Amongst the legions of celebrities from all walks of life stand those who appear to be just a little more generous than the rest. These are the people who have witnessed the sufferings of others and want to do their bit to alleviate it in any way they can. Many of them have started up foundations or have been asked to be the public face of a charity.
There are probably all kinds of reasons that inspire these uber wealthy celebrities to give back to the world; it could be their way of buying a place in heaven; a way of making up for bad stuff they have done in the past; a way to impress their adoring fans; to make the world a better place. Hopefully it is simply because they enjoy the act of sharing their wealth with others, a true act of altruism. Only they would know the truth of it.
The list that covers the publicly available records of single donations of some of the world’s top celebrities and well known faces. It does not include those who have big charities or are around the world actively promoting a cause. It is a list of those who have donated the most amount of their personal money and includes where some of that money went.
Former MLB player Lance Berkman and his wife Cara have donated sizable amounts of money through a charity they created called The Lord’s Fund. The couple contributed upwards of $2.4 million to the fund, with a lot of that money going to Christian organizations. A good deal of the money to Children’s Cup, an organization committed to the “forgotten children”. His last major league performance was at the end of 2013 but it is likely that you will hear of his charitable home runs a lot more over the coming years.
The largest ever single donation from a former football player has been credited to Ndamukong Suh, who donated $2.6 million to the University of Nebraska. The money was split between the athletic department and engineering department at the school. Currently playing for the Detroit Lions in the NFL, he was one of the most decorated football players at the college level. In 2011 the Giving Back Fund named him the most charitable athlete in America. This beats his 2011 and 2012 Sporting News players poll “dirtiest player in the NFL”.
When you have fought hard to make a name for yourself as a writer, you have compassion for those who are struggling to find the means to support themselves in becoming literate. Nora Roberts has a personal foundation committed to supporting literacy and humanitarian efforts and, as of last available records, donated $3 million to the foundation. She has also donated $100,000 to McDaniel College to help in the research and study of romance literature, the genre that Roberts writes in.
George Lucas gave $4.25 million of his money to the Lucas Film Foundation which then passed it on to the George Lucas Educational Foundation. The mission of the educational foundation is to provide evidence-based strategies to support the K-12 learning process so that students can be prepared for their adult lives. After the 2012 sale of Lucasfilm to Disney, the Star Wars producer vowed that his personal stake in the sale, which amounts to billions, will also be put towards his educational foundation.
Though he has become public enemy number one to many who have seen his very public challenges with alcohol and marital difficulties, Mel Gibson has been a generous soul when it comes to the millions of dollars he has invested to charities throughout the years. His biggest single donation was in 2004 when he donated $10 million that was split between the Mattel Children’s Hospital and UCLA and the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. His desire was to help those with serious medical conditions who could not be treated in their own country. More recently he made a $6.8 million donation to the Holy Family Church.
Jami Gertz and husband Anthony Ressler
Film and television actress Jami Gertz has a net worth of about $8 million, her husband Tony Ressler, $2 billion. Together the Lost Boys actress and Ressler, an American businessman, founded the Ressler Gertz Foundation. They have proven themselves to be most generous, donating $10 million which created grants for LA County Museum of Art and the Cedars Sinai Medical Center. Their organization benefits educational institutions, focusing on awards programs and financial support for students.
One Direction can do no wrong by their fans and as such they line up in droves to buy and download any song they produce. This was the case for the single they released for UKs Red Nose Day which raised $3 million to benefit many across Africa and the UK who live in poverty. Throughout their time they have made significant other donations to many other charities, but this stands as their biggest single donation to a cause.
Magical author JK Rowling has made quite a name for herself, and a large amount of income, as a result of penning the Harry Potter series of books and movies. She has, however, been knocked quite shockingly off the Forbes list of billionaires. The reason for this? She has been too generous to charities and as such can no longer be placed up there with rest of the biggest earners in the world. As of 2012 she had donated about $160 million to various charities that she supports. It is unlikely that she regrets being lopped off this estimable top spot for billionaires and she may just be an inspiration to other aspiring wealth seekers. She did make herself a wee bit unpopular in Scotland recently, when she donated $1.7 million to the Anti-independence movement in that country, citing that it would not be good for them if they broke away from England.
Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan donated 18 million Facebook shares (valued at more than $970 million) to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. This foundation is responsible for distributing money to a number of causes around the world. This donation was the largest charitable gift recorded in 2013 making the Zuckerbergs the first people under 30 years of age to claim this title. They had given the same number of shares to the foundation the year before (valued at $500 million), but by the end of 2013 the stocks had increased drastically in value.
To date the title of the single largest charitable donation goes to Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who in one swoop donated $6 billion to distribute vaccines around the world. He has stood by his belief in vaccines throughout the years despite the voices that are rising up against them. His belief is that the vaccines will save the lives of more than 8 million people in some of the poorest countries in the world. Warren Buffet has sent money to his foundation over the years, but none of those individual donations were as big as this one.