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 We believe that a worldview bound by borders is outdated and that stopping injustice anywhere is the responsibility of humanity everywhere.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

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

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Their "cover the night" campaign has defaced landmarks all over Boston. To spray paint over other memorials is just disgraceful. I had some sympathy to their campaigns before but now I just think this whole thing is just a marketing gimmick. This organization needs to pay for the clean up the leadership who encouraged the destruction of public landmarks should be prosecuted.

Review from CharityNavigator

lesliecollingridge

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

Understand that IC's approach is different than a traditional one - do your research!!! Their goal was to increase awareness of the issue - job done. Russell admits that the issues are very complex and absolutely encourages the audience to look into this for themselves - this film was nine years in the making. If you do your homework, they explain how they work and where the $$ goes. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Thoroughly. And think about that fact that they've gotten *****80 million+ viewers****** to pay attention to an issue about which they'd had little or no knowledge or concern until they say what IC produced. I'd say that's pretty priceless.

Review from CharityNavigator

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

If you are going to be a non-profit or pose as a "do good" organization it is my opinion that you should be held to a higher standard. The cause should come before the self promotion and salaries. Also with the recent melt down of the founder Jason Russell how can one have faith in these guys? I was once a sucker who believed that people could really be hospitalized for "exhaustion or dehydration" until I spoke with my Doctor friend who said that is PR code words for drug OD or withdrawal. I do think Jason is suffering from one battle and that is his conscious. You can lie to world but it is really tough to lie to yourself. From his rants my guess is that he is not truth about some major elements in his personal and business life and it is catching up with him.

Dawn18

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

The amount spent on video production is outrageous. How much did these guys pocket for themselves, producer fees, director fees, etc...? Also, the amount that goes to the actual children is too low relative to how much they bring in. Also, where is their board of directors? Big problem..Don't let these guys fool you--they are making MUCH more than their "salary" off of this.

1 Niki Kircher

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have followed IC for years and I am sick about the weak reasons that people want to tear them down! I can not believe an organization who is doing so much to help these people are the target of ridiculous crap! I have purchased bracelets and received them in a timely manner, the movies they produce are motivating and do what they are intended to do -- it is not a history lesson people it is a call for action!-- and the financial information is right on the money with how much is allocated! I hope that the organization does not allow stupid people with agendas to get in the way of the good they are doing.

Review from CharityNavigator

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

I learned about invisible children last year, just before they were on the Oprah show on April 20th. I went to their free movie screening, and I've disliked them from the start.

The tl;dr version of their documentary is: some university students want to go on a vacation but don't want to pay for it so they take their video camera and turn their trip into a movie to sell upon their return. They conduct some interviews and stuff like that. Leave and return later on for follow up interviews, kidnap a kid, parents get worried, cops get involved, one of them gets shot. Then, the movies over and they asked the audience for radio warning system donations. I don't donate anything since I felt like they aren't in it for the right reasons. They're in it to make money, and they do at 85 - 89k a year.

Then, a few days pass and they're on the Oprah show asking for radio donations again. This time, it's revealed they have raised a huge amount of money, over ten million, which is more than they'll ever need for a radio in each village to alert everyone of trouble so then Oprah asks something like you've clearly got the radio situation covered what are you going to do next? and both boys completely ignore the question. I don't think that's right. If I'm going to give money to a charity, I want to know where's it's going. I don't want to be lied to and have it go to something else I might not agree with.

So, now they've done it again, but this time it's getting more attention. They've raised money to solve a problem that doesn't exist (joseph kony hasn't been in power for over five years) and are now going to spend that money in a way that the donators may not approve of. Stick to donating to charities with low overhead and do what they say they're going to. 'Raising awareness' doesn't solve problems.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

WHERE is it written that because you run a charity you have to live the life of a pauper? Running a charity means you are tax exempt on donations, and some purchases. It does not mean you are not a business with expenses. It's just like any other business. It has to pay rent, utilities, buy computers and software, pay salaries, and report to the IRS, just like any other business Do you think the chief executives were making a lot of money in all the years they spent getting Invisible Children off the ground? Just getting the paperwork through the IRS is enough to give you grey hair and an ulcer. There were probably a lot of lean years before and after starting the charity, with debt and risk, just like starting any business, and a ton of sweat equity unrewarded financially.
Do you really think $88,000 after taxes (yes you have to pay income tax on that) is a lot of money? What is wrong with the founder of a business and it's chief executives being able to send their kids to a decent school, buy a home and maintain it (median price between $78,000 & $125,000 (doesn't get you much if you have/want 2 kids) in a decent neighborhood, drive a decent reliable car, feed themselves, pay health costs not covered by insurance, maybe go on a trip once a year, buy equipment for their kids to play sports or an instrument, get your kids a computer or send them to college, feed and clothe yourself, pay cable and internet costs, utilities for your home, landscaping costs, local taxes. I am sick to death of people thinking that the CEO's of charities shouldn't be able to make a decent living. $88,240 is NOT a lot of money after taxes for a CEO, CFA, or COO. Many times these executives wear many hats, and roll in multiple titles such as IT director, shipping and receiving, accountant, personnel manager, public relations, housecleaning, media relations manager, accounts payable, maintenance person and general put out all fires person. I can't speak personally as to the mission or usefulness of this charity, but having worked for a small one myself I can tell you getting it off the ground and keeping it off the ground was no small task. Doing great things SHOULD be rewarded. I don't see why the people running and working for charities should have to eat crappy food, shop only at thrift stores, drive 15 year old cars and live in the low rent district just because they have a 501(c) designation from the IRS. Most people bitching about salaries have no idea what 501(c) means, would never have the inspiration, gumption, or courage to start a business, and believe that because a business is labeled a "Charity", that there is no work included, the money is freely given to it as if it grows on trees and that there is no overhead. You can bet that those three making $80,00 plus a year are not working 9-5, and going home carefree without a thought as to whether the doors will be open or not in the morning. Rather I KNOW what a sweat it is to wonder if you'll be able to make payroll, and keep multiple balls in the air and be responsible for an entire organization and it's employees and THEIR families welfare as well as your own. It's worth a lot more then $89,000 before taxes. Especially when the mission is not specifically for profit or to make the best widget in the world, but for a group minded effort to improve the lives of humanity, animals, what have you. Say what you will about how a charity spends it's money, but please, don't ask the risk taking inovators who don't get paid extra for overtime to not be rewarded for their efforts for the paltry sum of $88, 240.

3 Darcy3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Not enough of your donations make it to Africa. The donations that do go to the military... Think before you leap!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

Why doesn't IC hold a press conference to "address criticisms in the media." Using a video to do this seems manipulative and only strengthens criticism. There appears some real lack of transparency that is troubling.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

These people are not good people. My father runs an AIDs charity in East Africa, and says this charity is bad. Donors beware!

Review from CharityNavigator

3 Sdhdfh S.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

MESSAGE TO EVERYONE WHO IS TO STUPID TO RESEARCH:

1. Invisible Children (IC) donates 32% or less to Africa.

2. Kony's been inactive since 06' and nobody knows if he's even alive.

3. Footage from "KONY 2012" is outdated by YEARS.

4. IC has been seen posing with the Ugandan Army and SPLA, which have both been known to loot, pillage, and ENLIST CHILD SOLDIERS. Ironic, to say the least.

5. He was in Uganda 20 years ago, he's long gone. Why send troops there?

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

I respect them for the effort they put in to bringing awareness to Joseph Kony and the LRA, but that's just the problem- so much effort has been put into building publicity for Kony that a mere 31% of their profits go towards actually helping anyone. The three founding members of the charity are making over $80,000 per year, which for a "grassroots" movement is not respectable. I would like to see their Kony 2012 stay afloat so as to keep some of the public eye on the issue, but the organization appears to be corrupt and their funds are allocated poorly, making the organization more of an advertisement than an actual charity. I won't be donating to them.

Review from CharityNavigator

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

I looked at the audited financial report. The charity spent 80.5 percent of its revenue on "Program Expenses," that is, they spent the money on the work for which the charity was organized, but that report does not show what program expenses includes. And I suppose that is part of the reason why Charity Navigator give IC a low transparency rating. The "Program Expenses" are what IC decides they are. So if they have to bribe some Ugandan official to get somewhere or access to some thing, it wouldn't surprise me if that expense got included in Program Expenses.

Review from CharityNavigator

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

These heroes are going to stop a warlord by making videos and selling bracelets!

Review from CharityNavigator

Ken I.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

I always investigate charities carefully before taking a stand. IC is good for a small charity. The detractors use percentages, rather than dollars. Any small organization's expenses are a bigger percentage of their income. If you want an eye-opener, compare the

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Before the Kony 2012 campaign, Invisible Children had a poor rating that displayed how corrupt the organization truly was. Yet the moment all the fauxtivists learned about the movement, they boosted IC's rating. All they have done is proven they are subject to a mass-bandwagon that clouts their minds and disregard all facts. Its no better than religion.

Review from CharityNavigator

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

After watching the video and doing some research I became complete obsessed with this entire story. However when I told my parents they told me to not jump onto the banwagon so fast. My dad asked me questions like "Do you know what percentage of your donation would ACTUALLY go to the children and not the creators of the foundation or the government" this made me realize I needed to do more reasearch and I found that INVISIBLE CHILDREN is quite corrupt and people that are donating are not realizing where their money is going THEREFORE DONT JUST DONATE RESEARCH AND DECIDE IF ITS SOMETHING YOU WANT TO PUT YOUR MONEY TO I still want Kony arrested but I am not going to donate to express my feeling instead I will use my voice and make my own posters

Review from CharityNavigator

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

All of the negative comments left here have been addressed by the charity on their website. Go to invisiblechildren.com and click on "Critiques" in the top right corner. Research and make your own decision.

Review from CharityNavigator