Thinking of getting a celebrity to back your charity? It’s ‘ineffective’, claims Manchester Uni study

Celebrity promotion of charities is largely ineffective and has a limited reach, according to a Manchester University study.

The research found that two-thirds of people could not attach any celebrity to seven well-known charities that use stars to endorse their campaigns.

Amongst the groups used in the research, which was published in the International Journal of Cultural Studies, were global charities Oxfam, Save the Children and Red Cross.

Professor Dan Brockington along with Professor Spensor Henson from the University of Sussex and Dr Martin Scott from the University of East Anglia found 66% of people could not link any during a time when many celebrities are campaigning for charities.

The journal concluded that ‘the ability of celebrity and advocacy to reach people is limited’ and celebrities are ‘generally ineffective’ at encouraging people to care about ‘distant suffering’.

It stated: “It was plain from the focus groups that most people supported the charities that they supported because of personal connections in their lives and families which made these causes important, not because of the celebrities.

“The evidence suggests, therefore, that the ability of celebrity advocacy to reach people is limited, and dominated in Britain by some extremely prominent telethons and the work of a few stars.”

Instead the results found people are more likely to support a charity because of a personal connection to the cause.

The journal identified: “Regardless of what celebrities may want in terms of publicity – and the interviews suggest that many would seek to maximise the attention given to their cause, and not to them – it is clear that the celebrity can often do better out of this attention than their causes.”

In a separate article in the same journal from Dr Scott, he observed that nearly half of people observed kept a diary on the thoughts about poorer countries.

His study found: “Celebrities are generally ineffective in cultivating a cosmopolitan engagement with distant suffering.

“In conversations about the mediation of distant others, research participants rarely talked about instances of explicit celebrity humanitarianism.”

The research has been flagged up by the Campaign for Social Science as significant for helping understand how charities can raise public knowledge of their work.

It is estimated that 90% of the most prominent celebrities are involved in some form of charitable endorsement.

Image courtesy of UNHCR, via Youtube, with thanks.

Inset courtesy of ODE via YouTube, with thanks.

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