Entertainment And News

Should Rich Celebrities Ask Fans To Support Crowdfunding Campaigns?

Photo: Andrea Rafkin and Sky Cinema via Shutterstock / Getty Images / zhz_akey via Canva
bella hadid, megan fox, kylie jenner and money

On August 6, 2023, Bella Hadid posted a story to her Instagram account that left fans divided over the nuanced issue of celebrities who crowdfund for their employees.

Hadid has been using her social media platform to open up about her ongoing chronic health issues, with one recent post describing “almost 15 years of invisible suffering” related to a 2013 diagnosis of Lyme disease. Hadid shared a link to a GoFundMe for Tracy Piper, who she described as “my sister, Angel, mentor.” 

Bella Hadid is the most recent celebrity to link to an employee’s GoFundMe campaign.

Hadid's post raised a debate on what the uber-wealthy owe those who work for them.

While the link to Piper’s campaign appears to be defunct, Piper initially shared information for her GoFundMe on her own Instagram account on August 2, 2023. The campaign, titled, “Revive: The Piper Retreat Center- Pond Eddy, NY,” sought to raise $200,000 to allow Piper to “own the house outright.”

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Hadid’s story features a photo of herself lying on a cot with her dog in her arms, as Piper stands above her, dressed in scrubs. In the caption, Hadid wrote, “She has helped me so much on my journey and I hope anyone who reads this finds her so she can do the same for you.”

Photo: bellahadid / Instagram 

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The next story in the series is a screenshot of Piper’s GoFundMe fundraiser. The introductory sentence states, “My name is Tracy Piper, owner of The Piper Retreat Center, a wellness refuge for Internal Fitness.”

“I am asking for assistance to complete the purchase of our upstate New York location to continue helping people with health challenges find alternative & holistic ways to improve their health,” Piper continued. “I expanded my business from Soho in NYC to an intimate retreat in Pond Eddy, New York, but have had a few major setbacks in continuing to finance this remarkable space, especially after a massive flood last year where monies spent to complete my mortgage were spent on massive repairs.”

Photo: bellahadid / Instagram 

“I am happy to say we are up and running better than ever, but am now struggling to acquire the property in full,” Piper stated.

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Another screenshot in Hadid’s story tags Piper’s Instagram account, @tracypiperhealth, proclaiming her “A true healer in every aspect of the word.” The photo features a description of The Piper Retreat Center, explaining, “It was created as a place where my clients could come, relax, and detox and experience remarkable changes in their health. The results for a single weekend stay and treatment are typically phenomenal— and there is nothing more rewarding than seeing someone’s health visibly improve within days before your eyes!”

Photo: bellahadid / Instagram

Piper uses her personal experience as a testimonial for The Piper Center, writing, “On the personal front, I’m happy to say that my own father is now cancer free after only 1 conventional treatment for the disease AND attending 5 of my retreats and adhering to the lifestyle changes I have coached him through.”

She then shares her call to action, stating, “Although I have made it to the end of the scheduled mortgage for the retreat center, I have exhausted my personal savings on my quest to help others while surviving through COVID like everyone else. And now, my endeavor is to raise monies for the last balloon payment of $154,000 due by the end of August 2023.”

Hadid’s final story stated, “I just donated… Anything helps! She deserves this more than anyone and this place is her sanctuary! I love you Trace!” At the time of posting, $15,300 had been raised through 3 donations toward the $200,000 goal.

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Photo: bellahadid / Instagram

The response to Hadid’s supposed act of generosity has been mixed. Several comments left by fans on Piper’s Instagram post relay gratitude and appreciation for Piper, thanking her for “helping Bella.” Yet others have expressed a myriad of doubts. Some question the veracity of the wellness treatments Piper and Hadid are touting.

Others raised a valid yet complex question.

Do wealthy celebrities who share crowdsourcing campaigns for their employees have a responsibility to cover those costs in full?  

As one person mentioned on the subreddit r/popculturechat, when celebrities share fundraisers, their level of fame inevitably increases the visibility of the cause or issue that’s being addressed, which could be seen as a positive ripple effect. Yet that person also noted the inherent dilemma that arises from celebrities sharing these types of fundraisers, explaining that the celebrities “could be covering the entire collect themselves.”

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A different person commented that celebrities sharing fundraisers was “kind of tacky and almost predatory.” 

Another recent example of the celebrity fundraising dilemma came when Megan Fox used her Instagram stories to post nail artist Brittney Boyce’s GoFundMe page. Boyce created the fundraiser to support her father’s medical expenses due to pancreatic cancer. Fox was called out for not using her own wealth to cover Boyce’s fundraiser. 

Fox posted a response to public outcry on her Instagram stories, writing, “Hey weirdos, do any of you have the emotional intelligence to consider that maybe [Boyce] doesn’t want her celebrity clients donating large sums of money to her because it creates a dynamic in her working relationships that makes her uncomfortable?”

Fox went on to explain that Boyce, herself, had asked her to share the GoFundMe, and “I just obliged her request… Anything she needs from me personally she will ask and [I] will do it privately.”

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It appears as though in that instance, the way in which Fox shared the GoFundMe allowed for Boyce to retain a certain level of agency over the fundraiser she started. Fox’s statement touched on the ingrained imbalance of power that exists between employer and employee, one that seems to deepen as levels of wealth and fame increase.

The debate surrounding celebrities and fundraising highlights a larger issue in society that urgently needs to be addressed.

 Too many people, including those who are gainfully employed, can’t meet their basic needs, like affording healthcare or housing. 

There’s an argument to be made on the immorality of having money and not using it to justify inequities or offer help to those who are struggling. There’s another side of the argument that claims people with money are under no obligation to share their wealth.

The extreme division of public opinion highlights just how inflammatory this topic is. Yet one truth remains clear. All people deserve to survive and flourish, no matter their income or social status. 

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers celebrity gossip, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.