Apart from the world of acting, Hayden Panettiere is is actively involved with various charity campaigns and activist causes.
In 2007, Hayden became an official supporter of Ronald McDonald House Charities and is a member of their celebrity board, called the Friends of RMHC.
On October 31, 2007, Hayden joined with The Whaleman Foundation to try to disrupt the annual dolphin hunt in Taiji, Wakayama, Japan. She was involved in a confrontation between Japanese fishermen and five other surfers from Australia and the United States (including former Home and Away star Isabel Lucas) of the group.
The confrontation lasted more than 10 minutes before the surfers were forced to return to the beach, after which they left the country. Parts of the confrontation can be seen on the award-winning Sundance Film Festival documentary film, The Cove. The fishermen consider the condemnation as an attack on their culture.
Hayden told E! News that an arrest warrant has been issued in Japan for her interference in the dolphin hunt, but her claim was later dismissed by the Japanese Fisheries Agency. In November 2007, she was awarded the “Compassion in Action Award” from the animal rights group PETA for her efforts to stop the dolphin hunt in Japan.
On January 28, 2008, Hayden handed a letter of protest to the Norwegian ambassador in the United States arguing that Norway should stop its hunt for whales. She also delivered a letter to the Japanese ambassador calling for the end of Japan’s hunting of whales. At a 2007 Greenpeace event in Anchorage, Alaska, Panettiere defended aboriginal whaling, saying that there is a difference between commercial whaling and the whaling practiced by aboriginal tribes in the United States.
In May 2008, Panettiere was involved in an eBay auction to benefit Save The Whales Again, a campaign of The Whaleman Foundation. The auction included tickets to a fundraising dinner hosted at the Hollywood restaurant Beso, owned by Eva Longoria, and a whale watching tour, with Panettiere, off the coast of Santa Barbara. The same month, during an interview with Teen Vogue, Hayden explained how her fame gives her a platform for her activism: “The show [Heroes] put me in a place to speak for things that I’m passionate about.” Hayden also sold her old clothes at www.panettierecloset.com to benefit Save The Whales Again
In September 2008, Hayden launched her own line of calfskin leather bags for the company Dooney & Bourke. In October 2008, Panettiere delved into the presidential election, releasing a public service announcement through the website Funny or Die. In this video Panettiere mocked Republican candidate John McCain for his age and temper. She subsequently made clear her intention to vote for Barack Obama, and urged other young people to vote.
Hayden also appeared in a public service announcement with DC Shadow Senator Paul Strauss endorsing voting rights for the District of Columbia. She is also a teen ambassador for the Candie’s Foundation, whose mission is to prevent teen pregnancy. On May 6, 2009, she participated in a town hall meeting in New York City alongside Bristol Palin and then-Tampa Bay Rays and current Chicago Cubs pitcher Matt Garza on the issue of teen pregnancy.
Over the years she has supported the following charities:
American Foundation for Equal Rights
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Elton John AIDS Foundation
Libby Ross Foundation
Ronald McDonald House Charities
Save the Whales
Save The Whales Again
Stand Up To Cancer
The Humane Society
The Whaleman Foundation