These guys are known for their abundance of wealth—it's nice to see those who are willing to use it to help others.
Kirsten Dold 1 / 13
Gents who hit the gym and eat kale live longer and healthier lives. So do guys who volunteer. (Seriously—one study found that helping others can reduce early mortality rates by 22%. Read more about the health benefits of volunteering here.) And anyone who has dedicated a few hours to underprivileged kids, animals or our ecosystem knows that the mental and social benefits of giving back are boundless—volunteering’s a great way to meet people or blow off steam, it feels awesome, and it’s usually pretty easy. So it’s no surprise that some of the world’s top athletes and celebrities have picked up side gigs fighting for social causes. This is our virtual tip of the hat to twelve do-gooder dudes—we’re already feeling inspired to sign up for that next charity gig.
The Portuguese soccer pro may get attention off the field for his underwear ads, rippled abs and diamond earrings, but he’s also been known to spend massive chunks of his payday on good will: he once donated $83,000 to a ten-year-old fan in need of brain surgery; he sent a cancer center in Portugal $165,000 after they treated his mother; he’s helped tsunami and earth quake victims and has fought against childhood hunger and tackled obesity. Opening up to a British newspaper, the footballer once said, “My father always taught me that when you help other people, then God will give you double. And that’s what has really happened to me.”
The King, already a hometown hero, has focused his charity efforts on sending kids from Akron, Ohio to college. As part of his LeBron James Family Foundation’s I Promise program, he partnered with the University of Akron to guarantee four-year scholarships for 1,100 kids. (Yep, that’s tens of millions of dollars he’ll be donating.) “It means so much because, as a kid growing up in the inner city and a lot of African-American kids, you don't really think past high school," said James during the event’s launch. “You don't really know your future. You hear high school all the time, and you graduate high school and then you never think past that because either it's not possible or your family's not financially stable to even be able to support a kid going to college."
We’ve found proof that his heart is as big (or bigger) than his biceps: the WWE superstar is the first celebrity to grant over 500 wishes to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Cena’s spent countless hours the past few years visiting the bedsides of sick kids and urging them to fight through their life-threatening diseases. Cena’s also teamed up with the American Cancer Society, most recently dragging a 167,000-pound jet 20 feet with a team of volunteers to raise money for cancer research. If that shoulder injury does keep him out of the ring this year, we’ll know where else to find him.
Forget that now infamous Super Bowl face—the Giant’s quarterback is about as gracious as it gets when it comes to giving back. He’s fought pediatric cancer by founding and supporting medical centers and children’s clinics with his wife, chaired the March of Dimes “March for Babies” walk for the past eight years, and has donated his time to foundations like Operation Smile, Wounded Warriors, and Make-A-Wish.
You always knew Damon was a decent guy and here’s even more proof: he’s using his celeb status to bring attention to social topics like access to clean water and sanitation. His organization water.org is helping developing countries in places like South Asia and Africa find water solutions that’ll eradicate sickness and crime. (Instead of just doling out aid he’s devised a water credit program, an attempt to help the poor take an active role in finding infrastructure solutions.) So far he’s reached four million people and counting.
The 28-year-old rapper has a slew of new Grammys under his belt, but his charitable work has gotten serious recognition, too: Last year the California State Senate awarded Lamar with the Generational Icon Award for donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to after school music and sports programs, along with other local charities in his hometown of Compton, California. In a brief speech he said, “Being from the city of Compton and knowing the parks that I played at and neighborhoods, I always thought how great the opportunity would be to give back to my community. ...To do that from a city all the way to a state standpoint, and have these young kids look at me as some type of inspiration is an honor.”
The Biebs may no longer be taking pre-concert photos with fans, but he’s still warming hearts from afar. He was just named the global ambassador for charitable organization Pencils for Promise, which provides access to education for students in developing countries like Nicaragua and Guatemala. (In fact, $1 of every ticket sold on his Purpose tour will head straight to East Ghana, where 13 new schools are being built this year alone.) Bieber has donated millions to the organization, run by the brother of his manager Scooter Braun, over the years.
The new Dad’s found a number of creative ways to pay it forward: He’s sent food trucks to feed protestors, raffled off his talents to help his old high school build a new auditorium, collaborated with Sam Smith on the updated track “Lay Me Down” to benefit Red Rose Day, and even scored $100,000 for the Somaly Mam Foundation as a wedding gift from a Billionaire friend to battle sex trafficking. His own non-profit, the Show Me Campaign, is aimed at elevating teachers and achievement in schools.
Have you checked out this guy’s Instagram or Twitter feed? Or heard his Oscar’s speech? When DiCaprio’s not focused on film (or, uh, models) he’s neck deep in climate change and wildlife and ocean conservation initiatives. His personal foundation (which has been around since 1998—talk about commitment) has awarded 45 million dollars worth of grants to projects protecting everything from wild tigers in Nepal to Brazil’s Atlantic Coastal Forest.
The US-Senegalese rap star is bringing electricity to the African countryside with a project that doesn’t look like your typical NGO. His for-profit charity is focused on finding renewable energy for electricity-free villages and creating a self-sustaining economy in the process. “Personally, I don’t think that charities in Africa really work,” he toldThe Guardian. “I think it just holds the people down longer than it should. I think the only way to build Africa is to build for-profit businesses that create opportunities and jobs for the people locally.”
A UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2009, Bloom has traveled to Nepal to oversee water and sanitation projects, met with Serbian migrants and refugees, visited Ebola affected communities in Liberia, and just recently spent time in war-torn Ukraine to raise awareness about a global education crisis. Travel much? While performing in Romeo and Juliet on Broadway, Bloom even auctioned the shirt off his back each show, raising a reported $71,000 for the fight against Aids.
The New York Yankees legend founded the Turn 2 foundation with his father (a drug and alcohol abuse counselor) all the way back in 1996 during his rookie year. The charity has awarded more than $20 million to programs and activities aimed at motivating kids and teens to turn away from drugs and alcohol in favor of healthy lifestyles. Jeter’s also invested in an app called STOPit, with the help of his foundation, to prevent cyberbullying by giving kids a platform to easily and anonymously report inappropriate behavior.