Charitable giving has become part of daily life for many celebrities. In 2017, Americans gave more than $410 billion to charity, breaking records for the third year in a row. 70% of last year’s total donations came from individual donors, a 3% increase from 2016.
Celebrities often have both the wealth and platform to make charitable contributions and raise awareness for a range of important issues. A variety of non-profits also look to celebrities for endorsement or promotion.
The top celebrity charitable givers are Elton John, Bill Clinton, Annie Lennox, Paul McCartney, and Bono, who each support dozens of causes. In 2017, however, the most charitable celebrity was Chance the Rapper, who started a foundation to empower youth, raising more than $2 million for Chicago public schools. Colin Kaepernick was a close second, while Ariana Grande came in third.
Read on to find out which charitable causes your favorite celebrities support.
The Humane Society, one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations, works with local animal rights activists to advocate for humane protection legislation. Paul McCartney, Ricky Gervais, Steve Aoki, Judi Dench, and Ke$ha are among some of the celebrities who have supported the Humane Society’s work. In 2006, McCartney visited the Harper Seal nursery as part of an effort to end seal slaughter in Canada.
Water.org draws the public’s attention to unsafe and inadequate water supplies around the world, which is the largest global health problem. Matt Damon founded the organization in 2007, along with entrepreneur Gary White. A number of other celebrities have also jumped onboard to support the cause, including Bono, Justin Timberlake, Madeleine Albright, and Jason Bateman.
Small Steps Project is a United Kingdom-based humanitarian organization that raises awareness of poverty, helping to deliver shoes, hygiene supplies, and first-aid kits to children in need. The organization is backed by some of the world’s best-recognized celebrities, including Beyonce, Madonna, George Clooney, and Serena Williams.
Michael J. Fox started a foundation for Parkinson’s disease research after being diagnosed with the condition in 1991. Barbara Walters, Ben Stiller, and John Mayer have all backed the cause, helping the non-profit fund more than $750 million for research.
The Trevor Project promotes acceptance of all sexualities for teenagers, and suicide prevention among gay and questioning youth. Daniel Radcliffe recorded a PSA for the group in 2012, telling teens he believed that “reaching out for help is the bravest thing a person can do.” Lady Gaga, Betty White, and Queen Latifah also support the organization.
The VH1 Save the Music Foundation raises awareness for music education programs in public schools. Since its founding in 1997, it has donated $53 million dollars in new musical instruments to more than 2,000 public schools. It should come as no surprise that several famous musicians back this organization, including Britney Spears, Ne-Yo, Nicki Minaj, and Snoop Dogg.
Stand Up to Cancer was co-founded by Katie Couric, and raises money for cancer research, while providing information about cancer screenings and treatment. The organization held a telecast in September, and raised nearly $124 million. The organization’s famous supporters include Jon Bon Jovi, Stevie Wonder, Derek Jeter, and Miley Cyrus.
Special Olympics offers sports training and competition to more than two million people with disabilities in 150 countries. Michael Jordan, Bruce Springsteen, Christina Aguilera, and Eva Mendes are all among the organization’s celebrity supporters. Chance the Rapper and Usher also performed at Special Olympics’ 50th anniversary concert earlier this year.
The United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, works to improve children’s quality of life in more than 190 countries, offering emergency relief, healthcare, and education services. Orlando Bloom visited as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Liberia. “Communities have been at the center of the fight against Ebola, and must continue to be supported,” the actor said. Alicia Keys and Liam Neeson are also UNICEF supporters.
The American Foundation for AIDS Research supports AIDS prevention, education, research, and advocacy. The organization hosts an annual Cinema Against AIDS gala that has raised more than $22 million for research. Famous hosts of the gala have included Elton John, Elizabeth Taylor, and Sharon Stone. Other celebrities that support the cause: Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian, and Mick Jagger.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, prominent women in Hollywood created Time’s Up and the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. The foundation, launched by Oprah Winfrey, Gloria Steinem, Meryl Streep, and Mindy Kaling, aims to provide protection and support for women facing harassment or abuse. The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund retains more than 200 volunteer lawyers to represent women unable to afford legal assistance.
Aid Still Required is a non-profit organization that focuses on forgotten or overlooked issues that remain after natural disasters or other crises. The group’s projects promote self-sufficiency, by, for example, offering small business opportunities. Celebrity supporters include Adam Levine, Martha Stewart, and Sarah Silverman.
Matthew McConaughey established the Just Keep Livin Foundation to encourage students to stay active and healthy, providing resources for better fitness, nutrition, and wellness through service. Other famous supporters of the cause include the Rolling Stones, and Eric Church.
City of Hope is dedicated to preventing and treating cancer via biomedical research, treatment, and education. Beyonce is slated to perform at the organization’s gala this month. The group has a number of other celebrity backers, including Nick Jonas, Enrique Iglesias, and Jamie Foxx.
THORN was founded by Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore in 2010 to help stop the spread of child sex-trafficking. In 2017, Kutcher spoke in front of the Senate, presenting a plan for digital technology used to protect children. John Legend, Drake, and Sofia Vergara also support the organization.
Feeding America targets hunger in the United States, distributing food to those in need through a nationwide member network. The group also raises public awareness of domestic hunger, and advocates for policies and regulations that relieve the burden of the food-insecure. Celebrity supporters of the group’s work include Anne Hathaway, Lisa Kudrow, and Mariah Carey.
George Clooney’s Not On Our Watch Foundation focuses on elevating human rights, raising public awareness of communities impacted by war. Several fellow celebrities serve on the foundation’s board, including Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, and Brad Pitt. Cheadle and activist John Prendergast also authored a book on the subject.
The Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes specializes in Type 1 diabetes research and care for children and adults. The center provides care to 80% of children in Colorado with diabetes, as well as 2,000 adults in the Rocky Mountain region. Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand, and Richard Gere are among the many celebrities who support this organization.
The Joyful Heart Foundation, started by Mariska Hargitay, supports victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. The foundation provides a cost-free retreat program for survivors, which focuses on healing from trauma. Other celebrity supporters include Michael Bloomberg, Tim Gunn, and Debra Messing.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association is dedicated to defeating and curing the disease through research, services, and public awareness. Muscular dystrophy is a progressive genetic disease that causes weakness, and the loss of muscle mass. Famous supporters of the cause include Josh Groban, Susan Lucci, and Jason Derulo.
Caudwell Children is a non-profit organization in the United Kingdom that works to provide specialized medical care for children with disabilities. Since 1999, the group has made more than 2,000 donations to families in need. A number of British and American celebrities support the organization, including Tina Turner, Robbie Williams, and Elton John.
The Los Angeles Mission is dedicated to assisting people who are homeless in the Los Angeles area, providing shelter, food, and clothing. The organization, established 75 years ago, honored actress Catherine Zeta Jones at its 2017 gala in recognition of her work with the group. Other famous supporters include Amber Rose, Liam Hemsworth, and Neil Patrick Harris.
Greenpeace is an organization dedicated to fighting threats to wildlife and the environment. In February, actor Sam Neill appeared in a public service announcement with Jane Goodall, urging the public to avoid one-use plastic bags. Maisie Williams, Christian Bale, and Penelope Cruz are also fellow supporters of Greenpeace.
The annual Race to Erase MS raises awareness for multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects the immune system. 72% of every dollar donated to the organization goes to MS research. Celebrity supporters of the organization include Avril Lavigne, Paris Hilton, and Joan Jett.
The Starkey Hearing Foundation distributes 50,000 hearing aids every year through missions in 86 countries, and has distributed more than 300,000 hearing aids around the world since 2000. Celine Dion, Ozzy Osbourne, and Chris Colfer are among of the foundation's famous supporters.
Animal Defenders International campaigns to protect animals and combat the trafficking of endangered species. Last month, supporter Ricky Gervais spoke out in a video for the group about using primates in research. “To see these sensitive, intelligent animals born to suffer in this way makes me angry,” the actor said. Other supporters include Bob Barker and Joanna Lumley.
Malaria No More focuses on ending malaria deaths. The disease, carried by mosquitoes, is the #1 killer of children under five in sub-Saharan Africa. Athletes David Beckham and Andy Murray are founding members of the Malaria No More UK Leadership Council. Ellen DeGeneres, Ryan Seacrest, and Ellie Kemper are also among the group’s celebrity backers.
The Wounded Warrior Project helps injured U.S. military service members, and raises public awareness of available care for veterans. The organization provides direct treatment, services, and programs to veterans across the country. Celebrity supporters of the Wounded Warrior Project include Alec Baldwin, Sean Connery, and Bob Costas.
Smile Train provides medical care for children with cleft palate disorders whose families cannot afford the cost. Children with this condition can have difficulty eating, breathing, and speaking. Famous supporters include Kylie Jenner, Helena Bonham Carter, and Alex Trebek.
STOMP Out Bullying is a national anti-bullying program for kids and teens created in 2005 to stop violence online and in schools. The organization educates students, offers help for those at risk of suicide, and implements peer mentoring programs. Julianne Moore, Demi Lovato, Regis Philbin, and Hilary Duff are all among the organization's famous supporters.