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Hated Celebrities and the Causes They Support

It turns out that not all press is good press, because the negative press associated with these celebrities overrides the positive impacts they’ve made.

Kanye West

Maybe it’s that people still can’t get past the whole Taylor Swift feud, that or they can’t get past his enormous ego. Either way, Kanye West remains one of America’s most hated celebrities. But while the rapper has certainly engaged in some eyebrow-raising antics, his good deeds largely remain unknown. Among them is Donda’s House, an arts and music program that he co-founded with his mother back in 2005. The organization benefits at-risk youth by providing them with access to recording studios, writing workshops, and open mics. Donda’s House was named after Kanye’s mother, Dr. Donda, who passed away in 2007.

Kim Kardashian

Birds of a feather flock together. Kim Kardashian, who married Kanye West in 2014, caught some flak in 2013 for auctioning off her clothes on eBay, with only 10 percent of the proceeds benefiting the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. But what people may not realize is that Kim has been donating to multiple charities long before this incident ever took place. Charities she’s donated to include the Alzheimer’s Association, American Foundation for AIDS Research, the Dream Foundation, and the Humane Society.

Justin Bieber

Beloved amongst tween girls, hated by the rest of the American population, Justin Bieber can’t seem to catch a break even when he donates to noble causes. The pop star has given generous amounts of money to the ALS Association, the Food Bank for New York City, PETA, the American Red Cross, and World Vision.

Miley Cyrus

Originally famous for being Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus has morphed into a twerking, culture-appropriating nightmare. But racist accusations aside, Miley Cyrus has supported a variety of different causes, including St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the YWCA, Feeding America, and Habitat for Humanity.

Simon Cowell

Known for his brutally honest commentary on American Idol and the X Factor, Simon Cowell is cited as being rude, callous, and arrogant. But beneath the rough exterior, Simon actually has a heart, and even donated £25,000 to help pay for a three-year-old’s life-saving cancer treatment. But Simon has come under fire for his charitable donations in the past. In 2014, Simon gave $150k to Israel’s Defense Force, an act that angered pro-Palestinian activists.

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Philanthropy: Available at a Store Near You

For a long time, causes and capitalism ran on parallel yet separate tracks: philanthropists and entrepreneurs alike worked endlessly in order to gain attention and support from the public. Companies sought profit while charities sought aid. Today more consumers are seeking products, services, and retailers that use their influence and their means to support a good cause. Some  People want companies that give back to the community, and retailers have eagerly met this demand. Some companies host short-term campaigns in order to raise awareness and funds for a cause while others have established long-term, committed associations with philanthropies that they believe in. The companies and campaigns highlighted below illustrate how when a capitalist and a philanthropist collide, a new wealth of opportunities arise.

Target, one of the largest discounters in the U.S., is proud of their long history of philanthropy. Target has been donating 5% of their income to local communities since 1946. Their focus on charity has expanded since, and last year they launched an agenda called “Here for Good” that hosts programs surrounding education, the environment, safety & preparedness, and well-being. These programs, coupled with their social services, crisis relief, and their military and veteran support, Target has received accolades for their corporate social responsibility.

A brand-new glasses retailer, Warby Parker, had combined their cause with their product before the first pair of spectacles sold. For every pair of glasses that the company sells, they provide funding and/or glasses to a non-profit organization VisionSpring that trains men and women to sell glasses in developing countries. This model creates jobs while also providing glasses to a few of the almost one billion people worldwide in need of glasses. So far Warby Parker has distributed over 150,000 pairs.

Warby Parker’s model follows in the footsteps of the capitalism-cum-charity giant, TOMS. TOMS began in 2006 as a socially-conscious shoewear company that donates a pair of shoes to a child in need. TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie’s motivation for the company is simple: “If I started a charity, I’d have to go raise money every time I wanted to give them shoes. But if I started a business and made a shoe where the consumer liked it for what it was, then the consumer will be my natural provider of the shoes every year.”

TOMSBy September of 2010 TOMS had donated over 1 million pairs of shoes, and their popularity had exploded. Since its founding, the company has also put on an annual event called One Day Without Shoes that raises awareness for their cause, and they have established campus programs for passionate, involved students. TOMS has been praised as one of the most innovative retail companies of this decade, and it has been the exemplar of the for-profit-as-non-profit movement of the last decade.

These companies have created an easy link between consumers and charity; consumers are able to feel socially conscious and philanthropic while they get to buy the products and services they want. Meanwhile non-profit organizations get access to reliable funding sources and widespread exposure to their cause. The relationship benefits both parties, and most importantly, it benefits the people who need it most.