In the last couple of days, Kony 2012 has been all the rage over the internet, social media, print, television, and just pure word of mouth. However a lot of what I'm now calling "haters", as usual, have refused to jump on the band-wagon because something as viral as this cannot but have a few enemies. Before I get into why their comments, from a social good entrepreneurs perspective, are small fish, I want to do a brief business analysis of the campaign.
Kony's rebel army is roaming the jungles of Africa, using fear -- unmonitored -- to abduct and rape kids ( over 30,000 now) and steal from villages.
Create an awareness campaign that influences cultural and political leaders of powerful nations to intervene in Africa. This campaign will distribute by way of a viral video encouraging the younger generation to spread the word and to purchase "activist" packages.
The numbers are still coming in.. but the YouTube video itself has 37 million views. I'm going to safely that most of the people that started, probably watched the whole thing.
The most powerful criticisms are not about 'encouraging youth to eliminate a tyrant' or about 'what the alternatives are to Kony', but they center more around the financial legitimacy of the nonprofit Invisible Children and how 2/3 of their 2010 budget ($8.5mil) went to travel and staff.
Why the criticisms don't mean anything to a social good entrepreneur
Kony2012 took a risk, and had the most impactful return on their investment
I estimate that $2 million of their 2010 budget went to supporting the staff to travel, produce, and support the IT infrastructure to make that video go viral, that video that received 37 million views. That's $.05 per person engaged in a 30 minute video that probably had a fairly good return on getting people to purchase their goods. Only $.05 per person! That's amazing! So what's so bad about that? 1 Superbowl ad alone costs about that much. I estimate that super bowl ads cost $5mil to produce and be shown for 30 seconds to 111mil people. That's only $.04 per person for 30 seconds without much tangible, engaging next steps. And that was only 1 superbowl ad for 30 seconds. The truth is, Kony 2012 should receive acclaim for out business'ing the entire American economy.
The Invisible Children Organization can execute as a nonprofit outside of the traditional model
Yes they had a 2010 $8.5mil budget, yes they spent 2/3 of it on human services, so why is that not a big deal? Well for anyone that has run a nonprofit or a business that services nonprofits understands that helping a community is not about tangible goods, but rather their delivery and acceptance of them, which requires human services. Traditionally, small-time donors have a problem with donating to the "administration" of a nonprofit, however without the "administration" there is no organization. I've seen many nonprofits with larger budgets than that hardly make an impact or a dent over 1000 people, pretty sad isn't it? Yes, generally nonprofits business-wise are sad. But not Kony2012, not this week, they have defied the traditional model of nonprofit fundraising, and should be celebrated for their execution. Our economy pours money into movie stars and sports players for their execution, and so why not social good entrepreneurs?
Kony2012 has innovated in the nonprofit fundraising space, the criticisms prove it, and all social-good entrepreneurs should be proud!
The financial criticisms about The Invisible Children all stem from the expectations of a traditional nonprofit, however this is no traditional nonprofit anymore, they are now cutting edge. All these financial critiques come from people who view them as a nonprofit instead of a social-good business, an entrepreneurship.
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