The Hollywood Reporter asked the town's top event planners to recommend charities, factoring in keenness to attend events, level of talent involved and major donations.
From climate change to gun violence, several charitable causes have racked up support from the entertainment industry in recent years. Whether it was the border crisis and immigration or the longstanding fight against cancer, Hollywood stars chose to raise awareness for numerous organizations in 2019 — just take it from Mindy Kaling, who opted to celebrate her 40th birthday in June by giving $1,000 to 40 different philanthropic groups.
Here are the top 10 causes right now that raised millions of dollars at annual galas, scored lyrical shout-outs from Taylor Swift and topped Meghan Markle's giving wish list this year.
The crème de la crème of the L.A. dining world comes out to support Alex’s Lemonade for research and awareness of pediatric cancer, raising $7.3 million in nine years. Jimmy Kimmel, Jason Bateman and Phil Rosenthal were among the 2,500 attendees to raise $1.5 million at the 2018 L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade Stand event, hosted by chef Suzanne Goin along with her husband, chef David Lentz, and Lucques Group’s Caroline Styne.
Says Kimmel: "L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade is the most fun you can have at a charity event. We go every year to go from booth to booth, meeting and eating with the best chefs in the United States. It is a food lover’s dream and I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”
Goin adds of their founder, who died in 2004 at age eight: "Watching these local L.A. kids follow in Alex Scott’s footsteps brings the event full circle and ensures we will keep raising more and more every year to fight pediatric cancer."
Baby2Baby was the only U.S. organization chosen by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry to accept gifts in celebration of the birth of their first child. The nonprofit provides diapers to children living in poverty, distributing 50 million items in seven years and garnering support from Jessica Alba, Mindy Kaling, Julie Bowen, Jennifer Garner, Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey and Christina Aguilera since their first annual gala in 2012.
"We are incredibly grateful to have been highlighted by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in honor of their first baby," says Baby2Baby co-presidents Norah Weinstein and Kelly Sawyer Patricof in a statement. "Their generosity will allow us to provide even more children with the necessities they deserve, in the Duchess' hometown of Los Angeles and across the country."
Baby2Baby's November 2018 event, which raised more than $4 million in one night, honored Amy Adams, who said, "I've heard stories about how it helped a woman go to work so she could put her kids in daycare. She could buy food because she wasn’t worried about buying diapers. It just helps the whole family."
The youth mentorship org celebrated Mike Daly (exec director of A&R and music publishing at Disney Music Group) and Trisha Cardoso (president and chief giving officer of the Chuck Lorre Family Foundation) at the Accessories for Success Scholarship Luncheon in May.
Impacting 1,800 kids annually, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater LA also works with THR on the Young Executives Fellowship (to pair high schoolers with mentors and paid internships at WME, Amazon, Imax, eOne, OWN, Starz and THR) and THR’s Women in Entertainment Mentorship Program (which, since 2009, has provided $7.8 million in college scholarships).
BBBS L.A. supporters have included Jennifer Salke, Mindy Kaling, Morgan Freeman, Adam Lambert, Roy P. Disney, Darren Criss, Lea Michele, Nick Cannon, Jon Cryer, Yara Shahidi and Sherry Lansing.
Founded in 2009 by Yael Cohen Braun (wife of Scooter Braun), the nonprofit helps with cancer prevention, detection and emotional support and raised $2 million in 2018. In October Greg Berlanti hosted the inaugural Barbara Berlanti Heroes Gala alongside husband Robbie Rogers, while attendees included Constance Wu and Olivia Munn.
"We are most proud of our economic and programmatic growth this past year, which translates into more people touched. Specifically we are extremely proud of the recent Keep Joy Alive campaign that consists of digital and on-the-ground programs with the goal of decreasing colon cancer mortality in African Americans," says CEO Heather Kun.
"Why are you mad? When you could be GLAAD?" sings Taylor Swift about the LGBTQ media advocacy group in her new hit, "You Need to Calm Down." Says CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, "That was a bit of a surprise! She’s been very supportive." The pop star has been aiding the LGBTQ media advocacy organization for four years (attending their Media Awards in 2016) and Swift donated an undisclosed amount to GLAAD in June for Pride Month. This year, Beyoncé and Jay-Z turned up to accept the Vanguard Award at the annual GLAAD Media Awards (last year’s garnered 8 billion media impressions). GLAAD raised $23 million last fiscal year and $14 million so far this fiscal year to promote acceptance based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“They have platforms and audiences that we’re always trying to reach to open hearts and minds,” Ellis says of her starry benefactors.
A favorite charity of the late Sid Sheinberg, whose friend Steven Spielberg pledged $1 million in the mogul's honor (bringing the total raised to $88 million in the past year), this nonprofit investigates abuse globally. Hollywood donors are legion, supporting efforts against harassment in the workplace, teen imprisonment and immigration policy. "ICE has ratcheted up the cruelty and brought disgrace on the nation," says SoCal senior director Justin Connolly. "The U.S. should solve our immigration issue without harming anyone, least of all these precious children."
Donors include Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros., Barry and Wendy Meyer, John and Marilyn Wells, Cindy and Alan Horn, Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, Marcy Carsey, Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg, the Jolie-Pitt Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivors Emma Gonzalez, Alex Wind, Cameron Kasky, David Hogg and Jaclyn Corin were propelled into stardom after creating this movement to end gun violence, whose Road to Change campaign registered 50,000 voters. George Clooney, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey each donated $500,000 to March for Our Lives, while Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Nick Offerman, Cynthia Nixon, Laura Dern and Connie Britton showed up for nationwide marches in March 2018.
"Do you have children? Are you at all concerned about your children? Do you really feel what we need to have is an armed nation?” Britton told THR of her feelings on the NRA.
Chanel feted the international environmental nonprofit in June 2018 with a star-studded Malibu soiree that drew Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Courteney Cox, Priyanka Chopra, Ron Meyer and daughter Jennifer Meyer, Mandy Moore and Pierce Brosnan.
“As a man who saved the world four times as Bond — James Bond — I’m often asked who my heroes are, but the truth is I’m inspired by all of you working for and with the NRDC," Brosnan said. "You are all heroes of the planet. I applaud you for fighting the noblest of fights."
In May, Seth Meyers hosted a “Night of Comedy” benefitting the NRDC with sets from Tiffany Haddish, John Oliver, Hasan Minhaj and Mike Birbiglia to raise more than $1.8 million, bringing the total for the fiscal year to $158 million to fight the Flint water crisis, California drought and more.
Sparked by the Trump administration's immigration policies, This Is About Humanity helps families at the U.S. border. The group has raised $500,000 so far for Immigrant Defenders Law Center and Casa Cornelia Law Center via tickets for its July 19 fundraiser. Henry Winkler's daughter, Zoe, is a co-founder with social impact consultant Elsa Marie Collins and her sister Yolanda Selene Walther-Meade. Since last summer, they have led educational bus trips to San Diego and Tijuana with Busy Philipps, Scooter Braun, Amber Heard, Jenni Konner and Zoe Saldana.“These are human beings with lives and hopes and dreams and children. I hope that people don't lose sight of that,” Philipps told THR. This is About Humanity makes its 10th trip this summer.To donate to Immigrant Families Together, click here.For SAMS (Amber Heard), click here.For Loveloud (Dan Reynolds), click here.
Hollywood’s response to the Harvey Weinstein allegations resulted in one of the hottest women’s organizations nationwide, raising $23 million for the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund for primarily low-wage workers. The sexual harassment prevention initiative counts supporters including Reese Witherspoon, Jessica Chastain, Shonda Rhimes, Kerry Washington, Emma Watson and Ava DuVernay, along with 300 industry women who joined alongside CAA agents Maha Dakhil, Hylda Queally, Michelle Kydd Lee and Christy Haubegger.
It turned the Globes red carpet into a black-out in 2018 and encouraged Universal Pictures and MGM to become the first studios to accept the #4PercentChallenge, started by Tessa Thompson, Time’s Up and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative in January to hire female directors."Time's Up harnesses the power that we as individuals hold to spark change to the culture, companies and laws that have allowed harassment, abuse and other forms of discrimination to fester for far too long. We’re all about creative solutions to this systemic problem, and we’re here to celebrate progress when it happens and insist upon change when it doesn’t," says Nina Shaw, a founding member and a founding partner at Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano, in a statement.
A version of this story first appeared in the July 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.