April 29, 2010; Source: USA Today | My teenage daughter is all too aware that Lady Gaga’s upcoming performance at Washington D.C.’s Verizon Center sold out in a few milliseconds after tickets went on sale. She and other fans of the superstar, known for the chart-toppers “Poker Face” and “Bad Romance,” among others, might qualify for tickets, even VIP tickets, if they volunteer at homeless youth organization approved and designated by one of the sponsors of Gaga’s North American Monster Ball Tour, Virgin Mobile USA.
For the 2009 tour, Virgin claimed that a similar deal resulted in 30,000 hours of community service and $80,000 in charitable donations, and “definitely raised awareness to the plight of homeless youth,” according to Virgin Mobile’s CEO, Dan Shulman. According to Shulman, Lady Gaga helped create a PSA that ran before each of her performances during the last tour asking her “little monsters” to donate, which she would match up to $25,000.
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This isn’t Virgin Mobile’s only effort on youth homelessness, as it has also partnered with tennis pro Melanie Oudin, though we suspect that Gaga is a somewhat bigger draw than Oudin. Last week, the National Alliance to End Homelessness gave the company its Private Sector Achievement Award for “taking bold steps.” It’s not all selflessness on the part of Virgin Mobile, however. As Shulman noted, “this issue also really resonates with our young demographic . . . It’s not just philanthropy, it’s good business.”—Rick Cohen