They’re often called the “Hollywood elites,” who sit on their riches and are out of touch with middle class America. Celebrities who hit it big may not struggle with paying health insurance, but the U.S. has many celebrities who do a lot of good with their money and name.
Actress Jami Gertz and her husband, Antony Ressler, are not too well known, but they topped Forbes list for most charitable celebrities in 2012 for donating more than $10 million to the Ressler-Gertz Foundation, one of the biggest celebrity donations.
More recently and more well known is Oprah Winfrey, who regularly uses her fame to do charity work. She donated $10 million to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Winfrey lobbied for the National Child Protection Act, which established a national database of convicted child abusers. She donated $50.2 million to education, health care and work for women and children worldwide just in 2007.
Elton John topped the lists in 2016 after he donated an estimated $38 million to various charities over his lifetime. Most of the money went to causes that fight HIV/AIDS, including his own Elton John AIDS Foundation.
J.K. Rowling, author of the famous Harry Potter books, used to be a billionaire. She was the first author on the Forbes billionaires list, but was knocked off after she donated an estimated $160 million to charity.
George and Amal Clooney created the Clooney Foundation for Justice, which fights for the rights of individuals targeted by oppressive governments. Angelina Jolie is the co-creator of the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which aids humanitarian causes around the world. Jolie was also appointed Special Convoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2012.
Chance the Rapper launched the New Chance Arts & Literature Fund, and raised more than $3.2 million for Chicago Public Schools in 2017. Colin Kaepernick may be a controversial figure, but he donated more than $1 million to dozens of charities that help poor communities. The famous Oscar selfie by Ellen DeGeneres raised $3 million, half of which was donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and The Humane Society.
Barbra Streisand donated $10 million to the cardiovascular system at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, after she raised an additional $20 million for the program. The Streisand Foundation regularly gives grants to environmental causes, voter education, the protection of civil liberties and rights, women’s issues and more, according to the foundation.
It’s not always about money.
Dolly Parton recently donated her 100 millionth book from her Imagination Library to the Library of Congress. The goal of the country singer’s Imagination Library is to send free books to children.
Ashton Kutcher created a nonprofit called Thorn, which has helped more than 6,000 children and 12,000 adults who are victims of sex abuse. The actor became an activist and now uses innovative technology to help identify victims and perpetrators of sexual exploitation on the internet.
Even those who achieve fame through politics can be philanthropic. When former President Barack Obama was in the White House, the Obamas donated over $1 million to various charities, and 54 percent of that money went to causes for children. According to Insider, they gave $392,000 over the course of six years to the Fisher House Foundation, which supports families of veterans.
When he received the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize and was awarded $1.4 million, Obama donated all of it to various charities and causes.
President Donald Trump pledged to donate his entire salary while he was in office, and Snopes has verified he has stayed true to his word. He’s donated to the National Park Service, Department of Education, and more.
Before he was elected, the Donald J. Trump Foundation gave away around $10.9 million to more than 400 different charities from 2001 to 2014, according to Forbes.