The Rise And Rise Of Celebrity Philanthropy

Celebrity-charity strategic alliances benefit both parties in multiple ways. Very importantly, they provide established as well as fast-tracking entertainers and athletes meaningful opportunities to leverage their current and growing stature to drive support to philanthropic causes they feel deeply about. For non-profits, the benefits of aligning with celebrities can be tremendous. Aside from having the services of people who care about their causes, the charities get spokespeople who can champion their positions and are regularly instrumental in helping to fundraise.

In a study of 165 talent agents and managers, more than four out of five of them have addressed the matter of charitable giving and personal involvement with their more successful entertainment clients. Many times the agents and managers are involved with helping them identify and work with charities that are synergistic.

According to Rick Flynn, Co-CEO and founding partner of LVW/Flynn and author of The High-Functioning Single-Family Office, “There are basically three levels of strategic alliances between celebrities and charities. The first level is where the celebrities commit some time and money. They will donate to the cause in various ways and attend some events. Their involvement acts as a magnet for other volunteers and contributors. The next level is where something of a joint venture takes place. This is for celebrities who focus on a particular cause and concentrate most of their philanthropic activities around that cause. The third level is where celebrities form their own charities of private foundations.”

According to John Bowen, founder of BSW Inner Circle, “For successful celebrities who are looking to become closely connected with a particular cause or to create their own charities or establish a private foundation, many personal factors habitually that goes into the decision. At the same time, aside from their agents and managers, a growing cohort of specialists can work with them to help them sort through their options and make decisions aligned with their philanthropic agendas and careers.

“When celebrities get seriously involved in philanthropic causes, many tax strategies can enable them to make their monies do more — usually, a lot more.” explains Frank Seneco, President of Seneco & Associates, an advanced planning specialist working with entertainers and athletes. “However, in our experience, most importantly, what is driving the trend of more and stronger celebrity-charity strategic alliances is the power and the fame that all kinds of celebrities have, which can be leveraged to benefit causes they care intensely about.”