Celebrities bring star power to nonprofit boards

By Laurie Bennett

May 17, 2008 at 11:52am

Nonprofits, no matter how serious their mission, understand that famous names attract money, connections and high attendance at organization events.

Many groups have convinced celebrities to do more than make an appearance at the annual fundraiser. They’ve given them seats on their boards

Organizations founded by Hollywood giants have a head start.

The Sundance Institute, begun by actor Robert Redford, has attracted the likes of Glenn Close and Sally Fields as trustees.

Not On Our Watch, a group works against the deaths in Darfur and human rights violations in Burma, counts George Clooney, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt as board members and co-founders.

Geography can also work in favor of organizations seeking celebrity directors. Don Cheadle also serves as a trustee of the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. Barbara Streisand is a trustee with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

On the opposite coast, the large board of the Wolf Trap Foundation outside Washington includes Marvin Hamlisch and the Smothers Brothers. Elizabeth Taylor is director emerita.

Taylor was also founding international chair of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, where Harry Belafonte and Natasha Richardson are trustees. Sharon Stone has served as global fundraising chair

Riverkeeper, which works to protect the Hudson River ecology, also boasts a stellar board. Directors include actress Lorraine Bracco, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and John McEnroe.

Another New York organization, the Robin Hood Foundation, has a blinding cast. The foundation, which fights poverty in New York City, has a board that includes Diane Sawyer, Tom Brokaw and Gwyneth Paltrow.

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  • #1.   Cathleen Bennett Dunn 05.18.2008

    Are you Pat Bennett’s daughter?

  • #2.   Laurie Bennett 05.19.2008

    Sorry, no.

  • #3.   luteragzfer 11.27.2008

    Mike Mossberg, I know you reading this forum, please contact me, because I can’t find your contact details.

  • #4.   inhahnuandNig 12.30.2008

    Hi, i’m new to the forum and saying hello everyone.

  • #5.   Aboldmoumma 02.03.2009


    I am new on this fantastic forum
    and just wanbt to introduce myself here.


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