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How Much is Enough?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

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Written by Chris Carr

Are we over this Kony thing yet? We painted Old Jeremiah, had a protest and made a Facebook event listing. As students, I think everyone involved in the Kony 2012 rigmarole, did an impeccable job, and should be congratulated. You did a good thing. Raising awareness in itself is the most crucial part of any revolution; just think how many more people know the name Kony now, than a year ago.

Recently the Facebook group relegated to inform the University of Guelph of Kony-related issues has come under fire. There are more than a few comments that discourage the efforts of the group and ridicule anyone still focused on the problem of Kony. Some of these people have a point and more of them are just lazy. Remember it is always easier to criticize than take action, thus the creation of 90 per cent of online discussion. However, with the Kony situation, some of these commenters have a point.

The Kony campaign is run by a not-for-profit organization called the Invisible Children, so any monetary records are made accessible to the public, or in this case, bearded columnists. The records can be found here. They make for an interesting read. From 2010 to 2011 their net profit increased four-fold, making the Invisible Children over $5 million in profit. Now this is a great achievement, PETA wishes it had these kinds of margins.

The problem with this kind of increase is that only about a third of this money went toward Direct Services (the cost of operation). A good bulk of the money went toward both the Kony 2012 films—films that could arguably be gauged as a success as they did raise quite a lot of awareness for the campaign. Professional Services take their cut as well, so did entertainment for the crew, salaries, office space, licensing fees, production costs and, of course, $142659 for postage. In 2010 the Invisible Children campaign took in over $2.5 million of charitable donations alone. That’s a lot of stamps.

This is all great news. It is certainly a substantial amount of money. And with money, comes the power to help those less fortunate…usually.

Not a single dollar was sent to help the “invisibility” of the children this organization is so gung- ho to save. Every penny donated to Kony 2012 has gone to raise awareness. Invisible Children, on their website, even states they are not in the business of offering aid, only awareness. Were these videos worth this much money?

What comes to mind is a lot of money exchanging and privileged bureaucracy. As I said above, awareness is paramount in advocating a cause. The word Kony has become a talking point at many the kitchen table because of this campaign. There are wristbands, posters and protests. These things are fantastic and should always happen on any campus of higher learning. But eventually, that money has to make it to the people who need it. I say protest the fact the Invisible Children are not doing more; they are a film-makers with too much budget; they are the Michael Bay of the charitable world.

To be clear, I am not saying what the Kony-ists are doing is a waste of time. Children are being oppressed and people who could help, should. But those people who could help, like maybe those who made over $5 million in charitable donation, perhaps, should be the ones at the forefront of the fight in Uganda. At this point, the awareness has been raised. The films have done their job. Now how about using the profitability of their company for the good of the children they have campaigned to protect. Anything else by them is a waste of money and time at this point. There is a certain pot the Invisible Children campaign needs to start using. That, or get out of the way. Let someone use the money to do some real good.

Chris Carr is Editor-in-Chief of thecannon. Inordinate Ordnance publishes everyThursday in The Cannon and in The Ontarion Student Newspaper at the University of Guelph.

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question.

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