On invisible children, inc.

I have no idea whatsoever how to read the audited financial statement of Invisible Children. I’m trying to educate myself more on them and Kony 2012 but I just don’t understand what’s bad and good about the statement.

Care to point anything out?

In fiscal year 2011, Invisible Children, Inc. took in a total of 13.7 million dollars in support and revenue, and spent 2.8 million dollars on direct services.

That’s really all you need to know.

In charity-speak, “direct services” is exactly what you think it is. It’s the money directly spent on actual charitable services. Everything else is administration, fundraising, and marketing. (In this case, documentary filmmaking.)

In 2011, Invisible Children doled out 2.8 million dollars in furtherance of “building an early warning radio network,” “educating local communities,” and “deploying search and rescue teams.” That’s noble work. So is raising awareness about Joseph Kony.

However, Invisible Children also spent 1.7 million dollars paying it’s employees, 1.2 million on film and production expenses, and another million on travel and transportation. It owns 1.2 million dollars of hard assets (computers and film equipment), it spent almost four hundred thousand dollars leasing office space, and it has 6 million dollars in cash just lying around.

None of this is good or bad. This isn’t about a value judgment. Nothing in the report is shady or duplicitous, and no one is lying to you about any of it.

This is all just useful information. I’m no expert, and you should do your own homework, but to me, the statement of functional expenses for 2011 reads like an operating statement of a production company, not a charity.

That’s the point, though. Like I said before, this is all just a big media-driven anti-Kony marketing campaign. It says so right on the box. That’s fine, and I hope it works.

My ultimate point is that before you buy in to something, you should know what you’re buying. That’s all.


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