Invisible Children, the non-profit group behind viral video “Kony 2012,” has answered a growing number of critics in a new post on its website explaining its financials, its governance structure and its work with the Ugandan government.
"We’ve done our utmost to be as inclusive, transparent, and factual as possible," the group wrote. "We built this organization with 'seeing is believing' in mind, and that’s what why we are a media-based organization. We WANT you to see everything we are doing, because we are proud of it."
Invisible Children made the video, which now has more than 30 million views on YouTube, to spread awareness about Ugandan guerilla leader Joseph Rao Kony, who runs the Lord's Resistance Army.
Invisible Children explained that it has to work with the government to bring down Kony, as well as to bring peace to the region. Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court and stands accused of mass kidnapping, sexual abuse and murder – among other offenses.
"We do not defend any of the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Ugandan government or the Ugandan army (UPDF)," it wrote. "None of the money donated through Invisible Children ever goes to the government of Uganda. Yet the only feasible and proper way to stop Kony and protect the civilians he targets is to coordinate efforts with regional governments."
The group also said that only about a third of its money goes straight to Central Africa programs because the rest must be spent on awareness, management and fundraising.
Just under eight percent goes to film and media creation.
The video has unquestionably gotten people's attention, not just on YouTube but also on Facebook and Twitter, where various phrases associated with the movement continue to trend.
As a result, the group has also garnered the support of celebrities like Ryan Seacrest and Oprah Winfrey, and hopes for the endorsement of other major cultural and political figures like Bill Clinton and Rush Limbaugh.
Yet there are some who say the group has exaggerated Kony's crimes.
“The LRA is, in fact, a relatively small player in all of this — as much a symptom as a cause of the endemic violence,” a trio of authors wrote in Foreign Affairs in November. “If Kony is removed, LRA fighters will join other groups or act independently.”
In its post, the group framed Kony as part of a larger fight in Central Africa, but was unequivocal about the need to stop Kony.
"Let's focus on what matters, and what we DO agree on: Joseph Kony needs to be stopped."
It also urged its critics to look harder next time.
"Credibility in the eyes of policymakers, fellow non-profit workers, LRA-affected communities, and YOU is our most important asset, so we would like to encourage you, if you have critiques, to get specific: find facts, dig deeper, and we’ll gladly continue the conversation from there," it wrote.