Before I get into the proper ranting, I should mention the things that do not annoy me. Namely, when a person with a public profile uses their platform to draw attention to an issue, or a cause. Most usually this happens because the celebrity has been touched by the problem in some way, and is thus able to speak about it meaningfully, creating empathy and increasing understanding. There are too many causes and issues in the world for anyone to keep up to date with, raising awareness is useful work.
I’ll cite as an example the steady supply of famous people willing to speak up for trees, and write articles for The Woodland Trust’s magazine.
Celebrity fundraisers on the other hand, aren’t always about awareness. They are at least as likely to focus on something we all knew about already. The fundraising may work out primarily as a PR move for the celeb who wishes to be seen as kind, helpful and all that, and who can generate a great deal of low cost publicity for themselves by latching on to some recent tragedy and raising money for it.
Which brings me to my second area of issue: People with a lot of money fundraising by helping people with considerably less money give some of it to those who have little or nothing. Why not just write a cheque? And of course some of the wealthy and famous of the world do simply get their wallets out rather than milking it for attention, but the truth is that poor people give more as a percentage of what they (we) have to begin with.
Now, it may be that fundraising is only part of what’s going on. I offer the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert and Ariana Grande’s recent benefit concert as examples of events where raising money was part of the mix, not the whole project. In both cases these were events about remembering the dead, Freddie Mercury’s tribute was about raising awareness of and de-stigmatising Aids, and in the second example, it was also a push back against what had happened. At which point, why not do some fundraising at the same time?
By contrast, doing a charity fundraising single in the wake of a disaster, can be seen as cashing in on the suffering of others to raise your own profile.
One of the great things about not having a television, is that fundraising marathons like Comic Relief and Children In Need now pass me by, but I’ve seen bits of them when younger. People with more wealth than I’ll see in my lifetime getting on the screen to encourage the audience to donate. It’s not a good thing. Surely it should fall to those who have most, to give most? Surely it should be people who have far more than they need who pick up the tab for helping those in crisis? Surely those who can easily afford it should be the ones to fund the needful things? I think we have to stop rewarding them for ‘helping’ us help each other.