An Amazing Fact: What do Herb Alpert, Mel Gibson, and Jami Gertz have in common, besides being famous celebrities? According to “The Giving Back Fund,” a non-profit organization that tracks philanthropic giving worldwide, Jami Gertz and her husband, Anthony Ressler, topped the list by giving $10,569,002 to the Ressler-Gertz Foundation. Herb Alpert donated $9.1 million to the Herb Alpert Foundation, which focuses on the arts, compassion, and well being. And Mel Gibson signed a check for $6.8 million to help a foundation support the Holy Family Church.
Of course, most celebrities want their names associated with good causes. It’s great PR. The more good they do for others, the more the public will appreciate them. Many accuse celebrities of promoting themselves this way, but it’s also true that charities use celebrities to promote their work as well. So is this a virtuous cycle or a vicious cycle?
After Christopher Reeve became paralyzed, his collaboration with the American Paralysis Association caused its revenue in the next three years double to $5 million. In fact, they changed their association’s name to the Christopher Reeve Foundation.
Some of the others who made the top 30 list of celebrities contributing to non-profit organizations also include George Lucas (director, producer, writer), Nora Roberts (writer), Ndamukong Suh (NFL player), Lance Berkman and his wife, Cara (MLB player), Meryl Streep and her husband Donald Gummer (actress), and Jerry Seinfeld (comedian). Not all donations are what you might consider worthy causes. Hugh Hefner made the list for donating $900,000 to a trust for public land to save the iconic Hollywood sign from being plowed under in order to make room for four luxury homes!
Jesus said, “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew 6:3, 4). The purpose of giving big gifts is not to lift up ourselves, but to touch people’s lives. Someday, God will publish a philanthropic list of people who gave much. That’s the list I want to make!
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1