The Handbook
By | 7th April 2016

Charity success stories: How celebrity endorsement makes all the difference

Whether philanthropists like to admit it or not, the world of NGOs and charity appeals is competitive, with individuals, local charitable causes and multinational organisations all vying for the public’s attention and a portion of their pocket money. So how do charities get themselves noticed? How do they go from being a local organisation to a worldwide name, managing millions of pounds of donations?

Like all businesses, brand, recognition and outreach are exceedingly important to not-for-profit fundraising success. There are a few occasional extraordinary success stories where small-scale charity fundraising ideas have gone viral.

The prime example is ‘Jeans for Genes’ which raises money for research into serious and often life-threatening genetic disorders. The idea was simple: Charge everyone in an office or school $2 to wear their jeans for the day, and to raise $1,000,000 as quickly as possible. The scheme went viral and within their second year of campaigning, the charity had over-shot their target. However, Jeans for Genes also had a major boost in donations in their first year because of one simple thing: celebrity endorsement. Mick Jagger and other celebrities got on board, catapulting the campaign idea into the media stratosphere worldwide. The rest is history.



Three Reasons Why Charities Should Seek Celebrity Ambassadors

As the previous example demonstrates, sometimes, having a celebrity association with a charity campaign can make all the difference. Here are three reasons why charities should seek celebrity ambassadors:


1. Media exposure

Celebrity magazines out-sell almost any other form of publication. People like to keep on top of celebrity news, gossip and trends. It need not be repeated that celebrities dominate the media. If your charity is seen to be supported by a celebrity, the press will be the first to notice.


2. People pay attention

In short, the bigger the media exposure, the more heads turn and pay attention to your cause. Not only do people pay attention, but they also talk; and with the power of social media, conversation momentum is more important than ever for campaign support and success.


3. Credibility

Here is where things get a little difficult. If a celebrity is seen endorsing your charity or a specific campaign, this provides instant credibility. However, as the fundraising body, you are responsible for making it clear whether this support is paid or incidental through your media channels. However, enhanced credibility is never a bad thing. Credibility is established because of peoples’ sense of trust in celebrity decisions. For example, once Emma Watson started speaking out about feminism and sexism, it gave other women the confidence and voice to do the same. By believing in the same cause, people feel a sense of similarity and proximity to celebrities.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer (now called Breast Cancer Now) hit the nail on the head with their 2010 campaign, “Too Many Women”. Regarded as one of the most innovative charitable campaigns to date, “Too Many Women” sought 201 ambassadors to each raise £500 and recruit nine other women to do the same, representing the one in nine chance of women getting breast cancer. Female powerhouses such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Sienna Miller and Pippa Middleton got behind the cause, immediately giving the campaign global credibility. The charity is now one of the largest global breast cancer charities with celebrity ambassadors including Prince Charles, Alan Carr and Kate Moss.


Eight Factors to Consider When Selecting a Celebrity Ambassador For Your Charity

Seeking celebrity endorsement can seem like a very daunting task. Choosing the right celebrity for your cause is vital for a positive, long-term relationship. Here are four simple steps for choosing a celebrity ambassador:


1. Take time to think about it

Many celebrities consider charity work to be essential to their personal brand. Commentators have gone as far to suggest that they are in it for purely selfish interests. The press coverage Angelina Jolie receives for visiting third world countries is extremely beneficial to her profile. That’s not to say charities don’t reap the rewards either – financially and otherwise. Numerous charities manage to generate huge publicity and much needed funds through the support of celebrity involvement, often taking the charity to a whole new level, and providing support that they would otherwise not have benefited from.

Here are some of our tips for getting a celebrity involved with and supporting your charity:

1. Speak to the right person. It can be difficult to find out who a celebrities’ agent is on the internet, information like this is not freely available. We make this a lot easier for you, you can view our list of celebrity details here. Make sure you contact their publicist , manager or their agent.

2. Make a good case. When you speak to the agent be clear and concise, avoid rambling and let your passion shine through! The publicist or manager may not have heard of your charity before, especially if it is a smaller one, so explain from the start. Make notes before you speak to them and make sure your follow-up email contains no errors. Have a plan, make sure you know the reasons why you think a certain celebrity can help with the charity and why that celebrity is possibly a suitable ambassador, and also how it will benefit the celebrity . Celebrities are very careful to do anything that could jeopardise their position or career so make sure you give a list of good valid reasons and that you also have done your research on the celebrity, you also don’t want to choose a celebrity that could negatively impact on your charity.

madonna charity

3. Choose the right celebrity for your charity . Choosing the wrong celebrity can be very detrimental to your brand, choose a celebrity that is likely to have a personal interest in supporting your charity, and also reflects a charities values. For a full rooster of celebrities that could support your charity click here

There are also a number of different types of celebrities from models, to film stars, sports stars, reality TV stars and more, so reach out to a range of people, from A-listers to B-listers to even hometown heroes who can really evangelize your cause. Often alot of people and charities will attempt to pitch to the obvious celebrities why are heavily involved with celebrities such as Angelina Jolie , AdeleLeonardo DiCaprio or Lady Gaga. You will most probably find that you have more luck with celebrities that are less obvious and perhaps even up and coming, as they will have been approached less about celebrity involvement, and it will also give them benefits in terms of raising their profile, they may also be more available and flexible to help, and have more time to deal with the enquiry as they are less well know within the industry. Therefore try a range of different celebrities, of different talents, interests, looks and levels of fame. Never discount any celebrity that is trying to help you that you think can add value

4. Consider local champions

They say home is where the heart is. Keeping things local keeps things close to home and close to peoples’ hearts, creating an emotional connection. One such example would be the Chiltern Centre in Henley-on-Thames which provides assistance to families with disabled children. Having been established in 2004, the charity has always maintained local roots. In 2015, local celebrity Phillip Schofield became a Patron to the charity; simultaneously raising its profile through local and national news. However, the true benefit of his Patronage is his intimate knowledge of the local area and ability to work hands-on with the charity.


5. Take into account personal connections to particular causes

It is often easy to forget that celebrities are still people. Like the rest of us, they have familial commitments, financial responsibilities and are not immune to life-changing illnesses. Kylie battled with breast cancer, Charlie Sheen recently publicly announced his HIV diagnosis and Terry Pratchett recently passed away having lived for seven years with late onset Alzheimers. These events remind us of celebrity’s humanity and bravery. But what these celebrities also have in common is their work towards charitable campaigns with which they personally relate; acting as fundraisers and proactive charity supporters.

Charities such as Alzheimer’s Research UK, Breast Cancer UK and the Terrence Higgins Trust have ambassadors with the likes of Terry Pratchett, Kylie and Elton John because they have a personal connection with the cause. This is one of the most difficult factors for consideration but also has the capacity, if managed appropriately, to really give people a personal connection to a charity and its cause.




6. Consider celebrity appeal and outreach

There are plenty of resources readily available for researching celebrity appeal and outreach. Popular databases include NielsonMedia, Forbes and Look to the Stars, all of which are available online, providing information and data on a celebrity’s online impression, influence and previous charity work. Need political activism and support? These databases will also help you to establish the fields of charity work that celebrities are getting involved with.

Children of Peace quickly gathered ‘friends’ and a strong, international circle of ambassadors for their cause. Working as a multi-religious organisation, dedicated providing a safe and trustworthy educational environment for Palestinian children, Children of Peace has gained a host of celebrity ambassadors such as Dame Judi Dench, as well as political support from the likes of David Cameron; harnessing their support to expand and validate their efforts overseas.

7. Keep your options open! Make a list of three or four celebrities that you would consider incase your first option isn’t available. Additionally, don’t be afraid to make a back up – especially if you are a small charity. Celebrities get invited everywhere and may pull out at any moment. Take it far… but not too far! You don’t want to double book anyone.

8) Have a clear reason for contacting that charity If you are approaching a celebrity regarding a charity engagement, please provide clear details about the charity and how their contribution can help that particular charity. Please explain what the charity is looking to raise from a specific event or the celebrity being involved, and state clearly what involvement the celebrity will need to have and how much time it is likely to take. Breakthrough Breast Cancer (now called Breast Cancer Now) hit the nail on the head with their 2010 campaign, “Too Many Women”. Regarded as one of the most innovative charitable campaigns to date, “Too Many Women” sought 201 ambassadors to each raise £500 and recruit nine other women to do the same, representing the one in nine chance of women getting breast cancer. Female powerhouses such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Sienna Miller and Pippa Middleton got behind the cause, immediately giving the campaign global credibility. The charity is now one of the largest global breast cancer charities with celebrity ambassadors including Prince Charles, Alan Carr and Kate Moss.


9). Do your research 

This is certainly a tip which seems really obvious , but you would be surprised how many people follow it. “Do your Research” means think very carefully about the celebrity that you wish to get involved with your cause and whether they are actually likely to support your cause. For example if you have a charity that supports malaria, look out for any celebrities travelling to Africa that you could approach about issues that relate to malaria.

One of the most effective way to get in touch with celebrities is to either ring the celebrities agent , publicist of manager or to email them. When doing this you need to have a clear idea of the goals of your charity and why the specific celebrity should support your charity and why they are a suitable ambassador for your charity. If you get a negative response from the celebrity representative then you could always ask them if they have another specific celebrity on their books that maybe interested in supporting your charity.

Of course a useful tip is to check which celebrities are around the city! You can do that here!

For a full roster of any celebrities full contact details, please click here or to sign up and get full contact details of any celebrities agent, manager and publicist please click here!

If you are looking for more advice on how to get in touch with a celebrity for charity endorsement or ambassadorship, just click here!


Or if you are seeking to contact a celebrity directly to become an ambassador or patron for your charity, full celebrity contact information please click here!

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