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?