The nonprofit activists behind the largest viral video campaign ever to hit the Internet answered their critics the best way they know how. They made another film.
San Diego-based Invisible Children released on Monday an eight-and-a-half-minute video entitled, “Thank you, KONY 2012 Supporters” in which charity officials attempted to answer questions regarding the group's development model, spending and the intent behind Invisible Children's campaign to bring reputed Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony to justice.
“When we launched Kony 2012, our intention was to share the story of Joseph Kony with new people around the world, but in the process, there have been a lot questions about us, so we want to be as transparent as possible and answer some of those questions right now, the organization CEO Ben Keesey says at the start of the video.
Keesey goes on to state that the group's strategy has always been to "make compelling movies" that raise awareness of the plight of Central African children and to stop the violence of Kony's Lord's Resistance Army. The movies are designed to get people's attention.
"And then once people care, once they see the movie and they start to care, we ask them to get involved,” Keesey adds.
Keesey acknowledges the reputation the charity's supporters have gotten as "slacktivists," people who take minimal measures to show support of social cause, but have little or no practical effect on the underlying issue.
“I can understand why a lot of people are wondering is this just some kind of slick, fly-by-night, slacktivist thing, when actually, it’s not at all,” said Keesey, “It’s actually a really, it’s connected to a really deep, thoughtful, very intentional and strategic campaign.”
The CEO insists all of his organization's financial data has been made public on the group's website.
"Any claims that we don’t have financial transparency or that we are not audited every year by an independent firm--that we don’t have financial integrity just aren’t true,” he says.
But even as Invisible Children was defending itself, the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, which reviews charities based on donor requests, said the organization has not been forthcoming with documents it requested.
The BBB claimed in a press release on Monday that they had sent 18 letters to the nonprofit group since 2006, and expressed concern that two of the six board members are on the staff and what they see as a lack of transparency for a charity.
Representatives for Invisible Children did not immediately return requests for comment.