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Gender Differences In Celebrity Charity Causes, Visualized

Whether you call it sainthood or just good PR, celebrities love their pet charity causes. The Bonos and Angelinas and Stings of the world are as well-known for their philanthropic work as for their music and acting. But not all causes are created equal: as this Venn diagram by information design rock star David McCandless reveals, some types of charities attract more female celebrity support, while others attract more male support.


McCandless used data from Look to the Stars, which analyzes the world of celebrity giving, having catalogued 3,748 celebrities and the causes they back. The visualization reflects previous research about why people choose to donate to a particular cause: studies show that people tend to donate to recipients with whom they strongly empathize, and to causes that mean something to them personally. Motivations aren’t always purely altruistic: the infographic suggests that celebrities, too, tend to focus on issues that are more likely to affect them personally, or people like them. More female celebrities support charities focused on issues that disproportionately affect women, like rape and sexual abuse, abuse, and adoption (have any male celebrities adopted children with the enthusiasm of Mia Farrow or Angelina Jolie?). Men, too, donate more often to groups that tend to be male-dominated, like veterans’ organizations and sports organizations.

Then there are the apparently gender-neutral causes, which garner equal support from men and women. Most are causes that affect both genders equally, like the environment, health, cancer, and HIV.

The data doesn’t reveal whether the gender differences in celebrities’ cause choices mirror those in the general non-famous population, but it makes you question the factors that influence your decision to hop on a particular charity bandwagon.

The graphic is included in McCandless’s book, Knowledge is Beautiful, out now.

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