If you haven’t heard of KONY 2012 you soon will. Basically, Kony is a Ugandan warlord and from all reports a despicable person, and there is a global grassroots movement to get him arrested. The movement is a bit hipster/cool/trendy and is supported by youth targeted merch. While everyone agrees with the sentiment (the guy really is scum) , the process has drawn criticism for being a bit naive and simplistic. Have a listen to the NPR report for a reasonable overview of the issues.
Regardless of what you think about the KONY 2012 cause, the way they have gone about it is interesting. The idea of using YouTube and social networks to promote a worthy cause isn’t unique but it is still fairly novel. GetUp are a good local example (if you are interested in Social Justice and equity issues in Australia you should have a look) . KONY 2012 is particularly interesting due to the size and speed of the movement (although the Invisible Children group has been active since 2006).
In the long term, one of the main advantages of the KONY 2012 movement may be the lesson it provides for future people power movements. Particularly in a world where information is easily obtained and strong informed (and un-informed) opinions can be more easily presented. Again if you are looking for a better managed example, have a look at GetUp.
If you feel spurred to action to support kids and families in developing nations, but have some reservations about donating to Invisible Children, here are some well established and proven alternatives.
Oxfam ( http://www.oxfam.org.au ) – buy a someone a goat. If you’re a Monash person you can get a gift card from the Campus shop. Too easy.
Worldvision ( http://www.worldvision.com.au ) - Sponsor a Child – This is a larger commitment, but let’s put it in perspective, how much to you currently spend on junk food, pet food and wine? Worldvision also have gift cards
If you are more commercially minded or prefer a self help option, support a microloan project
Worldvision Micro (http://www.worldvisionmicro.org ) is probably a better choice than most (although I’m no expert) because they have a more holistic approach, as opposed to development banks who have come into some criticism recently.
If you are a religious type you don’t have to look very far, all Christian denominations and all major religions have overseas (and local) social support arms. You might have to ask a few questions to make sure your money goes where you want it to. Some overseas programs are focused on social aid while others may be focused on evangelical mission.
Anyway have a good weekend.