In the world of celebrities, it's not just about performing and walking on red carpets—it also comes with hefty paychecks. While many bask in the glitz and glamor, others choose a different path, one paved with empathy and action.
These icons don't just talk the talk; they walk the walk by advocating for causes they care about, whether it be environmental protection or empowering the marginalized. Discover 18 philanthropic famous people who have gone beyond the spotlight and paparazzi, using their platform and wealth to create positive change.
Angelina Jolie isn't just a Hollywood star worth $120 million; she's a hands-on force for good. Unlike others, she's not just writing checks for donations—she's on the ground, in refugee camps, hearing stories and fighting for rights.
She served with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for over two decades, going on 60 missions to conflict zones. Jolie also started the Education Partnership, funding education for kids affected by war or disasters.
Beyoncé goes beyond the music, proving that actions speak louder than words. Beyond her hits and awards, she's a passionate philanthropist. Through her BeyGOOD Foundation, started in 2013, she helps with scholarships, entrepreneurship programs, disaster relief, and more to promote fairness and education.
Beyoncé works with UNICEF to provide clean water to kids in Africa. On top of all of that, she uses her fame to highlight important issues, including supporting black-owned businesses and advocating for mental health resources in black communities.
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend
This infamous power couple isn't just into walking red carpets and rubbing shoulders with the elite. They also spend their time advocating for and donating to worthy causes. Chrissy Teigen and John Legend have spent time cooking breakfast for families at Ronald McDonald House and donated $200,000 to fight harassment. They even share about their ups and downs, like going through a miscarriage, as well as raising awareness about body image and mental health.
Demi Lovato started her career on the Disney Channel and moved into music with hits like “Cool For The Summer.” After experiencing her own struggles with addiction and depression, she's become an advocate for breaking the stigma around mental health by sharing her story. Since 2013, she's been running the Demi Lovato Foundation, helping young people with mental health, anti-bullying, and education. When COVID-19 hit, she started the Mental Health Fund in 2020, giving free counseling.
Dolly Parton, the country music legend, is a big-hearted giver. As a Tennesseean who grew up with very little, Parton likes to give back to the less fortunate. She gives to organizations like the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes and Boot Campaign, and she even donated $1 million during the pandemic to support research on the COVID-19 vaccine.
The legendary singer responsible for mega-hits like “Tiny Dancer,” “Rocket Man,” and “Crocodile Rock” also happens to be a generous philanthropist. He raised more than $660 million for HIV/AIDS programs with his own Elton John AIDS Foundation. He's a tireless advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and even supports hundreds of charities with the Elton John Charitable Trust.
Many people know Ian Somerhalder for his role in The Vampire Diaries and his big heart for the environment and animals. Somerhalder founded the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, which actively tackles environmental issues, animal welfare, and youth empowerment. He's fighting for endangered species, promoting renewable energy, and educating the next generation to be changemakers. He leads by example and even joined the Deepwater Horizon oil spill cleanup!
Jackie Chan, famous for his gravity-defying stunts and comedic kung-fu action, is also a passionate advocate for children's rights and humanitarian causes. As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2004 and a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador since 2009, he has raised awareness about important issues like HIV/AIDS and supported disaster relief efforts. Through the Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation, he helps young people with education, healthcare, and disaster relief. His “Build a School for a Dollar” campaign allows small donations to build schools in remote areas of China.
In the world of professional wrestling, John Cena not only dominates the ring but also stands out for his remarkable philanthropy. He broke the Guinness World Record for granting over 650 wishes with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, making him the top celebrity wish granter. Since 2002, he's been deeply involved with the organization. Cena also speaks out against bullying and supports cancer awareness and research programs like Susan G. Komen and The Jimmy Fund.
The Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber goes beyond just being a chart-topping music artist. He has donated millions to charities, supporting kids' health, education, and disaster relief. He helps organizations like the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Pencils of Promise, and the ALS Association. He started the Believe Charity Drive in 2009 and raised funds for different causes. Even his clothing line, Drew House, gives back by donating some of its earnings to charity.
Beyond being the creative genius behind the cherished Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling is a dedicated philanthropist. She's donated millions to MS research and other important causes, showing her dedication to helping others. Since co-founding Lumos, Rowling has played a vital role in helping thousands of children leave institutional care and reunite with their families. Her trust, Volant, established in 2000, fights poverty and inequality with a special focus on women and children.
Not only has she won three Oscars, nine Golden Globes, and three Emmy Awards, but she also has a generous heart. She co-founded the Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts, backing arts organizations and programs.
As a National Spokesperson for the National Women's History Museum, she donates and hosts events, ensuring the stories of incredible women are remembered and celebrated. She's raised millions for cancer research with Stand Up To Cancer and supports organizations battling AIDS, poverty, and homelessness. Plus, she lent a hand in rebuilding Haiti after the earthquake.
Iconic basketball legend Michael Jordan has also made a difference off the court. He established the Michael Jordan Foundation, which supports scholarships and educational initiatives for underserved communities. Partnering with Make-A-Wish for over 30 years, he has granted wishes to seriously ill children and made a record-breaking donation of $10 million in 2023. In 2020, he contributed $100 million to organizations promoting racial equality and social justice.
Miley Cyrus is known for pop hits like “Party in the USA” and the passionate ballad “Wrecking Ball.” That same fire now fuels her heart to help others. She founded the Happy Hippie Foundation in 2014; the non-profit focuses on youth homelessness, particularly LGBTQ+ youth and other vulnerable populations.
She launched the #InstaPride campaign on Instagram to promote awareness and acceptance of transgender, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming individuals. She also supported numerous charities, including Amnesty International, Make-A-Wish Foundation, MusiCares, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and many more.
Paul Tudor Jones
Jones, the legendary brains behind Tudor Investment Company, didn't just make an enormous $8.4 billion fortune. He saw it as a tool—not for himself, but to tackle significant challenges. In 1988, Jones started the Robin Hood Foundation to fight poverty in New York City by raising and giving billions for education, healthcare, and more.
He also helped create the Everglades Foundation in 1993 to protect and restore the Everglades ecosystem. Most impressively, he has pledged to give away over half of his wealth to charity.
Oprah Winfrey uses her platform and wealth to support causes she cares about. Through the Angel Network, she has raised millions for education, leadership development, human rights, and community support projects.
This icon believes in the power of knowledge, funding scholarships, and advocating for underprivileged schools. Her Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, located in South Africa, provides top-notch education for girls who might not have had the chance otherwise.
Sandra Bullock, America's sweetheart, doesn't just walk red carpets—she stands shoulder to shoulder with disaster relief with million-dollar donations after tragic events like earthquakes and hurricanes. She's donated millions to the American Red Cross for global disaster relief, including for 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Haiti earthquakes, and Japan earthquakes.
Bullock also helps organizations like Warren Easton High School in New Orleans and the ALS Association. Her decision to keep her charitable acts private makes her generosity even more commendable.
Imagine you're belting out “Cruel Summer” at a Taylor Swift concert, but little do you know, your ticket just helped feed thousands fighting food insecurity. Yes, Taylor donates to food banks in cities across her tour, enabling them to buy fresh food and support programs for vulnerable communities.
She also gets involved in GoFundMe campaigns, contributing to causes like medical bills, education, and disaster relief. And remember when that crowdfunding platform raised its cap to $50,000? Well, Taylor and her mom played a part in that, inspiring countless others to contribute.