Group behind ‘Kony 2012’ to cease operations

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SAN DIEGO — Invisible Children, the San Diego nonprofit that called for an African warlord to be brought to justice, announced Monday that it will close most of its U.S. operations next year.

The group’s 30-minute video, “Kony 2012,” received 70 million views in the first four days after its release in March of that year, making it go viral the fastest of any video in the history of the Internet. The video, describing how Joseph Kony enslaves child soldiers in Central Africa, has been seen more than 100 million times, according to YouTube.

In a message on its website, Invisible Children said it would close its San Diego office, limit U.S operations to political advocacy in Washington, D.C., and have local groups take over their programs in Uganda.

“When our three founders got on a plane with a camera in 2003, they never imagined that the story they found would lead to this incredible journey,” the message said. “And sitting here eleven years later, we cannot believe how much we’ve been able to accomplish with all of you. But despite making incredible progress toward our mission, it’s been difficult to fund the breadth of our work, especially over the last two years.”

While the video generated millions of dollars in donations, the organization said it needed $150,000 to maintain a small staff to oversee its most essential programs through the end of next year.

Most of the staff will be let go, according to the message.

The group told FOX 5 that co-founder Jason Russell’s breakdown in 2012 was one of the many factors that made the last few years harder.

Ten days after the release, Russell was taken into custody by police after neighbors reported him running naked and shouting incoherently in Pacific Beach.

But CEO Ben Keesey also attributes the cuts to the progress the company has made.

“We call it the paradox of success. When you’re an organization that’s singularly focused like we are, as you get closer to accomplishing your mission, the severity of the problem shrinks. And usually then, so does the support from people,” said Keesey.


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