Some lessons from Kony 2012 campaign strategy

    A Kony 2012 campaign poster in Austin, Texas, USA. Photo by: Robert Raines / CC BY-SA

    What lessons can nonprofit organizations gain from the viral success of the controversial advocacy video Kony 2012? A number of industry leaders and experts have shared their insights.

    The advocacy video, produced by U.S.-based group Invisible Children, secured a considerable amount of support and donations but also spurred criticisms, particularly over its producer’s reportedly shady finances to the video’s oversimplification of the situation in Uganda.

    But nonprofit leaders themselves have recognized the campaign’s unprecedented success in attracting tens of millions of viewers in just several days — and they have started taking notes on how this success can inform their own awareness and fundraising drives, the New York Times says.

    Marc Dubois, head of the U.K. branch of Medecins Sans Frontieres, noted that the campaign showed how youthful idealism can be tapped to raise not just awareness but also funds. Another takeaway for charities is that “savvy media and marketing matter,” according to Dan Pallotta of for-profit group Advertising for Humanity.

    Lucy Bernholz of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, meanwhile, highlighted Invisible Children’s willingness to actively engage with viewers, including those critical of the campaign. Bernholz said addressing criticism is crucial in building trust with today’s media-savvy generation.

    “Most nonprofits literally duck when this happens,” Bernholz said, as quoted by the New York Times. “That’s the worst thing you can do — set a conversation alight and then leave the room.”

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    About the author

    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.