While notorious Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony remains — for now — at large, the organization that did the most to spotlight his crimes and spark an international manhunt for his capture is closing down its mission in Uganda as part of a major downsizing.
Invisible Children, the San Diego-based advocacy group whose viral “Kony 2012” video sparked international outrage, said in a statement earlier this month that it will radically reduce operations in 2015 because it had achieved most of its goals.
The video proved to be a sensation, garnering 100 million views in its first week of release and raising more than $30 million for the group.
“We’re downsizing the bulk of our U.S. programs and operations at the end of the year to prioritize our political advocacy and central Africa programs through 2015,” the group said in a Dec. 15 statement, citing the difficulty of funding all of its programs despite the revenues brought in by the video.
“Based on our current financial projections, we have decided that the best decision is to shut down the media and mass-awareness efforts in the U.S. and to focus all remaining funds (and future fundraising) on the execution of our most essential programs,” the statement said.
The website BuzzFeed reported that the strategic plan calls for shutting Invisible Children’s San Diego headquarters and cutting the American staff from 22 employees to five remote workers, with a major focus on Capitol Hill lobbying. In its statement, Invisible Children said it was handing off the ownership and management of its Ugandan and anti-Kony efforts to unnamed “regional partners.”
Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey told NPR in a radio interview after the announcement that the founders recognized that the organization, founded in 2004, would have a limited lifespan.
“We never built Invisible Children to be something that would last forever,” Mr. Keesey said. “Frankly, we thought it would be a one- or two-year project.”
The failure to capture the Ugandan terrorist in the two years since the video’s release still rankles, he admitted.
“You know, we’ve seen radical progress, but it’s never come with that signature win of a Joseph Kony capture,” he said.