Olivia Wilde, Judd Apatow, Paul Rudd and other stars have used CrowdRise, an innovative for-profit website that uses crowdsourcing to drive charitable fundraising. Shauna Robertson and Edward Norton launched CrowdRise together.
The CrowdRise Crowd
What energizes Edward Norton (far left, with Shauna Robertson, Judd Apatow, Paul Rudd and Olivia Wilde) — an environmental activist whose father is a former director of The Nature Conservancy in China — is CrowdRise's cost-effectiveness. "Nobody loves a gala dinner more than the Hollywood community, but it is one of the most inefficient ways of raising money," says Norton, 44 and married to Robertson since 2012 (they have a 17-month-old son). "You throw a party and say, 'We raised a million bucks tonight!' But it cost you $400,000."
Glenn Close, 67, has long been dealing with the reality of mental illness: Her sister Jessie, 60, has bipolar disorder, and Jessie's son, Calen Pick, 33, is schizoaffective (bipolar with some symptoms of schizophrenia). "It was unheard of to talk about [mental illness] publicly," says the actress. "But we decided to speak out, as a family." Close and her sister did more than speak out — in 2010 they founded BringChange2Mind, an organization devoted to altering public perception of mental illness.
James Franco and Amber Heard
James Franco is donating the proceeds from the three small films he's currently co-producing — Memoria, Killing Animals and Yosemite, all based on his short stories about his experiences growing up in Palo Alto, Calif. — to critically ill children through The Art of Elysium. Mark Wahlberg and Amber Heard (Franco's co-star in the upcoming The Adderall Diaries) also have contributed to the organization.
'Will & Grace' co-creator Max Mutchnick and husband Erik Hyman
Will & Grace co-creator Max Mutchnick and his husband, Erik Hyman, an entertainment lawyer at Loeb & Loeb, had heard about Vicco, Ky. — which in January 2013 passed a Fairness Ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. But watching a segment about it on The Colbert Report, they found themselves profoundly moved — so moved that they decided to build a children's park for the recession-racked community. The playground is named after Mutchnick and Hyman's two daughters, Rose and Evan.
Samuel L. Jackson with Dr. Maria Carrillo and Harry Johns of the Alzheimer's Assoc.
When Samuel L. Jackson decided in 2012 to get involved in the search for a cure for Alzheimer's, he turned to the Chicago-based Alzheimer's Association, which has awarded nearly $315 million to more than 2,200 scientists since 1982. Jackson hit on some creative techniques for drawing donors, like pledging last summer to recite any 300-word monologue Reddit users requested, provided they donated enough dollars (after the campaign reached the $100,000 mark, Jackson did a Bryan Cranston monologue from Breaking Badthat promptly went viral).
"I didn't want to see my money hanging on my wall by buying some painting that belongs in a museum," says Herb Alpert. "I wanted to see what I could do." Turns out he could do a lot. The renowned 79-year-old trumpet player (and co-founder of A&M Records) donated $30 million in 2007 to build a music school at UCLA in his name, the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, which two years ago launched its first graduate curriculum for jazz professionals in partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.
Kevin Spacey has been helping aspiring young actors via the Kevin Spacey Foundation, which has given out 20 performing-arts scholarships and more than 60 grants since its founding in the U.K. in 2010.Spacey got the idea for the organization while winding down his tenure as artistic director at the Old Vic Theatre in London, where he already had helped countless young British actors with his Old Vic New Voices program.
John Legend, 35, is launching a program called LRNG (pronounced "learning") — an offshoot of his 7-year-old anti-poverty Show Me Campaign — to help educators in New York City, and eventually throughout the country, develop tech-friendly teaching practices that make sense for 21st century students.
Stacey Snider, Molly Thompson, Lauren Paul and Rachael Webb
Snider, 53, has helped collect $1.8 million so far, thanks to a charity screening of the Breaking Bad series finale last September, for the Kind Campaign, an L.A.-based anti-bullying organization. Founded in 2009 by former Pepperdine classmates Lauren Paul (wife of actor Aaron Paul, whom Snider knew from producing Need for Speed) and Molly Thompson — both are 27 and were bullied in high school — its mission is to help prevent other kids from suffering what they went through as teenagers by holding anti-bullying rallies at schools nationwide.