Written by Katelyn Knobbe | Contributing Writer
The premise is simple: create a campaign that spreads awareness of a dire situation happening in Africa so that people will support action by the U.S. government to help stop the crimes occurring. Well, maybe it’s not so simple. This is the idea of the latest viral campaign video that has swept the internet recently. Invisible Children, an advocacy organization, released a video recently entitled “KONY 2012”, which aims to shed light on a man named Joseph Kony, the leader of a group called the Lord’s Resistance Army, and he is accused of many crimes against humanity. According to the video, Joseph Kony has kidnapped over 30,000 children over the course of 26 years and turned them into soldiers for his army.
Invisible Children thinks the key to capturing Kony is to keep our government involved and to do that, we as U.S. citizens need to keep interest in the cause. Invisible Children plans to reach the public through the use of social media as well as “action kits”. These actions kits that can be purchased include posters, stickers, t-shirts, and bracelets that have the message “KONY 2012” on them. Invisible Children is also planning to “Cover the Night” on April 20, 2012. Throughout this evening, anyone who wants to can meet at sundown in their town or city and cover the streets with the KONY 2012 posters to spread their message.
While this may seem all well and good, questions have been raised about Invisible Children’s ability to actually help the situation in Africa. For one, the nonprofit organization’s finances are made public, and if you look, you can see that only about 31% of donations made to the organization are actually used for direct aid. The other 69% go to fund travel expenses for the leaders of the group, staff salaries, and also to fund their filmmaking company. It has also been reported that Kony has not been active in Uganda since 2006 and that he may be very weak or dead as of 2012. Invisible Children has responded to these criticisms by explaining and defending exactly how their funding is spent and what their organization is all about. For more information on the details of organization’s defense, visit InvisibleChildren.com.
When it comes down to it, Invisible Children’s KONY 2012 campaign has received both positive and negative attention. Many of those currently not supporting the campaign do not like the idea of giving money that is not being put into full use of direct aid, and so they choose to stop supporting the organization all together. I don’t think that is necessarily a step in the right direction. Awareness is crucial and is the first step to working towards bettering the world we live in, and Invisible Children’s campaign has done just that. However, before we actually cross from awareness into action, we need to stop for a second and further research the situation at hand. Find out what charities help the most and how much of your donation is actually going to directly help those that the organization claims to support. Once you have researched, if you still feel that donating to a particular organization is the right thing to do, go for it. I think it’s amazing how much power media can have in our world today by spreading messages, but it’s how we decide to receive that message and then take the next step (once we are aware) that truly makes the difference.