The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sang New York, New York; Louis C.K riffed on rats doing it in the subway; and Bruce Springsteen auctioned off two guitars, a lasagna dinner and a motorcycle ride. That was just some of the goings-on at the 8th Annual Stand Up for Heroes charity show, which raised $6 million to help post-9/11 vets and their families.

In addition to the Boss’s “guitars n’ lasagna” package, this year’s Stand Up for Heroes featured some other new fundraising wrinkles.

One was Dine Out for Heroes, an initiative led by Peter and Penny Glazier of the Glazier Group of restaurants, in which more than 200 participating restaurants donated a dollar for every meal they served on the day of the show.

The other was the first-ever use of “Cause Flash,” a new digital platform that aggregates the social media accounts of celebrities to rally their followers to social action. During Stand Up for Heroes, Conan O’Brien, Sting, Billy Joel and other celebrities reached more than 50 million people.

Stand Up for Heroes is the primary fundraiser for the Bob Woodruff Foundation, whose mission is to provide support for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. ABC news correspondent Bob Woodruff created the foundation after his recovery from a traumatic brain injury caused by a roadside bomb while he was reporting from Iraq.

The Way I See It

  • Ever since the days of the Jerry Lewis telethon for muscular dystrophy, celebrities have been leveraging their name recognition to support causes they believe in. I see brands continuing to work with celebrities to leverage off celebrities popularity and credibility to garner brand exposure.
  • The Bob Woodruff Foundation is one of the most effective charitable organizations out there. It has a clear mission—supporting the needs of post 9/11 vets and their families—and an efficient organization. A full 87 cents of every dollar raised goes directly to programming, and the Foundation uses that money to support more than 90 different veterans’ organizations that have been carefully vetted and selected from more than 40,000.
  • I see charitable giving remaining an important focus for brands and organizations. In addition to events, I see mobile and online giving continuing to be an increasing part of the philanthropic landscape.

The Way the Industry Sees It

 

I sat down with Bob Jeffrey, Chairman and CEO of JWT Worldwide and a member of the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s Board of Directors to talk about fundraising.

 

Tell me about your involvement with the Woodruff Foundation. Why is it an organization you choose to be a part of, and by extension, JWT chooses to be a part of?

Bob and Lee Woodruff are great friends of mine but beyond my appreciation for them and what the Woodruff Foundation achieves, our founder, James Walter Thompson, was a Marine and JWT has partnered with the USMC for more than 65 years. Throughout our history we have aligned with and even served with some our nation’s heroes. I strongly believe that it’s about the warrior not the war and the Woodruff Foundation really allows us to show our gratitude to the warriors.

Tell me about this year’s Stand Up for Heroes? What goals did Woodruff set for it, and how did it go about meeting them?

The goal every year is to make a positive impact on the lives of post-9/11 injured service members, veterans and their families. With Stand Up For Heroes, the Woodruff Foundation hits the mark every time by bringing together entertainment icons and brand partnerships that really help to raise much-needed funds for injured heroes.

Bob Woodruff’s experience in Iraq gives him a very direct connection to the veterans his foundation is trying to help. There’s good brand alignment there, if you will. Are there other examples of celebrities whose charitable work is particularly effective—or whose personal charities are particularly credible—because the causes they espouse fit their personal brand?

When any celebrity lends their voice or image to a cause, it has a positive effect. A Rutgers study last year showed that celebrity endorsements lead to increases in charitable donations from the public. And when people see that these public figures have personal experiences with the cause they’re rallying around, it makes people connect with that person and that cause even more. Brand endorsements have the same effect. Macy’s is in its seventh year of the Believe campaign with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Macy’s is a family brand and a brand that is big on holidays. Their effort to spread holiday cheer to children with life-threatening medical conditions makes sense for the brand and I think that’s what makes it particularly effective.

What’s the coolest thing in your office?

Our photography collection. When I came on as CEO, I had a creative vision for J. Walter Thompson that was all about making pioneering creative work. We overhauled our New York headquarters to transform it from a place that looked like an insurance office into a modern, invigorated environment. The space demanded courageous international art to go with it. So we sold off the old collection of Modern Masters and replaced it with a collection of astounding photographs by the likes of Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Ai Weiwei Alex Prager, Sophie Calle, David LaChapelle, Robin Rhode and Sebastião Salgado. It is a permanent collection of world-class contemporary global photography that is evocative, challenging, and pioneering. Exhibiting these inspiring photographs on our walls stimulates discussion and promotes creativity. I walk by these photographs every day, and each time I do, I discover something new.