12.16.09

The Celebrity Impact Rankings

Justin Timberlake’s support for his favored charity is worth $9.3 million. Paris Hilton’s? $538. The Daily Beast crunches the numbers to find the real value 50 stars bring to their causes.

Justin Timberlake’s support for his favored charity is worth $9.3 million. Paris Hilton’s? $538. The Daily Beast crunches the numbers to find the real value 50 stars—from Madonna, Oprah, and Bono to Angelina, Bob Dylan, and Prince William—bring to their causes.

With the Tiger Woods scandal, one of the big unanswered questions is how his indefinite leave from the sport will affect his charitable endeavors. But how much is a celebrity’s affiliation really worth? How much impact, other than their own Q rating, do they have on the good causes they promote?

Click Image Below to View Our Rankings of Celebrities’ Charitable Impacts

In a month in which 62 percent of Americans are planning to support charities, The Daily Beast undertook what we believe to be the most exhaustive study ever on the effects of celebrity on charities. We kept score using the only system that matters to those seeking the resources to help others: dollars. Celebrity, after all, has unique economic value. Famous faces are used to sell everything from magazines to movie tickets to Mazdas.

Here’s how we calculated our rankings. First, we chose 50 of the biggest celebrities in the world who are allied with a nonprofit, either as a member of its board or advisory committee, an ambassador, or the face of a campaign. These names represent a healthy cross-section of fame and influence. While many celebrities support more than one charity, we only judged the primary charity for each celebrity—this exercise is designed to see how much impact a celebrity has on a specific nonprofit, rather than how charitable they are overall, or how much they contribute awareness to a more all-encompassing cause.

From there, we tallied how much awareness they produced for their favored nonprofit in print, television, and online, and also calculated any personal donations to the charity, since cash is the most direct impact of all.

Specifically, VMS, a leading media-monitoring firm, pulled broadcast television mentions of each celebrity and associated charity in the last two years and calculated the corresponding value of the mention or segment. We then averaged those years to determine similar impact. Similarly, using Lexis-Nexis, we pulled all newspaper and magazine clips over the last two years that mentioned both the celebrity and the charity. Another top news-monitoring company, BurellesLuce, provided estimates for the value of each clip as follows: Newspapers with daily circulation over 600,000, $35,000; newspapers with daily circulation between 600,000 and 200,000, $25,000; and newspapers with circulation under 200,000, $15,000. Magazines were designated with similar benchmarks. Magazines with circulation greater than 2 million, $35,000; magazines with circulation between 1-2 million, $25,000; magazines with circulation less than 1 million, $15,000. We then averaged that figure. Lastly, we considered Google results within the last year to measure online presence. Each result was valued at $1.

While many celebrities donated anonymously, we reached out to the publicists, lawyers, and agents of the celebrities on our list to accurately reflect the personal donations to the charity. We also combed media reports, The Giving Back fund’s annual list of the 30 largest celebrity donors, and NOZA’s database of charitable gifts.

There are some considerations to take into account regarding the results. We only valued broadcast television and press in American markets. Many of the charities and celebrities included in our list have significant international presence, but the values only attempt to measure impact in the U.S. Additionally, some relationships between celebrities and charities have spanned longer and shorter terms, but only the last two years of the partnership are reflected in our data.

The results are fascinating. Celebrities like Justin Timberlake, Madonna, and Angelina Jolie deliver millions of dollars of value each year to their pet causes. Other big names like Paris Hilton, though, barely make enough of a dent to justify sending a limo over. The bottom line: A famous face isn’t enough—true impact requires a commitment. For the full ranking of 50, click here.

Plus: Check out more from Giving Beast, featuring news, video, and amazing photographs of people, places, and issues that need our support.

Clark Merrefield and Lauren Streib were the reporters for this ranking.