Who Are the Brightest Shining Stars in the World of Fundraising?

A celebrity fundraiser attached to a cause almost guarantees higher exposure and more donations. But while names like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates continue to make news as deep pocketed philanthropists, it is other, perhaps lesser known, celebrities that are making headlines and topping the lists as the most unstinting celebrity fundraisers.

Top 5 Celebrity Fundraisers

Actress Jamie Gertz and husband, investment banker Anthony Ressler

No.1 Actress Jamie Gertz and her husband Anthony Ressler

Not a household name, actress Jamie Gertz and husband, investment banker Anthony Ressler are right at the top of the list of celebrity fundraisers with their donation of over $10 million to the Ressler-Gertz Foundation. The foundation focuses primarily on scholarships and student financial aid in the United States.

Musician Herb Alpert

No.2 Musician Herb Alpert

Herb Alpert takes the number 2 spot on the list of most lavish celebrity fundraisers, complied by The Giving Back Fund. His donation of over $9 million to the Herb Alpert Foundation will go towards sponsorship of the arts and other related non-profits.

Mel Gibson

No.3 Mel Gibson

3. Sometimes controversial Hollywood actor Mel Gibson makes and appearance at number 3 with his donation of nearly $7 million for the support of the Holy Family Church by way of the AP Reilly Foundation.

George Lucas

No.4 George Lucas

4. Producer and director George Lucas contributed over $4 million to the Luca Film Foundation making him the 4th most generous celebrity on the list.

Writer Nora Roberts

No.5 Writer Nora Roberts

Writer Nora Roberts takes the 5th place with her donation of $3 million to the Nora Roberts Foundation which supports literacy and educational programs for children as well as the arts.

Does a Celebrity Fundraiser Help the Cause?

Founder of The Giving Back Fund, Mark Pollick gives a resounding “Yes!” in answer to this question. Celebrities help charities not only by donating generously, but with the surrounding publicity generated by their donations and their actions in raising awareness for their chosen cause. It doesn’t hurt that celebrities garner media attention and esteem when they make a public splash about the money that they give away.

Save the Children CEO, Justin Forsyth notes that celebrity fundraisers can produce “concrete results”, and the work done by people like Bob Geldof and Bono is making a difference in millions of people’s lives today. An excellent celebrity campaigner can do so much more for a charity or cause than you’d expect. Beyond their monetary donation, their image, their public call-to-action and their passion have the power to ignite a giving spark in others and encourage them to give more often. A celebrity can add respectability and credibility to a cause.

However, it is important to choose a celebrity fundraiser with care. Lance Armstrong is one of the most munificent celebrity fundraisers, with a donation of nearly $1 million to the LiveStrong Foundation, but his public woes and fall from grace may have had an impact on the charity he lent his name to.

The Bottom Line: a celebrity endorsement or star donation is worth much more than the money itself. The publicity generated by the donation is tremendously valuable to your cause and can potentially translate into a much bigger amount. Celebs, big and small, international and local, have the power to raise awareness of your cause, by giving their time and cultural status to improve your charity’s publicity.