It is said that with great power comes great responsibility, and high-ranking musicians, actors and actresses definitely have significant power when it comes to making a difference for a good cause.
Whether it’s using their status to speak about what they believe in, donating hours of their time between jam-packed schedules, or handing over half of their earnings, tabloids often fail to report on all the good things celebrities are doing for society. In no particular order, here’s just a fraction of some of the most kind-hearted people in Hollywood.
Despite her bad girl attitude sometimes portrayed in her music, Rhirhi is one of the nicest musicians around. She’s been known to send gourmet pizza and towels to fans waiting in the rain for her concert, as well performing at countless charity concerts.
She’s also created the Believe Foundation, which aims to help terminally ill children by providing emotional, educational, financial and medical support, and the Clara Lionel Foundation, in honour of her grandparents, to help improve the quality of life for communities globally in the areas of health, education, arts and culture.
The superstar also rallied support during 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, donating $100,000 and 1,000 sleeping bags, and transforming her album release party into a rally, asking guests to bring cleaning supplies, diapers and clothing for victims of the disaster.
On top of her busy schedule she’s served as ambassador for UNICEF’s Tap Project, which raises funds to bring clean water and sanitation to children around the world. Other donations include $1.75 million to a Barbados hospital in honour of her late grandmother, $100,000 to Philippines Typhoon victims and $25,000 to an LAPD charity after accidentally dropping a police chief’s phone during a selfie – now that’s an apology!
2. Emma Watson
Branching out of the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise, the actress is the freshest face of female rights. She launched the United Nations’s #HeForShe campaign in October 2014, calling on men worldwide to help achieve gender equality, saying “Men – I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too.”
The ‘Smack That’ singer isn’t just known for his chart-topping bangers – he’s also bringing electricity to 600 million people in Africa. An African native himself, Akon started his own charity in 2014 called Akon Lighting Africa, delivering three types of solutions for people without electricity: 100,000 street lamps have been installed in villages, 1,000 solar micro-generators have replaced old ones that used fossil fuels, and 200,000 household solar electric systems have been provided, including pocket-sized solar gadgets that charge phones and tablets.
However unlike other charities tackling issues in Africa, Akon decided to take a for-profit approach, providing empowerment to local people so they can start developing their own economies. His other charity work includes launching the Konfidence Foundation to provide the African youth with educational materials, health services and access to learning environments with modern technology.
4. Miley Cyrus
The media can be quick to label Miley Cyrus as a shocking, provocative and wild, however she is one of the most generous musicians around, using her fame as a way of getting messages across, like in 2014, when she sent homeless California man, Jesse Helt, to collect her award at the MTV VMAs, to raise awareness and give the homeless a voice.
As well as being one of today’s biggest advocates for animal rights, the former Disney star has started her own charity called the Happy Hippie Foundation, which supports and fight injustice facing people like LGBTQ youth and the homeless.
Cyrus also turned her 20th birthday party into a fundraiser for a dog rescue organisation, and has worked with over 40 charities including the Red Cross, City of Hope, Blessings in a Backpack, and the Starkey Hearing Foundation.
5. Demi Lovato
After battling with mental illness herself, the ‘Skyscraper’ songstress used her voice to start a Mental Health Listening & Engagement Tour to advocate for mental health support and treatment, and has been incredibly vocal about her experiences with mental health and body image.
She’s also advocated for LGBTQ rights a number of times, including during her performance at the 24th Annual Billboard Awards, in ‘I Don’t Care’ music video, and by controversially cancelling her North Carolina tour dates with Nick Jonas over the state’s anti-LGBT laws, releasing a statement stating “it takes away some of the LGBT community’s most basic rights and protections.”
The Black Eyed Peas star doesn’t just know how to make a hit – he also knows how to make a difference! He started the i.am.angel foundation which offers educational opportunities through a variety of programs, including the i.am scholarship, which has given over $500,000 in financial aid to college students, and the i.am home program which has so far raised over $400,000 to improve financial literacy and provide grants to help qualifying struggling families.
As well his significant contributions to his own charity, he’s also donated $100,000 to a school in New Zealand, and donated his $750,000 payout from The Voice UK to the Prince’s Trust to fund schemes for disadvantaged youth, with a focus on technology.
7. 50 Cent
He’s one of the baddest emcees in the rap game, but the man also known as Curtis Jackson does have a soft side. After accidentally mocking an autistic airport worker, he righted his wrong by apologising to the man and his family, and donating $100,000 to an autism charity.
Growing up in one of the most violent and disadvantaged neighbourhoods in New York, 50 Cent wanted to make a difference by starting his own charity, the G-Unity Foundation,to provide grants to non-profit organisations in low-income communities. He’s also appeared in Feeding America campaigns, raised money for charity during BGC Partners’ Charity Day in 2013 and worked with UNICEF.
8. Charlize Theron
Originally from South Africa, the ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ star doesn’t just visit her hometown to catch up with her family – her charity, the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, which works to end the AIDS epidemic in Africa, and prevent African youth from the disease. The non-profit charity provides support to organisations through direct grants, networking, and spotlighting the power of their work.
To raise funds for CTAOP, Theron partnered with TOMS Shoes to create a limited edition unisex shoe, made from vegan materials and inspired by the African baobab tree, and as a result, 10,000 pairs were given to children in need.
She is also active with PETA, an animal rights organisation, and has attended a number of rallies regarding women’s rights and same-sex marriage. Other notable causes include attending a charity auction to raise money for OxFam and the Red Cross, in which a business man paid $42,000 to have dinner with Charlize.
9. Elton John
Over the years, Sir Elton John has seen many of his close friends die from HIV/AIDS, and established the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992 to try to stem the destruction the disease causes around the world. It has since raised over $125 million, providing services to people living with AIDS in 55 countries.
Each year the ‘Tiny Dancer’ singer opens his house to hundreds of celebrities and special guests for a themed ball to raise money for the foundation, as well as throwing post-Oscar and -Grammys parties as fundraisers.
The music legend also gives large amounts of his personal wealth to charity. Following the death of Princess Diana in 1997, he raised $40 million for charity through sales of ‘Candle In The Wind’, and in 2004 he donated over $43 million to organisations around the world, making him the most generous person in music in 2004, and for many years to come.
On top of all that, 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. In total Elton John has raised and donated an estimated $167,830,300 over the years!
10. Taylor Swift
Like Sir Elton John, giving back to the community and donating to charity are actions that have always been extremely important to Swift throughout her career. She has been recognised by the Do Something Awards, The Giving Back Fund and the Tennessee Disaster Services, as well as being named most charitable celebrity in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
The country-turned-pop singer forked out $625,000 to Hands on Nashville, the community Foundation of Middle Tennessee for Nashville’s flood relief efforts, as well as donating all proceeds from the sale of her single ‘Welcome to New York’ to New York City Public Schools. Other donations over the years include $4 million to the Country Hall of Fame Museum and $150,000 to an Alabaman school affected by tornadoes.
Swift’s fans mean everything to her, and she’s been known to track down her fans via social media and surprise them at red carpets, weddings and even a fan’s bridal shower. One of the most touching moments was during ‘Swiftmas’ 2014, in which the singer spent hours writing in cards and wrapping up presents to send to her biggest fans.
She’s also active with a number of charities including UNICEF, Red Cross, Children in Need, and the Wounded Warrior Project, and regularly makes time to visit children’s hospitals and spend hours with bed-ridden fans.
Giving back, volunteering and donating time for a worth cause is an extremely rewarding experience, and something I encourage everyone to have a go at. Instead of buying a $5 coffee, put that note in a donation tin. When you throw your next birthday party or family get together, make it a fundraiser for your favourite charity.
And yes, while donating money isn’t a financial strain on celebrities, if they can find the time to contribute to improving the world, can’t we all?