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Who Needs Celebrity Philanthropy?

Bono and Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa 2002

The masses continuously lambast the likes of Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Bono, complaining about their incessant philanthropic focus and how it only serves to bolster their careers.

Why are these celebrities using their star power to generate millions of dollars for charity and garner backing from influential political leaders when they could just keep buying Ferraris and houses in the Hamptons? It’s madness!


When was the last time you dedicated even a fraction of your time, money or influence towards a philanthropic endeavor, much less countless hours and millions of dollars?

What are you doing right now to make the world a better, more peaceful and loving place?

When was the last time you honed your musical talent, created a successful rock band and dropped $32 Billion in debt from 18 African countries or raised more money and awareness for eradicating HIV (in Africa) than any other human on the planet? Bono does that in his spare time. Literally.

Clooney just launched the Satellite Sentinel Project, designed to deter mass atrocities and crimes against humanity in Sudan/South Sudan. I’ve been volunteering and lobbying for this kind of effort in that region for almost 10 years. Clooney put this together in less than a year and it’s one of the most effective philanthropic initiatives I’ve ever witnessed. Phenomenal.

Pitt and Jolie have given Millions of dollars to philanthropy. Jolie has spent serious amounts of time in over 22 poverty stricken countries, purchased fleets of airplanes, acted as a UNHCR ambassador, flown into into extreme threat zones when others wouldn’t and on and on. Pitt and Jolie donated $8 Million in 2006 alone.

In December 2001, Perry Farrell (Jane’s Addition vocalist and creator of Lollapalooza) flew into politically-troubled Sudan with other members of Christian Solidarity International to negotiate the release of Sudanese slaves. Jane’s Addiction donated their earnings from one concert for the redemption of over 2,300 people. This is a rock star that most parents wouldn’t let their kids listen to.

I could go on and on. The list is endless. I’ve only touched on a few, largely because they are the ones most criticized.

Is there anyone that can look at this list, along with thousands of other instances, and say that this work shouldn’t have been done? Is their work irrelevant because they are famous?

Do these celebrities gain more power and money because of their good deeds? They sure do. Why shouldn’t they? It just gives them more power and money to do more good.

There are plenty of celebs out there just using their power for personal gain. If you want to gripe about celebrities, how about putting the negative focus on them?

How hypocritical and dichotomous is it for people to criticize celebs for doing good around the world? Who cares what they gain from it? All I care about is the fact that so much good is being done in such a public manner that it’s creating a new standard and trend. Can you think of a better trend to foster?

Seriously. Why would you fight a trend of famous, influential rich people donating their time and money to philanthropy? Really?

Who needs celebrity philanthropy? The world does. In fact, we could use a little philanthropy from anyone willing to do it well, don’t you think?


  1. Cass on October 27, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    People gripe about it, ’cause they are ignorant to the world. “Those people” wouldn’t hold a door for someone, smile at the person walking by them, say hello, or do any good deed for that matter. People who habitually complain and criticize others who do good, lack leadership, compassion, and intelligence. The U.S. is a society made up of people who believe they are “owed” something. That’s why we are in the shape we are in. The celebs are helping people who are grateful for their good deeds. Maybe if Americans had the same mentality, the celebs would graciously give to the people in their own Country.
    Great blog!

  2. NamasteMamaRose on October 27, 2011 at 8:42 PM

    Philanthropy is an incredible bandwagon to hop on – I see people who roll their eyes because it’s just the “trendy” thing to do, and I’m thinking…SO WHAT?? Good grief – thank God it’s popular. Thank God people are starting to notice. Thank God that people can become known for something positive, like empowering others, as opposed to who got thrown into rehab this week.

    Celebrities are real people who have real passions and desires. Some are corrupt, just like the greedy person who played the system and only thinks of his own gain down the street from you. But that doesn’t mean that every person who is well-known has a heart fueled by money. Believe it or not, there is more to life than that, and many are acting, singing, performing, etc because they love it – not because of the fame. Their passion is what is contagious, what draws fans, and what gains trust…and when they channel that passion to fuel it in others and empower others to do good in the world, why would anyone want to knock that?

    If you think you can do a better job as a philanthropist, by all means, GO DO IT. We can always use one more.

    • Jared Angaza on October 28, 2011 at 10:01 AM

      Well said Ashley. I agree. Most of the time I hear people complaining about celebrity philanthropy, its coming from people that aren’t doing any sort of philanthropy at all. But when I’m talking to people here on the ground in Africa, they have no issue at all with celebrities engaging in philanthropy. In fact, we’re smart enough to know that the one thing that will help us do more good is to have a bigger, more influential platform. And that’s one thing celebrities have, which is why we’re always trying to get them engaged.

      Then people come around the other side and say, “celebrities aren’t doing enough” or “celebrities are just using philanthropy to build their platform”, or “celebrities don’t know what they are doing”. Frankly, I don’t care if a celebrity is doing it for personal gain, out of ignorance, or because they feel like they have to. If someone does a “good” thing, do we really need to question their motive? if the good thing gets done, we have a success. End of story.

  3. Joanne Miller on October 28, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    I am SO on this same bandwagon. I just gave a Party With a Purpose here to have fun, help some friends sell their products (mostly handmade) and give people an opportunity to donate to a good cause for the Tennessee Prison for Women, Thistle Farms and KEZA………all three philanthropic causes. It was a wonderful success for everyone. Great networking, new friendships made, public awareness made for the three causes, etc. But what I found curious was that some of my friends whom I invited (or was going to invite) said they don’t go to parties like that because they don’t need the stuff. Or various other reasons that were equally lame. They never saw the real reason for the party. It was not a waste of time. It was for good causes. Yet these same people love to just get together and do idle chit chat and that isn’t a waste of time. GRRRR…….I can get on my high horse here and start preaching. Christians can be the worst about throwing stones and one of the most charitable celebrities who receives the most stones thrown at her is OPRAH. That lady has done more charitable giving than most any other person alive today. She has done more good in this world than most of us can ever imagine to do in our lifetime. Yet I hear continual snide comments about how she “isn’t a Christian” and so she is not taken seriously. How little minded. How sad. Christians can throw the baby out with the bath quicker than any other people I know. One thing I know is that the more I am around more philanthropic people (those who think beyond themselves and their own needs and desires) the more I recognize that those are the people I want to emulate………and you are one of those people. Keep writing, Jared! YOU WILL CHANGE the world……….and will help to change the narrow-mindedness in our country. You are right up there with Bono in my estimation!

  4. Theresa on October 28, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    Rock on, Jared. Nothing to add to what’s already been brilliantly said and amened…

    • Jared Angaza on October 31, 2011 at 7:09 AM

      Thanks so much Theresa!

  5. Dan Miller on October 30, 2011 at 12:47 AM

    Yep – every time my phone rings (It’s a Beautiful Day) I’m reminded of the example Bono is setting around the world. He takes his celebrity leverage very seriously – as do many of the others you mention.

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