Internet sensation Mr. Beast has become the face of ‘stunt philanthropy’ by raising money for worthy causes —and a few ethical questions

Stunt philanthropy is what occurs when influencers, different celebrities and individuals who aren’t well-known in any respect use entertaining movies to encourage help for a charitable trigger.

When their stunts go viral, it may well result in huge public engagement that raises plenty of cash and attracts new consideration to beforehand much less seen causes.

Why stunt philanthropy issues

The largest early success with stunt philanthropy on-line was the ALS ice bucket problem.

Folks taking the problem uploaded quick movies during which somebody dropped a bucket of icy water on their head. They then posted these clips on their social media accounts, tagging others to do the identical and to donate to the ALS Affiliation. Contributors ranged from highschool college students to Invoice Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. Even Donald Trump took the problem, earlier than his presidency.

The marketing campaign raised an estimated US$115 million in 2014 for analysis tied to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – a deadly neurological situation for which there is no such thing as a remedy.

Extra just lately, stunt philanthropy has turn into related to a single infuencer: Jimmy Donaldson. By late 2022, when he was 24 years previous, the entrepreneur who calls himself “MrBeast” had extra followers on YouTube than anybody else, ever.

Donaldson calls himself “YouTube’s largest philanthropist.” He has gained greater than 150 million YouTube subscribers via his entertaining stunt movies, comparable to recreating a sport present model of the standard Korean Netflix sequence “Squid Recreation” and giving the winner $456,000.

He depends on company companions like Honey, TikTok and Quidd to drag off the stunts which have made him a celeb.

Donaldson’s stunt movies have helped him earn plenty of cash for himself via promoting and the sale of socks, water bottles and different merchandise. He has created his personal sweet firm, Feastables, which he celebrated with a stunt video that featured his personal duplicate of Willy Wonka’s chocolate manufacturing facility.

He now runs a world burger chain that companions with native eating places and reportedly made $54 million in 2021 alone.

Constructing on his method for creating viral content material, Donaldson additionally creates stunt movies that elevate consciousness and cash and amass wanted items for Ukrainian refugees, African orphans a big range of different causes.

Along with partnering with firms, Donaldson additionally groups up with nonprofits for his philanthropy-themed stunts.

Beast Philanthropy

In Could 2023, Donaldson labored with Listening to the Name to supply listening to aids to 1,000 folks throughout the U.S., Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, South Africa, Malwai and Indonesia and donated $100,000 to organizations that promote training in signal language. The video his staff made publicizing this marketing campaign showcased the delighted seems to be on lots of the faces of individuals getting the listening to aids.

Alongside posting these movies on his major YouTube channel, Donaldson has created a separate Beast Philanthropy channel. Among the many movies posted is one which celebrates giving provides to underfunded colleges, sponsored by Solar-Maid, a raisin producer, and one other that confirmed houses being rebuilt in Kentucky following twister devastation, sponsored by Nord VPN, a tech firm.

Some folks have questioned Donaldson’s motives for his eye-catching charitable acts, whereas others have raised moral issues about the best way he makes use of footage of individuals in want for on-line leisure.

It’s a lot simpler for public shows of charitable giving to go viral as we speak due to social media, however there are precedents from pre-internet days.

From 1966 to 2010, the entertainer Jerry Lewis raised hundreds of thousands of {dollars} for the Muscular Dystrophy Affiliation and unfold consciousness concerning the illness with assist from his well-known mates throughout annual 24-hour telethons.

And Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson convened a celeb supergroup to carry out the charity reduction track “We’re the World” in 1985 to boost cash for African famine reduction – following an instance set by British musicians a 12 months earlier.

It’s onerous to foretell what the longer term holds for stunt philanthropy, however it appears to me that it’s most likely right here to remain. That’s the reason I’ll proceed to maintain finding out how social media can affect charitable giving.

Monica Lea is a PhD pupil in public administration at College of Nebraska, Omaha

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