bbcon 2014: RJ Mitte and the Importance of Celebrity Ambassadors Living the Cause
Many nonprofit organizations use celebrities to help advocate and even fundraise for their causes. However, just because a nonprofit can get a celebrity face doesn't necessarily mean it should. Really, it's all about fit.
Well, anyone would be hard-pressed to find a better fit between an organization and a celebrity than the tie between actor RJ Mitte, most known for his portrayal of Walter "Flynn" White Jr. on AMC's hit series "Breaking Bad," and the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Mitte, who was the keynote speaker yesterday at bbcon, Blackbaud's annual conference, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at just 3 years old. Mitte's family sought help at Shriners Hospitals for him from ages 3 to 12, and he's never forgotten the organization and all it allowed him to accomplish. Now, Mitte is using his fame to give back to Shriners, working as a Shriners Hospitals ambassador.
Yesterday afternoon, Mitte was kind enough to answer questions for FundRaising Success in an interview with Blackbaud's Nicole McGougan.
FundRaising Success/Nicole McGougan: How much of a difference does having a celebrity such as yourself championing an organization and a cause, particularly when you have been so personally touched by the Shrines Hospitals for Children?
RJ Mitte: What it comes down to is when you have someone like me who went to Shriners from the age of 3 to 12, and I still go back and see them and am able to work with them, you have that connection. It's important to have — not always a celebrity, sometimes it's not a fit — but it's important to have the right fit. You have these organizations who go and they look at a celebrity and they're like, "Oh, perfect! We like them! We want that celebrity!" But thing about it is when he has no emotional ties to the organization, that's when you're just putting a face on it, and people see that.