The production of and trade in celebrity is now a commercial strategy for all types of media organizations, resulting in a significant expansion in celebrity content across all platforms. Charitable events and activities are no exception, with one crucial difference to their commercial counterparts: most charities that engage celebrities recruit them on a voluntary basis, and don’t pay them. Celebrity patrons ranging from reality TV contestants and soap stars to sporting heroes and members of the Royal family volunteer to raise awareness and funds, attend events, and provide a powerful focus for appeals and campaigns. Publications such as Third Section offer weekly updates on the latest celebrities to lend their support.
But what motivates celebrity supporters to volunteer their services? What methods of engagement do celebrities prefer? These are just a few of the questions asked and answered in this feature story by Sean Kelly, an expert on celebrity volunteer engagement and the director of fundraising at Sparks, the UK’s leading pediatric medical research charity. In this article, Kelly presents his study of over 200 celebrities and his research to ascertain personal motivations for celebrities who volunteer and why they support particular organizations. Altruism? Egotism? Kelly provides the answers and pulls back the proverbial curtain on the star power of celebrity volunteers.