Nearly three-quarters of Britons have said they are less likely to donate money to a charity if it pays celebrities for their support, according to a new survey.
A poll carried out for Channel 4’s Dispatches – which discovered that famous faces would take tens of thousands of pounds to show public support for a charity invented by undercover reporters – found that seven in 10 (71%) UK adults would be put off giving money to an organisation if it paid stars to back it.
More than four in five (84%) of adults who took part in the survey said celebrities should not receive payment from a charity when fronting a campaign or appearing as an ambassador.
Three-quarters (74%) said they would think less of a celebrity if they knew they had been paid by a charity.
The survey of 2,123 UK adults found that nine in 10 (92%) had donated to charity at some point in their lives, with just over two-thirds (68%) having donated within the last three months.
Dispatches found that US reality star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner and football manager Harry Redknapp both accepted large fees to back a dummy charity, called Cleaning Up Plastic Pollution in Africa (Cuppa).
Celebrity booking agents told the programme that Redknapp would be willing to back the charity but it would cost £15,000 for him to do one post on Instagram and an extra £5,000 for a photoshoot.
Dispatches signed a contract, paid the agency £20,000 and secretly filmed the photoshoot.
One week later, a photograph of Redknapp wearing a Cuppa T-shirt and cap and holding a themed cup was posted on his Instagram page, along with a caption announcing his support.
He did not disclose that he was paid for the post.
A lawyer for Redknapp said: “Mr Redknapp is a prolific supporter of charity and has raised considerable sums over the years.
“He receives no fees for such support and would never knowingly charge for the regular charity work he undertakes … His support is of enormous financial benefit to these charities.
“In this case he only agreed to payment after being informed that the charity was supported by private investors… He was paid less than the sum quoted by MN2S (the talent agency).”
The programme also paid talent agency MN2S more than £19,500 for Jenner to take part in a photoshoot and share an Instagram post.
In a video filmed on a phone, Jenner speaks in the post about why she is backing the charity.
She also posted a photograph of herself wearing a Cuppa T-shirt and holding a Cuppa cup on her Instagram the next day, but did not make clear she was paid.
A lawyer for Jenner said: “It is well known to the public that sometimes celebrities are paid fees for doing promotional work for charities.
“The benefit is mutual … Apart from this instance, she has never been paid for her charitable work, and always intended to donate the money raised via the photoshoot and Instagram post to charities she supports … She feels that she has been targeted in the programme because of her status as a well-known TV personality and that she has been exploited to increase viewing figures.”
A representative for MN2S said many of the stars who work with the agency “undertake charity work for free”, and that they are “regularly approached to undertake one-off fundraising work – as was the case with your fake charity Cuppa”.
“In those instances, we may agree a fee that covers not just the individual but the work of the team that make it possible.”
They added it is “widely known within the charity sector” and that “the fee is often heavily discounted from the commercial rate, as was the case with the celebrities we work with and Cuppa”.
– Celebs For Sale: The Great Charity Scandal is on Dispatches on Channel 4 at 8pm on Monday.