When celebrities ask, do people give more?

Research | January 12, 2012

With the end of one year and the beginning of the next, there are always countless lists. Top albums, best websites, best plays in sport, etc.  The most charitable is always among this list of lists as well, as the regular folk want to know which wealthy celebrities are doing/giving the most.

DoSomething.org created their list of the “Top 20 Celebs Gone Good in 2011,” and it’s an interesting mix. Some are very public in the support of certain causes and charities, and we’re all used to seeing their faces. Yet others work a bit more behind the scenes.

More interesting than who makes the list (Lady Gaga and Justin Beiber top it), is the question how much good does celebrity support do? And does it influence others to act?

Have you ever given to a charity because a celebrity you like supports it? And do you give because of their endorsement, or simply because they educated you about it?

Years ago, I learned about Heifer International while watching Oprah one day and gave to them as a result. (Yes, I just publicly admitted to watching Oprah!) A famous actress was on the show to talk about the charity, but I can’t remember who it was. So for me, who the celebrity was, wasn’t as important as what I learned and liked about the charity.

I may not have taken notice of that single celebrity, but when a number of stars come together to rally for a cause, they generally get results. Think about the Hope for Haiti Now telethon, organized by George Clooney, Wyclef Jean and MTV. It raised about $57 million, when more than 100 actors and musicians were on hand to answer calls and give personal pleas for help.

Are celebrities to credit for such a strong response, or sympathy for the cause and the desire to help? If you think it’s the latter, would that $57 million have still been raised, just by other means?

Our society is celebrity-obsessed these days. And whether we personally give or not when they ask, there’s no denying that people pay more attention.


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