Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Celebs and charities: Are endorsements important?

29 March, 2010 - 11:30 -- John Burton

A survey of what the public thought made a charity trustworthy recently was very revealing. Only 4% thought that the fact it was supported by a celebrity gave it credibility.

One of the most important factors (39%) was the fact that the supporter had had contact with the charity. We are glad, because we rate that very highly ourselves, and try to organise occasional meetings where supporters can meet with us, but more importantly we have tried to create a web presence that is very open and transparent, so that our supporters feel they can interact with us.

This blog is part of that network, as is our Facebook presence, and the fact that a person (yes a real person) answers the phone.

I also believe that celebrity is not helpful. In this instance I define a celebrity as someone who is famous for being famous. But being famous for something relevant to the charity is another matter -- which is why we are so honoured to have Sir David Attenborough associated with the World Land Trust. The person most famous for all he has done to promote interest in wildlife and the natural world.

Our other Patron is David Gower, famous as a cricketer, but he also grew up in East Africa, and has a personal interest in wildlife, taking time out to see it whenever he can. And in fact the WLT does have a large number of extremely well known people supporting it: Bill Oddie, Mark Carwardine, Ken Livingstone, Tony Hawks and Antonio Carluccio are just a few.

I would be very interested to know why you, our readers and supporters, support a charity (not just WLT). What are your criteria? And do you think celeb endorsement is important?


Submitted by Anonymous on

Celebrity endorsement: what people say and what people do, re 4%? I would like to see a psychological test of this. Not so much credibility as me too. People might be more influenced than they like to admit.

Celebrities of the stature of David Attenborough help new recruits have confidence.
Celebrities in different fields might be seen more as ways of spreading the word to new sections of the population. Basically, I guess, advertising. Well, you can't threaten to introduce Sea Eagles or big predatory mammals to gain attention.

Why I support world land trust is because a long time ago I realized the only way to preserve land is through ownership. Another charity I support is effectively a one-man band, supporting villages in sub-Saharan Africa with sensible projects, and no great overheads.

Talking of spreading the word. Maybe, the following from woman's hour on Monday, may be worth listening to to see if it stimulates the little grey cells. Or maybe one of your staff could get on a follow-up program.
Quote from BBC website :With the wedding list season approaching, the growing popularity of 'wish lists', donations made to charity in one's name, and some people even telling their family and friends what they want as a present, has the simple pleasure gone out of gift giving? To discuss the issues, Jane is joined by the broadcaster and writer Shyama Perera and the journalist Tanya Gold, who has been known to come out in a rage at even the sight of a wedding list! Hear “chapter 4” from this page (42 minutes in).

Submitted by yemic on

Might I point you in the direction of this excellent book by Dan Brockington 'Celebrity and the Environment: Fame, Wealth and Power in Conservation' (Zed Books). The link to it is:

Submitted by John Burton on

One of my points was that someone like Sir David is not what I would define as a celeb. He is famous because he has done something significant. To be famous you have to have made a contribution to arts, science, literature or something. Celebs are, in my definition, people who are really only famous for being famous. Fashion models and newsreaders are borderline, but footballers' wives are the classic examples.

Bookmark and Share

Read about us

  • News Online
  • RSS
  • eBulletin
  • Green Diary
  • Printed Newsletter

Contact Us

Tel: +44 (0)1986 874422

Follow us

Follow on Facebook  Follow on Twitter  Follow on Linkedin  Follow on GooglePlus  Follow on YouTube