Hollywood Angels: Twenty Five of the Most Generous Celebrities

We are aware that celebrities make a significant sum of money in Hollywood. This is true, especially when a movie becomes a blockbuster. On the other hand, those on TV shows earn bonuses when their ratings spike and remain high. Most of the time, what the actors or actresses make in a month or a single project is equivalent to our lifetime earnings. Bearing this in mind, we often wonder how much taxes they pay and whether they are also giving to charities as a way to pay forward. To a degree, we know that giving back enriches the soul and the character of a person, so if they donate without much fanfare, that is a reflection of their good heart. It is encouraging to know that many of our beloved celebrities are givers— be it to a religious organization, an environmental group, a climate change advocacy group, or support for new parents. We hope they do not do it for the camera, though. But even if they do, a gift or a donation still helps those in need. Plus, it can be a tax write-off, too.

Oprah Winfrey

With a net worth of $2.5 billion, Oprah Winfrey is in a perfect position to give to charity and those in need. Indeed, the queen of all media has not forgotten her humble beginnings by paying it forward. She even gives $1,000 to her audience so that they could donate it to a charity of their choice. Even more important, she has given over $40 million of her money to The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, The Angel Network, and The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation. She also puts the excess of her investment money to 27 causes, including HIV awareness, environment, peace, and poverty. She is also a champion for women, young girls, specifically those who suffered physical, mental, and sexual abuse.

Serena Williams

At a young age of 38, Serena Williams has done much in terms of giving her due back to the Universe. The tennis champion has started her Serena Williams Fund, which focuses on educating young Kenyan girls by sending them to the United States. The parents of these children need not resort to personal loans to send them to school. She is even a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Serena also supports causes related to Health, Water, Civil Rights, and Poverty. She also fights for victims of domestic violence. With sister Venus, she pledged $1 million toward the American Tennis Association’s Tennis and Education Complex. In response to the pandemic, Serena partnered with Scholastic, Bella+Canvas, and the National School Board Association to distribute masks to underserved schools in the US.

Barbra Streisand

The singer-actress is also a known charity giver. Her foundation, established in 1986, called The Barbra Streisand Foundation, supports over 800 organizations. Over the years, it has distributed more than $25 million to these various charities. Of her over $400 million net worth, over $1,555,000 has been used to fund her different philanthropic works. Three of the ones she supports the most are the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, Feminist Majority Foundation, and Cambodian Children’s Fund. Barbra has shown generosity in giving back, and she has also been blessed with many investments over the years. Through giving, she has also exposed the many issues plaguing third-world countries, including poverty, abuse of women, and people being afflicted with treatable yet life-threatening illnesses. She has also served as an inspiration to many other celebrities.

Leonardo DiCaprio

The Titanic star has a net worth of approximately $260 million. Of that amount, he has set aside a huge chunk for his charity and philanthropic works. His foundation, The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, is focused on the long-term health and well-being of this planet’s inhabitants. Climate change is a major cause of the foundation, and it is fighting against dependence on gas and fossil fuels. In 2017, the foundation even donated $20 million to other charities that also battle climate change. Leonardo has also been using his influence in Hollywood as a mouthpiece to advance environmental causes. This goes to show how the actor is committed to helping nature recover so we can all have a healthy Earth in the coming years.

Jami Gertz

American actress and philanthropist Jami Gertz has a net worth of $3 billion. With that amount, she and husband Antony Ressler have made many donations to various foundations and causes, including the Ressler-Gertz Foundation. In 2012, the relatively unknown couple topped the Forbes list for the most charitable celebrities when they gave away more than $10.5 million to the foundation. Of that amount, $400,000 was given to the Cedar Sinai Medical Center. They also topped the list of The Giving Back Fund, a non-profit whose mission is tracking philanthropic work worldwide. Their generosity is rooted in their deep pockets, with the income coming mainly from investments made in Ares Capital, a 40-billion-asset company. This same investment firm had sent out feelers to buy the baseball team Los Angeles Dodgers.

Will Smith

We know that Will Smith is a giver and an excellent parent as well. This is most likely one reason why he and his wife Jada founded the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation. Their foundation aims to help inner-city communities develop and provide educational projects to underprivileged children and their respective families. In 2008, the couple donated more than $1.6 million to various causes through the foundation. Yesha Ministers received $250,000 from that total amount. They also contributed to various other religious organizations, showing they do not favor any particular one. Will said that it had been his wish and Jada’s wish to see children of all religions happy and studying in an ideal educational environment. With online classes being the new normal, we hope that Will and Jada can also help them transition.

Brad Pitt

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt had a long split, but they are still a power couple in terms of doing philanthropic work. During the recent wave of protests against the racially-charged death of George Floyd, Brad donated $1 million to the racial justice group Color of Change. He matched the donation of her former girlfriend, Jennifer Aniston. Apart from this organization, the Mr. and Mrs. Smith star has also supported Make it Right; Mineseeker Foundation; Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation; and Live 8, among others. Brad and Angelina also capitalized on their fame to raise money for charity. For example, they sold their wedding photos for $5 million. Brad mainly got involved in philanthropic wife due to Angelina, but to his credit, the actor is now making his name in the world of paying it forward.

Victoria Principal

This philanthropist actress has a net worth of about $350 million and has been quite known in the philanthropic world. Victoria instituted the Victoria Principal Foundation For Thoughtful Existence in 2006 intending to help environmental groups in their efforts. She has particular interests in supporting research towards the rehabilitation of natural disaster victims. She also cares deeply for the environment and is against further dependence on gas and fossil fuels. Through her foundation, the actress donated at least $25,000 to the Greenpeace Fund, $100,000 to Oceana, and $125,000 to the Natural Resource Defense Council. In 2019, Victoria announced that she would step back from her business, Principal Secret, a line of skincare projects to focus more on her charitable work.

Meryl Streep

Together with her husband, Donald Gummer, Meryl has donated more than $2 million to the Silver Mountain Foundation. She is an avid patron of the arts and has been making donations to various art groups and related organizations, including a $1 million grant to the Public Theater in 2012. Recently, Meryl also gave away $25,000 to the victims of the deadly Beirut blast. She does a lot of charity work, but we do not usually hear about it as she likes to keep things quiet.  The Academy Award winner supports charities like Equality Now, The Rainforest Foundation, and Artists for Peace and Justice. She is also against rape, sexual abuse, poverty, and hunger. Hence, she donates a good portion of her savings or investment money into these causes.

Alec Baldwin

Like other big stars, Alec has his very own Alec Baldwin Foundation, where he channels his excess money to be donated to various charitable organizations and causes. Among the grants that the philanthropist released were $1 million to the New York Philharmonic, $500,000 to the Roundabout Theatre Company, $250,000 to the Carol M Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Foundation, $25,000 to People For the American Way, and $42,500 to Waterkeeper Alliance. He is such a generous giver that recently, he even donated his appearance fee to a charity event in Calgary. His Alec Baldwin Drama Scholarship Fund has helped aspiring graduates minimize or eliminate the need for student loans. We can see how serious Alec is in giving back to the community.

Mel Gibson

Did you know that actor Mel Gibson signed away $6,853,020 of his personal money to the A.P. Reilly Foundation? The foundation is known for giving to religious and spiritual organizations, including the Holy Family Church, which Mel has started supporting. Apart from religious entities, Mel has also donated to various hospitals and gave away $10 million to different hospitals in Los Angeles, including the  Los Angeles Hospitals for International Charity Care, The Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He has also given to a Holocaust charity. With philanthropic works involving religious, cultural, and health organizations, we can appreciate the degree of devotedness the actor is showing towards promoting a better society for the planet’s inhabitants.

Jerry Seinfeld

This American comedian is quite earnest in giving money to various causes through his Seinfeld Family Foundation. He has donated more than $1.7 million to causes that support health associations, Jewish organizations, education and children services, and the arts through the years. Finding no humor in our society’s many issues, Jerry signed checks totaling $3 million to Scholarship America, the American Red Cross, and Autism Speaks. Together with his wife, Jessica, they had hosted several charitable events in order to fight poverty around the world. The two recognize that many do not even have access to water and electricity, and are making donations to be able to provide essential products like clothing to those in need, particularly babies in poor sections of the society.

Sandra Bullock

Our Miss Congeniality has proven herself friendly to all nations. Sandra Bullock has made many donations to countries that have been hit by natural disasters. During the Haiti earthquake, houses were demolished, and simple roof repair would not suffice as a complete rebuilding of the affected areas, and its health systems were needed. Realizing this, Sandra donated $1 million to the efforts of the Doctors Without Borders. She also donated that same amount to the American Red Cross in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Earlier on, $1 million was channeled to Indonesia after the country experienced its deadliest tsunami in 2004. It is good to note that most of these donations were made without much media attention, making us admire the Bird Box star more.

Larry the Cable Guy

Legally known as Daniel Whitney, Larry, the Cable Guy, is a philanthropist. His foundation, Git-R-Done, has donated $5 million to the  Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in 2010 to develop the  International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI). In 2019, Daniel announced he would donate his show’s proceeds on March 27 to the damaging Nebraska flooding victims. The comedian has made it a point to give away a portion of his net worth and investments to various causes. He had also made donations of $500,000 to the Child Advocacy Center. A separate check amounting to $525,000 was given to the Madonna Foundation. It is inspiring to know that Larry the Cable Guy, makes us laugh and tries to make our lives better through his various charity works.

Marlo Thomas

We have not heard that much about Marlo Thomas in recent years, but she is an American actress, producer, author, and philanthropist who has received four Emmys, a Peabody Award, and a Golden Globe. Her father was the founder of the famed St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and this is where she has also been donating some of her money. Marlo was able to raise about $600 million through the “Thanks and Giving” campaign so that parents of critically-ill children need not resort to payday loans, as treatment at the hospital would be provided free. Most of the causes and organizations that the celebrity has supported are health-related, including the American Cancer Society, United Cerebral Palsy, and the American Heart Association.

George Lucas

George Lucas has earned a lot from the Star Wars franchise. One way he is giving back to the society is through The George Lucas Educational Foundation. The organization’s mission is to empower the young to become better citizens and fulfill their dreams. Supporting this, the director has signed checks amounting to $4.25. In 2012, after selling Lucasfilm to Disney, he promised that he would be donating most of the $4 billion deal to his foundation. We can see that George is serious about educating young padawans and helping them perhaps obtain a finance degree or any course they want in the future. He is also an avid believer in the power of education. Hence, most of his efforts are towards ensuring that the youth are given access to equitable and quality learning.

Matthew McConaughey

When Matthew and Camila Alvez established the Just Keep Livin’ Foundation, they envisioned a world where high school students are empowered and able to make better choices for their future. Perhaps one of their visions is for these youngsters to afford their home mortgages with ease one day. As such, the foundation has donated $88,000 to the Communities in School Los Angeles West. Another donation of $38,000 was made to Communities in School Central Texas. The couple also made a donation of 25,000 surgical masks to the University Medical Center of El Paso in Texas as a way to help during the pandemic crisis. This was on top of the 110,000 they had already given to underserved hospitals in Texas.

Sam Simon

The co-creator of the animated sitcom The Simpsons was not only creative but also a generous giver. He established the Sam Simon Foundation so that he could save the lives of dogs who ultimately help enrich the lives of people. He believed that he could indirectly help raise the quality of life of those around him by doing this. Sam had given over $1.8 million to the foundation that now offers programs like dogs for veterans, dogs for people with disabilities, and a mobile vet clinic. He passed away in 2015 at the age of 59, but he donated his $100 million money to the foundation before he did. We can only guess that when his lawyer had him sign the deed, he was happy and content.

Morgan Freeman

The Academy Award-winning actor is known for his multiple charity works. At one point, he hosted an online auction where the process would go to the American Red Cross. When he wrote his book Morgan Freeman and Friends: Caribbean Cooking for a Cause, he wanted the proceeds to go to the Grenada Relief Fund. This is a fund he established after Hurricanes Emily and Ivan inundated the Caribbean island, damaged houses, cut the supply of electricity, and caused massive social issues back in 2004. The famed voice narrator also supports various causes like human rights, voter education, disaster relief, and water-related issues. Morgan also made a political donation to Priorities USA Action, in support of the values espoused by Barack Obama.

Mark Zuckerberg

The Facebook founder has met many controversies surrounding his creation, but we give him credit for being a generous giver. Mark has promised that he would be donating 99% of his wealth to charity over the course of his life. Mark and his wife, back in September 2016, sold $95 million worth of Facebook stocks so they could donate to various charitable organizations. He even restructured Facebook so that he can give away money without him relinquishing control. In another significant move, Mark and Chan signed a check for $ 10 million to support the work on big data analytics and health causes of Dr. Atul Butte. They also gave $250 million to the Center for Technology and Civic Life to support a more secure election.

Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer is a relatively young actress with strong Jewish roots and graduated with a theater degree in 2003. The actress-comedian has made some donations to various organizations in the past. In 2016, Amy donated $50,000 to AIDS Charity (RED) in exchange for a jet ski ride with DJ Khaled. Apart from supporting AIDS awareness organizations, she has also shown support for Hilarity for Charity, Multiple Sclerosis Society, and Alzheimer’s Association. It appears that she has a love for health causes, given her donation patterns. During the initial phases of COVID-19, Amy also donated 2,500 N95 masks and 2,500 anti-COVID kits to Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital staff in Oceanside, NY. This is where her childhood best friend works as a frontliner.

Taylor Swift

The singer-songwriter is famous for her narrative-style songs that mostly revolve around her life. Apart from singing about her life, Taylor is also known for being among the most generous celebrities. In 2016, she made various donations, including $100,000 to the Cancer Research for The V Foundation. On behalf of a fan, she also gave $1,989 to Uconn’s yearly HuskyTHON, where they raise money for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Taylor also made a recent donation of $30,000 to a London teenager who wanted to pursue a mathematics degree but is now financially capable. This was not the first donation to an individual that she made as in 2015. She also signed a check for Kesha to help her with her legal battles.

Christopher Reeve

A real Superman, Christopher Reeve, was not only saving lives on the screen but also hel[ped those who were paralyzed like him. Though the actor has passed, his legacy remained. He was given credit for raising over $5 million when he partnered with the American Paralysis Association (APA). The association honored him by renaming the charity to The Christopher Reeve Foundation. With Christopher and wife Dana’s help, they were able to transform a community effort to that of national scope and significance. Before his death, and even in his condition, the couple appeared on television to appeal to more donations. Today, many of those celebrating their birthdays would usually ask that any gifts be made financial and given to the foundation instead.

Lance Armstrong

The famed athlete has made many donations to his foundation, the LiveStrong charity. Being a cancer survivor himself, and despite the many controversies he has encountered in his life, Lance has not wavered in giving to charities. He donated $100,000 to the University of California, Irvine in 2002. Also, with his LiveStrong foundation, Lance was able to raise more than $500 million for cancer research, treatment, and support, with about $6.5 coming from his personal funds. He has made many investments towards the foundation so that those with cancer can receive proper treatment. Now the charity has an annual revenue of about $48. Though Lance had fallen from grace and no longer managed the foundation since 2012, he is still planning to do more charity projects.

Gisele Bundchen

According to Forbes, the model is among the richest models, and with the wealth she has, Gisele has made many donations to various causes, mostly on addressing social problems. In 2010, she signed a check amounting to $1.5 million, which she gave to the Red Cross for their relief operation in the earthquake-stricken Haiti. She also donated $150,000 to Brazil’s Zero Hunger program. A portion of the profits from her Ipanema Gisele Bündchen also goes to the protection of the Amazon Rainforest water sources. She also has her eyes on other causes as she supports the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, the WWF, and the St. Francis Food Pantries and Shelters. We can say that she makes fair use of the profits from the investment money she poured into her various ventures.


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