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America: Celebrities Can Make a Real-World Difference, But Few Do (Chart)

Leon Neal/AFP/Getty

Is it self-serving or honorable for celebrities to lend their faces to the cause du jour? According to a new poll from Harris Interactive, more than half of American adults believe the latter. Of those surveyed, 53 percent said celebrities can have a positive impact on the philanthropic causes they support—up from 45 percent in 2008. Democrats and 18- to 36-year olds are especially confident in celebrities’ difference-making abilities, while Republicans, independents, and Baby Boomers are the most skeptical.

The poll did not ask respondents whether they believe celebrities’ philanthropic efforts have a positive impact on their public images.

Unsurprisingly, Angelina Jolie—former goodwill ambassador for the United Nations, current special envoy to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and mother of (at last count) three internationally adopted children—was the most popular pick as a “very effective” celebrity-turned-advocate. Other common responses included Sean Penn (Haitian relief), Matt Damon (fracking), Michael J. Fox (Parkinson’s Disease), and Bono, who wants to rid the world of poverty.