Celebrating our celebrities | ActionAid UK

You might have seen some stories in the news in the last week about the findings of a recent university study which claims: ‘celebrity promotion is ineffective at raising awareness but can make stars more popular with the public'.

Actress and ActionAid child sponsor Samantha Womack takes a bike ride with children from Kannet village
Actress and ActionAid child sponsor Samantha Womack takes a bike ride with children from Kannet village

This raised some eyebrows here at ActionAidUK HQ as our long history of working with famous people tells a different story. We work with some incredible individuals who use their fame to help us fight poverty all over the world. They do this because they believe in ActionAid and our work and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Familiarity breeds donations

Working with some of the UK’s best known faces helps us to fundraise for our work with the world’s poorest communities. The last week has been no exception as we teamed up with other charities to raise funds for the Disasters Emergency Committee Appeal for Gaza. When the appeal launched, our celebrity supporters rallied round in force, both with personal donations and support on social media. So far the appeal has raised £9.5 million.

We find working with famous folk helps us reach more people, their passion and enthusiasm for our work is infectious and the best advert we could hope for. By openly supporting ActionAid they are telling their fans they can trust us, making them more likely to engage with us in future.

Not just pretty faces

Our celebrity ambassadors don’t just talk about us, they really get involved. In 2012 we took the actress Samantha Womack to visit to our work in Myanmar. After her trip we signed up over 2,000 new child sponsors for children desperately in need. Samantha also sponsors a girl from the region and finds the relationship hugely rewarding.

Earlier this year our super supporter, actor James Purefoy lived below the line for ActionAid, spending 5 days living on no more than £1 a day. He raised over £2,000 in sponsorship and took to twitter to talk to his followers and ours about his experience.

Twitter talk saves lives

James isn’t the only one of our celebrity friends to support us on social media. Hardeep Singh Kohli, Fay Ripley, Josie Lawrence and Stephen Merchant are among our stalwart twitterati, sharing our campaigns with their followers and getting involved with personal messages.

When Stephen Fry, the uncrowned king of the internet, tweeted his support for our SheCAN appeal to his 7 million followers, we were over the moon. Not only did it cause a marvellous upsurge in visits to our website, crucially we also saw an increase in donations to help women and girls break the cycle of poverty.

Building trust

There is no doubt that many people support charities because they have personal connections in their lives and families which make specific causes important. But consider, we invite celebrities into our living rooms, we catch up with their news every day on social media – now more than ever people have the opportunity to feel close to their idols.

A recommendation from a trusted face can go a long way and we are excited about continuing to work with so many wonderful people.