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Celebrity Charity Endorsement

Last updated December 2nd, 2015

How do you get the wow-factor impact for charity events with a limited budget? One answer is to secure celebrity endorsement.
To gain serious PR coverage and capture your audience’s imagination it helps to have a well known name associated with your cause. Emma Watson’s work as a goodwill ambassador for the UN is a really good example of a celebrity generating awareness for a charity.
However a savvy event professional manages celebrity relationships carefully to make sure they get the most from them.

What is your story?

Choosing a celebrity supporter should never detract from the objectives of your event and the story of the fundraising cause behind it. Branding is as important for charities as for any other organisation so choosing a celebrity based solely on how popular they are can lead to trouble.
Your supporter needs to have a connection with the aims of your charity and event. Firstly, they’ll be more receptive to volunteering their time to support your events if they are personally interested in the cause. Secondly, you need a spokesperson who’ll be able to talk about your charity event in a genuine way and not contradict the ethos of the charity and your event. For example, would you ever turn down the chance to work with Scarlet Johansson? Oxfam did.
Scarlet Johansson and Oxfam parted ways last year after 8 years of working together. Johansson agreed to appear in a series of Soda Stream adverts in early 2014. Oxfam objected to the association with a company they believe contradicts their values and made it clear they could no longer work with her.

Are you attracting the right audience?

Depending on the aims of your event, consider carefully whether or not your celebrity’s fans are the right audience. If you simply want to raise awareness of a cause then a celebrity with a set of fans outside your charity’s normal audience may be a good thing.
If you want to maximise fundraising efforts then some similarity between the celebrity’s fan base and your target audience may help. If your charity supports child poverty, you may find parents are a more sympathetic audience than non parents. A celebrity supporter that appeals to an older target audience may work best for your event.

Who is benefiting?

A question to keep asking is how much is the charity benefiting compared to how much the supporter is benefiting? Are you getting what you need from the relationship?
Create a PR plan (you should have one for your event anyway!) and agree with your supporter the activities and time they’re able to contribute to promote the event. For a very high profile charity and celebrity this may involve interviews with press and television. For a smaller scale event it may be photographs for social media or offering a prize for a competition.
A really good example of some great PR for a charity event this year was the Vienna Life Ball, featuring Conchita Wurst as co-host and star of the event poster.

Putting it into practice

There is a lot to consider, and this is without thinking about the event itself and how you’re going to run it. If you want to be the kind of person who makes all this happen and secures the publicity to make an event fly deserve try looking at our courses. We can give you the head start you need, including a module dedicated fundraising events, and all the behind the scenes training you need.
Call our Head of Student Recruitment, Karin, on 0207 183 5129 or email to have a chat with us about what you’re doing next with your career.
Featured image used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.

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