Invisible Children Fourth Estate Summit Shares Advocacy Lessons With 1,400 Millennials (LIVESTREAM)

Leaders in the fields of culture, social entrepreneurship, human rights, and the arts will come together to share their learnings with 1,400 Millennials who have distinguished themselves as social enterprise mavens and advocacy navigators.
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I never imagined I would be the CEO of an international human rights nonprofit. After college I was working at JP Morgan and Deloitte, setting myself up for a career in finance. Then, in 2004, a few friends of mine founded a nonprofit called Invisible Children. They were filmmakers who stumbled across a brutal conflict in northern Uganda where young children were being kidnapped from their homes by Joseph Kony and the rebel army called the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

In outrage we vowed to do whatever we could to help stop the LRA. Along this journey, we've recognized that this issue, like most issues of extreme injustice, requires a multi-faceted approach. We have also discovered that our non-traditional methods can have surprisingly effective results.

We don't just raise awareness or document atrocities or protect vulnerable communities or rehabilitate victims. We want to address the problem in entirety -- serve immediate needs and create long-term effects. This is a costly endeavor.

We have witnessed so many nonprofits trying to tackle giant social problems with comparably tiny resources, and we have seen them struggle. Even with a talented team, an earnest spirit, and strong partnerships, having a deep and sustainable impact on a large community (let alone a community dealing with violent conflict) is a very challenging proposition. Therefore, from our founding and through our evolution, we resisted the urge to take on other causes and have focused the totality of our resources on finding a permanent end to the atrocities of the LRA through a vertically-integrated four-part model: Media, mobilization, protection, and recovery. This comprehensive approach to one specific issue has made us virtually unique in the nonprofit community.

As filmmakers, creaters, writers, and members of the Millenial generation, we believed that one of the most powerful ways we could raise awareness of the cause was awesome media. Film could communicate the horrific nature of the LRA's atrocities and reach a massive audience. We invest not only in film, but in other media as well. We have web, art, and film departments in house that create next-level videos, graphics, and websites. These investments in media and marketing retain existing supporters and generate new ones. The results of these investments are clear.

In FY 2012, 9.1 percent of our total spending went to making media, including KONY 2012, a 29-minute film that garnered 100 million views online in just six days. Not only was it the most viral video in history, but it actually sparked a new level of activity and advocacy surrounding the conflict. Just in 2012, more LRA rebel fighters defected than in the three previous years combined. Additionally, U.S. Congress passed legislation aimed at capturing the world's most serious human rights abusers, with Joseph Kony listed as the top target.

From the beginning we have asked our supporters to engage their elected leaders in this issue. We knew that if we could help direct federal funds towards aiding the victims of the LRA, we would have a much more powerful chance of reaching our goal to end the atrocities of the LRA for good. Our mobilization programs rely heavily on the massive number of engaged supporters who have participated in more than 1,000 meetings with their elected officials; who have helped pass two major pieces of LRA-related legislation through Congress; who have moved U.S. and international governments to invest tens of millions of dollars in the protection and recovery of the LRA-affected region; and who were responsible for making KONY 2012 the most successful social media campaign in history.

A devastating civil war in Syria, bombings in Sudan, and 27 years of LRA atrocities in central Africa -- there are more conflicts and injustices in the world than any one group can hope to solve. But by focusing on just one in multiple ways, we're out to prove that impossible problems can be solved if a team works hard enough and smart enough for long enough. We've been able to take risks that other organizations can't because ultimately, our attention isn't divided among issues and our decisions aren't contingent on 10-year goals. We are constantly challenging how things are done in order to usher them into a more modern era of activism. And it's working. In 2004 the LRA was estimated to have roughly 2,500 fighters, now they are down to approximately 250. The killing of innocent civilians by the LRA has decreased 93 percent from 2010 to 2012.

We're not going to stop there, because we believe in the equal and inherent value of all human life and that stopping injustice anywhere is the responsibility of humanity everywhere.

That's why Invisible Children is hosting the Fourth Estate Leadership Summit this week, where leaders in the fields of culture, social entrepreneurship, human rights, and the arts will come together to share their learnings with 1,400 Millennials who have distinguished themselves as social enterprise mavens and advocacy navigators. Newly-confirmed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, has just agreed to join us on stage and she will join other thought-leaders in the arenas of social good, nonprofits, world affairs, and activism, such as Kristen Bell, Sophia Bush, Rachel Bilson, Adam Braun, Elizabeth Gore, Dan Pallotta, Jason Russell, and others; as well as an innovative collection of non-profits and brands leading the charge in social enterprise, such as TOMS, charity: water, Pencils of Promise, Sevenly, Teach for America, ONE, United Nations Foundation, Rock the Vote, F Cancer, Keep a Breast, Do Something, Plant With Purpose, Raven + Lily, Sseko Designs, and Mend. You can catch the event from start to finish by watching the livestream at the top of this post.

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