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Do Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Other Celeb Tweets Really Help Causes?

Bieber

First Posted: 11/07/11 06:03 PM ET Updated: 11/07/11 06:03 PM ET

Think you need to throw @justinbieber or @kanyewest behind your fundraising campaign to make it a wild success? Think again.

A study released by consulting firm Zoetica Media and PayPal revealed that when it comes to new-age soliciting, the old rules still apply. While getting a big-name celebrity to tweet for a charity will draw some bright lights to the initiative, that’s not the key to bringing in the big dollars.

So, what does inspire donors to cut a check for a cause?

Exposing them to spokespeople who are engaged, committed and have personal stories to share, the study concluded.

"Fans can tell when celebrities are just going through the motions," the authors noted. "People are more deferential to advocates of a cause who have a clear stake…People feel guilty and disrespectful turning away from someone with clear self-interest in their position."

This concept proved case in point when Kevin Bacon launched Six Degrees, a charitable networking site that allows users to donate directly to their favorite causes and check out what charities other people, including celebrities, are supporting.

The "Footloose" star launched with a contest that offered matching grants to the six charities that raised the most money. Bacon recruited 60 well-known celebs, including Nicole Kidman and Ashley Judd, to kick off the philanthropic 10-week contest, but the top fundraisers turned out to be names that had never been featured on a marquee.

Ali Edwards, a mother who blogs about scrapbooking and her autistic son, reeled in 2,313 donors, giving $47,849 to Autism Speaks, according to the study. Edwards shared her mission with her readers and constantly posted updates on her blog. Kanye West, on the other hand, didn't offer potential donors insight into why he was raising money. He didn't generate a single donation.

"The best results do not come from the most well-known celebrities and bloggers," the study noted, "but the most engaged ones."

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Filed by Eleanor Goldberg  |