Should Celebrities Accept A Fee For Endorsing Charities?

Made In Chelsea cast member Alexandra “Binky” Felstead recently got herself into a bit of controversy after it emerged that she was paid to promote a charity.

The reality TV star and beauty columnist uploaded a picture onto her Instagram account – which has over a million followers – endorsing children's charity Barnardos and asking her followers to follow its Instagram account @barnardosretail.

It was initially reported in the press (The Sun to be precise) that Binky was being paid £20,000 to promote the charity but then the star admitted that she was being paid £3,000, though she added that the fee would be given to another charity.

Binky's representative had now stated that she has decided to waive the fee altogether.

This brings up a contentious issue. Regardless of the amount, should celebrities accept a fee for endorsing a charity? And should charities pay a famous figure a fee to publicise a charity?

Many have expressed disgust at the situation, and most people have heavily criticized Binky for accepting (or nearly accepting it) in the first place.

I believe the fact that this fee was offered in the first place is absolutely disgraceful and rather dubious, and I believe that 'near-acceptance' of the fee is a massive insult to those who volunteer and undertake charity work in their spare time – for free. To pay a star money – money which could be put back into the charity – to send a Tweet or an Instagram – which only takes less than a couple of minutes – promoting charity is morally wrong and repulsive.

Plus, I think most (if not all) people who donate to Barnardos would like to think that the money is going to meaningful causes, not a celebrity. Understandably, some people working in senior positions in all charities receive pay of some sort – i.e. a salary – but that does not make it justifiable for a (relatively rich) celebrity to be paid a high fee for a few seconds work. A spokesperson for Barnardos states that before the controversy it had never paid a celebrity before to promote it, and it wanted to try it out to see how many followers Barnardos could gain. However a celebrity's popularity on television and social media is enough to help gain followers and they do not need to be paid for that, and now some people are choosing to boycott the charity in response to the furore.

This is not the first time a celebrity has landed in a spot of bother over charity fees.
Downton Abbey actress Elizabeth McGovern was paid £28,000 by World Vision to be its ambassador in Sierra Leone, but she wasn't aware that the charity is made of up Christian evangelicals (she isn't one) when she accepted the fee.
Terry Wogan has constantly received criticism over the years for accepting payment from the BBC for hosting Children In Need. He is reportedly paid thousands of pounds an hour to front the campaign, and he is the only host paid for Children In Need.

However, some celebrities get involved in charity without ever accepting or demanding a fee.
Stephen Fry tweets about good causes but he does this for free and he does not charge.
TV presenter Ruth Langsford recently stated on Loose Women that she only supports a couple of charities and “would never dream” of charging them, and she is even happy to pay her own expenses if she had been invited to a charity function. She states that she is happy to give her time and send out a Tweet with no fee.

Apparently is it rather common for charities to pay celebrities to advocate it, but I do wonder how genuine these celebrities are. Would they support the charities without the fee? Do they choose to get involve because of the fee? Do they choose to get involved for the sake of good PR? Or do they genuinely believe in the causes and issues that charities work and fight for/against? Do they get involved from the goodness of their heart? Sometimes I watch Made In Chelsea, yet I wasn't aware of Binky supporting Barnardos until I read about the controversy. Some even pointed out that she doesn't follow Barnardos on Instagram herself, but apparently she is a long-time supporter of Barnardos.

Most celebrities are in a position where they can give up their time for free, whereas most ordinary folk are not in such a privileged position and yet some still manage to find time to volunteer. Plus, unlike most ordinary people, most celebrities tend to be in a good position financially to go without a charity fee anyway. I think a lot of people – myself included – find the idea of celebrities in the public eye accepting fees to get involved with a charity very uncomfortable.

If I happened to be a celebrity – or a highly publicised figure – I'd be extremely reluctant to accept a charity fee. In fact, I would outright refuse it.

All in all, celebrities should not accept a fee to encourage others to support a charity.

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