Celebrities are rich, beautiful, and talented, but not all of them are true philanthropists. There are some celebrities who really stand out as people who have donated their money, time and resources to improving the world. We compiled a list of the top 45 celebrity humanitarians who have impressed us and made a huge impact on global welfare. Read on to learn about their causes and what they are planning to work on next!
Oprah Winfrey is not only mega-wealthy but is also a mega good person! She has enjoyed much success and she is not afraid to share some of it. In general, her donations have focused on education, equality, and promoting the arts. Oprah founded the Angel Network in 1998. She began raising funds for this organization by asking her fans to donate money and their time. Her original goal was to raise $3.5 million. Due to raising more funds than expected, millions of dollars were also donated to Hurricane Katrina and Rita relief efforts and also used to build schools in 13 countries around the world. The organization raised over $80 million before it stopped accepting donations. Oprah personally paid for its administrative costs and donated millions of her own dollars to the cause.
Bono is regarding as one of the few celebrities who has spent a lot of time speaking up for the world’s poor, especially those in Africa suffering from disease and/or poverty. He was born in Dublin and of course is the frontman of U2. All of U2 made a huge contribution of €5 million to Music Generation. This organization is Ireland’s national music education program. Much of Bono’s personal efforts have focused on Africa. He co-founded DATA (Debt, Aids, Trade, Africa). Many wealthy individuals such as Bill and Melinda Gates have contributed millions to the effort. He is also the co-founder and official spokesman for the ONE campaign which helps 11 nonprofit organizations collaborate to more effectively alleviate poverty and preventable disease in Africa.
Shakira was born in Colombia, and wrote her first song when she was only 8 years old. She is now the highest-selling Colombian artist of all time. The charitable work she has done is plentiful. She mostly focuses on education and youth programs. Shakira founded The Barefoot Foundation which is a US-based non-profit which aims to make education universally accessible to all children. The foundation has helped over 30,000 children and their families receive healthy meals, psychological support, and education.
Angelina Jolie, daughter of famous actor Jon Voight, had always had wealth in her life. She is one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood and also has been producing films recently. It is a good thing she has all this wealth because she is one of the biggest celebrity donors of all time. She donates her time and also a lot of money to initiatives that focus on global development, health and education. After filming Lara Croft in Cambodia, Jolie began to focus on humanitarian and refugee efforts. She visited many refugee camps and donated $1 million dollars to UNHCR. She was appointed a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador and then was promoted to Special Envoy to the High Commissioner. She has founded a few organizations including KIND (Kids in Need of Defense) which provides free legal aid to minors who are immigrating to the US, and the Jolie-Pitt Foundation which helps fund humanitarian efforts in Africa.
Meryl Streep and Donald Gummer
Meryl Streep and her husband Donald Gummer have focused their philanthropic efforts on promoting the arts, health, women’s issues, social welfare, and the environment. They’ve worked a lot through the Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts which provides grants to places such as the Butler Museum of American Art and The National Museum of Women’s history. The couple also has worked with Amnesty International USA and Women for Women International. Together they have donated millions of dollars to these causes.
Ben Affleck besides being a talented actor and director is a passionate philanthropist. He is the founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative which is a US-based grant-making initiative that helps people in the Congo. ECI focuses on supporting victims of rape and sexual violence, children, expanding health care and promoting economic opportunities. He is very outspoken on this issue and since ECI was launched he has helped draw much more attention and help to the area.
Actress Barbra Streisand has helped raise over $1,555,500 for the Barbara Streisand Foundation. Money raised is distributed through grants to various charitable organizations and causes including the Barbra Streisand Women’s Cardiovascular Research and Education Program at Cedars Sinai, City Year, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Model Gisele Bundchen is not just good looking, she’s a great person. She helped raise about $1,500,000 for the Red Cross to help people in Haiti. She personally donated $150,000 to Brazil’s Zero Hunger program, and served as the spokesperson and campaign model for Fashion Targets Breast Cancer. She has a line of sandals and donated a percentage of the profits to Amazon Rainforest efforts. Great work, Gisele!
Charlize Theron is originally from South Africa and was appointed an official UN messenger of peace. Her philanthropic efforts focus on Africa and ending violence against women. Her Africa Outreach Project was founded in 2007 and it aims to reduce the spread of AIDS in African countries, especially among children.
Did you know Ashton Kutcher is more than just a hilarious actor? He is actually quite generous. He donated $1 to Habitat for Humanity every time someone added him as a friend on MySpace. He also has helped build homes for people in need in Central America, and started the DNA Foundation to help children affected by human trafficking and sexual violence.
George Clooney is a hunk and also a very generous person. Since 2008 he has served as one of the UN’s Messengers of Peace. Most of his advocacy work has focused on Darfur, and he helped raise funds for victims through the Hope for Haiti telethon. He was actually arrested in 2012 in Washington D.C. where he was protesting in front of the Sudanese embassy.
Brad Pitt is the founder of The Make It Right Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that helps with the housing to underprivileged communities around the world. He also has worked with Global Green to specifically encourage green housing to help combat global warming. He is promoting a housing model for the U.S. and has met with government officials to request funding for it.
Rihanna launched her charity, the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012 which aims to help children access education and healthcare worldwide. She has hosted three “Diamond Ball’s” which is an event that encourages celebrities and other wealthy individuals to make big donations to her foundation. The foundation has given many scholarships to children in developing countries looking to attend college. Additionally, she manages the Belief Foundation which helps treat terminally ill children. She has also done work to help raise awareness and combat HIV/AIDS, and has worked with UNICEF on various humanitarian efforts. She recently built an oncology and nuclear medicine research center in Barbados which helps diagnose and treat breast cancer in the region. In 2017, Rihanna was named “Humanitarian of the Year” by Harvard University.
Jackie Chan is one of Asia’s biggest philanthropists. He stated he will donate half of his assets to charity when he dies. He helped launch the Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation in 1988 which gives scholarships to children. He also started the Dragon’s Heart Foundation which builds schools in China. He has donated over $1.3 million to natural disaster relief efforts in China.
Leonardo DiCaprio focuses on environmental causes. He started the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to help protect nature and wildlife around the globe, and has helped raise millions for ocean and forest conservation. He also helped with Haiti relief efforts and has produced movies including The 11th Hour to educate others about environmental issues. He is also a U.N. Messenger of Peace.
Elton John has many close friends who died from HIV/AIDs throughout his lifetime. He established the Elton John Aids Foundation in 1992 to try to eradicate the disease. The Foundation has raised over $125 million and helped in over 55 countries around the world. Elton also personally donated $43 million dollars in 2004 to different charitable organizations. Great work, Elton!
Bill founded The William J. Clinton Foundation that works to help with a number of humanitarian causes. Its main areas are global public health, poverty alleviation, and assistance for those who suffer from religious and ethnic conflicts.
Annie Lennox received the British Red Cross’ Services to Humanity Award in 2008 and spends much of her personal time raising awareness about HIV/AIDs in Africa. She released a special single called Sing that went to the Treatment Action Campaign (an organization to help with HIV/AIDs support).
Paul McCartney is a hugely generous celebrity that has worked to help with a variety of causes. He is a patron of Adopt-A-Minefield, donated a song to help with Burma, and helps with PETA. He has donated thousands of his own dollars to numerous causes and often performs at concerts that do fundraising for good causes.
Along with his wife, Trudie Styler, Sting helped co-found The Rainforest Foundation which saves rainforests in South Africa. He also works with Amnesty International and has performed in a number of benefit shows for different causes including human rights.
Ellen DeGeneres works with a variety of charitable organizations. Recently she is helping to fundraise for an organization called The Gentle Barn which is a home and hospital for abused animals. She also works with the American Red Cross and helps with the Cure campaign which is for breast cancer awareness.
Richard Branson is awesome! He is donating $3 billion over the next 10 years to help solve global warming. He also has donated to education charities in Africa, is a patron of the International Rescue Corps, and founded his own organization called The Elders which is a group of global leaders trying to solve global conflicts.
The Obama definitely gives hope to the future. Barak Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work. He donates, speaks and volunteers for numerous organizations. Specifically, he worked on bringing health care and education to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Obamas have donated thousands of dollars to different organizations over the years including to the Illinois Reading Council.
John Legend specifically has helped with problems facing African countries. He donates money and time to help with improving the condition of impoverished villages. He established the Show Me Campaign to raise funds for this cause.
Ricky Gervais has helped raise about a million pounds for cancer research and support. He also helps with many anti-cruelty causes. He appeared in a PETA video with the singer/songwriter Pink which was meant to stop the use of animals for fur and skin in fashion.
Russel Simmons is amazing! He helped co-found the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation with his brothers to help children access the arts. He also works with The Doe Fund to help reduce homelessness in America and is Co-Chairman of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network.
Miley Cyrus has done more for charitable causes than many of her much older peers. She supports the Libby Ross Foundation which promotes breast cancer research and education. It also provides support for victims. She is involved with Musicians on Call which brings live music to people suffering from diseases. Last, she helps encourage young people to do random acts of kindness in their community through Get Ur Good On. You inspire us, Miley!
Justin Bieber is generous with his money and time. He donated all the profits from his 2011 Christmas album to charity. He also has taken many trips to Africa to volunteer in villages.
Lady Gaga partnered with Virgin Mobile on her Monster Ball tour offering premium tickets to fans who volunteer their time to homeless youth organizations. Pretty good idea! She also has worked on efforts in Haiti and helped raise awareness for HIV and AIDS in Africa.
The mega-talented Alicia Keys is not only a great singer but also is the key ambassador for Keep A Child Alive. She traveled in Africa and visited different households to discuss the AIDS epidemic. She is the official spokesperson for Frum Tha Ground Up which is meant to motivate American youth to achieve great things.
Sheryl Crow is an amazing woman and also a breast cancer survivor. She supports numerous organizations that work to help breast cancer patients and survivors. She also works with the World Food Programme to help feed children around the world. She also has her own fashion line and donates 10% of all its profits to cancer research.
Along with Lesotho’s Prince Seeiso, Prince Harry co-founded Sentebale which works wot help the orphans of Lesotho. He also co-founded The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry. The foundation works on a number of causes including environmental sustainability, helping disadvantaged children and helping the families of persons serving in the Armed Forces.
At the beginning of their career, Coldplay donated 10% of all their profits to charity. Pretty nice of them! The band also works on causes including Hurricane Katrine relief, cancer research, and awareness, and are supporters of Amnesty International.
Eva Longoria has won a number of awards for her huge commitment to good causes. She has made significant contributions to the well being of Hispanic communities around the world and also works with the American Heart Association to promote research, awareness, and treatment of cancer.
Scarlett Johansson served an impressive 8 years as an Oxfam Ambassador. She created a video journal of her visits to Kenya with the organization. They work on healthcare projects and to reduce domestic violence. She also has spent time helping with Hurricane Katrina relief, poverty alleviation, and HIV/AIDS causes in Africa.
Sharon Stone has been the spokesperson for the American Foundation for AIDS research since 1995. She has also helped with Hurricane Katrine relief, malaria, and lupus causes, and also to assist children with education and clothing.
Over his lifetime, Bill Gates has donated over $27 billion to charitable causes! Not bad, Bill. He runs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife. The foundation gives grants for agriculture development, emergency relief, education, poverty and global health.
Warren Buffet is a huge donor to good causes! He has donated over $21.5 billion to different causes. In 2006 he pledged to donate 85% of his wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Very generous, Warren!
Jami Gertz and Anthony Ressler
Anthony Ressler is a billionaire, and his wife Jami Gertz is a talented actress. Together they established the Ressler/Gertz foundation. They aim to help with education, health and promoting the arts. Ressler is a long time donor and has given millions of dollars to different causes throughout his lifetime.
Herb Alpert is a talented musician with a huge heart. Over his 81 years of life, he has been extremely generous. His foundation has donated over $150 million dollars to different causes. He is well known in the music community for his philanthropic work.
After the Manchester bombing, Ariana Grande helped organize a concert that raised $13 million for the victims. She is also known for being an animal rights activist. She is vegan and has worked with PETA.
Zendaya has been critical in helping with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Shs established a project on her birthday to raise funds.
Bethenny Frankel is really stepping up her goodwill lately. She helped raise money for national disasters in Puerto Rico and around the country through her B Strong campaign. Many of her wealthy friends have donated thousands of dollars to the cause. Bethenny also visited Puerto Rico to assist and see what else she can do to support the people living there.
Nicki Minaj did something awesome this year. She helped pay for tuition and loans for 8 people. What a huge difference this can make in someone’s life. Great work, Nicki!
Chance The Rapper
Chance is a talented rapper and has done so much to help the city he is from, Chicago. He cofounded SocialWorks which is a foundation that helps empower youth. It has raised more than $2 million for Chicago Public Schools. Additionally, he launched his New Chance Arts & Literature Fund to support arts in public schools.