Another celebrity project, “The Right Words at the Right Time,” is a book that features stories about inspiration and turning points — by Al Pacino, Paul McCartney, Gwyneth Paltrow, Steven Spielberg, Itzahk Perlman, Venus Williams and Muhammad Ali, among many others — the proceeds of which benefit St. Jude.
Organizations that work closely with celebrities will acknowledge the potential pitfalls, especially in terms of the fleeting nature of stardom itself and the potential for a fall from grace.
But Sandler says St. Jude’s tactic of having multiple celebrity endorsers not only allows it to reach out to a broader audience, but also protects it from being brought down by any one scandal or any one celeb’s diminished status.
“The pro and con of working with a celebrity is that you benefit from their status. But that can also hurt you if something goes wrong,” Sandler says. “So it’s really a way of making sure that you’re protecting yourself at the same time.”
Celebrity endorsements serve as testimonials for the organization and are especially useful in wooing fans.
“People pay attention when a celebrity speaks. When they say, ‘This is something that I endorse, or that I believe in. It’s a cause or a mission that’s near and dear to my heart,’ people pay attention to that. You just can’t buy that, and so that goes a long way in speaking to the public,” Watson says.
According to Sandler, one of the key benefits of celebrity endorsers, aside from the visibility they afford an organization, is that the public views them as financial supporters.
This has directly affected ALSAC/St. Jude’s fundraising efforts, namely its national direct-marketing program, which is its largest source of funds.
Direct mail traditionally has been one of ALSAC/St. Jude’s most effective fundraising tools, with more than 91 million mail pieces sent to donors and prospects each year, recruiting more than a million new donors annually and bringing in 90 percent of the direct-marketing department’s funds.