Influencer Simonetta Lein, founder of the charity Wishwall Foundation
Influencer Marketing,  Instagram

When It Comes to Charitable Causes, Influencers Increasingly Lead

Influencers are aligning their values with causes and helping charities reach larger audiences.

Cover photo: Simonetta Lein, top model & Instagram influencer. Photo by Byron Purnell.

In the ever more crowded and competitive and waters of the sea of influencers that are flooding instagram a new breed of influencer is emerging that stands out from the crowd.  These influencers take the responsibility of their elevated position in the community seriously and they are using their influence to promote meaningful change.

In the past 5 years, we have seen a boom of individuals that have used social media networks to successfully create dedicated communities around niche topics from travel to beauty and health. It didn’t take long for brands to recognise the power of these individuals to affect consumers’ buying decisions and influencer marketing quickly transformed into an industry estimated to hit the $2.38 billion mark in 2019.

Brands have been flooding into influencer’s DMs by storm offering incentives for product placement within posts and stories, with marketers reportedly willing to pay up to £75,000 for a single post mentioning their brand by influencers with over one million followers. Even ‘micro-influencers’ – those with under 10,000 followers – can bag an average of £1,500 for a single post.

The popularity of influencers has been steadily growing but recent events have cast doubt for brands and communities alike. Noteable catastrophes including Fyre Festival – which made headlines because of influencers that had been paid to promote a festival that dramatically failed to deliver on its publicised image – have soiled the reputation of influencers worldwide.

Recent press has fed a common narrative that influencers are little more than selfie-taking narcissists.

Furthermore, brands have begun to question the effectiveness of working with influencers. For individuals that have worked with many brands, there is a fear that they are losing their authenticity. This creates an opportunity for those who are able to create more meaningful communities, and the authenticity that many brands are looking for.

Altruistic Influencers

Content creators, with a desire for something more meaningful, are steering away from sharing only self-promotional content and speaking up about their values. Many are using their influence to promote charitable causes, marking a definite shift in the direction of the influencer industry.

Social Media influencer Simonetta Lein, founder of the Wishwall Foundation
Social Media influencer Simonetta Lein, founder of the Wishwall Foundation

“I believe there is an urge to use our platforms to inspire and show concrete actions. Being an influencer is a strong word and it has to be done consciously. I want to show through my own actions that it is possible to bring awareness about topics that are afflicting so many, and also do something to change people’s lives.” says Simonetta Lein, an Instagram fashion & lifestyle influencer with over 1.7M followers who founded The Wishwall Foundation, a charity that addresses social causes like literacy, poverty, women’s safety and to help make wishes come true.

Social Media influencer Sol supporting the charity Help Refugees
Social Media influencer Sol (@themomentbehind) supporting the charity Help Refugees

Influencers representing all niches on Instagram are aligning themselves with charitable causes and signalling what virtues they align with. Engagement with fans from their communities that share the same virtues are skyrocketing and charitable causes are benefitting from the well-needed exposure. “I can’t fix humanity but I can do THIS little thing, and this part can have an impact on someone’s life. So I decided to share on Instagram my experience of volunteering with refugees in Calais to inform others, to show them that it’s not something they should be detached from, something that is far away or that happens to ‘others’” comments Sol from The Moment Behind, a travel influencer who has decided to use her passion for travel and photography to showcase the truth behind the refugee situation and support the Help Refugees, a UK-based non-governmental organization which provides humanitarian aid to, and advocacy for, refugees around the world.  

Charities are beginning to notice. Recognising that their messages and imagery need to involve people in order to be compelling and create engagement, many charities are working with influencers that have publicly aligned themselves with a shared value.

According to a report in 2017, 35% of those who follow an influencer online reported to have engaged with a cause because of an influencer’s recommendation. Of these, 51% said they made a donation to the cause which the influencer recommended, and an additional 37% claim they even went on to volunteer for the specific organisation that the influencer had promoted.

“This is an exciting time for charities and influencers alike,” notes Justin Byard, CEO and founder of Fanrush, a Barcelona-startup that is building tools to better connect influencers with their fans. “We’re seeing more and more influencers align themselves with values and building meaningful communities around these values, that are helping to raise awareness for a multitude of charitable causes. At Fanrush, we believe this new type of influencer is the future for charities and non-profit organisations – and the end of the selfie-taking stereotype that has plagued thought leaders on social media for some time.”

Spearheading Change

Pioneering the new class of altruistic influencer are thought leaders on Instagram that are spreading the word on specific issues and raising awareness for philanthropic causes around the world. “My background is in fundraising (I’ve helped raise money for non-profit organizations and charities) and felt like I wanted to do more on the front lines. I’ve always enjoyed travelling and helping others so I decided to marry the two passions (travel + Philanthropy) thus Travelanthropy was born!”, says Anna Kim, another travel influencer.

In times like these, when social change is needed but charities struggle to engage, influencers are helping to raise millions of dollars from communities all around the world. The new wave of altruistic influencers is encouraging more aspiring thought leaders to put down the selfie stick and create meaningful ways of inspiring positive changes.

If you are interested in learning more about these altruistic influencers here is a list of a few that have already helped different charities around the world:

PewDiePieWorld Wildlife Fund

Zoë SuggMind

Tyler OakleyThe Trevor Project

Joe SuggComic Relief

Annie MarieLumos

Tyler Blevins –  The Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund

Collins Key Make-A-Wish America

Michelle ElmanBe Real Campaign

Gina SusannaThe Body Positive

Aija MayrockDoSomething

Eva GutowskiPeta

Adam RipponGLAAD

Remy CruzThe JED Foundation

Lilly SinghWE Charity

SaffiAFSP – American Foundation for Suicide Prevention


Manny GutierrezHuman Rights Campaign

Judy TravisSave The Children

AmaniThe Global Goals

Chessie KingThe Cybersmile Foundation

Tanya BurrOne

Fanrush is a Barcelona-based startup, founded in 2018 and dedicated to building tools to better connect influencers with their fans. Our mission is to empower content creators to become better role models, leaders and entrepreneurs within their communities.

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