March 7, 2012
by Bryne Yancey
A new blog post from at Acadia University (Nova Scotia, Canada) sociology and political science student Grant Oyston has called into question the practices of non-profit Invisible Children. In the post, Oyston highlights the charity’s fund distribution (only 32% of its expenses last year went to direct services), as well as their support of the Ugandan government’s army and other military forces:
“Invisible Children has been condemned time and time again. As a registered not-for-profit, its finances are public. Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services (page 6), with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production. This is far from ideal, and Charity Navigator rates their accountability 2/4 stars because they haven’t had their finances externally audited. But it goes way deeper than that.
The group is in favour of direct military intervention, and their money supports the Ugandan government’s army and various other military forces. Here’s a photo of the founders of Invisible Children posing with weapons and personnel of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army are riddled with accusations of rape and looting, but Invisible Children defends them, arguing that the Ugandan army is “better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries”, although [Joseph] Kony is no longer active in Uganda and hasn’t been since 2006 by their own admission. These books each refer to the rape and sexual assault that are perennial issues with the UPDF, the military group Invisible Children is defending.”
The post goes on to criticize the methods by which the charity is targeting Joseph Kony, the leader of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan guerilla militia seeking to establish a new, theocratic government in Uganda:
“Still, the bulk of Invisible Children’s spending isn’t on supporting African militias, but on awareness and filmmaking. Which can be great, except that Foreign Affairs has claimed that Invisible Children (among others) “manipulates facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA’s use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony — a brutal man, to be sure — as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil.” He’s certainly evil, but exaggeration and manipulation to capture the public eye is unproductive, unprofessional and dishonest.”
IC’s new film about Kony can be watched below.
Many bands within the scene that AP covers have supported Invisible Children over the years, but we must stress that we’re not here to condemn their actions or support, only to offer another perspective of the charity’s practices. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.