If you watch award shows, whether it be for movies or music, you’ll always hear celebrities talk about how lucky they are to be able to do what they love for a living; to travel the world doing something that many people love them for and get paid ridiculously well for it. Despite their fame and wealth, many of these same celebrities really show how grateful they are and pay it forward without really making a big deal about it or asking for any additional adoration. In fact, many try to keep it low-key unless it’s to inspire others to do the same. In fact many celebrities have created their own foundations to help raise money and awareness for the causes that they care deeply about.
Now, even if you’re rich, a million dollars is still a lot of money, so it is all the more noteworthy when celebrities part with that much money, and more, to give to a charity. Many of us know Oprah Winfrey does a lot of charity work. She’s worth a ton and has no problem sharing it with the less fortunate. But you might be amazed at how much charity and humanitarian work some of your favorite celebrities do every year. Some don’t just give money to foundations. Some, when they hear of fans having hard times, dig deep and reach out personally with financial assistance or with something special to help in some way. These generous celebrities often go under the radar, but here we’ve compiled a short list of fifteen of the most charitable celebrities and some of their great work.
15 Bruno Mars’s $1 Million Gift For Flint, Michigan
The award-winning musician Bruno Mars is about as philanthropic as they come. In 2017, while performing with his 24K Magic World Tour, Mars donated $1 million from his sold-out Auburn Hills, Michigan concert to help those affected by the Flint water crisis. Back in 2014, the main water source for the City of Flint, Michigan, was transferred from Lake Huron to the Flint River, causing a considerable amount of subsequent lead poisoning. In January 2016, President Obama declared a crisis in Flint. Over a year later, this hadn’t escaped Mars’ mind as he performed in the state. ”Ongoing challenges remain years later for Flint residents, and it’s important that we don’t forget our brothers and sisters affected by this disaster," Mars said in a statement. “As people, especially as Americans, we need to stand together to make sure something like this never happens in any community ever again.”
14 Ian Somerhalder Gave Big Money For Animal Care
In late 2010, the Lost and Vampire Diaries star setup his own charitable foundation called the Ian Somerhalder Foundation. The stated goal is to advance science to promote the conservation of natural resources, and is also basically about the protection of animals. Ian Somerhalder loves animals, and his aim is to educate and empower others to positively impact the planet and all of its creatures. He says he was drawn to the cause by the devastation some years back by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. His foundation runs a program called the ISF Emergency Medical Care Grant for Animals. It was launched in 2014 to “help rescuers care for animals recovering from abuse, neglect, and traumatic injuries.” In 2014 alone, ISF gave over $110,000 in grants to help care for over 700 animals, including dogs, cats, horses, and other farm and wildlife critters. The foundation awards grants up to $2,000 per application.
13 Prince’s Secret Humanitarian Work
When legendary performer and musician Prince passed away it was a true loss. He was an inspiration to millions and a true artist. As a devout Jehovah’s Witness, he never discussed or allowed any press to cover his humanitarian and charity work. He was a truly sincere humanitarian who didn’t want any additional fame or accolades; he just did it because it was the right thing to do. It was only after Prince’s untimely passing that tales of his behind-the-scenes charity work began to emerge. Rev. Al Sharpton revealed that Prince would send him money to pass along to the family of Trayvon Martin, with the family never knowing who it really came from. Prince donated $250,000 to a solar power startup company, another $250,000 to a fund for families struggling in South Carolina, and still another $250,000 to a New York dance academy. He even gave $1 million to a Harlem-based non-profit to aid children living in poverty.
12 Taylor Swift Donated $1 Million To Aid Louisiana Flood Victims
Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is known for her topsy-turvy love life, but she is also known for her true attention and adoration she gives her fans, especially those in need. In August 2016, thousands of homes were destroyed and 13 people died lost their lives when horrific flooding occurred in Louisiana. Swift was on a world tour and was performing in the state. Moved by the devastation and the resilience of the people living in the area, she quickly donated $1 million from the concert to help those affected by the flood, and gave another $50,000 to a Baton Rouge food bank. Later that same year, she donated $100,000 to help with Tennessee wildfire recovery, and a further $5,000 to a fan’s expenses when she lost her sister in a car accident. In 2015, Swift gave $50,000 to a fan suffering from leukaemia that was unable to attend her concert, along with a personal note. Now that’s fan love.
11 Matthew McConaughey's $1.5 Million Donation For Education Fund
Actor Matthew McConaughey's motto is “just keep livin'” so it makes sense that he would start a charitable foundation called The Just Keep Livin Foundation. His mission was to help children become good adults through “programs that teach the importance of decision-making, health – mental, physical, and spiritual – education, and good all-around active living.” McConaughey recently put in $1.5 million to be sure the foundation can keep helping children around the world. The foundation is known for distributing $88,000 to Communities in School Los Angeles West, as well as $38,000 to Communities in School Central Texas. In May 2015, the University of Houston had McConaughey as their graduation commencement speaker, for which he was paid a handsome $135,000. After telling the graduating students that success is possible if you’re willing to break a sweat to get it, he quickly donated his whole appearance fee to the Just Keep Livin Foundation.
10 George Lucas Donated $4 Million To Education Fund
George Lucas is one of the most successful and richest directors in Hollywood history. Even though he only made a handful of films, they (meaning the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films) are among the most successful in cinema. His Star Wars franchise empire made him richer than his wildest dreams. Lucas decided to do some good with the money. He first began the Lucas Film Foundation, and later donated over $4 million to that foundation with instructions for the money be used to start the George Lucas Education Foundation. This new endeavor has a mission to inspire and empower children to become responsible citizens, compassionate leaders, and overall to just live your dreams. After selling his company Lucasfilm to Disney for $4 billion, he announced he would continue his charitable work by donating the majority of that money to benefit education.
9 Angelina Jolie’s $4 Million Donation For Medical And Children’s Funds
Over the past decade or so, actress and director Angelina Jolie has been slowly transitioning from being active in Hollywood to being more into her humanitarian work. Not only does she donate large sums of money, but she gives her time and energy to causes that she is passionate about. Since 2001, she’s visited refugee missions around the world. Her and her estranged husband Brad Pitt founded the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which is dedicated to eradicating rural poverty, conserving wildlife, and protecting natural resources. Over the years, Jolie has transferred millions of dollars into the foundation. According to tax records, in 2006 alone, Jolie donated more than $4 million. The foundation used some of that money when they gave $2.3 million to Doctors Without Borders and the Global Action for Children groups. She gave another $4.9 million in 2009. Her foundation used some of that money when they gifted $137,935 to the Namibia Red Cross Action Program, $100,000 to the Daniel Pearl Foundation, and $100,000 to Global Green U.S.A.
8 Rihanna’s $5 Million Gift For Health And Education
In 2012, Rihanna set up a foundation, the Clara Lionel Foundation, in honor of her grandparents Clara and Lionel Braithwaite. The foundation gives grants in support of health, education, and culture. She’s raised millions of dollars for HIV and has notated many hundreds of thousands of dollars to food banks supporting those devastated by Hurricane Sandy and also from Super Typhoon Haiyan. When her grandmother succumbed to cancer, Rihanna donated $1.75 million to the radiotherapy department of a hospital in Bridgetown, Barbados. Every year, Rihanna hosts her annual Diamond Ball inviting celebrities to come network, socialize and raise money through the annual auction. In 2017, the stars came out and Rihanna raised over $840,000 which she promptly turned over to her foundation. Over the past few years, the Diamond Ball has raised over $5 million to help raise awareness for health and education issues.
7 Beyoncé’s $7 Million Gift To Help The Homeless
Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z are pretty private when it comes to their personal lives, including their charitable contributions. Occasionally she’ll announce her partnerships with certain charities, such as for her Formation World Tour, which helped aid those affected by the tainted water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Her other charity work has mostly remained behind the scenes, such as the fact that for the past ten years she’s been giving aid to a homeless shelter in her hometown of Houston, Texas. In 2007, when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the gulf coast, Beyoncé established the Knowles-Tenemos Place Apartments, a housing complex to offering assistance for some of those displaced due to the devastation. As of 2017, Beyoncé has given over $7 million to sustain the complex. Additionally, after portraying Etta James in the 2009 biopic Cadillac Records, Beyoncé donated her $4 million salary from the film to Phoenix House, a rehab center for recovering addicts.
6 Dr. Dre Gave $10 Million To Compton High School
One of the biggest one-time donations ever given by a celebrity was from legendary rapper/producer Dr. Dre. He is known for his rough lyrics and upbringing in the notorious south central area of Los Angeles known as Compton. It was in Compton where he got his start with the gangster rap group N.W.A. Recently, Dr. Dre donated $10 million towards building a performing arts center at the new Compton High School. He told the Los Angeles Times, “My goal is to provide kids with the kind of tools and learning they deserve. The performing arts center will be a place for young people to be creative in a way that will help further their education and positively define their future." That wasn’t his first time he gave big to the Los Angeles-area, as in 2013 he and Interscope Records’ Jimmy Iovine donated a whopping $70 million to create an academy for arts technology and business innovation.
5 Jami Gertz Donated $10 Million Into Charity Foundation Account
An actress known for her roles in TV’s Still Standing (2002-2006), The Lost Boys (1987), and Twister (1996), Jami Gertz is no longer exactly a household name. That doesn’t mean her career and life hasn’t been immensely successful. Gertz married Antony Ressler, co-founder of Ares Capital, a very successful Los Angeles investment firm, controlling over $40 billion in assets. Gertz and her husband, in an effort to give back to a community that has been so good to them, started the Ressler Gertz Foundation. To that effort, Gertz and Ressler poured $10,569,002 into the foundation. Some of the good work the foundation is doing includes given $1.7 million to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and $400,000 to Cedar Sinai Medical Center.
4 Ariana Grande Raised $13 Million Through Benefit Concert
Performer Ariana Grande is no stranger to charity work. At the young age of ten, Grande co-founded a Florida singing group Kids Who Care, which performed for charitable fundraising events, raising over $500,000 for charity in 2007 alone! After a bomb went off at Manchester Arena as fans were leaving her concert in May of 2017, she was determined to do something to help the victims. More than 20 people lost their lives, and hundreds were injured. She worked quickly and organized the One Love Manchester concert that was held a few weeks later on June 4, 2017. The benefit concert was also going to be aired live on BBC One in the United Kingdom, and would feature numerous guest stars, including Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, and Katy Perry. The concert took place at Old Trafford Cricket Ground, in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, and was attended by 50,000 people. The concert raised over $13 million to benefit the victims. She further donated proceeds from the live album of the concert boosting the total aid to $23 million.
3 Herb Alpert Gave $23 Million To CalArts
You might now know who Herb Alpert is off-hand. He and his band Tijuana Brass released five albums from the 1960s to the 1980s that reached number 1 on the Billboard chart, having won nine Grammy Awards. He added greatly to his success and wealth, along with his business partner Jerry Moss, by founding A&M Records, producing a ton of hit albums. When the pair sold the record label to Polygram for $500 million, he was set for life. Between that sale and his album royalties, Alpert is worth a cool $850 million. Alpert and his wife have long been huge supporters of music education and, to further that passion, founded the Herb Alpert Foundation. The foundation gives grants for music education but by invitation only. Despite that exclusivity, they have gifted monetary support for many high education institutions that offer music programs, and donated $23 million for the music program at the California Institute of the Arts.
2 Bill Gates Donated $28 Billion To Social, Health, And Education Development
Bill Gates is a rich man (with a capital “R!”). As one of the richest people in the world, his wealth has been estimated at around $89 billion. To put that in perspective, that’s equivalent to the annual GDP of the nation of Ecuador. He made all his money through his incredibly successful company Microsoft. Gates and his wife Melinda founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, taking generosity to a whole new level, pledging to donate the bulk of his wealth over the years. As of 2013, Gates has donated over $28 billion of his own money into the foundation. The foundation has endowed and supported a range of health, educations, and social programs. About his generosity, “I’m certainly well taken care of in terms of food and clothes,” Gates says. “Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point. Its utility is entirely in building an organization and getting the resources out to the poorest in the world.”
1 Warren Buffett Gave Record $37 Billion Donation
Warren Buffett is not your everyday celebrity; he doesn’t write songs or appear in movies, but he’s often on television and in the newspaper. As one of the richest men in the world, when he speaks, people listen. As the long-serving chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, owner of such companies as Geico, Duracell, and Dairy Queen, he’s worth about $83 billion. Despite his vast wealth, he’s always been a modest man (he still drives the same old pickup truck he’s had for years). In 2006, he pledged to give away 99% of his fortune. To show his seriousness, he made a huge donation to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, making the largest charitable donation ever given by an individual – $37 billion! In addition to the Gates Foundation, he also gives generously to four other charitable trusts created by his family – the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, the Susan A. Buffett Foundation, and the NoVo Foundation.
Sources: forbes.com, cheatsheet.com, bbc.co.uk, thefader.com, people.com