Celebrity: Does it help the cause?

Piaras Kelly posted this on twitter yesterday and I thought it was interesting. There is merit in both arguments. From my experience and from a fundraising perspective I would tend to believe that they don’t add much. I don’t think people really give to charity because some A-lister says they should. In fact I think people are smarter than that. Having said that the lift it can give to a charity to have a celebrity endorse them, from a pure top of mind perspective, is huge. Look at what happened Help for Heroes after their support from the X-Factor single 3 years ago.

For me I think the real value in celebrity support is understanding what the objective of the support is to be. And that the relationship is cause driven (not new album/book/tour driven).

Anyway this piece in the Observer from Sunday is well worth a read. Here is a small piece, you can read the full article here


Peter Stanford is a journalist, and on the board of several charities 

Never say never but, in my experience, the fabled benefits of celebrity support have rarely lived up to the hype, because to achieve that dividend requires the sort of additional organisational muscle that is beyond the stretched resources of most small- and medium-sized charities. I have lost count of the number of charity chief executives and chairs who’ve told me that they pinned their hopes on a bumper payback because they had a famous face at a fund-raising event, or fronting a campaign, and then been disappointed. I believe they would have done better to concentrate their effort instead on fine-tuning the mechanics of the event, or honing their campaigning message so it genuinely touches a nerve with the public. We may live in the celebrity age but to imagine that a big name will automatically open wallets and hearts is to underestimate our potential supporters.


Justin Forsyth is CEO of Save the Children

In my experience, the benefits of celebrity are not fabled but real – and can produce very concrete results. Without the campaigning energies of Bono, Bob Geldof and Richard Curtis, for example, I don’t believe 46 million more children would be in school today in some of the world’s poorest countries. The combination of their creativity, tenacity and appeal transformed the Make Poverty History and Drop the Debt campaigns. I remember just before the Gleneagles G8 in 2005, Bono came into No 10, met with the key negotiators from each country, and after a stirring pitch, asked them how they will want to be seen by their grandchildren in years to come – as leaders who changed the world or who missed an historic opportunity.

Of course the celebrity touch isn’t everything. Every charity – however big or small – needs to have a clear and convincing message about what it’s trying to achieve. But the support of an impassioned celebrity for that cause can help reach new audiences with that message.

Stacey Solomon, a great mum, travelled to Malawi with us as part of our No Child Born to Die campaign, to highlight the plight of mums dying in childbirth. Her reach [as an X-Factor star], through the popular media, is amazing. Through her experiences, the words of the mothers she met in Malawi were heard in the living rooms of millions of families across the UK.

read the full article here


3 thoughts on “Celebrity: Does it help the cause?

  1. Hi Conor,
    The old chestnut, awareness vs fundraising again. I believe a celebrity can give a charity or cause much needed awareness. For smaller charities this can be vital to help have their voice heard in a very crowded market. In Ireland there is great commitment from Irish celebrities to help out but because there are so many who are so willing, its a noisy market. What is very interesting is Irish peoples view on celebrity endorsement – from the latest Irish Charity Engagement Monitor results June 2011, it was found that “60% of Irish people think the best way for a celebrity to help a charity is by donating their own money”. Celebrities are extremely generous with their time and often waive appearance fee’s but it would be interesting to know how many actually donate to their “chosen” charity. At the IHF, we’ve been fortunate to recently have a celebrity put his money where his mouth is and give very generously. He’s totally engaged with the cause. This makes it very easy for us to really talk up the endorsement. It would be good to hear others experiences. Aidan

    • Aidan, I think you have hit the nail on the head…total engagement. There has to be a real passion and belief there. Imagine if charities vetted their celeb supporters! My fear/issue is when the tail wags the dog!

      Thanks for the comment

  2. Pingback: Tommy Bowe and Julia Roberts « Conor Byrne's Blog

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