This is a list of the top ten stars that utilise their position of fame and fortune to make a positive change in the world. They donate millions of dollars every year and dedicate massive amounts of their time to the causes they believe in.
Angelina Jolie – Hollywood’s highest paid actress is a fully-fledged diplomat who uses her star power to draw significant attention to issues which may otherwise slip through the mainstream press. Jolie represents the UN Refugee Agency to other diplomats, governments and officials around the world. The oscar-winning actress first became personally aware of worldwide humanitarian crises while filming Tomb Raider in Cambodia. She promotes various causes, including conservation, education, and women’s rights, and is most noted for her advocacy on behalf of refugees as a Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). As a public figure, Jolie has been cited as one of the most influential and powerful people in the American entertainment industry, a very useful tool when your goal is to make the world a better place.
Since 2001, Jolie has been on field missions around the world and met with refugees in more than 20 countries, including Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Cambodia, Pakistan, Thailand, Ecuador, Kosovo, Kenya, Namibia, Sri Lanka, North Caucasus, Jordan, Egypt, New Delhi, Costa Rica, Chad, Syria, Iraq and Haiti. The political meetings she attends and speaks at represents the powerful stature she holds in the world; speaking alongside international political leaders and highly influential intellectuals. As well as all her good work Jolie donates huge amounts of money; a large percentage of her earnings goes to all the various organisations and causes that she believes in so strongly. The Maleficent star reportedly donates all proceeds from any photographs the press buy of her and her family to charity, including the whopping $5 million received for her wedding photos.
Elton John – Sir Elton has seen many of his close friends die from HIV/AIDS over the years, and established the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) in 1992 to try to stem the destruction the disease causes around the world. To raise extra money for this foundation he holds a ball every year in his own home. The White Tie and Tiara party brings in a lot of cash from its celebrity guest list as do his post-Grammy and Oscar parties. He began his fund raising for HIV/AIDs back in the mid-80’s having lost many dear friends to the disease. EJAF has managed to raise more than $125 million which not only provides support for sufferers but funds prevention and education plus assistance on reducing discrimination and prejudice against those living with it. Elton not only raises the funds himself but he also forks out a lot of his own money towards all different charities. In 1997 $40 million was raised by the version of Candle in The Wind which he released in honour of Princess Diana just after her death. In 2004 he gave $43 million to various organisations. In 2008 he provided 120 motorbikes for doctors and nurses to be able to reach patients in the remote areas in Lesotho, Africa. All this makes Elton one of the most generous celebrities in the world.
Bono – The U2 frontman is not only the leader of a band he is a leader in the fight against poverty and is regularly in contact with world leaders assisting his mission to improve the ways of the world. After meeting with President Sarkozy of France the president not only promised to restore 20 million Euros cut from the Global Fund to fight AIDS TB and malaria, he also said he would send through a plan to restore promised French aid trajectories in the next few weeks.
He has helped to launch many campaigns such as the ONE Campaign, DATA (Debt AIDS Trade Africa), (RED) (another AIDS charity) and EDUN (a clothing company which creates trade with poverty stricken countries). His early work began in Ethiopia where he and his wife created an education programme, then Nicaragua and El Salvador with the aim to help children. He helped to organise Amnesty International’s Conspiracy Of Hope tour in 1986. Following this he became involved in the Band Aid, Live Aid and later Live 8 events and projects with Bob Geldof. He often used his music to deliver messages and has written countless poignant songs with political themes, such as anti Apartheid song Silver and Gold. Bono received a knighthood from the Queen in 2007 and has been nominated for three Nobel Peace prizes.
Oprah Winfrey – Oprah is a giver. She has truly established herself as an altruistic person dedicated to improving others’ lives. She has donated millions to many different charities such as the Clinton Foundation, Projet Cuddle and Free The Children, but generally focusses on three self-founded causes; The Angel Network, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation and The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation. The Angel Network, which she has used her talk show to publicise, is a charity designed to fund specific projects all over the world, such as Rebuilding the Gulf Coast and an Academy for girls in South Africa. ALL proceeds received by this foundation go towards such projects. The Oprah Winfrey Foundation is funded by an endowment and run exclusively by Oprah herself. She dedicates so much of her time and money to making the world a better place to live, helping others, and rebuilding broken lives. It is claimed that in her will she has left $1 billion to charity, so not only is she one of the most generous and conscientious celebrities on the planet she has become one of the greatest philanthropists of this Century.
Ellen Degeneres – She lives up to her generous sounding name supporting many different organisations around the world and has won many awards for her charity work. She launched the Small Change Campaign alongside actor Ben Affleck to help benefit feeding America. She currently supports thirty-four different charities and non-profit organisations varying from Red Cross to STOMP Out Bullying. During the month of October, Ellen’s, Ellen for the Cure, campaign runs on her show to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Ellen is also widely known for her love of animals and her attempts to work with animal rights. Her show alone has managed to raise more than $50 million which she donated to various good causes.
Ellen uses her talk show as a way to help struggling families and individuals. Ellen has been included in TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women and Entertainment Weekly’s 50 Most Powerful Entertainers. At the end of every episode Ellen finishes by saying, “Be kind to one another”, which promotes, not only being kind, but also treating everyone fairly and equally. Though they may not be traditional, Ellen DeGeneres does many things in her life that make her an excellent example of a modern day prophet.
Brad Pitt – The other half of the Brangelina super duo is also no stranger to a charitable attitude. The father of six has become increasingly involved in environmental projects in the States and globally. He utilises his knowledge of architecture to assist in building environmentally friendly structures all over the world. Following the destruction brought by Hurricane Katrina, he became involved in designing and building eco-friendly, affordable large scale housing sites to help those affected by the disaster. “We’ve got to push to get these levees taken care of in the correct fashion,” Pitt told reporters at a news conference in the hurricane-ravaged working class neighbourhood. Brad generously donated $5 million. In October 2008, the first six homes were completed. In March 2009, Pitt met with US President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, promoting his concept of “green housing” as a national model, and discussed possibilities of federal funding. His commitment to aiding humanitarian causes all over the world is admirable and tireless, in 2006 he and his wife Angelina Jolie (co-founders of the Jolie-Pitt Foundation) gave over $8 million to various charities such as Doctors Without Borders, a UN refugee agency, African relief organisations, he doesn’t just give money, he also gives his time and resources and care.
George Clooney – Founder of Not On Our Watch, George Clooney seems to have one of the most charitable hearts in Hollywood, alongside his co-founders and co-stars of Ocean’s Eleven Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle and Matt Damon, plus producer Jerry Weintraub. This organisation is against genocide in Sudan and focuses on helping the poverty stricken sufferers in the affected areas. Human rights activist Clooney has visited the region and spoken personally with victims of rape, torture, poverty and desperation. Thanks to his influence and the pull of the famous faces involved the charity has donated millions of dollars (substantial amounts of which came from Clooney himself) to the affected people alongside the Untied Nations World Food Programme.
His belief in the cause stretches as far as auctioning himself in order to raise funds for charity. At the movie premiere party for Ocean’s 13 he offered up his own personal time to hang out with the highest bidder, all proceeds of which went to Realising The Dream, which continues the work started by Dr. & Mrs King to help eradicate poverty and injustice. Thanks to his dedication, support and consistent donations he was named United Nations Messenger of Peace in 2008 to help raise awareness for peacekeeping around the world. Clooney also supports Bono’s charity the ONE Campaign which fights against poverty and is a trustee for the United Way, he took part in the Tribute to Heroes telethon supporting the victims of 9/11 and even got arrested during a peaceful protest at the Sudanese embassy in Washington D.C.
Paul MacCartney – The legendary Beatles member has done his fair share of fund raising, beginning back when he sadly lost his wife Linda to breast cancer. Inspired by her loss and in her honour he hosted PETA’s Party of the Century gala in 1999, carrying on her care work for the protection of animals. He then went on to use his talents to raise money when he wrote and released an album from which the proceeds were donated to The Garland Appeal, a fund aiding cancer patients. He has also taken part in many fundraising concerts including Live Aid, Live 8 and Concert for New York City and Concerts for the People of Kampuchea.
He supports countless charities including Adopt-A-Minefield, to which he donated $1 million which he received as payment for performing a private concert.
Inspired by his late wife and his daughters, Mary and Stella, Paul is a Patron of the Vegetarian Society: “As Patron, I am more than pleased and proud to be associated with the Vegetarian Society and to show my support for its work. If you think about it, what could be better than enjoying great tasting food that is not only good for your health, but also far better for the planet and the creatures that live with us upon it?” Good old Macca has got his charitable fingers in many pies, vegetarian ones only of course!
Madonna – “It has pretty much taken over my life, and I’m so grateful it has…I’ve started an organisation called Raising Malawi…and any of your help would be greatly appreciated by me.” – Madonna. In 2006 Madonna and Michael Berg founded Raising Malawi, a non-profit organisation supporting community-based projects 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 foundations that offer impoverished families with innovative opportunities for sustainability such as Millennium Promise (a non-profit which works towards the halving extreme poverty in Africa by 2015) and International Medical Corps (a global, humanitarian, nonprofit organisation dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and relief and development programs). For every dollar that is raised and donated to Raising Malawi Madonna matches it with one from her own pocket. She also works closely with SocialVibe which is a social media utility encouraging big brands to sponsor and benefit causes of their choice. She actively gives money to many causes, many relating to children, and is a dedicated patron of Children of Peace.
Jessica Alba – Jessica Alba is an actress, activist, New York Times bestselling author, entrepreneur and works to fight against environmental issues, for children’s health and helping families in need. Jessica was in the top twenty of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, one of CNBC’s Next List of Rebels, Leaders and Innovators and one of Fortune’s 10 Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs. She has been named part of Vanity Fair’s Next Establishment, Entrepreneur of the Year at the UK Glamour Women of the Year Awards and Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. She is also the recipient of the Entertainment Media Association’s Green Parent Award and the Mt. Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center Champion for Children Award.
Her company; The Honest Company – honest.com – promotes sustainability, aims to make a difference within communtities, supports more than 100 non-profit organisations which work to fight against social and health issues affecting children and families. Honest delivers safe, effective, accessible and stylish non-toxic family and lifestyle goods…such as nappies, childcare products, cleaning products, hygiene products and health products. Every purchase results in a donation to families in need. The company has won countless awards for its work. Alba also actively supports V-Day, Declare Yourself, Baby2Baby, The MaxLove Project, SOS Children’s Villages, Step Up Women’s Network, Children’s Defense Fund, Healthy Child Healthy World and VotoLatino. She is an international ambassador for 1Goal which is a campaign supported by the World Cup to improve global education.
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