Celebrities Volunteering and Giving Back – Madonna

Celebrities Volunteering and Giving Back – Madonna

“It has pretty much taken over my life, and I’m so grateful it has…I’ve started an organization called Raising Malawi…and any of your help would be greatly appreciated by me”

Considered to be one of the “25 most powerful women of the past century” by Time for being an influential figure in contemporary music, Madonna is known for continuously reinventing her image as well as her music. Because she is such an important public figure, some people would reduce Madonna’s philanthropic work merely as an ego trip. However, if you delve into her works more carefully, you’ll see that her attempts cannot be phony in any sense.

1. Warm Heart of Africa—Malawi

Malawi is a tiny landlocked nation situated between Zambia, Tanzanian and Mozambique in central sub-Saharan Africa. It is home to over 16 million people whose primary vocation is subsistence agriculture. After years of living under control of colonial rule, Malawi achieved independence from UK in 1964 and it now has a relatively stable government. However, Malawians sill confronts dire problems stemming from its poverty, disease and lack of critical resources. In 2006, Madonna and Michael Berg founded Raising Malawi, a non-profit organization supporting community-based organizations that provide vulnerable children and caregivers with nutritious food, proper clothing, secure shelter, formal education, and emotional care.

2. Academy for Malawian children

Madonna deemed education as a crucial factor in improving Malawi’s economy and a long term investment that can change Malawi’s future.  However, her plan to build schools for children didn’t go as smoothly as she imagined. The construction of the girls’ academy was delayed over a dispute between her charity and some 200 villagers who claimed they were not adequately compensated for land used to build the school. Madonna’s charity had to pay extra $500,000 in compensation. Again, in 2011, the plan almost collapsed after appending $3.8 million on a project. This was due to change in the board of directors. It’s executive director, Tracy Anderson, left in October amid criticism of his management style and cost overruns for school. “There’s a real education crisis in Malawi,” Madonna said, trying to save the project. However, she could not give a reason why she had not noticed the problems as they began unfolding. Thus she eventually abandoned her project to build Malawi Academy for Girls. However, Madonna persisted that “Our team is going to work hard to address this in every way we can”

Indeed, the fist Raising Malawi School was completed in Kabila on May 24, 2012. With the help of 1426 volunteer hours of work from the local community, the school will be up and running in Kabila with 142 students set to attend the school. Despite the quandary she confronted, Madonna completed a school for Malawian.

3. David Banda Mwale Ciccone Ritchie and Chifundo Mery James.

On October 10, 2006, Madonna filed adoption papers for a boy from the orphanage, David Banda Mawale Ciccone Ritchie. This adoption raised strong public opinion because she did not obey the Malawian law, which requires would-be parents to reside in Malawi for a year before adopting. In order to calm public fury, Madonna addressed this on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Despite what public believed, there were no written adoption laws in Malawi that regulated foreign adoption. Also, Banda needed an immediate treatment for his health. He had been suffering from pneumonia after surviving malaria and tuberculosis when she first met him.

On June 12, 2009, Madonna adopted another child called Chifundo Mery James. Her second attempt to adopt a child from Malawia was also obstructed by the Malawia government’s interference. But the Malawi’s High Court eventually approved her petition to adopt 4-year-old Mercy, despite the fact that she hadn’t fulfilled the country’s 18-month residency requirement. “Madonna has shown that she is bold and compassionate enough to come forward to adopt Chifundo James,” said Lovemore Munlo, the Malawia Chief Justice.


$255,000 for a dinner with Bill Clinton

$255,000 for a dinner with Bill Clinton

After several attempts of Obama’s government to lower the income tax deduction for charitable giving, non-profit organizations such as hospitals and educational institutes, which largely depend on generous gifts from affluent donors, are bracing themselves for the upcoming devastation. In difficult times like this, non-profit organizations have to get themselves lean and mean to find new ways to incentivize people to open their wallets. Since the government is eliminating an important motivation for wealthy philanthropists to donate a huge sum, non-profit organizations have to make up for it, hence initiating a challenging competition between these organizations.


One of the websites that successfully promoted its charity service is—an online auction house that offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences to raise money for noteworthy causes. Unlike other charity websites that let their users pick a cause of their interest and donate money accordingly, Charitybuzz holds auctions on a dinner with celebrities, concert tickets, makeovers, art works, internships and even extra roles of popular TV shows such as How I met your mother. Thus it not only attracts wealthy donors but also encourages people who previously weren’t interested in donation to be a part of charity work. Due to its interesting approach to social good, this website raised more than $25 million in 2011 alone and more and more non-profits are becoming its partners.

The most popular service out of all is the celebrity section. Debbie McLeod, an executive director of Grant Me the Wisdom Foundation—which aids women and girls in developing nations—has paid $255,000 to spend the day with Bill Clinton. Her bid was twice the amount to meet Oprah Winfrey. The money collected was donated to Clinton Global Initiative.

Here is a list of top 10 celebrities who were sold for highest price and the organizations where the money was donated to.

  1. Bill Clinton: $255,000 to Clinton Global Initiative
  2. Oprah Winfrey: $105,000 to RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights
  3. Elton John: $100,000 to Natural Resources Defense Council
  4. Rupert Murdoch: $85,000 to the Global Poverty Project
  5. Paul Simon: $75,000 to the children’s Health Fund
  6. Paul McCartney: $70,000 to GREEN Schools Initiative
  7. Green Ross: $70,000 to Peace Corps
  8. Karl Lagerfeld: $65,000 to Runway to Green
  9. Harrison Ford: $65,000 to Conservation International
  10. Howard Stern: $55,500 to Rosie’s Theater Kids

Critics’ response differed greatly on Charitybuzz’s success. Mike Colling, a managing director of marketing agency MC&C, applauded the idea by saying, “Any charity representing itself as competent in the execution of this service should be prepared to substantiate this.” He also added, “This will accelerate the trend for charities to benchmark Despite its effective strategy to promote donation, some people doubt its possible effect on other non-profit organizations that are partners of Charitybuzz. On the other hand, Richard Hill, a strategy director of marketing agency at Touch DDB, argued, “By raising the issue of one charity being more efficient than another, we’d risk making donors question the efficiency of charity spending more generally, which might put them off donating. It could also force charities to spend more on advertising in order to defend their positions, which many donors will see as a waste of money.” Adrian Sargeant, Professor of fundraising at Bristol Business School also agreed. “This is a bad idea, such advertising could backfire, and I suspect such cherry-picking may also prove unlawful.”

The debate on Charitybuzz’s tit-for-tat strategy is worth thinking about. If non-profit organizations are to compete for the donor’s money, is it fair that they come up with innovative but not completely altruistic ways to attract users?

What do you think? 

Celebrities Volunteering and Giving Back – Scarlett Johansson

Celebrities Volunteering and Giving Back – Scarlett Johansson

Maxim named Johansson No.6 in their Hot 100 Issue in 2006, No. 3 in 2007, No. 2 in 2008, No. 34 in 2009, No. 14 in 2010 and 2011, and No. 17 in 2012. Now that’s a record! Although she was ranked down than before, she did not miss a year to be on top 20 of this list for seven years in a row. And guess what? Not only is she one of the hottest women in the world, she is also one of the most active philanthropists. Don’t be deceived by her insanely gorgeous appearance. Despite the blinding glamour, she has much higher priorities in giving back to the world than investing in her looks and profile.

1. As an Oxfam Ambassador

Scarlett started to work as an ambassador for Oxfam in the 2004, motivated by the organization’s attempt during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and earthquake. Ever since, Scarlet Johansson has packed numerous fundraising, advocacy and promotional activities into her busy schedule. In 2007, she skipped the Oscar to go on a life-changing trip to India and Sri Lanka for an Oxfam project. She helped tsunami survivors in Sri Lanka who were rebuilding their lives after losing their families and livelihoods from the disaster. Oxfam was also taking projects such as reconstructing village irrigation schemes and schools for devastated communities. She also engaged in a few healthcare projects and domestic violence project to help Indian women. After spending a day with young girls at the Oxfam-funded schools in Uttar Pradeseh, she was motivated to enable over a thousand children from the lowest Dalit caste to gain a basic education by providing three years’ funding for the school.

In 2008, Scarlett joined other Oxfam ambassadors in ‘calling on heads of states at the Japanese G8’ to respond urgently to global poverty. Her role was to remind people that the world’s poorest people are the most vulnerable to increased food prices and the negative impacts of climate change. Later, she signed an open letter with global figures such as Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Sir David Attenborough to urge world leaders at the UN meeting in Poland to tackle climate change.

Scarlett Johansson also used her celebrity to promoting people’s interest in humanitarian affairs. She appeal to US consumers on behalf of Oxfam Unwrapped drove over $100,000 in gifts for Mothers day 2009 and generated worldwide media coverage for the gift catalogue’s Christmas promotion. She also contributed to on-line auction with eBay by donating opportunities to attend a premieres of her films ‘He’s just not that into you’ and ‘Iron Man 2’. For Oxfam’s project to help Haiti recover after the earthquake, she recorded a public service announcement urging people to give and donated tickets to the opening night of her play “A Vie from the Bridge” to a fund-raising auction.

2. Fighting for food justice

In 2011, Scarlett joined Oxfam’s GROW campaign.

“Sharing food is one of life’s pleasures. On a global scale, we don’t share fairly. Close to a billion people go to bed hungry every night. The fact is: the global food system is a broken one. All of us, from Kentucky to Kenya, deserve enough to eat”

In September of the same year, she joined a trip to Kenya to visit places that was hit by the devastating drought that put more than 13 million people at risk. She visited Dadaab, the biggest refugee camp in the world. Thousands of Somali refugee flew to Dadaab to escaped drought and famine.

“This is a long-term and escalating crisis exacerbated by political conflict, famine and drought that can no longer be ignored,” she said. “Over half of Somalis that have died are children; an entire generation lost. This is no longer an issue that can only garner some attention, some of the time. Extreme action must be taken by the global community now.”

Her global popularity has helped Oxfam raise awareness around the world about issues that create poverty and world leaders’ responsibility to act. She provided the phenomenal boost to Oxfam’s work with people starving around the world.

3. As an (RED) Embassador

Johansson visited Rwanda in September 2008, to increase the awareness of AIDS sufferers in African nations. She spent four days with charity workers at (RED) to attend AIDS clinics.

“When I admitted that I had taken two HIV tests, everyone was completely horrified, the implication being that I was leading this wild lifestyle,” said Scarlett Johansson, whose decision to join Bono in the (RED) initiative was a no-brainer. “I was only being responsible”

“It was important for me to come here and see the issues we’re up against firsthand,” she said.

“I came here with an open mind, wanting to listen, understood and learn; I leave with the overwhelming understanding that the small action of making a (RED) choice in your purchases has an enormous impact on the lives of people in countries like Rewanda.”

When you purchase (RED) items—from partners including Apple, Armani, Converse, Dell, Gap, Hallmark, Starbucks, and Microsoft—in stores and via, up to 50 percent of profits go directly to fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa.

“If that can be achieved by buying a couple of pairs of Convers,” Johansson says.

“It’s worth a shot, don’t you think?”

Scarlett finds charity work very rewarding, she told USA Today: “It was nice to feel part of the community. Certainly your vanity is the last thing on your mind when you’re traveling in a place like this.”

Not only is she the motivation for girls on diet, she’s also a role model for everyone.

Celebrities Volunteering and Giving Back – Johnny Depp

Celebrities Volunteering and Giving Back – Johnny Depp

Once again, Tim Burton has successfully exploited Johnny Depp for his recent film, Dark Shadows—a horror comedy-drama based on 1960s gothic horror opera. Of course, as a fan who is constantly thanking god for Johnny Depp’s existence, I rushed to the theatre on its release date. Despite the typical withered and pallid look of vampire that Tim Burton likes to put on him, Johnny Depp looked like the most beautiful and glorious corpse on this earth. I could not help but run wild with my imagination. How wonderful this world must be to be wedded to Johnny Depp? Oh how lucky Lori Allison is! Is it just me that thinks he is possibly the most beautiful human being in this world? You may think I’m judging a book by its cover. Well, yes I am and I’ll tell you why.

1. Jack Sparrow and his surprise visit to children.

When Depp’s 8-year-old daughter, Lily-Rose was hospitalized, Depp and Vanessa Paradis put their lives to hold. They had to bring production of his movie Sweeney Todd to a standstill. Lily’s E.coli poisoning led to the failure of her kidneys. “To say it was the darkest moment, that’s nothing,” Johnny Depp spoke to a reporter from Entertainment Weekly, “It doesn’t come close to describing it. Words are so small.” When his daughter finally recovered, Depp decided to devote his time and money to do good works for children’s hospital.

The Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Lily had her surgery, specializes in the most life threatening conditions, regularly treating 150,000 patients a year. Unfortunately, it is not receiving enough funding from the government and the children at the hospital would rely on public donations for their on-going treatment. Depp donated a pledge of $1.96 million for the redevelopment of two-thirds of the hospital site. Following his donation, he visited the hospital himself and spent a day in a Pirates of the Caribbean’s Captain Jack Sparrow’s costume to read bedtime stories to the young patients. For a father who understands the hardship that a family goes through for a child’s suffering, Depp understood the importance of supporting the young patients both financially and emotionally. Even after his donation, he would drop in unannounced, always dressed as a pirate.

2. Johnny Depp’s gift for children in need of support

In 2005, Barry and Sarah Westwood’s son, Mark—a huge fan of Johnny Depp, was diagnosed with a tumor. He underwent three operations to remove the malignant growth, which were futile. He mostly spent his time in the Alder Hey Hospital, the biggest and the busiest children’s hospital in Europe. Spending all day at the hospital to take care of their son, Mark’s parents befriended a couple was also had a son with cancer. After watching a movie Pirates of the Caribbean, which Mark was fanatical about, Barry and Sarah discovered that their new friends were acquaintance of Johnny Depp. A few days later, Mark received a personal video message from Johnny Depp. Delighted by an unexpected surprise, Mark had one of best moments of his life. On January 2007, Mark passed away. After his death, Barry added “Mark did so many special things during his life and we have a lot of people to thank.” By sending a cheerful message to one who really needed it, Johnny Depp bettered Mark’s life.

Johnny Depp is also an active member of ‘sophies gift’, which helps the children in coma by using celebrity’s personal video to patients. Andrew Wilkinson, the father of a child in coma, initiated this project and started recording as many different voices as possible to make sure that coma patients will improve. “When someone is in a coma, it’s important to find that key to unlocking them out of the coma,” said Alison Wilkinson. “It could be a smell, a sound, or a voice. In Sophie’s case, we knew she was a huge fan of Johnny so we thought that if she heard his voice it may wake her. We realized what a great idea it would be to have a bank of celebrity voices reading out specific commands that the doctors have issued.” The couple showed their appreciation for Johnny Depp. “We were over the moon when Johnny Depp agreed to record a tape, and now more stars are signing up, it’s fantastic. Now that Sophie is showing signs of responding to certain voices it’s the critical time to get her listening to as many different voices as possible” Johnny Depp supporting this couple until the initiation of a project, in which several of the top celebrities are now members of.

3. Johnny Depp’s Angels

While Johnny Depp engages in volunteer activities to better the children, his angels are also working hard. Johnny’s Angels—a charity organization, which is conducted by a small group of dedicated women to raise funds and awareness for children’s hospice, regularly hold fund raising events and participates in various activities. (

The organization seeks to best benefit Johnny Depp and it has been successful with their sales of fan items, fund raising and other various events. Their most recent fundraising was right after the release of Dark Shadow, where they raised $4400. Johnny Depp himself is also aware of the good works of this organization and has written them several letter and made a donation to CHPCC in its name.

Corporate Citizenship: A Means to an End

In response to our post about corporate philanthropy and consumer confidence, we had a reader voice their opinions about corporate philanthropy and if it is actually doing our society any good, or just covering companies overhead costs for their foundations or initiatives. To paraphrase what our reader voiced, was the fact that often times the cause marketing and advertising of the corporate philanthropy that we as consumers see in the media today can be very misleading. His main concern was that we are not holding corporations accountable for how their philanthropic money is being used, and that much of it is going to overhead costs of corporate owned foundations, rather than directly towards the causes that they support. Our reader has a strong point and brings up a big issue in terms of how do we hold corporations accountable for the charitable actions that they are giving to the community, and if it is really solving the issues that the corporations are toting.

In trying to learn more about this issue I came across an article by Mara Einstein, author of Compassion Inc.: How Corporate America Blurs the Line Between What We Buy, Who We Are and Those We HelpOne of the main things that she pointed out was that it is no longer good enough to just attach a “charitable cause to all of our purchases”. What she means by this, is that although there is some merit in donating based on the purchases that a corporation receives for a particular product, it is not generally a sustainable way to do business or to maintain substantial help for the charity that they are donating to. Not only that but with the community as a whole, this is not solving a problem, it is merely putting a band-aid on it and hoping it stays for the long haul.

What these campaigns are lacking, is a few things. The first is that it leaves it up to the corporation to decide what charity or cause it is going to donate to. The issue with this, as described above, is the fact that the general consumer does not where these funds are going and how they are being used. Another problem with this is that it is not always the case that the corporation is picking the charity or cause that is most popular with their consumers. Leaving their needs unresolved. Another issue with this type of social marketing is in the way the product is produced and the level that which the corporation is pressured to improve upon their product or service to make it more sustainable. It is true that the corporation may see an increase in sales due to putting a donation behind their product, but it does not actually solve the causes that it says to be fighting for. What it is actually doing, is throwing money on a fire and hoping that it blankets it enough to stop the fire all together. The issue with this, is that these causes and those that work for the causes aren’t always the most efficient with this money, nor does the money go directly towards preventing the issue. Instead it is used to mask the problem.

There is a better way to do this. As Mara points out in her article management of these companies do not have enough incentive to actually prevent these social scars. Instead they are often incentivized to make the company as profitable as possibly to reach their bonuses. Mara declares that they should also be held to qualitative measures of performance, but quantify them so that it is directly measurable, such as how many people’s lives were directly benefited due to the donations, or how many less outbreaks of malaria there were compared to the previous year, that was directly related to their giving. If they do not meet these goals, they should not be able to receive bonuses. This is a way of finding a means to an end, not just consistent cover up of a problem.

Management also needs to realize that this does not just come from them, but all of their associates as well. Any person can have a great idea that optimizes a particular product or service and makes it better for our communities. CEO’s and presidents need to understand that one of the greatest resources they have in their company is the minds of those that they employ. Not only that but creating programs or incentives for your associates to volunteer and donate their time in an effective manner can go a long way. As I described in earlier articles, time and personal contact can mean the difference between a succeeding non-profit, and a struggling one. However, these companies need to assure that their foundations and employees are in fact doing what suits them best. The Home Depot Foundation should not be volunteering to help do micro financing, nor should Quick Books be trying to build houses or structures. 

Corporations and those that run them need to realize that although money can help particular initiatives, other aspects can go a long way. Examples of this would be donating actual products to a non-profit, like Lowes giving tangible resources like sand bags to aid in disaster relief after a hurricane, or a playground company donating equipment to be built at a near by park in a struggling neighborhood, or HR Block giving their time to help a struggling non-profit complete their taxes, or Target donating school supplies to underprivileged children to help their education.  Money is not always transparent, but the time and resources that we give is, which is good for not only the causes that are receiving these products, but for the companies PR, as consumers are able to see what exactly the money that they purchase with is going to. Unfortunately, as it stands now, tangible supplies like that, are what the top Fortune 500 companies give the least of, which isn’t much when they are only donating .11% of their revenue to such causes each year. At this time what we really need is a whole host, of many strong willed, and devout corporate citizens to make a change in our society.

We at FuzeUs hope to solve that with our website and applications, but will need the help of others to make sure that we are holding true to our word and properly serving the community that we set out to benefit.

How to get into your dream school by doing volunteer work

“Please list your principal extracurricular, volunteer, and work activities in their order of importance to you.” 

On top of the extracurricular section, common application requires you to come up with something worth a while that you did outside of class. Thankfully, college is not only for people with 4.0 GPA and high SAT scores. This section is the potential jackpot that you can hit to get yourself into your dream schools. So now that you have decided to showcase your talent and prove that you stand out from all the other applicants, where do you start?

1. Why volunteer?

The most common activity that high school students engage in is volunteering. However, since all private high schools and most public high schools require their students to fulfill designated volunteer hours, students often take this opportunity for granted. The fact that everyone else is doing the same thing deters students from delving into this opportunity when it can be the hidden jackpot. Here, I’m not talking about occasional office work at the non-profit organization near your house. (Of course, I’m sure your work will help office people in need) But why not utilize your time and chance to make bigger changes? Since most students don’t take volunteer work seriously, this is the chance for you to differentiate yourself. Inspire yourself and you will impress the college admission officers.

2. What kind of volunteering? And where do I start?

So then your question is, “How impressive does it have to be?” I cannot give you an explicit answer to this because it all depends on your personal interest and ability. In the end, your work will reflect your passion. The more time and energy you devote, the more impressive it will look on your application.

First, find yourself an area that interests you the most. Don’t be frustrated if you are already lost. Attempting to find an area of your interest itself will broaden your view. Get off facebook and refrain yourself from playing those video games. Read some news and follow interesting bloggers. You can even visit, or any other popular websites if it helps.

Here are some interesting sites that I recommend.

Next, look for resources that will provide the chance to engage yourself in areas of your interest. Spend some more time playing with google. There are plenty of non-profits in need of people. Some of them may require specific skills or experience but most of them will welcome you wholeheartedly. Start contacting people and ask for directions.

Here is a list of some websites that will help you.

Finally, fully engage yourself and be persistent. If you managed to work for UNV (United Nations Volunteers) go ahead, if you want to exterminate breast cancer from this earth, run a marathon and join the fund raising. Don’t worry too much about its scale. Whatever you do, consistency and longevity are what matter. Believe in the change that you can make, whether it is small or big. If you believe in it, others will too. (And so will the admission officers)

3. How do I best show this on my application?

  On the common application form, you are only allowed to write a brief description of your work and hours spent per week. “That’s it?!” might be your first reaction. Before you fret, look back and think to yourself of all the changes you’ve made and how much you have grown. If that doesn’t satisfy you, grab a pen and start writing. Every college requires applicants to submit at least one essay. While other students will suffer hours staring at an empty white paper, you will be choosing the best moments you have had over the years.

Unfortunately, it may be true that admissions boards read tons of essays with similar themes. As I said before, volunteering is the most common extracurricular activity. However, do not discourage yourself from writing about your great experience. Admission officers are tired of reading boring and tedious essays but they are delighted to read inspiring and sincere ones. When it comes to college essays, topics do not matter as long as the writing is good.

If you want to get a sense of what good writing reads like, refer to the list of books that I have listed below.

  • On writing college application essay by Harry Bauld
  • 100 Successful College Application Essays by Harvard Independent
  • 50 Successful Harvard Application Essays by Harvard Crimson
  • How to Write Better Essays by by Brian Greetham

4. Extra tips

* On your application, 100 hours of service over four years in the same area will generally look better than 200 hours of service in the end of your senior year.

* Build a consistent pattern and then expand it. If you are visiting an orphanage for 2 hours every week, don’t be complacent. Always search for extra opportunities to help them. This is what will look special on your application. Maybe you can form a tutoring group with some friends in school and teach children at orphanage for free. Or you can host charity events to better the orphanage.

*If you already have a certain subject that you want to major in college, focus on that area. (Too obvious? Maybe, but taking some time to come up with a theme that is consistent with your volunteer activities and other extracurricular list is essential)

*Volunteer activity not only helps your college application. More importantly, it is rewarding and you will grow so much along the way. Remember that you are giving back to your local community. Continue your good work in college too. (Volunteer work looks good on your resume too!)

Does Corporate Philanthropy Instill Consumer Loyalty?

Can corporate philanthropy in the form of social responsibility instill consumer loyalty among customers? states that according to the Cone Corporate Citizenship Study, “eight in every ten Americans agree that corporate support of a cause wins their trust.” In fact, to take it a step further, 86% of interviewees said that if the quality and price of a given product are equal, they would switch brands to help support a cause. Even with these interesting statistics, it is still hard for corporate philanthropy to instill consumer loyalty. Consumers’ lack of awareness about a given company’s philanthropic ventures serves as a limiting factor in translating philanthropy into loyalty. Second, sometimes corporate philanthropy can be seen in a negative light, especially if it appears to consumers to be a play for PR (public relations), versus a genuine philanthropic system based on socially responsible principles. The question is how do you tell them apart?

 What do you think? For you, does corporate philanthropy and responsibility instill consumer loyalty among valued customers such as yourselves? Which corporations do you feel best exemplify corporate philanthropy?