Hardly anyone makes money hand over fist like those who are famous in Hollywood. Each movie makes them more than most of us will earn in a lifetime. Every television appearance can make them the average person’s yearly salary. With that in mind, it’s a wonder that charities need to fund raise at all, with all that income flowing to the top 1%. Some rich folks, including celebrities, are very giving when it comes to charitable causes and their generosity has made a difference in lives all over the world.
Some give to particular religious organizations, and some spread the wealth around to various causes. Whether it’s for a tax write-off, publicity, or just to make a difference as a good person, these celebrities are writing large checks to their favorite charities.
Here are some celebrity givers who lead the Hollywood pack in charitable contributions.
1. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah’s rise as one the most important personalities in television history has made her some big money, and she believes in sharing the wealth. The superstar has donated more than 40 million dollars through her Oprah Winfrey Foundation, to help women and children with education and health care around the world, as noted by People Magazine. Oprah particularly champions education for young girls in third world countries, where female scholarship is frowned upon by their culture.
2. Jamie Gertz
Fans remember Jamie Gertz from films like Sixteen Candles The Lost Boys, Less than Zero, and for playing late comedienne Gilda Radner in Gilda Radner: It’s Always Something. Jamie married investor Antony Ressler on June 16, 1989, and together they founded the Gertz-Ressler foundation that has topped the list of celebrity giving at $10,569,002, according to Forbes. According to Inside Philanthropy their charity supports Education, Jewish causes, health care and the arts. Mr. Ressler’s company controls over 5 billion in assets, and Jamie Gertz’s net worth is estimated at 2 billion USD, by Celebrity Net Worth.com; however, this includes her billionaire husband’s assets.
3. Meryl Streep
Meryl has given $4 million through the Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts. She and husband, Donald Gummer, are listed as right up there with Bill and Melinda Gates when it comes to giving. She also gave Vassar College a cool million dollars. Streep and her husband maintain a low profile about their charity giving; however it has been reported on many websites that this power couple is anything but selfish with their earnings. Just like her captivating performances, Meryl and her husband keep doing excellent work that yields powerful results.
4. Mel Gibson
As Hollywood’s most famous Catholic, Mel Gibson, who gave us many iconic performances in The Lethal Weapon movies, dramas like the Mad Max Franchise, and directed The Passion of the Christ, believes in putting a good portion of his money to good use for charitable causes such as 10 million dollars to reimburse hospitals for health care given to children, and 1 million to Mexico to help recovery from Hurricane Stan. Mel does get some flack for his traditional Catholic views, and has been lambasted by the press for his contributions to Holy Family Catholic Church in the sum of over 15 million dollars but it’s his money he’s pouring into the project after all and many “back to basics” Catholics applaud him.
5. Jerry Seinfeld
Unlike his famous television sitcom counterpart who lacks empathy, in real life Jerry Seinfeld has raised $1,766,000 for education, health, children’s benefit, Jewish organizations and arts funding. Some of the well-known charities Jerry has contributed to include Autism Speaks, Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital, National Parks Conservation Association and Stand Up For A Cure. It just goes to show that you can’t judge an actor by the character they play on TV, even if the fictional character shares the same name.
6. Barbra Streisand
Forbes also mentions actress and singer Barbra Streisand as a big giver, with $1,555,500 of her reported $340 million net worth going to The Cardiovascular Research Education Program at Cedars Sinai, City Year, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Through her many decades on screen, television and in the recording studio, Barbara Streisand has much success to be grateful for, so she gives generously to her favorite causes.
7. Matthew McConaughey
Playing a determined illness survivor in Dallas Buyer’s Club, Matthew in real life established the Just Keep Livin’ Foundation which raised a whopping $1,537,292. McConaughey also gives generous grants to community schools in Central Texas and LA. This famous bongo playing Austin resident who has appeared in many blockbuster films is the son of a substitute teacher so education is dear to his heart. You can visit the Just Keep Livin’ website that offers merchandise to help fund his cause at http://justkeeplivin.com/. Matthew has inspired those who struggle with Aids and Cancer to keep fighting the good fight.
8. Sandra Bullock
Many times wordwide catastrophes bring generous donations from celebrities. McConaughey’s fellow Texan and co-star donated a hefty $1,000,000 to Doctors Without Borders for Haiti Relief following their devastating earthquake, according to various news sources. She also sent $1 million to Japan after their devastating earthquake, reports CNN.com.
9. Victoria Principal
Though no longer in the limelight, the former Dallas Star and poster girl has given $342,665 through her Victoria Principal Foundation. Grants distributed include $25,000 to Greenpeace Fund, $125,000 to Natural Resource Defense Council, $100,000 to Oceana. Her net worth is still estimated at $200 million, partly due to her being a savvy businesswoman and getting great endorsement deals for beauty products.
10. Larry The Cable Guy
As part of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and his solo appearances, Dan Whitney and his family have raised over 6 million dollars through the Git-R-Done Foundation. This charity helps families who are down on their luck and need financial assistance. Dan and his wife Cara were always ones to share their gains from success with those less fortunate, and a 2011 article dates that this was the number the charity raised just in its first two years. This was quite a boon for a charity named after Dan’s famous catchphrase. They are indeed getting it done.
11. Alec Baldwin
So he doesn’t have the best phone etiquette and gets kicked off planes for not turning off his cell phone. Still, Alec believes in using some of his cash from movies and commercials to help out charity. In 2011 Alec donated 1 million dollars to The New York Philharmonic and $500,000 to the Roundabout Theater Company. Baldwin does serve on the board of The New York Philharmonic and has performed with the theater company. So like him or not, the controversial leading man makes a difference in the world of education and performing arts.
12. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
This power couple has donated over 8 million dollars to help refugees. Although Taylor Swift leads the pack of giving celebs, The Jolie-Pitt family has made a difference in the lives of children through charity work, humanitarian missions, and also adopting orphaned children from all over the world.
13. Amy Schumer
The actress and comedienne actively supported the Natonial Multiple Sclerosis Society, and raised over $176,000 through her Trainwreck Comedy Tour. She will do just about anything for charity, including performing the “worst lap dance ever”, which did bring in some excellent tips. She raised 3,000 in one afternoon. She gets kudos for being able to laugh at herself while raising money for a good cause.
14. Marlo Thomas
No list of charitable celebrities would not be complete without Marlo Thomas, who with her brother, continued her father Danny’s philanthropy for St. Jude’s Research Hospital. Through her televised appeals, fashion shows and other campaigns, Marlo has raised over one million dollars per year for children’s cancer research. No actress has championed for a particular cause as long as Marlo has for St. Jude’s Cancer Research. “That Girl” has been away from network television for quite a while, but she still makes public appearances in conjunction with St. Jude’s and other projects.
15. Christopher Reeve
Sometimes tragedy can help a celebrity do good for others in the same boat. Christopher Reeve joined forces with the American Paralysis Association (APA), after Reeve was paralyzed while sustaining a spinal injury while horseback riding in 1995. His involvement helped the APA raise over 5 million dollars. Having the Superman actor and his devoted wife as spokespersons for the APA was so successful, that they renamed the charity The Christopher Reeve foundation, in honor of the late film star. Reeve helped the public put a face on those who through injury or birth defect, are paraplegic. Before his death, he still made many television appearances to help raise money for the cause. His wife continued his work until her untimely death, shortly after Christopher’s.
16. Lance Armstrong
Whether you love him or hate him, the doping cyclist celebrity has done a world of good for cancer patients through the LiveStrong charity. Lance was the major superstar connected with the cause, and the public gained hope and opened their wallets through his promotion of the charity. As a cancer survivor and celebrity hero, he thrust LiveStrong into the limelight. Today, Livestrong has an yearly revenue of around $48 million. The LiveStrong charity is still in business, despite the fallout from Armstrong’s fall from grace. You can connect with this charity by visiting, https://www.livestrong.org/. Armstrong is planning some future charity rides for other organizations; however, public opinion is mixed concerning this endeavor.
17. George Lucas
The force has been quite generous with writer, producer, and director George Lucas giving away $4,250,000. The cash was donated to Lucas Film Foundation and also dispersed as grants to The George Lucas Educational Foundation. George Lucas also donates his time when he’s not busy filming the next blockbuster movie. It has also been reported that he is looking into a deal to donate some of his vast land a low income housing project.
If his name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s not that he isn’t wealthy. The co-creator of The Simpsons has a net worth of $100 million and has donated over $1,800,000 through his foundation that helps those hard of hearing be matched with dogs. His charity also supports dogs for veterans and mobile veterinary units, according to the Forbes list of biggest givers.
19. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith
This Hollywood family believes in giving back through the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation. The superstar family has given $126,000 to the Lupus Foundation, $200,000 to the Baltimore School for the Arts, and $52,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, for a total of $900,000. Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith were also public Scientologists, and the amount they give to that religious organization before they quietly exited is unknown.
20. Morgan Freeman
When not playing God in the movies, he is quite the benevolent benefactor, as he supports many worldwide charities and humanitarian causes. A million dollar grant was quite a sizable sum given through his Rock River Foundation, that helps folks living in his home state of Mississippi. The money goes to support education and the arts. His foundation has been profiled in the Mississippi Business Journal. His goal is for every child to have the good education that he had, and to teach children to grow into self-sufficient, successful adults. He gives plenty to the cause, but they also rely on matching grants to keep the money flowing to this good cause. Mr. Freeman is very humble about what he does for others and says that he doesn’t call it charity, it’s just doing what people should do. The world would be a better place if everyone had his great attitude.