June 6, 2011

Gates' Giving Pledge Goes Hollywood: Bieber, Kardashian Sign Up

Inspired by Gates and Buffett’s pledge, celebrities pile on to promote charitable awareness

In case you’ve missed it, charitable giving is going Hollywood. What was formerly just a movement among billionaires—the Bill Gates- and Warren Buffett-inspired Giving Pledge—has gone public in a very big way, signing on the likes of celebrities and stars such as Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, Richard Gere and Denzel Washington.

MSNBC reported that, unlike the Buffett-Gates pledge, the Hollywood Pledge, as it’s known, doesn’t require celebs to commit to actually give anything (although many do already have their own foundations or charitable causes).

Instead, it’s an awareness-raising thing, because, according to Todd Michael Krim, the Hollywood Pledge’s mastermind, “There’s a big difference between celebrities and the billionaires who are part of the Giving Pledge. Most celebrities are not billionaires; in fact, most may not even be millionaires.”

That said, dozens of celebs have flocked to add their names to the Pledge, which helps raise awareness for their own pet charities. What the Hollywood Pledge does seek is for stars to promote philanthropic awareness and to coax their fans into contributing or volunteering.

According to Krim, “A celebrity’s capital is in form of their social capital, not cash. If Justin Bieber were to tweet something to 120 million people, that may be even more effective than a $100,000 donation in some ways. Most billionaires don’t have the name recognition or star power that celebrities do.”

The Hollywood Pledge website provides fans with a glimpse into the charities their favorite stars support, assuming that those stars have signed on to the cause. Bieber, for example, promotes Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Pencils of Promise. Other charities include Best Friends Animal Society, the Rainforest Action Network, and Puppies Behind Bars.

While it only launched on Wednesday, Krim said in the report that 40-50 celebs have already lent their names to the cause, among them Hugh Jackman and Jewel, Adrian Pasdar and Lawrence Fishburne, NBA star Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, Chris Noth, Ricky Martin, and Carrie Ann Inaba, a Dancing With the Stars judge. Official partners of the site are the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, The Hollywood Reporter and the ABC Television Network.

The site neither tracks nor accepts donations; instead, would-be givers are directed to the websites advocated by celebrities, where they can sign up to do whatever they’re willing to commit to. Krim said he hopes to make it possible to track how much money is raised through the site in the future.

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