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Bieber power: Hollywood stars align for giving pledge

Richard Gere, Kim Kardashian, Denzel Washington and Justin Bieber are among dozens of celebrities who have signed the Hollywood Pledge to boost support for charities.
Image: Canadian pop star Bieber fist bumps with a girl from northeastern Japan
Canadian pop star Justin Bieber fist-bumps with a girl from northeastern Japan, the area devestated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, at an event at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Tokyo on May 18. The teen singer is among dozens of celebrities signing on to the Hollywood Pledge.Yuriko Nakao / Reuters
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A drive is under way to enlist some of the biggest names in Hollywood to demonstrate their support for charitable causes.

Richard Gere, Kim Kardashian, Denzel Washington and Justin Bieber are among dozens of celebrities who have signed the Hollywood Pledge, a public commitment to boost support for charities dearest to their hearts.

The Hollywood Pledge was inspired by The Giving Pledge, an effort spearheaded by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to enlist America’s billionaires to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

Unlike The Giving Pledge, the Hollywood version doesn’t ask celebrities to fork over a portion of their wealth. Instead, the idea is to use their star status to bring awareness to philanthropic causes and get their legion of fans to volunteer or donate.

“There’s a big difference between celebrities and the billionaires who are part of the Giving Pledge. Most celebrities are not billionaires; in fact, most may not even be millionaires,” Todd Michael Krim, the brainchild behind the Hollywood Pledge, told on Friday in a telephone interview.

“A celebrity’s capital is in form of their social capital, not cash. If Justin Bieber were to tweet something to 120 million people, that may be even more effective than a $100,000 donation in some ways,” Krim said.

“Most billionaires don’t have the name recognition or star power that celebrities do.”

The Hollywood Pledge website features pictures of celebrities who have signed on and the names of the favorite nonprofits they champion. Bieber’s favorite charities, for example, are Pencils of Promise, which builds schools in developing countries, and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which raises money for children’s medical centers.

Krim, a former health care attorney who has long been active in the celebrity-philanthropy field, says the website doesn’t directly accept donations. Instead, the goal is to steer fans to charities’ websites, where it's hoped they'll become involved or donate.

The Hollywood Pledge site launched on Wednesday. About 40 to 50 celebrities have signed up so far, Krim says.

Other notable names taking the pledge include “Dancing With the Stars” judge Carrie Ann Inaba, NBA star Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, X-Men actor Hugh Jackman, singer-songwriter Jewel and “The Matrix” actor Laurence Fishburne.

“You see the names, we have some of biggest names in Hollywood. They don’t just lend their names to anything. These are serious philanthropists,” Krim said.

He said he doesn’t track how much money is raised through the site but hopes to find a way to do so.

The ABC Television Network, The Hollywood Reporter and the Screen Actors Guild Foundation are official partners of the Hollywood Pledge.