It seems this subject will keep coming up, the recent piece on the NZHerald website Famous faces don’t help charities – studies, raises this subject yet again.

In June 2012 I wrote Celebrities and Charity Endorsement, in it were figures from research – in summary;

A poll of 2,842 people found about half took no notice of the celebrity’s message and a further 14 per cent were put off it. A third said they became more aware of the problem or charity and a small number were motivated to support the cause or change their behaviour. 

The research, commissioned by the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University and the University of Guelph in Canada, found that 79 per cent of respondents had never been prompted to do anything for a good cause by a famous person’s message. Of the 21 per cent who had been motivated to act, 44 per cent had tried to learn more about the cause and 43 per cent had visited a website or clicked on a link. Read full report

In 2011 The Guardian ran Are celebrities a help or hindrance to charities?

In this interview piece the issue is well discussed and worth a read.

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 BonoBob 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”.

Full article here

In the piece on NZHerald.co.nz it was stated “Two pieces of research say “the ability of celebrity and advocacy to reach people is limited” and that celebrities are “generally ineffective” at encouraging people to care about foreign causes.

Two-thirds of people could not link any celebrity with a list of seven well-known charities and aid organisations, one paper found”.

And further “Our survey found that while awareness of major non-government organisations’ brands was high, awareness of celebrity advocates for those brands was low,” the professors wrote in their article, published in the International Journal of Cultural Studies.

“Instead it was plain from the focus groups that most people supported the charities because of personal connections in their lives and families which made these causes important.

“The evidence suggests that the ability of celebrity advocacy to reach people is limited.”

Read the full NZHerald article from the Independent here

So, are celebrities a benefit to charities – what do you think?

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