The Celebrity Factor in Fundraising
It seems that whenever a celebrity endorses a product it turns to gold, and more often than not, a celebrity appearance or stamp of approval results in game-changing outcomes for brands. However, that doesn’t always hold true in the case of celebrities supporting philanthropic causes or charities. Beyond the photo opportunities and the initial secured headlines, the celebrity must be committed and engaged in the cause to really make a difference in the fundraising world.
As president and CEO of Miami Children’s Health Foundation, part of my job is to build relationships with donors and influencers, including fostering relationships with celebrity ambassadors that will help raise awareness for the Miami Children’s Health System and our flagship hospital, Nicklaus Children’s.
Based on my experience, I have three key takeaways that are important to focus on when choosing celebrities to help raise awareness for a cause:
1. The connection has to be organic
2. The celebrity has to be committed
3. It has to mean something to the celebrity
An Organic Connection
When a nonprofit organization is looking for a celebrity to support their cause, it must have an organic connection. When the public sees a celebrity supporting a cause, it needs to make sense. Do the celebrity’s image and beliefs match those of the cause? Has that celebrity supported similar initiatives in the past? Does that celebrity have a questionable background that might conflict with your organization?
These are just some of these questions that need to be answered by an organization before the initial outreach to a celebrity. The sole reason for consideration has to be more than just the star factor. If it’s not organic, then—most likely—it won’t be successful.
Every year, we host our signature event, Diamond Ball—a gala that honors a celebrity by inducting them into the Ambassador David M. Walters International Pediatric Hall of Fame, which pays homage to exceptional individuals who, through their actions and achievements, have been outstanding advocates for stronger, healthier communities and the well-being of our children.
In the past, our foundation has inducted notable honorees including Walt Disney, Audrey Hepburn, Gloria Gaynor, Beyoncé Knowles, Dwyane Wade, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Barbara and Jack Nicklaus, Juanes, and most recently, Romero Britto.
All of those names are very recognizable, but they also all have one thing in common—they align with our goals and our mission. In other words, the connection is organic.