Forming a Charity: Philanthropy or PR?

July 7, 2015, 1:18pm

Forming a Charity: Philanthropy or PR?

Local personalities from the entertainment industry and the odd socialite with delusions of dizzying fame often use winter to kick-start their various charity organisations or causes in a bid to remain relevant.
The premise is that they hit the ground running with their charities by recruiting other famous people to support their charities, thereby receiving vast media coverage and hopefully maintaining it, which means that they stay in the limelight for however long they had hoped.
The idea of celebrities running charities is not a new one. Former Miss Namibia/Miss Universe Michelle McLean-Bailey has a children’s trust which has enjoyed years of success.
The organisation was established in the early 90s and provides bursaries and training, as well as many other opportunities to deserving students.
It comes as no surprise that many others have attempted to follow in the footsteps of her organisation.
Mavis Braga, Meriam Kaxuxwena, Dillish Mathews, Maria Nepembe and the late Nancy Muinjo are among the growing list of entertainment personalities who have dipped their toes in charitable causes.
While some of these organisations go on to do great things in their communities, most fizzle out as soon as they had come on the scene.
A popular radio presenter who has worked on numerous charities with and for celebrities but opted to speak on condition of anonymity, said most famous people use charities as marketing, PR stunts or money-making schemes.
“Charity is about giving to the less-fortunate. They look at the members of their communities who have nothing, and give without expectations of getting anything back. However, when celebrities do it, they hope to get something in return,” the DJ lamented.
He explained that these people usually draw up budgets of how much they are going to spend, and how much they will make. While the number is not always constant, they always make sure to double their profits.
“People know that most consumers do not relate to people or companies who don’t give to the less- fortunate, so they use charity as a means to gain popularity by making it seem like they are charitable.
Sponsors have money, and they want to be recognised, which is why they keep on giving money, even though they know that some of these charities do not do actual work,” he noted.
The DJ stressed that charity begins at home, and if people want to give, they should look at their less fortunate neighbours and give to them, as opposed to giving to charities which might not do as they promise.
A writer, who also chose to remain anonymous, said although he has not worked directly with charities, he has worked with organisations which claimed to give the proceeds of their work to charity.
“The strange thing about some of these organisations is that they tell you how much is going to the organisation, but you never meet any of the people who benefitted from them,” he said, adding that it was suspicious but he does it out of good faith, hoping the organisations he works with use the proceeds the way they claim.
Meanwhile, media personality Hafeni Namwira said charity organisations and other charitable deeds could go either way.
“Your idea might be genuine, but you also know that people know who you are because you are in the limelight, and that will help build your brand,” he explained.
Namwira said most people who work in the entertainment industry know what comes with doing charitable work, or else they would have done it sooner before they became famous.
He thus credited celebrities’ need to use charities to stay relevant due to the fact that it is hard for sponsors and individuals to refuse charities.
“No one will say no to you needing their help to help others,” he stressed.
Although he admitted that fly-by-night charities ruin the concept for people who genuinely want to help and are doing it from a place of honesty, they still have a chance of proving nay-sayers wrong if they stick to the actual work.
Like the DJ, he too advised that charity starts at home, and people should start giving at home and in their communities before they start looking at charities.

by Faith Haushona-Kavamba