treated, and many people are starving (http://tinyurl.com/6keclv). True, Kony is a horrible man, but the real problem behind his violent actions is actually a result of political unrest (http://tinyurl.com/cgnmkp7). The political unrest can then be linked back to suffering people and an unstable government. Solve the other problems first like AIDS and hunger, by donating to organizations that focus on such causes- like Compassion International and World Vision. Invisible Children’s intention of stopping Kony is good; however, other greater problems should be fixed first.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

When KONY 2012 came out, I wanted to help . Once the media began saying how crooked the company was, I felt very betrayed. When Invisible Children came out with their new video, it brought back all those strong feelings I had. I decided to do some thorough research on their finances. In my research I found that, for the most part, Invisible Children have a slightly lower than average financial standing. They are definitely not the monster that everybody makes them out to be. Invisible Children’s main problem is that they do not have an external audit for their financial reports. They are a newer company though, so it is only natural that they put a lot of money into advertising. After having done this research, I feel somewhat renewed in my initial vigor to help Invisible Children. I am more than likely going to donate to this organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 3

At first I was skeptical of this organization after watching KONY 2012. I was judging them based entirely on the video, and personally find their method of getting Kony famous absurd. But the video worked and achieved its target of making Kony famous. This popularity made me curious and I started doing my research on IC. This lead me to realize that my personal opinion was heavily influenced by all the negative comments on YouTube. I found out that there are still children suffering because of Kony. The video was speaking the truth and it brought the crime of Kony to the whole world. I might not agree with their method but ultimately, I will still donate to help them.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

Over the past few months I have done a decent amount of research on Invisible Children. I have come to the conclusion that they aren't focused on the main issues in Uganda, and aren't providing much relief for the country or its citizens. The people of Uganda are currently struggling with spreading disease, an unstable government, and many citizens who aren't specialized in any field of work. All of these problems have led to severe underdevelopment in Uganda, which is much more worrisome than Kony since he hasn't been in the country for years (http://tinyurl.com/6sfulht). I believe IC is working for good reasons and could be helpful if Kony was the main problem, but as far as contributing to helping Uganda's actual issues, I would consider supporting a different organization that may be more beneficial to helping with their current issues.

Review from CharityNavigator

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

I was among the 90million+ people who first learned of Invisible children through their Kony 2012 video, and since then I have done extensive research to determine fact from fiction in the cloud of propaganda that surrounds them. A common misconception is that IC spends too much on salaries and videos, when in reality 81.48% of their expenses are going towards programs such as radio alert systems, rehab centers, films, and video tours (for their 4-part model click the link below). What many people don’t understand is that IC’s purpose is not to build wells or send food to Uganda, but to raise awareness in order to end LRA atrocities and help rebuild communities. And they are doing a phenomenal job. If you are looking for a traditional nonprofit, then IC is not for you. But don’t discredit them because of that. They are pioneers in using social networking for social change of this scale, and while they have lots of room for improvement, I firmly believe they are worth our support.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

Many people, myself included, have based their idea of IC solely on the "Kony 2012" film. However, by only looking at the film, you get only a narrow understanding of the organization. Yes, the film skims over some details; yes, IC is not financially perfect; and yes, they were clearly underprepared for all of this attention. But, none of this lessens the fact that they are working towards doing something good. Not to mention that they have done a more than adequate job answering their critics, both through a section on their website devoted to answering criticisms to the release of a new film, which openly acknowledges many of their shortcomings. This shows some serious maturity and growth in a young organization, that has already made a huge impact. I am strongly considering supporting IC, and encourage others to get the whole picture of them before joining the "Kony 2012" critics.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

After looking into the Kony 2012 campaign, I have found that the Invisible Children organization has generally gained positive feedback from the teenage/young adult generation. This feedback has sprouted primarily from the famous YouTube video, “KONY 2012,” not from facts about the organization. Though the intentions seem genuine, Jason Russell and the Invisible Children charity fail to get past the basics. According to the Invisible Children website, only 30% of the proceeds go to the actual cause. Another problem with Invisible Children is that this campaign promotes slacktivism and laziness among the country. The Kony 2012 movement causes people to believe that the most effective way to help is to merely click the “Buy” button online and purchase a $30 Action Kit. I sincerely wanted to believe that Kony 2012 executed everything perfectly; however, there were too many unaddressed flaws. Therefore, I would personally discourage anyone from investing in this campaign and charity.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

I feel as if the invisible children have their ups and downs they were once in my eyes a good organization by having there videos post and showing what their plans where for the future. But after going through the other views and going on different websites like the Better Business Burial (BBB) they haven't registered their organization with them. Which in mind it makes me feel as a person who would be looking to donate more skeptical about donating to the Invisible Children because if your going to have an organization at least make it legal by registering through the (BBB). If not then it makes me feel as if your trying to scam me, and others.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

Many people are skeptical of Invisible Children’s finances. I myself was at first skeptical of the way they spent their donation money. However, after further research into their finances, I have found that IC is a pretty good non-profit organization when it comes to financial responsibility. I researched the Better Business Bureau who state 65% of a non-profit’s should be spent on programs; according to IC’s website, they spent 80.6% of funds on their programs. Charity Navigator researched the salaries of non-profit’s CEOs, the average salary being over $100,000 per year; IRS reports state that IC’s CEO earns just over $88,000. IC is transparent with finances because they display all tax forms and annual financial reports from the last five years. Overall, Invisible Children is not perfect, but they are pretty responsible with their finances. I would strongly consider supporting them.

Review from CharityNavigator

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

People think Invisible Children don't help Uganda and expend to much money in the own video. I agree that they expend too much money in the video. But, they still support Ugandan education. I n the past, men in Uganda have had more education than women. Invisible Children expends money to help men and women in Uganda to finish their education. For Invisible Children women and men was the same. In October for this year Invisible Children a 100 scholarships to college for Ugandan. I complete support Invisible Children and I encourage you to do the same.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

One of the most common critiques I have seen of Invisible Children is their financial responsibility. After doing research through articles about what a financially responsible nonprofit organization looks like as well as accounts such as former workers with Invisible Children, I discovered that this organization is much more financially responsible than I had once believed. What most people do not see is that Invisible Children uses many different methods to achieve their goals including doing tours to raise awareness, producing a warning signal over the radio to prevent LRA kidnappings, and providing various recovery programs. According to an article by Charity Navigator (http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=1359), it is revealed that Invisible Children gives more money to its cause than most nonprofits. After doing extensive research, my views on Invisible Children have significantly changed and I am considering volunteering and possibly donating to Invisible Children.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

I have known IC since 2004 when I moved to Uganda. I have see several weaknesses in the organization: 1. They have bought the Uganda govt line about the conflict totally. In fact, the conflict could have ended long ago except that the Uganda govt sabotaged peace efforts several times either by attacking the meeting site or setting unreasonable/arbitrary deadlines. There is blood on the hands on both sides and to side with the govt in this conflict puts IC in bad company. 2. They spend a lot of their money on salaries in the US and not directly helping the people of Central Africa. 3. They send naive young people to Uganda for short stints to "do good". Having lived in other cultures for many years I know that it takes at least 6 months just to begin to get a feel for the culture--at which time these young people come back to the US as "experts." The whole approach is naive. 4. They advocate a military solution to the conflict with the LRA ignoring the fact that there are religious leaders in Uganda who have been working to establish dialogue between the Uganda govt and the LRA. IC should be pressuring the Uganda govt to talk instead or just listening to one side of the issue--again blood on everyone's hands. The military option will only succeed in killing the children who had been abducted. This is a very short-sighted approach.

Review from CharityNavigator

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Invisible Children has been criticized through its viral campaigning video, Kony 2012, as cheating and deceiving the public and donators out of their money. Through my own research, I noticed how they have been judged for spending the majority of their money on their elaborate campaign videos to "make Kony known," as CEO Jason Russell said was their main objective at the beginning of IC’s foundation. This seems reasonable that they spent money where intended, however, "[Their] game isn't who [...] is fighting for the most important cause, it's who has the best marketing wins" ('Guerrilla Marketing,' Suddath). Their campaigns were purposely created with less information to target young adults/teens and get their money. Untrustworthy and intentionally deceitful. I personally wouldn’t support IC because of how they divide the use of their money more towards their own marketing and less towards needy children. They don’t truly benefit children in need.

Monica30

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Founder went KOOKOOO and ran around naked down the street from where I am. They say it was an emotional breakdown. Seemed to me there was more to it so I will never support this organization EVER.

Review from CharityNavigator

Carmen T.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a donor for invisible Children since 2009. I did not receive my KONY 2012 kit when the video went viral, but I was called by a staff member after the fact... they offered a refund, but I didn't take it. Here's why, and I must warn you in advance... this explanation will be lengthy. Since 2009, I have been fully aware of this organization's integrity and willingness to create peace to part of our world. Before, I never donated. I just watched their films, was shocked as I heard about an ongoing war that was not being covered anywhere in U.S. media, let alone history books... I began writing research papers for school (peer reviewed searches verified the crisis in dozens of articles), and I began spreading awareness. I attended their Dallas "Rescue Joseph Kony's Child Soldiers" event, where hundreds of us symbolically abducted ourselves and walked 7 miles to a park (LRA camp) and waited to be rescued by a political figure, someone from the media, and a celebrity. I wrote letters many letters that day to members of Congress and political leaders, which led to a movement that got President Obama's attention. He signed the LRA Disarmament and Recovery Act in 2009. If you google search photos of Obama signing this act, you can see Laren Poole standing behind him in the oval office. Just last year ( and you can google this too, and find it anywhere in the news, JUST MAKE SURE IT'S A VERIFIABLE SOURCE - NOT AN OPINION ARTICLE OR A BLOG), President Obama sent 100 U.S. troops and military experts to Central Africa to help aid the crisis in the region and help capture Joseph Kony, WHO IS STILL ALIVE, AND ON THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT'S MOST WANTED LIST FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY ALONG WITH MANY OTHER TERRORISTS AROUND THE WORLD. Since I have been a member of this organization I have become a member of their TRI program, as well as the Legacy Scholarship Fund. I am also a graduate student at the University of North Texas, where I personally met and have remained in contact with formerly abducted child soldiers and night commuters... people who were severely impacted and traumatized by this war. Every $ I have spent helped put children through schools (as well as build/rebuild them), created jobs, and helped rehabilitate and rescue child soldiers and victims of war. My efforts, as well as the efforts of thousands have helped end night commuting (again, you can research this anywhere) and eliminate displacement camps in Uganda (research this too), where people were dying of hunger and illness every day. The LRA had been destroying Uganda for over 20 years, and if it hadn't been for this organization spreading awareness about this crisis, if it hadn't been for these young filmmakers pushing so many people to help, there would not be peace and our U.S. leaders would not have lifted a finger to help. Here's why so many people didn't get their kit (and why I declined a refund): I personally knew this organization was run almost entirely by volunteers and "roadies" (people traveling the country as well as Central Africa spreading awareness and helping). A warehouse of volunteers were responsible for putting together DVDs, shipping packages of Bracelets created by former victims of war in Africa, as well as other shirts that were printed and sold by order. I ordered plenty of merchandise for events knowing every dollar would go straight to their cause, and it was shipped on time, every time. THIS ORGANIZATION DID NOT EXPECT FOR KONY 2012 TO GO VIRAL OVERNIGHT. MILLIONS of people across the country ordered kits, and the demand was so high, they obviously ran out pretty quick. On top of that, their servers crashed, and millions of orders were not submitted. To make things worse, the three passionate filmmakers whose only dream was to change the world were now being attacked by thousands of skeptics who accused them of scamming and lying to about a very real, ongoing WAR in Central Africa. This led to Jason Russell's very public mental breakdown. Imagine seeing all the hurtful comments and taking all of that abuse after spending your entire adult life fighting for a cause now everyone believes is a lie? If you've read this much, I hope you realize I'm just a normal person... I've read all of the reviews and am frankly tired of it. Invisible Children has nothing to hide, it has a 4 star rating, and is backed by international organizations all over the world. Take that into consideration before spouting off simply because you never got your kit, or because you've read comments mostly based on opinion, and read some statistics you don't fully understand because you've never taken a statistics or accounting class.

Review from CharityNavigator

Shannon34

Donor

Rating: 1

I have been researching charities and discovered Invisible Children is not even registered with the BBB!! I never did end up donating to this charity and feel their ratings are unbalanced with the facts???

Review from CharityNavigator

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

I pulled this organizations tax records and found it quite terrifying. Huge salaries to those who started the organization and their spouces. Bank accounts in the camen islands. Over 80 percent of donations going to running the orgainzation. Take a closer look at ts one!!!

Review from CharityNavigator

Donor

Rating: 1

Only 31% of their money actually goes to help anyone and by help I mean given to the Ugandan army, where Kony probably does not live now. The rest lines the pockets of the 3 who own the organisation. They spent 1,000,000 in travel expenses in a year and the rest on film making which makes more money. I have not been able to cancel my recurring payment through every channel they have for several months short of cancelling my card. God forbid if you gave them your routing number. I'd like to see a multi state class action suit against these fraudsters.

Review from CharityNavigator

Donor

Rating: 1

Like so many others I donated for the Kony April 22nd.event. I gave and recieved nothing after waiting and waiting and waiting. In July I started to e-mail. Response from Stay Classy redirected to IC. IC sent and apologetic,"Overwhelming response, blah blah, trying to fill orders, blah blah. Please accept these 2 teeshirts (was supposed to be in the package anyway) just indicate size blah blah.) Response to that email was "This emal is No longer accepting emails!". I dont want the damn tee shirts. My grandchildren did after seeing the videos and reading about this. They were bought to tears and had their eyes opened to reality as far as innocent children suffering and how grateful they are for their blessings. They couldnt wait to "jump on the band wagon" and start fundraising. Are you kidding me? They are young adults with great hearts and they were bamboozled. So for now they are sticking to AIDS, cancer and diabetes organizations that are well established and hopefully accountable to us schmucks. To end, I have just 2 more things. One being has anyone taken by IC done a BBB complaint or FTC or even Attorney General of their states? It cost nothing. Lastly, I dont want the danm teeshirts. I wanted HONESTY!

Review from CharityNavigator

Donor

Rating: 1

Dodgy that I purchased a KONY2012 action pack for curiosity and I received nothing. At one point I questioned their staff in regards to their legitimacy and was told that they could not unveil details as to where my $$$ went - take a look at the site WordswithMeaning! Kony2012 and you'll see exactly where your hard earned cash disappeared to

Comments ( 1 )

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bblaisdell 07/17/2012

Hi Markus! My name is Brianne, and I am a full-time volunteer with Invisible Children. I definitely want to make sure that you are taken care of in the best way, and I am so sorry that you did not receive a kit! I'd love to speak with you further about this and get your concerns resolved. You can give our team a call at 619-562-2799 or email the customer service team at customerservice@invisiblechildren.com.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

First a neutral report with some facts from Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/uganda0905.pdf In one sentence, LRA and UPDF, BOTH have committed atrocities and continue to do so. The fact that Kony seems to be targeted and not UPDF, tells me that there is a propaganda at large. Together with reports from a couple com-mentors that the money is not going to children....IC sounds like a scam to me. There is no denying the fact that there is a huge humanitarian crisis going on in Uganda. I am not sure if another war is the solution. Make your own informed decision.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

I mostly deal with Voice of the Martyrs. I must admit that I was a bit critical of this cause at first, but realize I was only jealous of their widespread exposure to this single issue, while our multi-front efforts to help persecuted christians are always ignored by the media. In retrospect, I think now, that some (myself included) may be a bit hasty in judging this org's financial data. In comparison, VOM raises a great deal more than IC (probably because it appeals to an older, wealthier croud, rather than unpaid college students) and its frontal effort is also much wider (many nations). Roughly 3/4 of their revenue goes to the programs, 1/8 to overhead, and 1/8 unspent. IC has about 1/2 revenue going to programs, 1/8 to overhead, and 1/3 unspent. Could be better, but its not all that bad. They're young: give em a break and wish them luck. And say a prayor for both of us, because my people are also persecuted.

Chantal C.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Did NOT receive my kit, did research into this charity and they are shady to say the very least

Comments ( 1 )

profile

bblaisdell 07/17/2012

Hi Chantal, my name is Brianne and I am a full-time volunteer with Invisible Children. I am so sorry that you did not receive your kit! I would love to get this problem taken care of for you. You can give me a call at 619-562-2799 or email the customer service team at customerservice@invisiblechildren.com. We would love to hear from you and help you out in any way we can!

Review from CharityNavigator

Volunteer

Rating: 1

I purchased their "Action Kit" in response to the KONY 2012 video and never received anything. I called and left messages and emailed asking for my money back, yet I got no response. They have since taken down all ways to contact them via phone or email. I feel like I got dupped. I will never trust this organization again.

Comments ( 1 )

profile

bblaisdell 07/17/2012

Hi Laurel! My name is Brianne, and I am a full time volunteer with the customer service team at Invisible Children. I have just reached out to you via phone and email, and I just want to apologize firsthand that you did not get your Action Kit! After how viral KONY 2012 became, our office was flooded with emails and phone calls and I am very sorry that we were so difficult to get a hold of! We have since restructured our infrastructure and are much more able to answer and care for our customers the way we have always meant to. I want to make sure that we help you in the best way possible. In case you did not receive my voice mail or email, you can give me a call at 619-562-2799 or email our team at customerservice@invisiblechildren.com. We look forward to helping you with this!

Review from CharityNavigator

Rachel37

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Their most recent "campaign" defaced Westlake Village, CA with ugly posters plastered EVERYWHERE even on STOP signs. For what purpose?

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

I agree with lots of you that more than (approximately) a third of the money should go directly to those effected by Kony. However, honestly look at the impact the money spent on the films and road crews is having and making people aware of the problem. 99% of the haters had NO IDEA who Kony was or who Invisible Children was before now. I say the money spent there was effective! Can't argue that. If you think it's a scam then don't send money. It's that simple.

Review from Guidestar