George Clooney - The Unlikely Philanthropist of the Month?

10 January 2014 | By Cause4 staff

I recently read an article in Esquire magazine about Hollywood star George Clooney. Alongside stories about his professional and personal life, it was interesting to see Clooney passionately talk about charitable causes that he has supported. In the film world, renowned for glitz and glamour, acts of charity can and often do go un-noticed. However, what we are beginning to see is a growth of discreet, unlikely philanthropists. Often scrutinised and criticised for his on-screen performances and his lothario lifestyle off-screen, Clooney is one of the world’s most generous philanthropists.

A self-described activist, he was staunchly against the war in Iraq, and has contributed to many charitable causes. Some may criticise his performance in adverts for Nespresso and Omega watches, but would you be more tolerant of this if you knew that he donated his fees for these adverts to charity? Seeing the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, Clooney has been moved to support the area in any way he can. In 2012 he auctioned off a 2008 Telsa Roadster car (valued between $100,000-$150,000) the proceeds of which went to supporting causes in the region.

Other charitable acts have included paying $5million to setup a satellite above the war-torn area of Darfur to monitor the atrocities that have been taking place in the region. He raised $3million of this through charitable donations, including his advert fees, and simply gave the other $2million himself.

Clooney, who was made a UN Messenger for Peace in 2008, was arrested (along with his father) in 2012 for protesting outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington. Clooney’s philanthropic ventures are driven by ethical and political views, something which can be seen more and more frequently with celebrities donating to causes close to their hearts.

In addition to this prestigious role, Clooney has also been involved in other charitable causes:

- Not On Our Watch – A humanitarian organisation, seeking to draw attention to the main atrocities from across the world, focusing primarily on Darfur, Burma and Zimbabwe. Clooney founded the organisation with celebrity friends Matt Damon and Brad Pitt, amongst others. The organisation has donated millions of dollars in food and aid, with much of this being run in collaboration with the UN’s World Food Programme.

There are many other celebrities who you may not know are philanthropic. Other unlikely and discreet philanthropists include:

- Didier Drogba: A much maligned, controversial figure during his football career with Chelsea, Drogba’s own foundation works to provide support to some of the poorest children in Africa, giving support across health and education. Not only has Drogba done much great charitable work with his own foundation, he is also considered as having brought a peaceful cease-fire to his civil-war ravaged home country of Ivory Coast.

- Taylor Swift: The American singer, who has made her millions on-stage, has also contributed greatly to charitable causes. In 2009 she performed on BBC’s Children In Need, and donated £13,000 to the cause. She has also supported many causes closer to her home, including donating $100,000 to the Red Cross in Iowa to help victims of the 2008 floods.

Celebrities are often criticised for being out of touch with reality, but many are doing incredible things for charitable causes, often without the recognition or merit that they deserve. At Cause4, we work with a number of philanthropic sports stars and artists and we know that it is essential that their generous giving is acknowledged if they are to become the philanthropic role models that society needs.

Are you aware of any other unlikely or discreet philanthropists? We’d love to hear.

 

The Cause4 Opinion blog has been nominated for the National UK Blog Awards 2014, for its contribution to the debate about the latest trends in fundraising, philanthropy and social enterprise. 

Back to top

Blog index

“We are pleased to support the development of these materials, through Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy, to provide a comprehensive bank of knowledge and experience that can be easily accessed by leaders of arts organisations and practitioners, both in the UK and internationally. One of our priorities at the Arts Council is to help arts and cultural organisations become more resilient and sustainable as they explore new revenue streams.”

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of ACE

More by posts by Cause4 staff

Cause4's Pick of the Month - August 2019

1st August, 2019 | By Cause4 staff

It's a new month and the Cause4 team are excited to introduce another four inspiring individuals that are guiding the way in charity leadership, social entrepreneurship, Trusteeship and Arts Fundraising. Read on to meet our pick of the month for August. 

Cause4’s response to: The UK Civil Society Almanac 2019 Report

15th July, 2019 | By Cause4 staff

The UK Civil Society Almanac Reports, released by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), is a crucial source of data that has been providing insights into developments in the voluntary sector since 1996. NCVO has now released its latest annual report, of which the following response will outline key findings including positive growth in terms of grants and investments, whilst public donations and fundraising decline. Diversity in particular has been highlighted as an ongoing issue within the sector throughout the report.  

Cause4's Pick of the Month June 2019

4th June, 2019 | By Cause4 staff

As we approach summer and the longest day of the year this month, we can’t believe quite how fast this year has gone – or the 10 years that led up to our birthday party in May! In our spirit of Sharism, check out our favourite Charity Leader, Entrepreneur, Trustee and Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy Fellow of the Month for June!