WEST PALM BEACH, Fl., April 21, 2012 – The Kony 2012 video helped raise international awareness of the problem of forced conscription of children into the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Since the popularity of the viral video and associated campaign against Joseph Kony, international fugitive and head of the LRA, however, information has surfaced raising questions about Invisible Children, the organization behind the video.
Invisible Children may have pure intentions, but a relatively small percentage of donations go to the cause of stopping forced conscription of children. About 30 cents of every donated dollar goes to the children. Most of the funds raised are used for producing videos and paying salaries.
Invisible Children’s method of fighting child solders is to fund the Ugandan army, which has been fighting Joseph Kony since 1987, when he launched his effort to overthrow the Ugandan government and instill a theocracy. However, Kony and the LRA no longer operate in Uganda. There are questions about whether the Ugandan military is serious about eradicating the LRA.
Over the last several years, it has benefitted from boosts in international aid – including additional US training and logistics personnel – which it will lose if the LRA stops operation.
Unfortunately, child soldiers are common in most conflicts in the world. The United Nations estimates that there currently are approximately 300,000 children involved in fighting conflicts around the world. A global study by the Christian Science Monitor found that 81 percent of the 109 civil wars from 1987 to 2007 employed children under the age of 15. Rebel and insurgent groups conscripted children 71 percent of the time, while government forces used children 55 percent of the time. Conflicts in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America all use child soldiers.
Any time you donate money to a nonprofit, you have a responsibility to do your homework. It is always your choice to support any nonprofit based on your own beliefs, values, and priorities. Become knowledgeable and consider all your alternatives.
For those passionate about ending the practice of using child soldiers, Save the Children, AMREF, and Doctors Without Borders are all well-regarded organizations that help improve quality of life in poor areas where leaders prey on children.
Other organizations mandated to help fight the problem of child soldiers with excellent ratings from charity ratings organizations include:
The Child Solider Relief Foundation. The Child Soldier Relief Foundation is an advocacy group that works to raise awareness about the problem of child soldiers and help the plight of former soldiers. It is involved in international research and attempts to form alliances to fight the problem of child soldiers.
Child Soldier International, previously the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, is committed to stop the recruitment of child soldiers. According to its web site, the organization “works to prevent the recruitment and use of children as soldiers, to secure their demobilization and to ensure their rehabilitation and reintegration.”
Child Soldier Initiative is attempting to end the use of child soldiers. The group attempts to help authorities enforce existing laws against using children in conflict and to enact new laws to protect children. It also is attempting to change the culture that allows the use of child soldiers. CSI works with military, human rights and humanitarian organizations.
Other organizations indirectly help eliminate child soldiers by strengthening democracy – democratic governments are far less likely than other forms of governments to use child soldiers – and educating children. Before selecting any charity for a donation, check Charity Navigator, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, The American Institute of Philanthropy, The National Center for Charitable Statistics, and Guidestar.org for information on funding and programs,
[g1]$80K salaries for an organization with a $10 million budget are completely reasonable and in line with most nonprofits. No one need take a vow of poverty to run a charity.
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