Variety Salutes 50 Impactful Charities Serving Humanity, the Environment and Animals

50 Most Impactful Charities
NAACP: AP/Shutterstock; Unicef: Georgi Licovski/EPA/Shutterstock

American Civil Liberties Union

The ACLU is a nonprofit organization that works to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution to every person in the United States. Working on an annual budget of more than $100 million, through litigation and lobbying, the ACLU provides legal assistance in cases when it considers civil liberties to be at risk. In addition to representing plaintiffs in lawsuits, the ACLU lobbies for policy positions that have been established by its board of directors. The group has more than 1.2 million members.

Industry Advocates: Kerry Washington, John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Padma Lakshmi, Ike Barinholtz, Amber Heard and Tom Hanks

The American Foundation for AIDS Research

A world without AIDS is the ultimate goal of amfAR, but that was just a dream back in 1985 when the charity was co-founded by two doctors, the late Mathilde Krim and Michael Gottlieb, and former national chairman Elizabeth Taylor. “AmfAR has been around since the early days of the AIDS epidemic,” says the organization’s CEO Kevin Robert Frost, CEO. “With the help of our many celebrity supporters, we’ve spread awareness, battled stigma and our research has been an important driver for new treatments, better prevention methods and a cure for HIV. [Five years ago amfAR launched a multimillion-dollar research strategy to fund collaborative teams of scientists in the U.S. and abroad.] But until a cure is found, and it can be administered easily and inexpensively, the organization will continue to help improve and extend the lives of HIV-positive.”

Industry Advocates: Whoopi Goldberg, Taraji P. Henson, Milla Jovovich, Eva Longoria, Michelle Rodriguez and Chris Tucker

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

AFSP serves as a voluntary health organization giving support to those affected by suicide while aiming to create a progressive and knowledgeable culture. Created in 1987 and led by CEO Robert Gebbia, the N.Y.-based org also operates a public policy office in Washington, D.C., and has local chapters in 50 states. San Francisco 49ers defensive end Solomon Thomas has been a passionate supporter, saying, “after losing my sister to suicide, it became a personal priority to use this NFL platform to raise awareness around mental health and suicide prevention. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has been a great resource and partner providing support, education, and a connection to many people.” Suicide currently ranks as the third leading cause of death among people ages 15-24.

Industry Advocates: Melissa d’Arabian, Billie Eilish, Anderson Cooper and Kate Snow

The American Red Cross

Clara Barton, a Civil War nurse, responded to wounded and dying men on the battlefield by founding the American Red Cross 138 years ago. These days, the org still support victims of disasters (62,000 last year alone) with food, shelter and medical attention. The Red Cross also supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood, assistsU.S. military members and their families and offers humanitarian aid internationally. Nearly 30,000 people receive some type of assistance from the American Red Cross every day. “Every eight minutes, the American Red Cross responds to a disaster,” says CEO Gail McGovern. “From hurricanes to home fires, we bring hope and comfort to people across the country and around the world during their most difficult days. This work couldn’t be done without the compassion and generosity of our volunteers and donors who always answer the call to help those who need it most.”

Industry Advocates: Sara Evans, Heidi Klum, Sherry Lansing and Peyton Manning

The Art of Elysium

Founder Jennifer Howell moved to L.A. right after film school intending to become a movie director, but in August 1997, she found herself directing a group of her friends in a workshop at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Today, in addition to hospitalized youth, Howell engages a significantly larger group (upward of 2,000 artists) who volunteer and serve special-needs schools, elder care facilities, homeless communities and veterans. It adds up to 120 programs for more than 30,000 people per year. “We work to heal communities dealing with trauma and suffering through the creative power of the arts,” Howell says. “We have been involved since the early days of the charity, and have witnessed it grow from a single, special idea into an unbelievable force,” said Ashley and Topher Grace in a joint statement. “Quite simply, it brings joy to those who need it the most.” The couple added, “We met at their 2013 Heaven Gala so we have more than one reason to be grateful for being involved.”

Industry Advocates: Justin Bartha, Christine Crokos, Peter Dundas, Ben Feldman, Iddo Goldberg, Eve Harlow, Ashley Madekwe, Jesse Metcalfe, Allison Miller, Alison Mosshart, Adam Nee, Carter Oosterhouse, Amy Paffrath, Linda Perry, Cara Santana, Drew Seeley, Amy Smart, Brittany Snow, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Azie Tesfai, Travis Van Winkle

Autism Speaks

Founded in 2005 by former NBC/GE executive Bob Wright and his late wife, Suzanne, whose grandson Christian had been diagnosed with autism as a child, it is the leading autism advocacy organization in the United States. Led by president Angela Geiger, the New York-based organization seeks to continually fund the growth of global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, and treatments for autism, while helping to raise public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society.
Industry Advocates: Neil Young, Jack Black, Sheryl Crow, Michael Symon, Billy Mann, Tommy and Dee Hilfiger


Former model Kelly Sawyer Patricof and pro bono attorney Norah Weinstein have grown what was once a small volunteer effort into a nonprofit serving 200,000 impoverished children in Los Angeles. In their seven years as co-presidents, Baby2Baby has distributed 50 million diapers, clothing items and essentials to newborns to 12-year-olds locally and those facing national emergencies including hurricanes or immigrant family separation. Diapers are the most-needed item, prompting board member Julie Bowen’s recent trip to Sacramento to lobby for the repeal of state diaper sales tax. Says Bowen, “Moms in their program are literally washing out and reusing their baby’s disposable diapers. How can you not show up for that?”

Industry Advocates: Jessica Alba, Amy Adams, Drew Barrymore, Ari Emanuel, Maha Dakhil, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kerry Washington, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady celebrates his sixth Super Bowl win with a fresh shave at Gillette World Shave Headquarters in Boston. Together, Brady and Gillette donated $35,000 to Best Buddies.
Scott Eisen/AP/Shutterstock

Best Buddies

The world’s largest organization that is dedicated to ending the social, economic, and physical isolation of the nearly 200 million people affected with intellectual and developmental disabilities was created in 1989. Anthony Kennedy Shriver is the founder, chairman & CEO of Best Buddies Intl. It has rapidly grown into a leading nonprofit entity with increasing international reach across six continents, while also establishing a global volunteer movement.

Industry Advocates: Pierce Brosnan, Tom Brady, Ron Howard, Maria Shriver, Carlos Slim,

The Bob Woodruff Family Foundation

After ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff was wounded by a roadside bomb in 2006, he turned his personal tragedy into hope for military service members and veterans. Since inception, the organization has contributed $65 million to find, fund and shape assistance programs, along with more than 400 grants. Ultimately, their mission is “to make a positive difference in the lives of the wounded and their families,” says Gen. Martin Dempsey, 18th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And the need isn’t going to stop anytime soon. “Our nation’s military is likely to be in conflict for at least the next decade and the Woodruff’s challenge to ‘stand up for heroes’ is an important statement of enduring and adaptable commitment. They have been, and will continue to be, and important part of our military’s non-governmental support structure and I, for one, am thankful they have made supporting our military part of their life’s work.”
Industry Advocates: Bruce Springsteen, Jim Gaffigan, Seth Meyers, John Oliver and Jon Stewart

Cancer Research Institute

CRI is the world’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to harnessing the immune system’s power to conquer all cancers. Based in New York City, the nonprofit, which funds cancer research, was founded in 1953 by Helen Coley Nauts and Oliver R. Grace with a $2,000 grant from Nelson Rockefeller. The primary goal is to develop immunologically based treatments for cancer. Their work has led to a promising new class of treatments called cancer immunotherapy. These treatments mobilize, strengthen, and sustain the immune system’s natural ability to destroy cancer cells.

Industry Advocates: Sheryl Crow, Matt Damon and Taylor Swift


A worldwide movement to end poverty, Care began in 1945, when Americans — including President Truman, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Ingrid Bergman and Marlon Brando — shipped care packages to World War II survivors in France. Last year, the humanitarian organization worked in 95 countries to aid more than 56 million people through 965 programs, targeting education, health, emergency aid and female empowerment. “Care is a teach-a-man-to-fish endeavor,” says ambassador Bellamy Young. A recent trip to Rwanda showed her how, through Care’s Village Savings & Loan program, a woman who previously owned nothing could acquire animals, a vegetable farm and employees. “They know that when you lift up women, they will lift up their entire communities with them.”

Industry Advocates: Jamie Lee Curtis, Whoopi Goldberg, Iman, Annie Lennox, Madonna, singer Michelle Williams and Young

Hillary Clinton hugs Marian Wright Edelman, president and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, before addressing the group’s Beat the Odds celebration in May at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
Cliff Owen/AP/Shutterstock

Children’s Defense Fund

The child-advocacy nonprofit organization founded by Marian Wright Edelman has worked for more than 40 years to ensure a level playing field for all kids. With the help of caring families and communities, efforts are made to find the best possible resources for youngsters. “Since the moment I read ‘The Measure of Our Success’ on my way to college, Marian Wright Edelman has been a guiding light in my life. Her words are powerful but her actions even more so,” says former CDF board member Reese Witherspoon.
Industry Advocates: Benedict Cumberbatch, Cameron Diaz and Witherspoon

Children Intl.

Formed in 1936, CI’s main goal is to break the cycle of child poverty by providing nutritional support, dental care, counseling, school supplies and fees, clothing and general household items. “I have looked deep into the eyes of hopeless, hurting children all over the world and every time I meet one of these children, my resolve to help all of them grow,” says president and CEO Susana Eshleman. “Their current reality is unacceptable, and I strongly believe our programs have the power to change their future stories by empowering them to be positive agents of change in their communities.”

Industry Advocates: Drew Carey, Debbie Gibson, Heather Graham and Neil Patrick Harris

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

Since 1999, the foundation has worked to improve the overall quality of life for people living with spinal cord injuries and paralysis through grants, funding research and social advocacy. Working toward discovering treatments and cures for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury and other neurological disorders, the Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center officially opened in 2002. It offers a free, comprehensive, national source of informational support for people living with paralysis and their caregivers.

Industry Advocates: Mark Cuban, John Fogerty and Ali Stroker

Color of Change

The nation’s largest online racial justice organization, Color of Change designs campaigns to end practices that hold black people back. Founded in 2005 by Van Jones and James Rucker and run by Rashad Robinson since 2011, its 1.4 million members unite around such issues as ending prosecutors’ racist practices, mobilizing black voters and changing the way black people are portrayed in Hollywood. Recently, they teamed with Netflix on the launch of Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us,” giving viewers an outlet to take action, and hosted a dinner for “Queen Sugar’s” fourth season. “Color of Change does the work,” says Common. “I’ve really appreciated the support on my recent book tour for ‘Let Love Have the Last Word’ and partnering to bring awareness about the criminal justice system.”

Industry Advocates: Common, DuVernay, Taraji P. Henson and Yara Shahiid

The Daniel Pearl Foundation

Back in April, it was reported that Pakistan has arrested the last terrorist — and the prime suspect — wanted in the 2002 killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. But that isn’t how his parents, Ruth and Judea Pearl, have chosen to remember their son, who was a violinist as well as a writer. Instead, they formed an organization that aims to accelerate cross-cultural understanding through Pearl’s twin passions: journalism and music. Daniel Pearl World Music Days, a series of international concerts, runs during his birth month of October (his birthday is Oct. 10). This year marks its 15th anniversary with plans for more than 10,000 performances in 140 countries. On the local level, the foundation co-sponsors a memorial lecture series at UCLA, which most recently featured Bob Woodward. Past presenters have included Anderson Cooper and Condoleezza Rice. And the Pearl family consults with the L.A. Press Club to present the annual Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism, which last month went to CNN senior international correspondent Nima Elbagir.

Industry Advocates: Christiane Amanpour, Ted Koppel and Itzhak Perlman

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

MSF is a non-governmental, international humanitarian medical organization, recognized the world over for its heroic efforts in conflict zones and in countries affected by disease. In 2015, more than 30,000 personnel consisting of doctors, nurses, logistical experts, and water and sanitation engineers provided medical aid in over 70 countries. The staff is mostly volunteers, with private donations funding 90% of the organization’s budget. Founded in 1971 and headquartered in Switzerland, board president Dr. Africa Stewart says: “We do what needs to be done, where it needs to be done — that’s what Doctors Without Borders is about. When I deliver a baby, the woman I am caring for may have walked for miles to reach us, because there are so few other options for medical care in the places we work.”

Industry Advocates: Florence and the Machine

Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

After contracting HIV through a blood transfusion while giving birth and unknowingly passing the virus to her children, Elizabeth Glaser — the late wife of actor-director Paul Michael Glaser — founded the Pediatric AIDS Foundation with friends in 1988. Now the leading global nonprofit fighting to end pediatric HIV/AIDS, EGPAF oversees research, advocacy and prevention and treatment programs in 19 countries. “When I first became involved with EGPAF a decade ago, I created a PSA with statistics that 1,000 babies were infected with HIV every day,” says board member Nigel Barker. “But our work is not finished. Still today, over 400 babies are newly infected. We cannot stop until no child has AIDS.”
Industry Advocates: Hugh Jackman, Magic Johnson, Heidi Klum, Sharon Stone, Charlize Theron and Naomi Watts

Environmental Defense Fund

Known for its work on issues including global warming and ecosystem restoration, it advocates for the use of sound science, economics, and law to find helpful environmental solutions. Fred Krupp has served as president for the org, which is headquartered in New York City with offices across the country, since 1984. “For more than 50 years, EDF has been addressing the world’s most serious environmental problems and finding innovative ways that work — linking science, technology, and private-sector partnerships to help keep people and nature safer and healthier,” he says. “Now the world faces an urgent climate crisis, but it’s not too late to protect ourselves if we act now — and EDF will be working to help people act in the most effective ways possible.”

Industry Advocates: Don Cheadle and Ellie Kemper

Eva Longoria, left, is joined by Gina Rodriguez at the dinner gala for the Eva Longoria Foundation.

Eva Longoria Foundation

“Latinos are the largest minority group in the country and, in the current political climate, one of the groups facing the most discrimination,” says Longoria, who started the eponymous foundation in 2012 to narrow the economic and opportunity gaps for Latinas through education, mentorship, parent engagement and entrepreneurship programs. As they are the least likely of all women to finish college and comprise only 1% of the computing workforce, the org has helped 2,100 girls grow their STEM skills, created scholarships and invested more than $1.2 million in Latina entrepreneurs. Programs in Northern California and a teen tech center in El Paso, Texas, with Best Buy are coming this year. “My foundation provides the resources and tools to lift Latinas out of poverty, creating a ripple effect of positive change in their families and communities,” Longoria says.
Industry Advocates: Victoria Beckham, Terry Crews, Rosario Dawson, Mario Lopez, Gina Rodriguez and Zoe Saldana

Every Mother Counts

Established by Christy Turlington in 2010, EMC is an advocacy and mobilization campaign that was created to increase education and support for maternal and child health. EMC seeks to engage new audiences to better understand the challenges that mothers face and the solutions that they require, while encouraging them to take action in an effort to improve the lives of girls and women all over the world. Working with community-based programs has been essential to their success, with EMC utilizing a combination of storytelling, filmmaking, and data and research to share the challenges and opportunities in global maternal health.

Industry Advocates: Madonna, Olivia Wilde and Rita Wilson

Everytown for Gun Safety

In 2014, Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America merged to form Everytown for Gun Safety, which is the largest gun-violence prevention organization in the U.S. with nearly 6 million supporters. Nearly 100 Americans are killed by gun violence every day. Everytown for Gun Safety aims to increase public safety measures such as the comprehensive background check bill passed by the House of Representatives. Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, is “committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure future generations never have to worry about being shot in their homes, neighborhoods or public places. Keeping our family safe is a parent’s primary focus.”

Industry Advocates: Samantha Bee, Laura Dern, Lee Daniels, Jason George, Keegan-Michael Key, Julianne Moore, Joakim Noah, Amy Schumer and Cynthia Rowley

Feeding America

“There is no reason anyone should have to go hungry in this country,” says Feeding America advocate Liev Schreiber, whose work aids the one in eight Americans who struggle with hunger. The nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, it feeds 46 million people each year through 200 food banks and 60,000 pantries and meal programs. More than 4 billion meals are sourced, with help from 2 million volunteers, including Schreiber and his sons. “Our first time volunteering was at the Bowery Mission over Thanksgiving a couple of years ago, and we’ve continued to visit, whether prepping in the kitchen or serving meals to our neighbors,” Schreiber says. “It’s amazing how easy it is to take an hour out of your day, roll up your sleeves and connect with those in need, who you may not even realize are struggling.”

Industry Advocates: David Arquette, Scarlett Johansson, Leighton Meester and Schreiber

Feed Projects

After witnessing child hunger while traveling with the World Food Program, Lauren Bush Lauren founded Feed Projects in 2007. “What started as a single burlap bag is now one bag in a wide variety of totes, travel bags, leather bags and other products — every single one with a number somewhere on it, signifying the amount of meals we are able to donate through the sale of that product,” says Lauren, whose brand has provided more than 100 million meals. Feed opened a retail location in Brooklyn, and a kids’ collection and home goods are forthcoming. Emerging filmmaker Paris Brosnan also recently documented Feed’s work in Sri Lanka. “He really captured the spirit of what Feed is trying to accomplish, from our partnership with Clarins, to our products and ultimately, to the school meals we are able to provide to children in need.”

Industry Advocates: Anne Hathaway, Chrissy Teigen and Reese Witherspoon

Food on Foot

In 1996, Food on Foot founder Jay Goldinger began serving chicken dinners from the trunk of his car to his homeless and low-income neighbors in Los Angeles. “If these people didn’t receive immediate help within the first year of being on the streets, then they could slip into chronic homelessness,” Goldinger says. In addition to providing nutritious Sunday meals and clothing from an outpost behind the LGBT Center in Hollywood, a Work for Food trash cleanup program and life-skills education sessions help people achieve a full-time job and furnished apartment. A year later, 85% of them are still employed and off the streets.

Industry Advocates: Christina Applegate, Will Forte, Neil Patrick Harris, Mindy Kaling and Bob Odenkirk

Global Citizen

The org’s three co-founders who came together in 2008 — Hugh Evans, Simon Moss and Wei Soo — all hail from Australia. Their ambitious end goal: Raising awareness about the systemic causes of extreme poverty and ending it by 2030. Since the first Global Citizen Festival in New York in 2012, the organization has evolved into a platform to push world leaders to reach the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. he organization claims to have generated commitments and policy announcements valued at more than $37.9 billion, which could affect the lives of more than 2.25 billion people. “Over the last 10 years, the actions of millions of engaged advocates has achieved policy change in the areas of global health, education and gender equality,” says co-founder Evans.

Industry Advocates: Beyoncé & Jay Z, Rachel Brosnahan, Naomi Campbell, Ellie Goulding, Alicia Keys, Gayle King, Kendrick Lamar, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Chris Martin, Shawn Mendes, Trevor Noah, Pharrell, Rihanna, Ed Sheeran, Usher, Eddie Vedder, the Weeknd, Oprah Winfrey and Stevie Wonder


The organization was founded in 2014 and was partly inspired by the experiences of Elizabeth Nyamayaro, senior adviser to the executive director of U.N. Women and the head of HeForShe. She grew in a village in Zimbabwe where women did the work while men made all the decisions. “I realized that we needed to create allyship with men and boys, and that it would take all of us to achieve equality,” says Nyamayaro. Empowering men to play a role in gender equality proved to be a popular idea and it quickly went global thanks to social media.

Industry Advocates: Goodwill ambassadors Emma Watson, Anne Hathaway and Edgar Ramirez, plus Russell Crowe, Winston Duke, Salma Hayek, Emile Hirsch, Simon Pegg, Maria Shriver, Harry Styles and Forest Whitaker

Heifer Intl.

When Dan West, a Midwestern farmer, returned from volunteering in the Spanish Civil War, he wasn’t able to leave behind memories of his service. His job, pouring a single cup of milk to nourish refugees, inspired him to reach out to American farmers. “Not a cup, but a cow” became the simple philosophy behind Heifer Intl. back in 1944 and it continues to guide its efforts to tackle hunger and poverty. “They are sending the sort of message abroad that I can wholeheartedly support,” says Susan Sarandon. “I share their vision of a world without hunger — and it is attainable in our lifetime. Heifer is working at it one family, one community at a time.” But that has added up quickly over the past 75 years: The charity has helped 34 million families across 20 countries.

Industry Advocates: Uzo Aduba, Ted Danson, Diane Lane, Busy Philipps, Sarandon and Mary Steenburgen

British actress Lena Headey, left, attends a conversation with refugees after a press conference of the Intl. Rescue Committee.
Michael Sohn/AP/Shutterstock

Intl. Rescue Committee

IRC provides relief to people whose livelihoods have been destroyed by conflict and disaster. In 2018, it assisted 1.6 million children with schooling and and reached 1.2 million people through awareness efforts concerning human rights and gender-based violence. Says IRC ambassador Mandy Patinkin: “There is nothing better than being able to use my voice to help refugees, share their stories and spotlight the tremendous contributions they’ve made to society and communities worldwide.” The IRC strives to impart smart and resourceful solutions that improve the health, safety, education, economic well-being and empowerment of people affected by crisis, while focusing on the many challenges faced by women and girls in society.

Industry Advocates: Mia Farrow, Lena Headey, Patinkin and Piper Perabo

The Joyful Heart Foundation

After playing the iconic role of Detective Olivia Benson on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” for nearly two decades, Mariska Hargitay became something of an expert on sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. And not just because of the scripts: she started to receive thousands of letters and emails from survivors of abuse who felt as if no one else would listen. Hargitay not only heard them, but she also wanted to help them heal. And so she created Joyful Heart, which prioritizes putting an end to the rape kit backlog. “The pursuit of justice can be an integral part of healing,” says Hargitay. “Even though the landscape around these issues has changed so dramatically, we all know that it takes courage for a society to risk talking about these issues. I am proud to stand with survivors, advocates and members of the criminal justice community to send a powerful message to other survivors: ‘We hear you. You have suffered enough. Your healing — and pursuit of justice are our priorities.’ “

Industry Advocates: Harry Connick Jr., Anthony Edwards, Cynthia Erivo, Hargitay & Peter Hermann, Mark Herzlich, Debra Messing, Hilary Swank, George Stephanopoulous and Ali Wentworth

The Laughing Man Coffee Co.

Most people don’t feel good about spending $5 on coffee every morning, but imagine if a portion of that money went to help a family in need. That’s loosely the concept driving the Laughing Man Coffee Co., which was co-founded by Hugh Jackman and David Steingard. Steingard’s family is in the coffee business, and Jackman is a self-proclaimed “coffee snob.” They’re also passionate about seeking solutions that help the families of coffee growers in Ethiopia and Colombia, where the charity recently funded 100 home improvement projects for farmers and awarded 45 college scholarships for their children in case they don’t want to go into the family business. “Our slogan is: ‘Make every cup count,’ ” says Steingard. “The idea is that not only should the coffee be delicious, but it should also be meaningful. And so for us, the direct connection to the farmer — giving back to them — is a win-win for everybody.

Industry Advocate: Jackman

March of Dimes

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s war against polio gave rise to an organization that for the past 80 years has fought for the health of all moms and babies. March of Dimes pioneers research, provides education and advocates for policies to ensure healthier pregnancies. March of Dimes’ six research centers are focused on preterm labor as half a million U.S. babies are born prematurely each year. A new #UnspokenStories platform encourages sharing stories. “As scary as it was to be vulnerable and share that I too was struggling with some postpartum anxiety, triggered by touring with my 3-month-old, I was echoed with thousands of supportive, kind comments from strangers,” says partner Rachel Platten. “I hope to be a voice for other mamas now who have felt the same.”
Industry Advocates: Tatyana Ali, Nick Lachey and Melissa Rauch


Christine Hill founded MediCinema to bring the magic of film to patients. For the past 20 years, the org has built, installed and run state-of-the-art cinemas in hospitals and health facilities throughout the U.K. By 2025, MediCinema plans to double its six theaters and triple its reach. Due to studio partnerships and support from high-profile film patrons, patients are often treated to meet-and-greets and Q&As alongside screenings of the latest releases and classics. “When I visited MediCinema I saw patients on drips, in beds and wheelchairs attending a screening, and witnessed the excitement build on their faces before the lights go down,” says Andy Serkis. “It is an experience we might take for granted, though for people in hospital it is one that has the power to transform their lives for the better.”

Industry Advocates: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Helen Mirren, Simon Pegg and Kate Winslet


After Dr. Winfred Tovar’s cousin in Haiti nearly died while giving birth in 2013, the Haitian-American OB-GYN founded the Modification in Mother-Baby-Mortality Statistics Initiative. Mimsi Intl. has since improved access to care for 4,760 pregnant women and reduced deaths by 16-fold, but pregnancy is still the leading cause of death for Haitian women. Mobile clinics serve 60 rural communities, providing care and screenings for complications including preeclampsia, HIV, syphilis and malaria. “Once you see what Mimsi is doing there is no turning back,” says board president Jon Rubinstein, founder of Authentic Talent and Literary Management. Rubinstein has worked to expand Mimsi’s reach and visibility in the entertainment community. “Mimsi serves thousands of women who have little access to prenatal care, and on a tiny budget.”

Industry Advocates: Authentic Talent and Literary Management will host a November fundraiser at the New York Comedy Festival.

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, center, addresses a news conference with Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Kristen Clarke, of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

Former President Obama called the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF) “simply the best civil-rights law firm in American history.” Founded in 1940 under Thurgood Marshall, LDF — a separate entity from the NAACP since 1957 — strives for racial justice, equality and an inclusive society. LDF has fought for equal employment, voting rights and education, resulting in 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education verdict, outlawing segregation. “Our work challenging voter suppression and working to ensure that African-American voters in towns and counties that are too often forgotten aren’t ignored is work we are uniquely equipped to do,” says president and director-counsel Sherrilyn Ifill. “And we continue to fight against racism in the criminal justice system, from policing to the exclusion of African Americans from jury service.”

Industry Advocates: Clarence Avant, Quincy Jones and John Legend

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Created in 1979, Nami is an advocacy group dedicated to building better lives for millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Nami offers classes and training for people living with mental illnesses, their families and community members. Mental Illness Awareness Week and Nami Walks have become key events for the Virginia-headquartered organization, which has 600 local affiliates and is represented in 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. “I have several family members who suffer from and live with mental illness,” says actor-producer Sterling K. Brown. “From anxiety to bipolar to schizophrenia, the profound level of sadness these unseen wounds can cause is tremendous. Nami is all about destroying stigma, and creating empathy for the mentally ill.”

Industry Advocates: Taraji P. Henson, Alanis Morissette and David Spade

National Wildlife Federation

Established in 1936 by Jay Norwood Darling, the 6-million-strong NWF is the United States’ largest private, nonprofit, conservation education and advocacy organization. President and CEO Collin O’Mara has placed a continuing focus on recovering America’s wildlife ranging from bison and bighorn sheep to such pollinators as monarch butterflies and native bees, while improving the management and access of public lands, restoring water bodies, advancing environmental education, and connecting American children with the great outdoors. “The National Wildlife Federation not only has a rich history of conserving iconic species within our cherished protected open spaces, but is beginning to place a genuine and much needed emphasis on urban wildlife conservation and empowering diverse human populations that share habitat with wildlife in urban areas,” says board of directors member Miguel Ordeñana.

Industry Advocates: Larry King, Al Gore and Julianne Hough

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Founded in 1980, Virginia-based PETA is led by president Ingrid Newkirk, who, with Alex Pacheco, co-founded the 400-employee group that focuses on the rights and welfare of animals worldwide. Boasting 6.5 million members, the nonprofit corporation has enacted progressive and compassionate social change through the years. “I’m proud to be an honorary director of PETA because they get results,” says Anjelica Huston. “PETA has worked to shut down animal laboratories, sent circuses into bankruptcy, started a vegan revolution, caused fashion houses to abandon the use of fur, closed the largest horse-slaughter operation in North America, and the list goes on. Animals weren’t put on earth for us — if anything we are here for them.”

Industry Advocates: Penelope Cruz, Paul McCartney, Joaquin Phoenix, Pink, Alicia Silverstone and Sia

Petsmart Charities sponsored Bark at the Park where pooches, many of whom were adopted during games at Chase Field in Phoenix, and their owners, gathered at an Arizona Diamondbacks game.
Mark Peterman/AP/Shutterstock

PetSmart Charities

A leader in pet adoption, the charities facilitate finds homes for more than 500,000 dogs and cats each year. They also support programs to prevent pet homelessness and partner with nearly 4,000 pet-geared nonprofits and governmental entities. In their 25 years, the orgs have awarded $400 million in grants and secured homes for more than 8.5 million pets. “I actually got my pup Bastian from the Humane Society and PetSmart Charities works closely with them,” says “The Bachelor’s” Arie Luyendyk Jr. “I always felt adopting was the best way to go because there are so many animals that need homes.”

Industry Advocates: Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Luyendyk, Bret Michaels and Adam Shankman

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Nurse Margaret Higgins Sanger not only popularized the term “birth control” in America but also opened the first clinic that eventually evolved into Planned Parenthood.. “For many women in this country, it’s far too difficult to get information or access to the health care that they need, including abortion — that’s why people across the country are standing together, unified and defiant to say, get your BANS OFF MY BODY,” says Tessa Thompson. “I’m proud to support Planned Parenthood and the work they do to provide sexual and reproductive services to 2.4 million people across the country, regardless of race, income, immigration status, gender or sexual orientation.” Adds the organization’s Caren Spruch, “We’re grateful so many wonderful artists help us educate and mobilize the public to protect and expand access to healthcare for everyone, no matter what.”

Industry Advocates: Elizabeth Banks, Connie Britton, Laura Dern, Lena Dunham, Padma Lakshmi, Issa Rae, Lili Reinhart, Tracee Ellis Ross, Tessa Thompson and Jessica Williams

Race to Erase MS

Charity runs in the family for Nancy Davis, whose mother, Barbara, established the Children’s Diabetes Foundation. After being diagnosed in 1991 with multiple sclerosis, Davis recalls doctors saying she’d be “lucky” if she could eventually operate the remote control on her TV. But Davis had a more ambitious goal in mind — finding a cure as fast as possible. Two years later, she founded Race to Erase MS, a charity to promote medical research, along with an annual glitzy gala to supply the necessary funding. “It’s so heartwarming to see what was ‘the impossible dream’ of finding a cure for multiple sclerosis become the possible dream now that there are 17 FDA-approved medicines on the market,” says Davis. “This would have never happened without the amazing and continued generosity of the Hollywood community.” Indeed, their contributions add up to around $50 million since 1993.

Industry Advocates: Frances Fisher, David Foster, Johnny Galeki, Camille Grammar, Marg Helgenberger, La Toya Jackson, Randy Jackson, Kris Jenner, The Osbournes (Sharon, Jack and Kelly), Aaron & Lauren Paul, Lisa Rinna & Harry Hamlin, Cybill Shepherd, Jamie-Lynn Sigler


The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services is a frontline organization that funds bail bonds and provides legal help to immigrants in Texas. Founded in 1986, it is Texas’ largest immigration legal services provider — fueled recently by President Trump’s family separation policy. In June 2018, a Facebook fundraiser by Charlotte and Dave Willner raised more than $20 million, and showrunners Gloria Calderon Kellett and Tanya Saracho started a social-media campaign that quickly united the TV writing community. “[Starz’s] ‘Vida’ challenged [Netflix’s] ‘One Day at a Time,’ and we went on to challenge other rooms to donate to Raices,” says Calderon Kellett. “At first it was other rooms of color, but then everyone jumped in. … It didn’t matter if they weren’t Latinx; they have families.”

Industry Advocates: The writers behind more than 90 shows — including “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Jane the Virgin” — joined Calderon Kellett and Saracho in donating.

Ronald McDonald House Charities

RMH provides a home for families of seriously ill children receiving treatment at nearby hospitals. President & CEO Sheila Musolino has helped to create and support various programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children. “Through our global network of over 275 chapters in more than 64 countries and regions, RMHC helps families with ill or injured children stay together, and close to the medical care their child needs at leading hospitals worldwide.” Ronald McDonald Family Room, usually located beside pediatric and intensive care units, provides a place to enjoy a warm meal or converse with other parents. Ronald McDonald Mobile Care brings cost-effective, high-quality medical, dental and health education services directly to underserved children in rural and urban areas across the globe.

Industry Advocates: Cindy Crawford, Naomi Judd and Michelle Williams

Sandy Hook Promise

In December 2012, Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden each lost a son in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. Only a few weeks into 2013, they responded by co-founding Sandy Hook Promise. “Since the death of my son Dylan, I have devoted my life to ensuring the safety of our children,” says Hockley, who also serves as the charity’s managing director. “Research shows that gun violence is preventable when we know the signs. That’s why Sandy Hook Promise trains youth and adults how to identify at-risk behaviors for violence and self-harm.” So far, the organization has trained more than 7.5 million youth and adults in 14,000 schools in all 50 states. On the federal level, Sandy Hook has helped pass the Stop School Violence Act.

Industry Advocates: Sheryl Crow, Katie Couric, Tim McGraw, the entire cast of “Modern Family” and Amy Ryan

Save the Children

Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year with events in September in New York and October in Los Angeles, the worldwide organization has changed the lives of more than 1 billion children by providing education, health care and economic opportunities, as well as crucial emergency aid during natural disasters and societal conflict. Says Save the Children board trustee Joe Roth: “When you look at the world through a child’s eyes, you see positivity and possibilities. It motivates you to want to do more to make their vision a reality, especially for kids born into harsh circumstances. My work with Save the Children has shown me that, whether a child grows up in poverty in rural Los Angeles County or in a Syrian war zone, all children deserve a chance for a better life.”
Industry Advocates: Camila Cabello, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Garner, Robert Iger and Roth

Time’s Up

It might seem like people aren’t talking about Times Up as much as in the beginning of 2018, when 300 women in the entertainment industry founded the organization that dominated the cultural conversation during awards season. But that doesn’t mean that its mission — ensuring safety and equity for working women — is any less important. “In the 18 months since our founding, we haven’t wavered — and though there is still so much work to be done, our urgency hasn’t either,” says co-founder Nina Shaw. Its legal defense fund has received 5,000 requests for assistance from women in all 50 states. The organization supports more than 100 cases and provides outreach grants to 18 nonprofits that provide harassment-prevention programs that serve low-income employees. “Earning a living should not come at the cost of anyone’s safety or dignity,” Shaw says.

Industry Advocates: Laverne Cox, America Ferrera, Rashida Jones, Brie Larson, Eva Longoria, Natalie Portman, Shonda Rhimes, Tessa Thompson, Emma Watson, Reese Witherspoon

The Trevor Project

Oscar-winning movies usually result in emotional acceptance speeches, but “Trevor” inspired the biggest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth in the world. In August 1998, when HBO aired the short film produced by the late Randy Stone, directed by Peggy Rajski and staring James Lecesne, the trio simultaneously launched the first 24/7 national lifeline for LGBTQ. In the past year alone, they’ve received over 75,000 calls/chats/texts. “Behind closed doors, we’re being told — as I have by powerful Hollywood producers —that we can’t make it if we’re queer … that we’re undeserving of love,” says Cara Delevingne, recipient of this year’s Hero Award from the charity. “So queer kids fend for themselves on the street. Too many in our community still die … or feel forced to live in the dark. And that’s why The Trevor Project is so important.”

Industry Advocates: Greg Berlanti, Mark Consuelos, Tyler Oakley, Daniel Radcliffe, Kelly Ripa, Troye Sivan, Amandla Sternberg, Jonathan Van Ness and Eugene Lee Yang

Unicef Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom talks with migrants via an interpreter.
Georgi Licovski/EPA/Shutterstock


This charity may have been established by the U.N. General Assembly back in 1946, but its mission is as timeless as the style icon who was once its ambassador, Audrey Hepburn. Promoting the rights and well-being of children. UNICEF provides life-saving supplies, not to mention clean water and sanitation, to the most vulnerable children in nearly 200 countries. Last year, it also offered education to nearly 12 million out-of-school children. “Children are the key to our collective future,” says Unicef’s executive director, Henrietta Fore. “Their health, education and protection today is essential not just to their growth and well-being but also to the peace, safety and prosperity of the world tomorrow. This is why, day in and day out, Unicef works to keep children safe from harm and to ensure they have the best possible chance to fulfill their potential — so that someday, they can build a better world.”

Industry Advocates: Orlando Bloom, Millie Bobby Brown, Jackie Chan, Liam Neeson, Katy Perry, Lilly Singh


About 844 million people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water. In 2009 Matt Damon and philanthropist Gary White decided to do something to help solve this crisis. Damon’s H20 Africa and White’s WaterPartners merged to become Water.org, which provides aid to areas of developing countries in need of clean drinking water and sanitation. Beyond the merger, Damon and White also co-founded WaterEquity, which invests in emerging markets, promoting economic opportunity and gender equality in addition to water and sanitation. “Of all the things that keep people in the death spiral of extreme poverty, water is huge,” says Damon. “And it doesn’t have to be this way.” Adds White, “We have the potential to put this crisis behind us — and do it in our lifetime.” To date, they’ve helped more than 20 million people gain access to safe water and sanitation.

Industry Advocates: Bono, Richard Branson, Damon and Jodie Foster

We Are Enough

“The financial system was not created by women,” says Tracy Gray, a former senior adviser to the L.A. mayor, venture capital fund investment professional and systems engineer on the Space Shuttle program. Her inspiration came from the numbers: even though women are starting businesses at 1.5 times the rate of men, they receive less than 3% of venture capital and 4% of commercial loans. “On top of all of that, women control about 75%-80% of the worldwide consumer discretionary spending, but we don’t invest.” She founded We Are Enough to educate women on how and why to invest in female-owned and -led businesses — to be “sexist” with investment capital.

Industry Advocates: Entertainment Industry Foundation, Andie MacDowell and Alexandra Paul