Back in March we defended American Idol, the “cheesy” (many say) pop talent show, for tackling extreme poverty. Philanthropy purists and cultural highbrows sniffed at the notion that a crass entertainment program and its grubby corporate sponsors might aspire to do good.

Today we're back to give a standing ovation for their tremendously successful program last week, Idol Gives Back.

$60,000,000 and counting ain't cheesy!

And there's more to come …

  • Donations are still being solicited on American Idol's homepage, more names and addresses are being captured for future fundraising;
  • Additional donations, not yet reported, are flowing directly by the charities featured in the program;
  • ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History picked up 70,000 supporters in response to Bono's appeal on the show;
  • Given that American Idol is syndicated worldwide, with a bit of editing its message can inspire international audiences to fight poverty elsewhere in the world;
  • And there's the small matter of sensitizing 26 million viewers to global poverty.

Not bad. But don't rely on our opinion.

Just ask these charities, all benefitting from Idol's ability to deliver an anti-poverty message to over 26 million viewers for two hours …

  • Save the Children
  • America's Second Harvest
  • Boy's & Girl's Clubs of America
  • Children's Health Fund
  • Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria
  • Malaria No More
  • Nothing But Nets
  • U.S. Fund for UNICEF

From a purely fundraising standpoint, could the show have been executed for even greater response and impact? Possibly. Many more viewers “voted” than actually contributed.

But we'll say it again, $60,000,000 and counting ain't cheese!

Well done American Idol.

Roger & Tom

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