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Sizzle or Fizzle? Celebrity Philanthropy Case Study: Development of a Case Study Typology for Philanthropy

Liza L. Taylor


Celebrity interest and engagement in philanthropy has grown steadily over time and is now prevalent. Celebrity involvement in philanthropy impacts the civic arena, nonprofits, the public, the recipients of philanthropy, and the celebrities themselves, both positively and negatively. This growing dynamic deserves the attention of philanthropic theorists, educators, practitioners, and donors, in its own right and as an avenue for understanding broader philanthropic principles and phenomena. Limited research and literature exist to assist educators in teaching this topic, and only one known academic class is offered. This gap can be bridged through well-developed case studies that provide instructors a useful lens through which to teach the dynamic practices and outcomes of celebrity philanthropy and that position this phenomenon within the broader philanthropic landscape. According to the Nonprofit Academic Centers Council, a formal model for case studies within the philanthropic field has yet to be developed. In this paper, I propose a case study typology for philanthropy. I considered several factors in a quest to develop a good case study typology. Herein, I consider the current context in which philanthropy and celebrity philanthropy operate, briefly review the development of the case method within other disciplines at a leading institution, consider currently used case study typologies, discuss the pedagogical value of the case method, and review necessary technical elements of an effectively written case. The typology I propose here is responsive to the diverse needs of the philanthropic field in general and of celebrity philanthropy specifically. Finally, I present a case study that follows this model. 

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celebrity philanthropy; philanthropic case studies; nonprofit case studies

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