The celebrities who give away their millions
Deep pockets and a big heart
In 1982, a joke between Paul Newman and his friends became a big business as he launched Newman’s Own salad dressings. It was an instant hit, but something set this celebrity endeavour apart: 100% of the profits go to charity, and it’s been that way since launch, raising a huge $495 million (£366.5m) along the way. Many celebrities have since followed in Newman’s footsteps and parted with their cash for the greater good. We reveal who’s among the most generous famous faces.
Amal and George Clooney
Human rights lawyer Amal and actor husband George are enthusiastic charity-givers. The pair famously donated all the money Hello Magazine paid for their wedding pictures to a series of organisations. Recently, Amal and George donated $3 million (£2.2 million) through their foundation to help put over 3,000 Syrian refugee children living in Lebanon through school.
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have pledged $3 billion (£2.31bn) over the next 10 years to 'cure, prevent and manage' all disease. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will focus on cancer, neurological diseases, heart disease and infections to combat the killers. When the couple's daughter Max was born, Zuckerberg wrote that they plan to give away 99% of their Facebook shares away to charity.
Sir Elton John
Music legend Sir Elton John is one seriously generous star. According to the Sunday Times Giving List, he donated a whopping $46 million (£34.3m) in the year to April 2017. The majority of this was allocated to his charity, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which he has in both the UK and US. The two foundations together have raised more than $385 million (£285m) over the past 25 years.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
Prior to their separation, the power couple were no strangers to helping those less fortunate. Jolie is a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador while Pitt is a long-standing humanitarian. The duo gives to over 60 charities and have given away an estimated $22 million (£18m). When their twins Knox and Vivienne were born the couple sold the first images to People magazine, donating the $14 million (£11m) fee to their Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which is dedicated to community development in Cambodia.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith
The Hollywood power couple have given millions over the course of their careers to help those less fortunate. Together the duo look after the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, offering donations to a wide variety of causes such as a $189,000 (£153,000) grant to the Baltimore School for the Arts, $47,000 (£38,000) to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, $120,000 (£97,000) to the Lupus Foundation and most recently an undisclosed sum to NYU’s Tisch School of Arts.
Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy gave away $1.24 million (£1m) of his wealth in 2015, including all of his prize winnings from the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, and he didn't stop there. In the year to April 2017 he donated a futher $1 million (£800,000). The winnings were given to his personal charity, the Rory Foundation, which then donated the money to three kid’s charities. He also donated $235,000 (£190,000) to Mencap, a UK charity that works with people who have learning disabilities.
She might be known for her diva antics on the catwalk but, away from the paparazzi, supermodel Naomi Campbell is incredibly generous. Her Fashion For Relief campaign, which she founded in 2005, helps raise vital funds and awareness towards the ongoing fight against Ebola. Campbell calls on her designer pals, brands and celebrities to donate items to the Fashion For Relief Auction. Her 2014 show raised $1.24 million (£1m).
She’s one of the youngest names on this list but she’s also one of the most generous. In 2012, the Grammy winner donated a whopping $4 million (£3m) to music education. In 2016 alone she donated $100,000 (£75k) to victims of the Tennessee wild fires, $1 million (£750k) to the Louisiana floods victims and a further $50,000 (£37k) to food banks in the state. Taylor also stumped up an undisclosed sum to elephant conservation through African Parks, and gave a bereaved fan $5,000 (£3,700).
Former Desperate Housewives actress Eva Longoria donates to a whopping 35 charities. The star has received dozens of awards for her charitable work within the Hispanic communities. And she’s so passionate about her culture she started her own charity, The Eva Longoria Foundation, which aims to empower Latinas through education and entrepreneurship. In 2014, she raised close to $990,000 (£800,000) for the charity.
The comedian is often spotted giving away huge donations on her daytime talk show, like the $48,000 (£39,000) she gave to a US military family living in poverty or the $19,000 (£15,000) she handed over to a single, unemployed mother. Her star power only ups her donations. Every time someone retweeted the infamous celeb-packed Oscar selfie she took, Samsung donated a dollar to a charity of DeGeneres’ choice. She split $2.5 million (£2m) between a children's hospital and an animal charity.
The celebrity chef is dedicated to helping underprivileged youth and has donated millions throughout his career to helping them achieve. Starting the Fifteen Foundation, Oliver gives youths struggling with substance abuse or alcohol problems a chance to learn the chef trade by giving them an apprenticeship in his kitchens. In 2017 he gave away $2.3 million (£1.7m).
Sir Paul McCartney
The former Beatle’s charitable contributions are vast, sharing his fortune to around 35 charities, including PETA, The OneVoice Movement and Meat Free Monday. While he remains mum on the exact amount he donates, he’s been known to give his earnings from private concerts, which is in the millions per show, entirely to charities.
The Real Madrid football star earns an estimated $340,000 (£274,000) per week salary but he doesn’t get greedy with his burgeoning wealth. He supports a number of charities, and in 2015 donated a reported $6 million (£5m) to the aid effort in Nepal. But it doesn’t stop there. He recently gave more than $79,000 (£64,000) to a 10-year-old fan in need of brain surgery, and a further $156,000 (£126,000) to fund a cancer centre in Portugal.
When the Star Wars director sold his company Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, he pocketed a cool $3.71 billion (£3bn). But rather than spend the money himself, he donated the entire fortune to charity, including the George Lucas Educational Foundation. He also donates to Stand Up to Cancer and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The WWE superstar might be tough in the ring but outside of wrestling he’s a big teddy bear, granting nearly 500 wishes via the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Working with the WWE, Cena has also raised around $1.24 million (£1m) since 2012 for Susan G. Komen, a breast cancer charity.
The first lady of Hollywood, Meryl Streep, has been a generous contributor to charity over the course of her career. She has reportedly donated a million dollars to The Public Theatre, an undisclosed amount to the National Women’s History Museum, for which she is a spokesperson and, according to Forbes, Streep and her husband Donald Gummer have also donated over $2 million (£1.5 million) to causes like Oxfam of America and Partners in Health, through Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts.
Keanu Reeves is known as Hollywood’s nicest guy. He put some of his own money back into the Matrix franchise to ensure that the crew could continue working on the films, and has been known to share his food with homeless people. He has even founded a cancer research foundation though it’s hard to know how much of his own money goes into it. Keanu explains: “I have a private foundation that’s been running five or six years, and it helps aid a couple of children’s hospitals and cancer research. I don’t like to attach my name to it, I just let the foundation do what it does”.
In a bid to repair some of the damage done by Hurricane Katrina, singer Beyoncé secretly donated $7 million (£5 million) to the Knowles-Temenos Place apartment project in her hometown of Houston, Texas. Launched in 2007, the complex provides accommodation for 43 homeless men and women and offers employment and self-sufficiency support to help them to get back on their feet. Rev. Rudy Rasmus revealed the star's generosity in 2014.
Jackie Chan grew up in relative poverty in Hong Kong before rising to become one of the most famous martial artists and actors in the world, with an estimated net worth of over $350 million. Over the years Chan has donated many millions of dollars to several different Red Cross appeals, and he has reportedly set aside $40 million (£29.6 million) in his will to go to charitable causes after his death.
The band have been long-time supporters of several children’s charities. They’re also big supporters of Amnesty International and Make Poverty History. In the last year alone the quartet has given away $2.10 million (£1.7m).
Tony Hawk’s namesake organisation has raised more than $5 million (£4m) to create, upgrade and maintain nearly a thousand public skate parks across America. The skateboarding star focuses on low-income neighbourhoods with large numbers of at-risk youth.
The footballer-turned-Unicef-ambassador has used his fame and fortune to help those less fortunate. When David Beckham moved to French football club Paris Saint-Germain in 2013, he donated his entire salary – thought to be around $4.2 million (£3.4m) – to two French children’s charities. In the last year he raised $6 million (£5m) through The Victoria and David Beckham Charitable Trust that he runs with his wife.
When he isn’t living it up on yachts with models or making blockbuster movies, DiCaprio is committed to tackling climate change and saving endangered species with The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. in 2015 his foundation donated $14.22 million (£11.5m) to various charities including Amazon Watch, World Wildlife Fun, Save the Elephants and Oceans 5. That’s on top of his yearly charity gala which raises money through a star-studded auction. in 2016, he raised an incredible $43 million (£34.5m).
While most will know him as a member of the Beatles, Ringo Starr is also a very talented artist and uses his creative streak for a good cause. Selling his art at galleries and auctions – just last year he made $10 million (£8m) in one night – the star donates the profits to his charity, The Lotus Foundation, which supports charities for abused women, animals in need and the homeless, to name a few. In 2015, Starr gave away $2 million (£1.6m).
Harry Potter creator and author J.K. Rowling is only too happy to share her wealth. Between in the year to April 2017 she gave away $17.5 million (£13m). She even started her own charity, The Lumos Foundation, which aims to end the institutionalising of children by 2050. She’s so generous she knocked herself off the Forbes billionaire list in recent years after donating $166 million (£123m).
Where to begin with Oprah’s incredible donations. Among her own charities, including the Oprah Winfrey Foundation and the Angel Network, the former talk show host has donated hundreds of millions to various organisations and even opened a school in South Africa. Most recently she donated $99,000 (£80,000) to the Nigerian Foundation for Girls and $990,000 (£800,000) to N Street Village, a Washington D.C. charity that helps homeless and low-income women.
The US singer was already a generous giver to causes such as PETA and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. However, her biggest gesture was a fundraising concert for victims of the terror attack at her show at Manchester Arena. The One Love show raised over $4 million (£3m) for the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund and she is now a patron of the charity.
George Michael was another popstar revealed to be a mystery giver after his death. The stories of his incredible acts of kindness started coming out after he died in December 2016. A woman who announced on a TV show that she couldn't afford the IVF treatment she desperately wanted was secretly given £15,000 ( $20, 624) by the singer to cover the costs. In another example of his generosity, he is also said to have once given a crying debt-ridden stranger £25,000 ($34,373).
Only after his death in April 2016 did the extent of Prince's philanthropic donations emerge. The popstar never spoke about his charitable efforts, but recently several of those he helped have come forward to show just how much he did for good causes. Just one of the charities he gave generously to for example, was the Harlem Children's Zone, a non-profit organisation for poverty-stricken children and families living in Harlem, New York. Prince donated $1 million (£727,300) to this cause.
Beyonce's husband, Jay-Z, also has a philanthropic side. The rapper recently give $1.24 million (£1m) to the Black Lives Matter movement via his music platform Tidal.
Shin Min Ah
South Korean model and actor Shin Min Ah has been secretly donating to charities in her home country for years. It is reported that she has given over $1.2 million (£870,000) over the last ten years to help provide education and health care for disadvantaged children, cover heating costs for the elderly poor and support for women and children who are refugees from North Korea. She has also built a school in a disadvantaged area of Nepal.