5 Edward Norton
A new kind of celebrity philanthropist, Hollywood A-lister Edward Norton has led the digital push for charitable fundraising. With the vision to seek new ways to leverage the benefit charities receive from the public, Norton was part of a team that created the crowd funding website Crowdrise. He also has lent his time and celebrity to multiple fundraising projects through the digital fundraising platform.
4 Bob Geldof
Geldof has achieved tremendous commercial success as a member of the Boomtown Rats, but has devoted much of his life to charity, including creating Band Aid, arguably the greatest musical collaboration of all time, to raise money for Africa. Band Aid’s “Do They Know it’s Christmas?” has raised more than $12 million. A subsequent Live Aid concert that Geldof organized in 1985 generated over $230 million. Geldof also organized a “Live 8” charity concert in 2005 and continues to participate in or lead several international aid efforts. He was awarded an honorary knighthood and received a Man of Peace award, given to celebrities who have worked to improve social justice and peace.
3 Jami Gertz
While you may not know Jami Gertz by name, you likely have seen her in a TV show or movie. Gertz has 45 credits to her resume, including “Twister,” “Seinfeld” and “Modern Family,” and is a big-name celebrity when it comes time to cut checks for charity. She and her husband, Anthony Ressler, formed the Ressler-Gertz Foundation; in 2012 it donated over $10 million to various charitable causes.
2 Willie Nelson
The Red Headed Stranger has a music career that reaches as far back as the late 1950s. With numerous awards and accolades, Nelson is regarded as one of country music’s outlaws—and best songwriters and performers. Nelson has been an activist and devoted to charity for decades, jointly founding Farm Aid in 1985 with fellow musicians Neil Young and John Mellencamp. To date the effort has raised over $43 million for family farms in America.
One of the world’s most successful musicians, Bono, is the frontman for Irish rockers U2. The collective accolades U2 has garnered include 10 Grammy Awards, numerous other fan and critic driven awards and commercial success that has seen the group generate millions in tour revenue and music and merchandise sales. Many would rest on those laurels and offset them with the occasional charity photo op. Bono, however, has devoted generous amounts of time and money to charity. The ONE Foundation was created to advocate for those who live in extreme poverty. Bono regularly lobbies world leaders for policy reform and funding to improve the lives of the impoverished. He has received a knighthood and three Nobel Peace nominations for his work.