Celebrity Philanthropists


Philanthropy among celebrities isn’t a new thing, with many often deciding to use their reputation and earnings to raise awareness and donate funds to all sorts of causes across the globe. Unsurprisingly, there are some really big names amongst the top celebrity charity donors, here is a roundup of some of the most well-known.

Taylor Swift

The 25-year old singer has not only carved out an incredibly successful music career but she has also been named the most charitable celebrity by DoSomething.org for 2014. Swift is active in UNICEF, Red Cross, Children In Need, she also donated all her proceeds from hit single ‘Welcome to New York’ to public schools in the city and $50,000 to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.


The frontman of U2, has been using his celebrity status to do good for a long time, taking a strong position on fighting poverty in third world countries. He’s been continuously working with and donating to Debt AIDS Trade Africa (DATA), as well as other charities like One in Four Ireland who work with victims of sexual abuse to whom he donated $50,000. Bono has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times and received a Knighthood in 2007 in recognition of his services to the music industry and for his humanitarian work.

Sir Elton John

The legendary musician is renowned for his charity work, perhaps his most famous contributions come via his annual ‘White Tie & Tiara’ balls and post-Oscar and Grammy parties, where he opens his house to celebrities for a charity fundraiser. Having lost many friends to HIV/AIDS Elton established the Elton John Aids Foundation (EJAF) in 1992 to try and stop the spread of the disease around the world. Since it launched EFAJ has raised over $125 million to support programmes in 55 countries.

The singer also gives large amounts of his personal wealth to charity. In 2004 he donated over $43 million to organizations around the world, making him the most generous person in music for that year. In 2008 he donated 120 motorcycles to the African nation of Lesotho, to be used by doctors and nurses to visit patients in remote areas, and in 1997 he raised $40 million for charity through sales of Candle in the Wind, the single released following the death of Princess Diana.

Angelina Jolie

You can’t mention philanthropy without thinking of Angelina Jolie. Angelina has said that she first become aware of the extent of the problems people around the world face when she filmed Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in Cambodia in 2001. She later said that seeing and meeting the people of that war-ravaged country ‘opened my eyes’ and went on to adopt her son Maddox from the country. Angelina and her husband Brad Pitt later went on to use the $14 million that they received from selling the first pictures of their twins to People magazine and Hello magazine to funding the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which is dedicated to community development and environmental conservation in Cambodia

The Oscar-winning actress has been involved with a number of humanitarian charities, donating millions of dollars to worthy causes, as well as being an active member of the UN.

One Direction

The once famous five (now four) may be relative newcomers to the world of celebrity but they are passionate supporters of charitable causes. Some of their contributions include donating proceeds from the single “One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks)” to Comic Relief. Harry Styles and Liam Payne have also raised money through the fundraising platform Prizeo for Trekstock, a charity for cancer research. In the past they also teamed up with Office Depot to launch an exclusive, limited-edition back-to-school collection with a percentage of the products’ sales being donated to the Office Depot Foundation to support anti-bullying education. The group also participated in the annual BBC Children in Need charity event big supporters of Rays of Sunshine, a charity for seriously ill children. It’s estimated that they helped raise about $7 million for charity in 2013. Last October they encouraged fans to get behind the Stand Up to Cancer campaign leading to fans raising a massive £501, 300.


The #BeyGood campaign promoted by the singer has helped a number of causes over the last few years, which puts her as one of the biggest philanthropists in recent times. The singer has used her fame and fortune in a positive way and is a co-founder of CHIME FOR CHANGE, a platform designed to empower women and girls through education, health and justice. Rumour has it that Queen Be has donated more than $7 million over the years to a Houston charity that helps provide shelter, counselling, food, and healthcare for the homeless.


The “Queen of Pop,” founded Raising Malawi a non-profit organization supporting community-based organizations that provide vulnerable children and caregivers with nutritious food, proper clothing, secure shelter, formal education, targeted medical care, emotional care and psychosocial support. In addition, Raising Malawi supports non-government organizations that offer impoverished families with innovative opportunities for sustainability.

She recently donated to three community groups in her hometown of Detroit in 2014. The superstar donated to the Downtown Youth Boxing Gym, the Detroit Achievement Academy and the Empowerment Plan.   The Empowerment Plan, is a non-profit that employs homeless women who sew garments that are distributed to the homeless.

At the time Madonna was quoted by the Huffington Post as saying “I was deeply inspired by the efforts of so many people who I met who have dedicated themselves to helping the kids and adults in Detroit elevate themselves from the cycle of poverty. … It was obvious to me that I had to get involved and be part of the solution to help Detroit recover,” Madonna said in the written statement, referencing the city’s efforts to emerge from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

“A piece of my heart will always be in Detroit, and I’m humbled to be able to give back to my community,”

In addition she actively gives money to many causes, many relating to children, and is a Patron of Children of Peace.

Miley Cyrus

The wild star is definitely passionate about giving back and came in the top 5 of last year’s most charitable celebs due to her work with homeless youths.

Last year when it came to the charity auction portion of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, Miley outbid everybody to the tune of $300,000 for a nude woman print by photographer Ryan McGinley.

Later she donated another $200k to the organisation

At the time she said: “If I’m going to have a voice I would like to start an open dialogue about prevention and awareness and how people in the world have been effected by HIV and AIDS. Hopefully, I could break down people’s walls that have been built up around sexuality. I’m obviously not too embarrassed to talk about these things, especially with young people.”

Kiera Knightley

The award-winning star who famously only pays herself around £30, 000 per year is a huge supporter of Oxfam, specifically the work they carry out in the refugee camps in South Sudan. The Hollywood actress has donated generously to the charity and uses her profile to help raise awareness and support around the world.   In an interview with The Telegraph where she spoke of her work with the people of Sudan she said: “We look at people in faraway countries, on television and we can’t quite believe they are the same as us, but they are. They love their children as we do, they want an education for them, and they want to give them a secure home and the freedom to run about in safety. Instead, they watch, powerless, as their toddlers play by the sewage – there’s nowhere else for them.”

Keira has also shown support for Amnesty International. Comic Relief and appeared in a video for Women’s Aid.

Paul McCartney

Possibly the world’s most famous vegetarian Paul McCartney supports a number of causes including PETA, Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Princes Trust. Much of the work and donations he makes are kept quite intentionally but he proudly supports LIPA, a university level institute combining performance, technical innovation, business awareness, understanding and intellectual development; the aim is to train people passionate about arts and entertainment for a sustained career. The curriculum is holistic. Students are expected to be multi-skilled and while perfecting proficiency in their chosen discipline, understand others. Three years after leaving, roughly 80% of graduates traced are still working in the performing arts. He is also a big supporter of Meat Free which highlights how going without meat for at least one day a week can make a huge difference to the planet, our health and even our pockets.

Research and article supplied by Flow Caritas, UK’s number one recruiter for charity jobs in the not for profit sector

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