Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Celantropists and the "Warm Glow"

A columnist writing for The Globe and Mail uses the occasion of Elizabeth Taylor's death to talk about Liz's deep involvement in raising money and awareness for HIV/AIDs research, about Madonna and other current celebrities who sometimes stumble in their charitable work, and about the reasons people give to charity. The article talks about a book called Philanthrocapitalism, by Matthew Bishop and Michael Green, that applauds celebrities who use their status to push for change and get others involved in charitable causes. Those authors coined the term "celantropists" to describe these celebrities. The article also mentions research conducted at Yale that that found that social recognition can motivate charitable giving and notes that earlier research suggested that "people gain utility from giving in three ways: as a material benefit (perhaps a tax break, or a free pen), as a burnished social reputation or as the generator of a 'warm glow.' This may be called 'impure altruism,' but a warm glow happens to look great on a red carpet, though all of us can wear it well."

The article concludes with the hope that celebrities will use their power for good, and maybe, over time, become as "deeply involved" as Liz Taylor was.  Here's to a warm glow for all of us.



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