While many celebrities can often end up with a bad reputation, there are others that have stepped beyond the film and music industry, and are really giving back to the world. From to , here are 15 icons who are really making a positive difference to the people and places around them.
#1. Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence is regularly in the headlines for the many good deeds that she does, and deservedly so. The actress has starred in numerous films over the years, and also has a lead role in The Hunger Games, but has always had the time to give back to society.
One of her recent, and most impressive, philanthropic acts was a $2 million pledge to the Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisiana, to establish the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. This hospital holds a special place in Lawrence’s heart, and she has spent a number of Christmas Eves there, visiting the children and posing for photos with them.
Lawrence supports several different charities too, including Feeding America, The Thirst Project, the World Food Programme and the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, and has even founded her own charity, called The Lawrence Foundation.
#2. Johnny Depp
Just like Jennifer Lawrence, actor Johnny Depp, who does not really need an introduction, is known for giving back. One of the most highly paid actors in the world, as well as one of the most sought after, Depp gives, and raises, millions of dollars for various charities each and every year.
Here are just a few of the philanthropic acts that Depp is known for:
- Publicly supports a number of different charities, including Dogs Deserve Better, Orca Network, Children’s Hospice & Palliative Care, Helen & Douglas House, Sophie’s Gift and Project HOME
- Heavily contributes to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and received a Courage to Care award for his work
- Donated $2 million to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, after they treated his daughter who had a kidney infection
- Has inspired fans to launch Johnny’s Angels, a group that raises money for the charities that Depp supports
#3. Taylor Swift
These are a few of her most impressive good deeds:
- Donated $100,000 to the Nashville Symphony on her 24th birthday
- Pledged $4 million to establish the Taylor Swift Education Center, which offers programs for children and promotes music education
- Hosted her Speak Now Help Now benefit concert and raised $750,000
- Donated $50,000 to NYC Public Schools
- Donated $1 million to the Louisiana flood relief efforts
- Regularly sends care packages, gifts and cheques to her fans
#4. Meryl Streep
Actress Meryl Streep may not make it into the headlines as much as other celebrities for the way in which she gives back, but this does not mean that her efforts are any less impressive.
Streep has been involved in philanthropy since the early 1980’s, when she founded the Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts, which currently raises around $1 million a year.
With a personal passion for the arts, this is the area in which Streep’s philanthropy is focussed, and she has donated large sums of money to a number of art and culture institutes, including:
- Butler Museum of American Art, Ohio
- New York Shakespeare Festival
- Mass MoCA Foundation
- Opus 118 Harlem School of Music
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
- Public Theater, New York
Education and women’s rights are other areas in which Streep is interested in, although she does also contribute quite heavily to causes relating to the environment, health, historic preservation, and supporting the youth.
#5. Sandra Bullock
While Sandra Bullock’s charity work may not be heavily publicized, this does not mean that they do not exist…
This gorgeous actress, who is known for films such as The Proposal, Gravity and Miss Congeniality, is at the forefront when it comes to giving others a helping hand:
- Donated $1 million to the Red Cross after the September 11th attacks
- Gave a $1 million contribution to the Red Cross to help Hurricane Harvey victims
- Donated $1 million to Doctors Without Borders after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
- Advocates for environmental efforts, such as cleaning the oceans after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill
In interviews, Bullock has revealed that she feels uncomfortable discussing her philanthropy, and tries to keep the media away from this part of her life.
#6. Leonardo DiCaprio
Oscar Award-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio has always understood the importance of the greater good.
If you keep up with climate change, then you will likely already be well familiar with the work that DiCaprio does in this area, as he has advocated for this since the 1990’s. The actor has donated over $30 million to the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation that he launched, which does everything from advance United Nations climate negotiations to protect wild tigers.
With DiCaprio being such an influential individual, his voice and opinion has been heard by so many, and he has really educated the public when it comes to the environment.
While climate change may be DiCaprio’s main focus, he has recently been donating money to other environmental issues, such as the prevention of over-fishing, and the creation of marine reserves in the Pacific.
A Grammy Award-winning singer, Beyonce seems to put the same amount of effort into philanthropy as she does into her career.
Here are just a few of the good causes that the singer is involved in:
- Founded the Survivor Foundation with Kelly Rowland, which helps Hurricane Katrina victims
- Launched the Beyonce Cosmetology Center with her mother, to teach women who are recovering from drug and alcohol addictions the skills that they need to get a cosmetology license
- Launched the Miss a Meal initiative to raise money for charity, while regularly partnering with other anti-hunger organizations
- Co-founded Chime for Change, which uses education to empower girls and women
#8. Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus is a celebrity that often gets judged for the decisions that she makes, but does not seem to receive quite the same amount of attention for all of the good deeds that she does.
Cyrus is actually one of the most charitable celebrities out there, greatly supporting over 40 different charities.
One of these is City of Hope, a not-for-profit clinical research center for cancer. In addition to donating a percentage of ticket sales to the charity, Cyrus has also hosted multiple benefit concerts to raise funds for them.
Many people often doubt that Cyrus actually cares about the community around her, but this could not be more untrue…
In 2009, Cyrus helped to launch the Get Ur Good On initiative, which gives young people opportunities and projects, while providing them with a valuable network for the future.
The Make a Wish Foundation has also been a recipient of Cyrus’ generosity, with Cyrus having granted over 150 wishes so far.
#9. Justin Bieber
While Justin Bieber may be known for a few outrageous antics, this is a celebrity that knows how to give back.
To start with, Bieber is a huge supporter of the Make a Wish Foundation, and, having granted over 250 wishes to date, has actually granted more wishes than any other celebrity.
That’s only the beginning…
- Bieber quietly donated $545,000 to an AIDs charity in 2014
- Bieber donates a percentage of ticket sales to Pencils of Promise, and recently became their global ambassador
- Bieber supports a number of charities and foundations, including Red Cross, PETA, City of Hope, Autism Movement Therapy, Jumpstart and Cure Duchenne, amongst many, many others
- Bieber has always been extremely generous with his fans, doing everything from buying them new phones to bringing concerts to their doorstep when they have had to miss out
#10. Oprah Winfrey
While talk show host Oprah Winfrey may be one of the wealthiest self-made billionaires in the world, she does not keep all of this wealth to herself.
When it comes to doing good deeds, Oprah’s main focus has always been on education, and she has given away more than $400 million to educational causes to date.
In addition to helping with education, here are a few other areas in which Oprah has spread her magic:
- Oprah’s Angel Network ran from 1998 to 2010, and raised over $80 million for charitable causes
- Oprah has donated over $15 million to museums and other art causes
- Oprah has heavily contributed to environmental causes, including a $1 million donation to the Green Belt Movement International for initiatives in Africa
- Oprah is a big supporter of the Clinton Foundation, which raises money for treating AIDS and HIV
- Oprah is a huge advocate for climate change
#11. Ellen DeGeneres
Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres managed to bag herself the People’s Choice Humanitarian Award last year, which is hardly a surprise when you consider all of the charitable work that she has done over the years.
To begin with, DeGeneres has always been generous with the individuals who appear on her show and share their personal stories, and has handed over more than $21 million to them over the years. This generosity has inspired her audience to also do the same, and they have raised over $35 million.
Here are just a few of the other charitable acts that DeGeneres has carried out:
- Raised $12.5 million for breast cancer
- Donated over $10 million for families affected by Hurricane Katrina
- Donated over half a million dollars to rebuild a school in Detroit
- Shares stories on her social media networks about others that need help
- Advocates for animal welfare
- Launched the Small Change Campaign with actor Ben Affleck, to feed America’s hungry
#12. Michael J. Fox
A Canadian-American actor, author and producer, Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991, although did not go public with the news until seven years later.
This diagnosis spurred the actor on to setting up the Michael J. Fox Foundation, whose aim is to find a cure for the disease while improving the Parkinson’s therapies that are currently available. The foundation has been running for over 16 years now, and has raised over $450 million to fund medical research, while supporting more than 50 different clinical trials.
Fox has been dealing with the disease under the public limelight for many years now, and his strength and passion when it comes to advocating for Parkinson’s has inspired so many others to do the same.
#13. Lady Gaga
Two-time Grammy Award winner Lady Gaga is known for her huge heart, and has donated so much money, as well as her own personal time, to a number of charitable causes.
From launching the Born This Way Foundation, which supports young people, to donating a million dollars to the American Red Cross to help with their Hurricane Sandy efforts, Gaga tries to stay at the forefront when it comes to helping others.
On social media, Gaga has millions of followers and fans, and, unlike many other stars, she uses this to her advantage when it comes to spreading the word about good causes…
An example of this would be on her Twitter account, where she frequently tweets about LGBT rights, while advocating for gender equality.
#14. Keanu Reeves
A Canadian actor, Keanu Reeves has starred in many major movies, including The Matrix, Constantine and John Wick.
When it comes to philanthropy, Reeves is a big player, consistently carrying out good deeds for those around him.
Why are these not more publicized?
Unlike many other celebrities, Reeves prefers to keep his charitable acts on the down low, showing that he is doing them from the heart, rather than for publicity.
So, what exactly has Reeves done for the world?
Every year, Reeves donates millions of dollars to different charities, with a focus on those that specialize in cancer research. This is an issue close to his heart, as his own sister has battled with the disease in the past. He is also rumoured to have launched his own cancer foundation, although has kept his name out of it.
In addition to donating to cancer charities, Reeves has also worked closely with PETA over the years, advocating for animal rights.
However, it is not just the major charities that catch his attention…
Reeves is extremely generous to those he works with, such as when he paid off the mortgage and medical costs for one of the crew members on a movie set.
#15. Isla Fisher and Sacha Baron Cohen
Actress Isla Fisher, along with her husband Sacha Baron Cohen, have always been big supporters of multiple charities. Here are just a few that the couple have heavily contributed to over the years:
- Save the Children
- Feeding America
- Small Steps Project
- International Medical Corps
The couple recently made headlines for their donation of $1 million to Syrian refugees, with the money going towards helping with shelter, vaccinations and other essentials.