Celebrities Who Generously Give Money Instead of Buying Luxury Items
When you're rolling in the Benjamins, it may be temptingly easy to spend your dough on diamonds and yachts galore, but these A-list celebrities are giving back in a big way. From charities to private donations, the generosity goes on and on. Their donations make up a large part of the national percentage of charity fundraising, and they also bring awareness to social issues. Read up on these big-time givers of Hollywood and get inspired.
Born in Beirut, Keanu Charles Reeves is a Canadian actor known for his popular films like The Matrix, John Wick, Speed and the Netflix original Always Be My Maybe. He once considered pursuing hockey professionally until he decided to become an actor when he was 15.
A Reeves-y Generous Guy
As generous as he is handsome, Reeves claimed that the last thing he cares about is money and "[he] could live on what [he has] already made for the next few centuries." He reportedly gave $80 million of his $114 million paycheck from The Matrix to the special effects team, though that’s also been deemed an urban legend.
As a Los Angeles native, Leonardo DiCaprio always knew he wanted to be either a marine biologist or an actor. He dropped out of high school (eventually earning his GED) and took off into the spotlight, earning his first Academy Award nomination at the ripe age of 19.
Think The Wolf of Wall Street, but Nicer
A true household name, Leonardo DiCaprio's films have accumulated about $7.2 billion worldwide. Aside from acting, he’s one of the most active celebrities in the climate change movement. He has donated small fortunes to the Wildlife Conservation Society and other environmental organizations.
Amal & George Clooney
Hollywood sweethearts Amal and George Clooney are about as fairytale as it gets. Meeting through a mutual friend in 2013, the two became engaged in 2014. She, a successful lawyer, and he, a renowned actor, were married in Venice by the former mayor of Rome, also a friend of George.
He Was an Actor, She Was a Lawyer — Can We Make It Any More Obvious?
Amal and George co-founded the Clooney Foundation for Justice in late 2016 to "advance justice in courtrooms, communities and classrooms around the world." Amal started the Amal Clooney Scholarship, partnered with the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, and she and her husband sponsor a Yazidi student.
John Felix Anthony Cena Jr. is a man of many talents. He’s a professional wrestler, an actor, a rapper and a television presenter. His trash-talking style and industry accomplishments made him one of the most famous wrestlers on television, and his peers named him the greatest professional wrestler of all time.
You May Not Be Able to See Him, But You Can See His Kindness
John Cena has granted more than 500 wishes through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which is the most in the company's entire history. He’s earned awards such as the Chris Greicius Celebrity Award and appears in other notable advertising campaigns.
Joanne Rowling, better known by her pen name J.K. Rowling, is a British author, producer, screenwriter and philanthropist. Her Harry Potter series became some of the best-selling books in history. Before there was wild magical success, however, she saw more trials and tribulations than most people.
The Magical World of Sharing Your Fortune
J.K. Rowling created the Volant Charitable Trust, which combats poverty and social inequality with an annual budget of £5.1 million. Through fundraising efforts, she donates considerable amounts to health and social issues such as multiple sclerosis, one-parent families and children's welfare.
Emma Watson was born in Paris, France, which goes to show she's always had that "je ne sais quoi." From the booming success of her role as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter to her grace in Beauty and the Beast, she quickly became one of the highest-grossing actors of the 2010s.
Contributions Fit for a Princess (and a Witch!)
Emma Watson remained a champion of the limelight on and off the camera. She is a strong supporter of education for girls. In 2014 she was declared a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. As an advocate for feminism, Watson has launched several campaigns to give women a safe space to share experiences.
Chan Kong-sang, known professionally as Jackie Chan, is one of the most influential cinematic and action-oriented personalities in the world. He began acting in the 1960s and has appeared in more than 150 films. Though he attended the China Drama Academy, he also rigorously trained in martial arts and acrobatics.
The (Martial) Art of Giving Back
In 2016, Forbes named Jackie Chan the second-highest-paid actor in the world. Inspired by the charitable efforts of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, he pledged to donate half of his assets to charity upon his death.
Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith
Hollywood's favorite mom and dad Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith are ultimate relationship goals. They met on the set of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when Jada auditioned to play Will's girlfriend. The two began dating in 1995 and married in 1997. Jada has said that she would throw away her entire career before she let it break up their marriage.
The Philanthropic Prince of Bel-Air
The couple created the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation in Baltimore. The charity focuses on youth in urban inner cities and family support. They have provided grants to non-profit organizations, and Jada has also contributed to organizations like Capital K-9s and PETA.
Sir Richard Starkey, or Ringo Starr, is famously known as the drummer of the Beatles. Starr was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a Beatle in 1988 and again in 2015 for his solo career. He’s one of 21 performers who were inducted more than once.
The Starr-t of Something New
Ringo Starr founded the Lotus Foundation with his wife Barbara Bach, a charity aimed to advance social welfare in diverse areas. In 2015, Starr and Bach auctioned items from their private and professional collections, raising over $9 million. A portion of the proceeds was donated to the charity.
Matt Damon is one of the most notable actors in Hollywood. He rose to fame in 1997 with his breakthrough role in Good Will Hunting and has racked up more than 23 nominations for prestigious awards, resulting in two wins. He also took up voice acting.
One Martian Makes a Difference
Damon founded the H2O Africa Foundation, which joined forces with WaterPartners to create Water.Org in 2009. He is a ONEXONE ambassador, committed to improving the lives of children. He and other celebrities also founded the Not On Our Watch Project.
José Antonio Dominguez Bandera, known as Antonio Banderas, is a Spanish actor, producer and singer. He began acting in the 1980s and has since received praise for his roles in films like The Mask of Zorro, the Spy Kids series, Puss in Boots and Evita alongside American pop star Madonna.
Spanish Hospitality Wins Again
Antonio Banderas keeps his activist efforts sharp when not immersed in the film world. He appeared in a Spanish culture video alongside other celebrities supporting the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party in 1996. He continues to provide resources for disadvantaged people.
Angelina Jolie is about as A-list as it gets. Coming from a family of seasoned Hollywood legends, Jolie has a variety of critically acclaimed films under her belt, including Gia, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Maleficent.
Jolie's "Joie de Donner"
Through her role as Lara Croft, Angelina Jolie claims her eyes were opened to the disastrous conditions of the world. She visited various refugee camps to better her understanding of social crisis issues and donated $1 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which was the largest donation the organization had seen from one individual.
Country superstar-turned-pop princess Taylor Swift constantly appears in headlines and on the radio waves with her top hits and media contributions. She became the youngest artist signed to a major label at the age of 15. Her seventh studio album Lover, released in 2019, made her the second woman in history to have six consecutive number-one albums on the Billboard 200.
She's Got a Blank Space, and She'll Write Your Name
Taylor Swift's philanthropic efforts extend far beyond the average celebrity. Though she is worth more than $360 million, she has donated considerable amounts to charitable organizations such as Architecture for Humanity, V Foundation for Cancer Research, Tennessee Equality Project and GLAAD.
Known as perhaps the best and most highly sought-after actress of her generation, Meryl Streep has accumulated a wide variety of roles and award nominations. She began acting in 1975 and won an Emmy award the following year.
The Devil Wears Prada and Donates, Too
Though it may be difficult to imagine American cinema without the legendary matriarch, Meryl Streep has also contributed to charitable organizations and efforts that reflect her values. She aims to spread female empowerment and funded a screenwriters lab for female screenwriters over 40 years old.
Television's most beloved host, Oprah Winfrey, rose to stardom through her show and truly believes in sharing the wealth. The Oprah Winfrey Show was the highest-rated television program of its kind, and she has won numerous awards because of it.
Everyone Gets a Fundraiser!
Oprah Winfrey was named the first African American among a list of 50 most generous Americans. More than 400 scholarships were given in her name to students at Morehouse College in Georgia. She created Oprah's Angel Network, which provides grants to non-profit organizations around the world and has raised more than $80 million for her causes.