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The last time we spoke today I invited Justin from Invisible Children to look over what I've written about them so far at SHLOG.COM to make sure I've understood my conversations with IC accurately and not misrepresented IC in any way publicly. He did and then e-mailed me this kind letter with a few corrections and clarifications to make. And rather than trying to explain his thoughts to you and risking doing a poor job again, I thought I'd just let you read them for yourselves.

So, here's Justin (church relations guy) of Invisible Children in his own words...

"I read your blog and its good. There are two things that could be changed. The Delta reports are not only for churches, they also document organizations and communities. This is a new project that we are working on so we will not be launching it for some time. So there are no churches that have done this yet. We are developing it and talking with Geneva Global in more detail about it. Also, about the churches lack of response to this war, know that it is my opinion based on being there and talking with many pastors. Invisible Children has no comment on this subject as we have no intention to look into it.

We feel like we articulated an appropriate answer to why we are not just a mouth for northern Uganda. The organizations present have been there for twenty years. There has been no change...there is no other organization fighting to end this war. In order to do that we must have a presence on the ground. If people read our mission statement, they know we are equally
as passionate as ending the war as we are to providing aid. We have studied what other organizations are doing on the ground...but yet 85% of the children are still unable to go to school...education was needed, that is why we created the program. Jolly does not need our help, she has her own organization called HEALS that is very successful in the north. We needed her to run the program because she has experience and she understand the culture. We will put more kids in
school as money continues to come in. The children in this program are taken care of completely. They not only go to school but have a mentor in which they meet with weekly. This menor is Ugandan, it is his/her responsibility to make sure that the kid is going to school and that they have enough food to eat. It is an amazing program in which World Vision has commented on numerous times.

We may be young but God has completely blessed this company and has given us wisdom thus far. We are kids but we believe with all our heart that we can change this world...

I just wanted to get you this info. It was a pleasure to talk with you man.

Justin "


Blogger *The Blogstar said...

Justin is a bit of a stud.

Anonymous Tim Ogden said...


Found your site while keeping tabs on where and how Geneva Global appears on the web because, well, that’s my job (not all of it, of course).

I wanted to provide some clarification of who we are, what we do, how we do it, how we make a living and our relationship with Invisible Children, which we think is a great organization (or we wouldn’t have partnered with them).

First let me commend the questions that you have been asking about Invisible Children and where donations go. Part of our mission is spurring more people to ask these exact questions, and based on the answers send their money where it will accomplish the most good.

Our business is helping donors find local/grassroots organizations that are highly effective in changing lives in the world’s hardest places. These organizations don’t have international arms and no way of connecting with western donors. Yet, our research over the last 7 years shows that these organizations accomplish, on average, 7 to 10 times more than spending the same amount of money on child sponsorships. We find and qualify these projects with a combination of US and local staff and volunteers. You can see an example of our research at www.genevaglobal.com/delta_reports. (You profvided this link in the post, thanks by the way).

We do charge a fee for our services because doing this research is expensive. But it is worth it because the money given accomplishes so much more. To put our fees in perspective, keep in mind that the most efficient US-based charities spend at least 11% of each donation on fundraising. Then they have to cover other overhead expenses. Best-in-class is around 5%, most charities are closer to 15%. So, in the best case scenario 16% of your donation is not getting to, in this case, Uganda. Our standard fee is 12%. So, even after paying for our services, more dollars actually get to the local community in need. We also follow up each grant with a detailed report assessing how the money was used and what was accomplished. So, clients don’t “buy” our reports, and the reports don’t cost $30K. The average project we recommend to clients is in that $30K neighborhood but that money is the cost of the specific project (e.g. building a school, training teachers, providing school supplies and meals for the students). Our fees stay separate from that so there is never any question about what our services cost or where money went.

We are a for-profit company for a quite simple reason – so we can’t ask people to literally give us money. It is impossible to make a donation to Geneva Global. The only way we can survive is by providing our clients with services that are good enough that they are willing to pay for them. That prevents us from misdirecting a single ounce of our energy to fundraising rather than serving clients, making sure more money gets to the most effective projects and more people’s lives are changed.

We are proud to be partners with Invisible Children. As you note, they are doing a fabulous job at bringing attention to the needless suffering of children in Northern Uganda, suffering that the rest of the world has ignored for more than a decade. Our role in the partnership is to find excellent, highly effective programs that are changing children’s lives in Northern Uganda and bringing them to the attention of Invisible Children. As with all our client relationships, IC maintains control over which projects they fund and which they do not.

I should also probably note that we don’t research churches. We research humanitarian projects. We measure the effectiveness of projects and base our recommendations on effectiveness, not on the faith-orientation of the organization. In sub-Saharan Africa in general, and Northern Uganda in particular, many of the most effective humanitarian projects are run by churches or other faith-based organizations. You can see our discussion of the incredible success of African churches and faith-based organizations in fighting the AIDS pandemic at www.genevaglobal.com/hiv_aids.

I hope that clears up some confusion. If you or any readers have questions about Geneva Global, feel free to contact me at togden@genevaglobal.com; if you’d like more information about our relationship with Invisible Children you can contact Christina Galanes at cgalanes@genevaglobal.com.


Timothy N. Ogden
VP, Communications
Geneva Global, Inc.
610 254 0000


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