Two foundations that serve the needy got the kind of spotlight on Sunday night’s Oscar TV broadcast that any nonprofit aspires to: A cry from a celebrity celebrity to the estimated 10 million people who are estimated to have watch the Oscars from home.
Time will tell if the Motion Picture & Television Fund Foundation and the Tyler Perry Foundation will reap the benefits of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Awards. But given the high visibility they have received, donations for foundation causes are almost certain to increase.
The MPTF, the first organization to win the Special Humanitarian Oscar, received a lengthy personal introduction from Bryan Cranston to celebrate his 100th anniversary of providing industry to the needy.
Actress Viola Davis presented the award to actor, filmmaker and philanthropist Perry after a presentation by Whoopi Goldberg who spoke about his support for food insecure families in Georgia during the pandemic. Hunger is only part of the foundation’s work, which ranges from education to climate change and human rights.
“When I got down to helping someone,” Perry said in his acceptance speech, “it’s my intention to do just that. I’m not trying to do anything other than meet someone at their humanity. “
For charitable foundations, history suggests that a celebrity’s public embrace can pay off.
Consider what happened in 2015 after Patricia Arquette mentioned GiveLove when accepting her Best Supporting Actress award for “Boyhood.” Donations to the small nonprofit, which teaches safe sanitation practices in Latin America and Africa, doubled for the year, according to its tax returns.
Arquette’s call to arms to reduce the gender pay gap was even more powerful.
By stating, “It’s time for us to have equal pay once and for all,” much to the delight of Meryl Streep and other members of the public, Arquette created a viral moment that helped elevate the issue to a new level: it has generated years of support and is credited with helping to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act in the House of Representatives earlier this month.
This kind of success has led key sectors of the philanthropic world to look for ways to create more such opportunities. At the same time, leaders of associations and foundations warn that it is important to choose causes carefully.
“Celebrity mention is always a good amplifier in a way, but it’s not enough if we don’t have the kind of proof in the work to back it up,” said Alison Moore, CEO of Comic Relief US, a non-profit organization involved in fighting poverty and injustice through events like the upcoming Red Nose Day.
But showcasing a celebrity’s relationship with a nonprofit can create an indelible bond with viewers.
“We have the advantage that so many celebrities are actually very close friends, coming back to work with us year after year and giving their time and focus,” said Moore. “We marry that with our deep focus on our mission and our real upheaval in the programs we support. It’s the magic there – the combination of the two.
Feed America has found such magic this year with the Golden Globes. The award ceremony named the Anti-Hunger Organization, which operates 200 food banks and 60,000 pantry and meal programs, its philanthropic partner for the year and highlighted its work during the ‘program.
Lauren Biedron, vice president of corporate partnerships for Feeding America, said the Golden Globes partnership increased website traffic by 35% on the day of the show and online revenue by 200%, donations for COVID-19 aid reaching $ 2 million in 24 hours. .
“They also helped us expand our marketing and reach to a wider audience, and then most importantly, they helped drive action by really providing a tangible way for people to get involved,” said Biedron, noting that the Globes released a QR code linking to the Feeding America website.
The attention comes as Feeding America is experiencing intense growth, having become one of the most popular recipients for donor-advised funds in 2020 for the first time. Yet this growth has been overtaken by the needs induced by the pandemic and the economic damage that followed. Feeding America’s food banks, Biedron said, feed 55% more people now than a year ago.
“We know that long after the vaccine has rolled out and the spotlight is gone, people will still need food,” she said. “It will be a marathon – for our organization and our food banks on the ground – to continue to meet the moment we are in and ensure that communities are fed.”
Although audiences for awards ceremonies fell during the pandemic, the Oscars still provide a global platform for many philanthropic organizations and social causes to get their messages out.
Chi-hui Yang, the Ford Foundation’s senior program manager for its JustFilms initiative, which funds documentaries, suggested that getting high-quality films made on important topics was a victory in itself. Once a work of art is made, said Yang, it can inform and inspire for years to come. If nominated for an Oscar, like JustFilms’ “Crip Camp” – about how a summer camp helped inspire the disability rights movement long ago – was for Best Documentary this year. , attention intensifies.
“Automatically you have a problem and an author who has very high media exposure,” Yang said. “It’s very difficult for any number or project to do, so there are those possibilities that films can really be injected into high levels of public discourse.”
From a philanthropic standpoint, he said, an Oscar nomination can be almost as valuable as a victory.
“Even having (co-director Jim LeBrecht) there as a visibly disabled individual to represent the film and be nominated – let alone maybe win – and be able to talk about the issues – I think that’s important. “
“This closeness to reality is very important,” he said. “I think it means something to the public. And it changes the way we see things, the way we talk about things.”