Use celebrities even if their lifestyles don't fit, says Greenpeace's Kumi Naidoo

The organisation's international executive director tells the International Fundraising Congress that they bring awareness and move issues higher up the political agenda

Kumi Naidoo
Kumi Naidoo

Not-for-profit organisations should use celebrities in their campaigns even if their lifestyles appear at odds with the causes they are supporting, according to Kumi Naidoo, international executive director of Greenpeace.

Naidoo told delegates at the closing plenary of the International Fundraising Congress in the Netherlands on Friday that, despite their detractors, celebrities were useful to organisations because they brought awareness to important issues and helped to move them higher up the political agenda.

"Sometimes we have to make tactical decisions to move the agenda forward," he said.

He acknowledged that the lifestyles of celebrities often appeared to contradict the cause areas they supported: for example, those who support environmental groups such as Greenpeace might own lavish houses and multiple cars and travel frequently by air. But Naidoo said they were still helpful in terms of amplifying the voices of campaigners.

Naidoo said that the voluntary sector should be more audacious when it came to challenging governments and big business in the fight for social change.

"We need to recognise that what is at stake is too important for us to continue with the dithering and lack of political will by political and business leaders," he said. "We have to recognise that the biggest problem we have is not actually the repressive state apparatus but the ideological apparatus, the media environment, the education system and social norms and customs."

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