Daily Archives: January 22, 2010

The Greatest of These is Charity: On Star Power and Charity Work

Reprinted from The David Chronicles.

Among David Archuleta’s incredible qualities is his big ol’ heart and how quickly he is ready to use it to inspire and give back.  It was very clear, not only how David chose to inspire with song but also how he literally put his money where his mouth is in encouraging his fans to donate to charities.

Since his time in the limelight, David has done what he could to promote charity work – Invisible Children, Rising Star Outreach, the Lisa Lopes Foundation, etc. – and his Arch Angels have matched him in kind – from donating the most funds for Stand Up 2 Cancer to building the Angels for a Cause network.  David has given us so much, and we are so eager and willing to give because he urges us to.

That’s what is often called Star Power, and it’s a quality that many celebrities have adopted: Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, and the Star Power charity poster boy himself, Bono from U2.  I am impressed most by David’s efforts, of course, not just because I’m a hardcore David fan but because he’s perhaps the one with the least money out of these celebs, and he’s already mobilizing on behalf of the less fortunate to bring attention to their needs.  AI gave him a platform from which to launch himself, and already, charity work is at the core of what he wishes to do with his talents and career.

I think of David’s star power and charity work because we are in the midst of a terrible tragedy that unfolded in Haiti last week with a devastating earthquake.  Tonight, a telethon, spearheaded by Clooney and Wyclef Jean, airs on all the major networks at 8 pm EST to request donations for this disaster. I’m so pleased that David will be apart of the musical spectacle, as he already has faith that we will adhere to his tweet last week imploring us to “not be afraid and give what we can.”

I think of David and his sincerity because this past week, fellow music artist Wyclef came under scrutiny when his NGO, Yele Haiti, which managed to raise $2 million in donations, was accused of corruption and financial mismanagement.  Considering that Wyclef immediately requested aid through his foundation the day that the disaster struck and that he immediately flew down to the island to do what he could to help, I find it suspect that certain journalists and gossip mongers took the time to dig up dirt and sling mud at his efforts.  I do not doubt he has made mistakes, but I personally don’t see anything wrong if he was able to raise that many donations in such a short period of time (he accepted $5 text donations).  I pay more to see a movie for crying out loud; you only hope that those who are raising funds for a disaster will put the money to good use.

A high profile celebrity spearheading his own organization hardly seems scandalous to me, and knowing that he was helping to bury his fellow Haitians last week, I’d rather hear about these efforts than to hear him defend Yele Haiti, which was an active NGO long before the Haiti earthquake. Still, if a spotlight has shown suddenly on his organization, at least he now knows he has to be above board with his financial dealings.

I raise the specter of Wyclef’s Yele Haiti because it’s indicative of Star Power and its ability to mobilize so quickly even as it is also subject to public scrutiny.  What David is doing (and what others tend to do) makes the most sense: partnering up with existing charities and using one’s high profile status to bring attention to the work such organizations conduct and how our donations will be used to support such work.

I tend to have an ambivalent attitude towards charity organizations myself.  I do not hesitate to donate in the wake of disasters, but in the long term, my philosophy tends to be:

Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day.  Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat forever.  

The charity I cherish is the one in which what we give lasts a lifetime. I only pray that this terrible disaster is an immense opportunity for nation-building and a stronger Haiti.  To waste this opportunity with scandal, corruption, and failed humanity would be a sin and a crime. 

I’m all about education, and someone like David can teach us so much: about faith, hope, and above all these, charity.