Is Invisible Children And Kony 2012 Using Children To Rip You Off?

Definitely Not Decaf with Ira Pickett

As reported on  today, the new viral video “Kony 2012” has been seen by over 54 million viewers on YouTube, creating a buzz on TV, Radio, social networks, at the water cooler and in the classrooms all across Florida and America.  Reportedly, the San Diego non-profit organization raked in nearly $14 million in donations last year with roughly a third of that coming from it’s “Schools 4 Schools” program and general donations. 

According to various reports, many public school classrooms across the nation this week became theaters for the “Kony 2012” video when their teachers or administrators promoted the video or played it for their students.  In one short week the 30 minute short film about a Ugandan warlord accused of horrible crimes such as kidnapping up to 30,000 children over the last 26 years and turning girls into sex slaves and young boys into child soldiers – has been watched  over 54 million times.  At first glance, it would seem that this video serves a great purpose and that the money raised would be well spent to help protect children and bring the criminals to justice. But, unfortunately the story doesn’t end there.


If you have ever sat thru a sales presentation at a local hotel by one of the large multi-level network marketing organizations,  you might think that “Invisible Children” has stolen the play-book on how to recruit participants, sell products and generate money from those that do it the best.  Of course, Invisible Children is not trying to get you to become your own household product wholesale work -at-home company, but are trying to cause you to pull out your wallet. Watching the video, you feel tremendous compassion for the children of Uganda and the plight and terror that they experience.  You see a wonderful presentation of how Invisible Children impacts these children and their communities.  And then when you arrive at the final minute of the video you are told exactly how YOU can get involved to make a difference:

1. Sign the pledge to show your support

2. Get the bracelet and the action kit

3. Sign up and donate a few dollars a month

Sounds fair enough, right?


Of the near $14 million that Invisible Children  took in last year, only $3.3 million actually went to programs  in Central Africa.

So where did the rest of the money go?  Well, $2.3 million went to marketing; $1.4 million on management and general expenses; $700,000 on media; and $850,000 on “awareness products”.  The remaining $4.8 million is shown on their P&L as “income”. These figures come straight from their own 2011  financial report


Furthermore, Zach Barrows of Invisible Children told CBS News, “We’ve never pretended all the money goes to the ground, because we don’t believe that’s the best use. The best use is spreading the word and then doing the highest-impact programs possible on the ground.” 

So what we have here, is yet another non-profit organization that raises millions of dollars by twisting our emotions and goodwill and then only spends less than 25% of the take on programs that directly impact those that they are supposedly raising the money for. 

What’s even worse is that millions of children across America were used as carrier pigeons, having been  introduced to the propaganda in their school classrooms and then bringing the message home to encourage their families to donate.  I mean, what rational mom or dad wouldn’t want to help little boys and girls in Africa that are being forced into prostitution or other forms of slavery? 

Imagine being one of the parents who just found out today that  only $12 of the $50 that their family was duped into donating  was actually going to impact the children directly, and the remainder was being used for marketing, management salaries and profit for the organization. 

This is absolutely another example of what is wrong when a liberal attitude takes hold in our government and our communities.  Private corporations are villianized because of their stated goal to make profit for their employee’s and shareholders, and yet at the same time organizations like Invisible Children hide behind the guise of charitable activity and pay out millions of dollars in salaries, management fees, and marketing expenses while millions of well-intentioned Americans remain completely unaware as they hand over their hard-earned money. 

How did we get to the point in America where charitable organizations such as Invisible Children are nothing more than slick marketing companies using every ounce of technology to dupe us out of our last dollar, and less than 25 cents of it actually goes to help the intended? 

Honestly, I’d personally rather give my money to Wal-Mart or Bank Of America who donate billions of dollars annually for feed the hungry, help the hurting and improve our schools and communities within the structure of their FOR PROFIT corporations.  At least I know what I’m getting up front.

Want more Ira Pickett? Listen to the live  audio of this column.

Follow Ira Pickett at & on Twitter @IraPickett.


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