Elsewhere online
January 05, 2015

Opinion: What Went Wrong for 'Kony 2012' Nonprofit?

The Washington Post examines the rise and fall of Invisible Children, the organization behind the viral "Kony 2012" video that last month announced plans to wind down its operations. An entry in the Post's political-science blog Monkey Cage pins the San Diego-based charity's struggles on its adherence to a "new ideology of charitable giving" that views market tools as key to nonprofits' success.

Kristof Titeca of the University of Antwerp's Institute of Development Policy and Management, and Matthew Sebastian, a Ph.D. student in cultural anthropology at Duke University, write that Invisible Children's founders were strongly influenced by author and marketing consultant Dan Pallotta, a prominent proponent of applying capitalist principles to charity work.

The organization, which seeks to raise awareness and hasten the capture of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, leaped to international renown and reaped a fundraising bonanza in 2012 when its video on the issue became an online sensation. In keeping with Mr. Pallotta's philosophy, Invisible Children quickly invested its swelling resources in programs and public relations, leaving it vulnerable when fundraising tailed off in the wake of controversies over its claims about the conflict in Central Africa and its own achievements, Mr. Titeca and Mr. Sebastian write.