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Invisible Children Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Human Services

Mission: Invisible Children exists to bring a permanent end to LRA atrocities. The mission is supported by our program areas - Media, Mobilization, Protection and Recovery.

Results: 81.48% of our revenue went to our programs in FY 2012

Geographic areas served: Worldwide

Programs: ETHOS We believe in the equal and inherent value of all human life. We believe that a worldview bound by borders is outdated and that stopping injustice anywhere is the responsibility of humanity everywhere. CONTEXT Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army have been abducting, killing, and displacing civilians in East and central Africa since 1987. We first encountered these atrocities in northern Uganda in 2003 when we met a boy named Jacob who feared for his life and a woman named Jolly who had a vision for a better future. Together, we promised Jacob that we would do whatever we could to stop Joseph Kony and the LRA. Invisible Children was founded in 2004 to fulfill that promise. MODEL Invisible Children focuses exclusively on the LRA conflict through an integrated four-part model that addresses the problem in its entirety: immediate needs and long-term effects. MEDIA We create films to document LRA atrocities, introduce new audiences to the conflict, and inspire global action. MOBILIZATION We mobilize massive groups of people to support and advance international efforts to end LRA atrocities. PROTECTION We work with regional partners to build and expand systems that warn remote communities of LRA attacks and encourage members of the LRA to peacefully surrender. RECOVERY We work to rehabilitate children directly affected by the LRA and invest in education and economic recovery programs in the post-conflict region to promote lasting peace.

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!

13

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

4

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.