What Hollywood Thinks Nonprofits Do

Hollywood's portrayal of nonprofits

Do you remember the last time you saw a nonprofit depicted in a movie? Do you think the portrayal was accurate? When it comes to Hollywood, how are nonprofit professionals or organizations portrayed?

Often little is expressed about an organization or the everyday tasks employees perform. In Nonprofits Portrayed in Popular Culture, Blue Avocado examines how nonprofit employees, clients, and causes appear in popular culture.

Popular culture frequently shows the nonprofit employee as a minor character performing their job. However, the story may not describe the organization’s mission or the detail of how a staffer or volunteer actually does their work.

Sure, a social worker’s tasks–visiting a client’s home, completing paperwork, making innumerable phone calls, or arranging meetings or appointments for that client–may not be integral to the story.

Although the portrayal is not always accurate, nonprofits still make an impact when fictionalized.

The film Life Support portrays many common characteristics we may see in community organizations. The film shows committed employees, an understaffed workplace, and the importance of the organization to its clients and their families.

Now, with the help of social media, nonprofit organizations gain national coverage for their viral campaigns. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was the most recent organization to become a viral success leading to national coverage.

Water is Life, UNICEF, and Red Cross all had viral social media campaigns that lead to high visibility.. Nonprofit Hub discussed these viral campaigns in The Top 4 Nonprofit Social Media Campaigns of 2013 (And What You Can Learn).

While film and television does not always depict reality, it is important to be aware of the images and stereotypes that are portrayed for nonprofits. And let us know examples of nonprofits you find in popular culture.