Saving money should always be a priority, but many also make giving some away part of their financial plan as well. However, how do you ensure your donations are going toward the cause you intended?
Invisible Children and Kony 2012
The Kony 2012 video has been making the rounds of the internet. Few could find fault with the ostensible cause of Invisible Children, a charity dedicated to displacing Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
The LRA is one of the leading guerilla organisations using child soldiers and trafficking in child sex slaves in the world today. In fact, they’ve used 66,000 child soldiers and displaced over two million people since 1986. Kony is currently under indictment for war crimes.
Still, the organisation Invisible Children has been held to some scrutiny since the video went viral. While many are embracing the Kony 2012 Action Kit as a call to action, others are scratching below the surface to see what the organisation is really about.
The financials of the organisation don’t give people a lot of reason to feel sunny about forking over their hard earned cash. The two directors of Invisible Children, the group behind the Kony 2012 viral video, pull in nearly $90,000 a year each in salary. In fact, it’s estimated that the organisation spends a paltry 32 per cent of its take on direct aid to Africa. The rest is used for such non-philanthropic costs as travel expenses, film making, operating overhead and salaries.
Politically, people are finding a lot not to like about the group, which advocates military intervention in Uganda. The group also receives money from some of the biggest backers of California’s controversial Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage, as well as James Dobson and controversial conservative Christian group The Fellowship.
While people might feel a strong desire to help the children of Uganda, many would hesitate to close ranks with such groups or provide money to an organisation which spends very little on actually helping the people it purports to support.
How to Research a Charity
So what’s a person looking to donate to charity to do? Well, the main thing is to do your research. Here are some ways to get started to make sure that your money goes where you intended:
- Start with a quick Google search. While it’s true that someone is going to have a problem with just about any organisation, digging around will help you to see what critics are saying. You can then follow up accordingly if anything seems objectionable.
- Find out how much the charity spends on direct aid and what it spends on things like operating overhead. The best charities have the lowest operating overhead. While directors might take in comfortable salaries, no one should be living high on the hog off the back of a charity. When the charity isn’t spending money on direct aid (i.e. is raising awareness about the issue) how is it being spent?
- Who else is donating to the organisation? While charities generally take money from anyone supporting their cause, you might learn something about what the real cause is when you investigate who else is donating.
- What are they spending the money on when they do give direct aid? You want to make sure that the money you donate is being used for parts of the cause that you approve of.
Everyone wants to give a little something back to the world in the form of helping those less fortunate than themselves. However, part of giving something back means doing due diligence to ensure that the money you donate is actually going toward the cause you support.
By spending 15 minutes poking around and digging up information before you send off a check, you can sleep better at night knowing that the money you give away is actually going to help people rather than line the pockets of charity directors.
Do you think Invisible Children is a worthy cause or would you rather donate your money elsewhere?
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