RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – If you're on social media you've probably noticed the "Stop KONY 2012" video that has gone viral this week. The film is part of a larger online campaign by a non-profit corporation based in California called "Invisible Children".
The group solicits donations to help raise awareness about Ugandan guerrilla leader Joseph Kony. 12 Investigates took a look at its financial statements to see where all the money goes.
This video was just posted on Monday, but already has been viewed more than 50 million times on YouTube alone. The film mixes a quick history of the Lord's Resistance Army, or L.R.A.'s activity in central Africa. It focuses on the atrocities committed by L.R.A. leader Joseph Kony ----- and ends with a call to action asking people to purchase an "action kit" that contains a t-shirt, an action guide, a bracelet, posters, and a button. This online marketing campaign has been so successful, that the "Invisible Children's website" indicates the kits and t-shirts are sold out.
Invisible Children has been independently audited and its financial statements are available online. The audit shows that last year the group's total revenue was over 13 and a half million dollars. Its expenses came in at just under $9 million. Its expenses for film costs, production costs, and travel and transportation costs come in at over $2.2 million. If you couple that with the $1.7 million in compensation costs you see that over $4 million in expenses come from these four categories alone. That's almost half of the total expenses.
The movement has also made a splash here in Richmond. On April 20th, Invisible Children is organizing an event where posters with Kony's name will be placed all over the world, in order to bring awareness to Kony's crimes. A Richmond facebook event has already received over 250 responses from people promising to attend.
The city of Richmond has responded to the organizers reminding them it's illegal to put up posters on public property, and each offense can come with a $50 fine. The facebook group has responded by saying it will hand out the posters rather than posting them.
We sent a message to one of the organizers of the Richmond event but have not yet heard back from them.
Official KONY 2012 Site: http://kony2012.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/
Critical Site : http://visiblechildren.tumblr.com/post/18954353409/not-alone