Do celebrities help or hinder charities?

The impact that celebrities can have - both good and bad - is discussed.

Gabbi De Boer
22nd March 2022
Pudsey Billboard. (Image credit flickr)

It’s not uncommon to see a celebrity working with a charity. Their power and influence can be used to spread the word and give vital exposure to campaigns, and simultaneously improve their own public image. But how much can celebrities help the charity itself?

To begin with, charities have one of the hardest fights when it comes to competition - with so many charities existing, let alone many similar ones, it can be hard to fight for donations. This is why many turn to celebrities for help. Their high-profile nature often launches the charity into a very visible position, therefore increasing exposure to their campaigns. In turn, the exposure turns into donations, coming from new donors who have been made aware of the charity through a celebrity they follow. 

The high-profile nature of celebrities often launches the charity into a very visible position

As well as this, celebrities help to make campaigns more credible, especially if that celebrity has a good reputation with the public. People will be more likely to donate if they feel their money will be put to good use and not wasted, therefore a campaign that looks credible will achieve more donations. The ability for a charity to be able to reach out to and create a relationship with a celebrity also increases the credibility of the organization itself. Although at a reduced rate, many charities do pay for celebrities’ time, and with celebrities often working on busy schedules, their willingness to give some of this time to charity emphasizes that it is a cause worth caring about. 

A good example of this is Paul O’Grady and Battersea Dogs and Cats home. When it began in 2012, O’Grady simply saw it as another job, but during his time hosting the show, he has not only adopted his own dogs from the organization but also volunteered 6 months of his time to them. Here, he adds value to the charity, as he is showing that he wants to help them. 

However, many celebrities walk a thin line between real charitable support and ‘slacktivism’. ‘Slacktivist’, a term used mostly on social media, describes someone who is willing to openly support a cause without donating or becoming actively involved. For some celebrities, supporting a charity may be a way to make them look more philanthropic, when in reality, they see it as any other job. 

Nevertheless, awareness of charities is far more important than a celebrity’s concern to look a certain way; without awareness, people wouldn’t know about causes to donate to, so the benefit of celebrity endorsement far outweighs the bad. 

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