Mar 9, 2012 3:26 AM by Ariel Wesler

KONY 2012 viral video sparks debate about non profit group

A 30 minute YouTube video has gone viral with tens of millions of hits in just three days. We're talking about the Kony 2012 campaign being promoted by an organization called Invisible Children.

Joseph Kony is the leader of a Ugandan guerrilla group called the Lord's Resistance Army, which human rights groups say has terrorized central Africa for years.

Invisible Children says an estimated 66,000 children have been abducted and forced to fight for the LRA and more than 2 million people have been displaced since the rebellion started in 1986.

In October 2011, President Barack Obama ordered 100 troops last to Uganda to help fight groups associated with Kony.

The campaign is growing, especially with young people across the country but so is the criticism from skeptics, who aren't convinced the organization is everything it claims to be.

The video has taken the social networking world by storm with more than 38 million hits on YouTube.

"It's just breathtaking how powerful that is," said Barry VanderKelen with the San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation.

He works with many local charities as part. We had him review the public financial records from Invisible Children.

"When you're spending $1,000,000 on travel and transportation costs. . .that's a high number," VanderKelen said.

The numbers show only about a third of the money you donate goes directly to help the kids in Central Africa.

"On average it should be 75 to 80 percent," he said. "If their mission is to raise awareness, then they're spending their money appropriately. If their mission is to save the kids, then they're not getting the job done."

While VanderKelen says good non profits have to do both, he adds they need to set a clear expectation in the minds of the donors.

Cal Poly Sophomore Katy Ryan is committed to the cause and says the group is laying the foundation and it's clearly worth every penny.

"Before March 5, no one knew about this organization and now everyone knows about this cause and everyone knows, who Joseph Kony is, so I feel, if money is being spent toward it, it's being effective," Ryan said.

She's been part of Invisible Children since she was in high school and plans to charter a club at Cal Poly next quarter.

"In 2012, it's gonna end. We're gonna get him."

She and five other girls are spearheading the effort at Cal Poly. So far, more than 1400 students have signed up on Facebook to be part of the nationwide "Cover the Night" campaign on April 20 to blanket the city with Kony 2012 posters.

Both sides encourage you to research the organization. That way if you decide to donate, you'll know exactly where your money is going.

If you'd like to know more about the Kony 2012 campaign, click here.

To look up financial information on particular non profits, click here.


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