Whether it be the gun-posing, the naked pushups and dancing around in traffic, or the video that quickly hit over 80 million views on Youtube, KONY 2012 has achieved at least one thing – we’re talking about it.
Personally, I’m not a fan of it. I watched it pretty early on and something struck me as pretty odd. No doubt the message is important and the cause is as well, but the delivery seemed over the top and rife with generalizations.
Now I’m no expert on Uganda and really anything relative to KONY2012, I’ve only done what most of you have by reading just about everything possible once the KONY thing really gained steam.
One thing though that really piqued my interest early on were Invisible Children’s finances. Here in the States, it’s pretty easy to get a hold of a nonprofits tax returns. So that’s what I did.
A great site for such information is guidestar.org. You can sign up for free, then just do a simple search of nonprofit you’re looking for, then click on the most recent I-990 filing. From there, you’re sorted – you have a . PDF and everything to comb through.
We’re not quite the Guardian when it comes to open journalism and all of that, but I thought it might be neat to share the latest 990 here on the site – and since we’ve had a few chats on WannabeHacks in the past about financial journalism, I thought it could be fun to comb through the document and see if we find anything interesting.
I’m not under the impression we’ll find anything ground-breaking or interesting ourselves, but it’s good practice to look at these documents so we as journalists have a better understanding of how non-profits do their work, but also when the next KONY 2012 presents itself and critics come out of the woodwork, screaming from the high heavens pointing out discrepancies and levying criticisms.
There have been a lot of questions about their finances and how they divy up the good bit of revenue they bring in through their fundraising. Questions have been raised about how much they spend on travel expenses and salaries, as related to money actually used to help the problem in Uganda.
Jason Russell, who recently had a very public mental breakdown, made about $90,000 for the most recent fiscal year.
Invisible’s Children expenses for that year was close to $9 million. Of that, about $415k was used for employee compensation and over $1 million for travel expenses.
So have a look and share what you find. It could also be interesting to look up any other US-based nonprofits that you have any interest in.