When it comes to doing good, sometimes the best thing celebrities have to offer is not dollars, but themselves.
Though Jay Z was roundly criticized for declaring “my presence is charity” this summer, it turns out, the hip-hop mogul isn’t too far off the mark. Celebrity endorsements benefit charities in a number of ways, mainly by bringing credibility and likability to a nonprofit’s brand. And that, research shows, adds major value. In an upcoming study from Rutgers School of Business, Professors Erica Harris and Julie Ruth found that donors gave 1.4 percent more to charities associated with celebrities—to the tune of $100,000 each year.
So just how much charity does Jay Z’s presence really buy, and which celebrities have given the most of themselves to promote their causes? Who are the outspoken advocates and who's just showing up for the year-end gala? The Daily Beast looked at the data to find out which celebrities were really the most charitable with the most valuable resource of all: their fame.
In this ranking, we looked at the following data points:
First, we wanted to know who made the best celebrity partners, so we asked E-Poll Market Research to create an initial list of 100 charitable celebrities based on the public perception of their activism and compassion. E-Poll measures the likeability and awareness of celebrities and public figures based on in-depth survey results of 46 attribute ratings.
From there, we looked at the number of charities or foundations each celebrity supports, as reported by celebrity charity tracker Looktothestars.org, and awarded a score to each celeb based on how many causes the stars lends his or her name to.
But it’s not just about the number of causes they participate in, but the time and effort they put in to promotion. So we also took into account the advocacy done on behalf of charities and the awareness their work inspired. First, we chose the charity that the actor or musician is most aligned with at the moment. Famous folks often have a bevy of causes, and when two causes compete, like Bono’s RED and ONE campaign, we ran the numbers on both and deferred to the nonprofit where the celebrity had the most influence.
We measured mentions in the last two years in traditional media: broadcast television, using clips from the Internet Archive's TV news research service and print, using Nexis.
Then we moved online to find out how much the celebs pushed their causes in social media. For online impact we looked at Internet presence measured by the Google page results. But not all celebrities’ online clout is equal. So we also partnered with Traackr, an influencer marketing platform, which looked at the celebrities’ social media footprint to determine their reach (audience size across all social platforms: Twitter, Facebook fans, Instagram, Pinterest, Blogs) and resonance, or how engaged their audience is, measured by things like how much they are retweeted, how many link backs are there to their blogs, etc.
Each category—public perception, number of charities, promotion in traditional media, and online promotion—was weighted 25 percent.
Sadly, Jay Z didn’t make the list.