Recently, the Australian wildfires have been all over the media, from the news to celebrity posts. While many celebrities told the world just how much money they donated, some, on top of that, also gave their audiences information of organizations that were helping with the fires so they could donate as well.
While there were celebrities who spoke out, some wasted their platform to say vague things about the fires which also caused them to receive major backlash. In their defense, they said they wanted to donate privately, and donating privately is just as good as donating publicly. If anything, it is a little more virtuous; however, wasting your platform on empty words is a waste of good which could be done.
Some people may be interested but need to hear how much a celebrity donated to justify donating themselves. Silent donors who give information about organizations that make positive differences allow their audience to donate time, money or other resources where they feel compelled. The wildfires in Australia are just one of the most recent examples, but this need for celebrities to set an example and to give information is needed for every cause. Yes, charity is something learned at home and in the immediate community; however, people are far more likely to do something if a celebrity does it.
We can clearly see this through celebrity advertisements where we are more likely to buy something if our favorite celebrity is endorsing the product. This applies to advocation too.
According to Steve Olenski from Forbes, "The brand value added by celebrities is immediate and palpable. When a celebrity signs an endorsement deal with a product, an element of legitimacy is suddenly present in the company, simply because of the power of the name backing it up."
Celebrity endorsement can lead others to give to a cause because it is fashionable. Giving as a form of fashion is not a good way to approach giving; however, it is a start, and it can eventually lead to authentically giving. The concept of a celebrity being "woke" is currently an ideal asset. Due to this, there is generally a call for celebrities to be more actively involved with and publicly advocating for the causes of their choice.
Ashley Fern from Elite Daily explains by saying, "Ethics are supposed to shape your ways of moral living, and to do that, you must have logical rationalizations. This means, there cannot be contradictions present in any regard. Your values must align with your words, and your words must align with your actions. The problem many people have in life is that they do not apply the same moral standards across a variety of situations."
Nowadays, due to the transparency needed to be a celebrity, the public has a general knowledge of or the capability to see celebrities being consistent with their platforms. This also allows the general public to be more critical of celebrity giving. One big criticism of celebrity giving is seen when those in need are used for personal gain, primarily financially. This critique of giving not only applies to the celebrities themselves but their businesses as well. Many who are very passionate about causes celebrities are publicly supporting might see an issue with philanthropy and giving as simple, cheap advertisement. One of the most recent examples of this was with Jeff Bezos and Amazon donating relatively little money to relieving the Australian wildfires.
According to Kelsey Piper from Vox, "Anger is justified when climate-driven disasters endanger billions of animals and thousands of homes, and when corporations that contributed considerably to the climate crisis make only token efforts to reduce its effects. But it's important to think about what sort of behavior the anger incentivizes. Getting upset about token donations, but being supportive of real and substantive donations hopefully creates pretty good incentives for corporate would-be philanthropists, rather than making them feel they're stuck in a no-win situation."
Criticism of public-giving is important. This is especially important so celebrities or others do not take advantage of those in need. Regardless, the donations towards the Australian wildfires and other tragedies are still needed. To be sure you are donating to a credible source, do more than go to a website a celebrity endorses. Do some research of your own, and be sure to look at how the money is being distributed. Not all charitable organizations are run the same way.