Charitable group offers "concierge" access to stars

LOS ANGELES Tue Jun 5, 2012 10:43am EDT

Actor George Clooney (2nd L) talks before the White House Correspondents' Association annual dinner in Washington April 28, 2012. REUTERS/Larry Downing

Actor George Clooney (2nd L) talks before the White House Correspondents' Association annual dinner in Washington April 28, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Looking for access to your favorite celebrity? Want to do a little good while schmoozing with the stars? It could be possible, but it will cost $20,000 or more.

Philanthropic group Charitybuzz, best known for online celebrity auctions, on Tuesday is launching an effort it calls "Do Good Dream Big," which it describes as a sort of "celebrity concierge" service with access to the stars for the right price.

Potential donors can go to a website, offer up their "dream" to, for instance, enjoy dinner with George Clooney or take tennis lessons with the Williams sisters for a minimum $20,000. If the celebrity agrees, the date is made and the money goes to a chosen charity.

"We have established relationships with top celebrities and corporations," Coppy Holzman, chief executive of Charitybuzz told Reuters. "This is our area of expertise, and as a result, we're able to produce upscale, unique experiences built upon our community of bidders."

The celebrity concierge concept was tested in May with a private focus group and raised several hundred thousand dollars. Based on that experience, Holzman predicts the public launch will garner millions of dollars within a year, though not every user-crafted event is feasible.

"Some experiences are well beyond the limits of personal space," he said. "One person requested to do a moon watch with David Bowie on Virgin Atlantic. Aside from being weird, that's just not going to happen.

"If you want to spend the weekend at Celine Dion's vacation house, that's not going to happen. But meeting her after her Vegas show is possible," he added.

If a celebrity thinks the idea is good but the donor's initial bid is too low, the star can counter with his or her own figure for the experience.

Holzman believes Charitybuzz will be able to confirm requests within a few weeks of receiving the idea and all experiences will happen within a year's time.

Building on what Holzman sees as a trend toward altruistic endeavors, the crux of "Do Good Dream Big" rests on empowering those who want to contribute to causes while also being rewarded for their efforts.

"Most people don't care what the charity is, they just want a viable way to contribute," he said.

Through celebrity auctions, Charitybuzz said it has raised over $65 million for nonprofit organizations. Some groups supported by Charitybuzz include St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, the William J. Clinton Foundation, the Global Poverty Project and amfAR.

Those interested in participating can access "Do Good Dream Big" through the company's website, www.charitybuzz.com/dogooddreambig.

(Reporting by Courtney Garcia; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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