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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 We believe that a worldview bound by borders is outdated and that stopping injustice anywhere is the responsibility of humanity everywhere.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

73 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

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.

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

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

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 )

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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