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New Profile: Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd)

Abel Tesfaye, also known as “The Weeknd,” is the latest celebrity to be featured on Philanthropic People. Tesfaye has shown tremendous dedication to promoting racial equality, including a recent donation to the Black Lives Matter movement. To read more about Abel Tesfaye, click here.

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Meet Brigitte Bardot: French Actress Turned Animal Rights Activist

Born in 1934, Brigitte Bardot is a famous singer, actress, dancer, and model who starred in French 50s and 60s films. Films she’s starred in include And God Created Woman and Contempt. She retired from acting in the 1970s and instead devoted her time to animal activism. Bardot is known for famously saying, “I gave my beauty and youth to men, I am going to give my wisdom and experience to animals.”

In 1987, Bardot auctioned off her own jewelry and personal belongings so she could start her own animal rights organization. Today, that organization is known as the Fondation Brigitte Bardot, France’s leading animal protection NGO. Fondation Brigitte Bardot has its own sanctuary in Normandy and continually lends support to other animal rights organizations.

In 2012, Brigitte Bardot sent a personal letter to France’s Philippines ambassador expressing her concerns for Mali, an ailing, solitary elephant confined to a small enclosure at a Philippine zoo. In her letter, Bardot requested that the sick elephant, Mali, be transferred to a sanctuary in Thailand where she can roam freely with other elephants. Her request was backed by Jane Goodall and famed veterinarian Dr. Mel Richardson. As a result, an online petition for Mali’s release went viral. The petition garnered more than 40,000 signatures. Unfortunately, Mali is yet to be freed from her tiny, concrete enclosure.

More recently, in 2013, the iconic star called for an end to grocery store Fortnum & Mason’s foie gras sales. Foie gras is a popular food dish consisting of the enlarged liver of a goose or duck. But in order to enlarge the liver, the ducks and geese must be force fed. A metal rod is jammed down their necks several times a day, and the over-stuffing of the liver results in increased pressure on the lungs. The practice is widely detested by veterinarians and animal activists alike and the sale of foie gras has already been banned in several countries. PETA renamed Fortnum & Mason’s, “Force-Fed and Murdered.” But thanks to the awareness that Bardot has brought to foie gras sales, thousands of people have elected to boycott Fortnum & Mason’s.

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News Profiles

Taylor Swift Helps Lucky Fan With Student Loans

Taylor Swift with fans
Taylor Swift greeting her loyal fans.

Taylor Swift has already made a name for herself for her catchy pop music, and now the star is gaining serious traction as one of the most philanthropic-minded celebrities out there today. Swift has always been very open about how much she values her fans, and lately, she’s taken this appreciation to new heights by making efforts to personally thank some of them in truly creative ways.

Swift’s latest effort to thank one lucky fan involved handmade gifts, photos, and funds to help start chipping away at her college loans. “Swift, who has a reputation for being super-generous with her fans, just helped one Swiftie pay her student loans” reports The Huffington Post. Various media outlets call Swift’s unprecedented fan appreciation “#taylurking,” because of how she finds fans on social media that go above and beyond to support her music, and then surprises them with gifts in equally impressive ways.

Taylor Swift Philanthropy
Not only is Taylor Swift a popular musician, she’s a model for celebrity philanthropy. Image: Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

Her most recent gift was hand-delivered to Rebekah Bortniker by Swift’s bodyguard. It included a watercolor painting that Swift created, a Polaroid photo, a necklace with a note that said “was mine, now yours,” a “New York Is My Boyfriend” tote bag, and, in a nod to her most recent album 1989, a check for $1,989.

“I really really really really hope you like it,” wrote Swift in a handwritten card inside the package. “I’m not a good painter but I think you’re so beautiful and positive, even though you’re dealing with the stress life brings, so I wanted to make you something.”

This kind of personalized thank-you might seem over the top, but it’s something that Swift has been doing for some time now. Over the holidays, the singer surprised some of her biggest Tumblr fans with Christmas presents and handwritten notes, for example. Swift has also been donating significant funds to worthy causes for many years, even during the earliest stage of her career.

Learn more about Swift’s charitable contributions in our full profile of the singer.

Featured Image via Instagram.

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Philanthropic People: General David Petraeus

Earlier this month, people around the country celebrated Veterans Day, an annual holiday that honors the men and women who have served in the United States military. Although this day is one that focuses on the courage and patriotism of these veterans, it’s also a time to reflect upon veteran advocacy and health. One man who has devoted his life to the military is former General David Petraeus, who served until 2011 and continues to dedicate his time to veteran advocacy today.

David Petraeus Chairman KKR Global Institute
Image: via KKR

David Petraeus currently serves as chairman of KKR’s Global Institute, teaches at various institutions including Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and devotes much of his time to military veteran outreach, support, and rehabilitation. Regarded as a military visionary for his deep understanding of politics and foreign affairs, Petraeus is a highly decorated four-star general who served for 37 years in the United States Army.

Last year, the former general was honored at the annual History Makers Gala, an event that recognizes prominent visionaries who have made history and simultaneously raises funds for the New York Historical Society (NYHS). In a press release about the History Makers Award, NYHS’s President and CEO Dr. Louise Mirrer said, “We are also pleased to recognize General Petraeus for his groundbreaking work in Iraq, […] and his encouragement of strategies that resolve problems through political processes rather than violence.”

American Corporate PartnersIn March, 2013, Petraeus joined the advisory council of American Corporate Partners (ACP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting veterans as they come back from deployment. The mission of the ACP reads in part: “With the belief that one-on-one relationships enhance an atmosphere of mutual understanding, respect, and support, ACP aims to strengthen the connection between corporate America and veteran communities.” By working with business professionals nationwide, and with help from its passionate and dedicated advisory board, the ACP provides veterans with tools to help the acclimate to the workforce after they return from deployment.

Petraeus has spoken out on behalf of veterans many times over the course of his career; he has been invited to give many speeches and talks about veteran health and wellness, employment, and PTSD. Petraeus is a good example of a philanthropic-minded individual who understands that giving to others means putting time and effort into creating change.

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Philanthropic People: Daniel Loeb

daniel loeb philanthropist
Image via Third Point.

Daniel Loeb, CEO of Third Point LLC and a leader in portfolio management, risk management, and research, may be best known for his contributions to the business world…but he has a long history of diverse charitable giving as well.

Loeb’s causes include education, health, community, and progressive issues such as LGBT rights.

Education: Daniel Loeb serves as chairman of the Success Academies Charter Schools in Brooklyn, which promote educational reform and access to education for children from all backgrounds. Since 2004 he’s also been a Trustee of Prep for Prep, a New York City organization that helps underprivileged children attend and thrive at competitive independent schools. Loeb has donated $1.5 million to the program as well. Other educational projects that have piqued his philanthropic interest include the Robin Hood Foundation, a scholarship endowment at his alma mater Columbia, and the co-founding of Students First New York, the state branch of a national education advocacy program.

Health: Loeb is a Trustee of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and has donated extensively to research in children’s cancer, Tourette’s syndrome, ALS, muscular dystrophy, and reproductive health.

Arts, Culture, and Community: Most of Loeb’s giving in this area goes to organizations in New York City; however, he’s also a Trustee at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and an avid art collector. His community interests include numerous Jewish nonprofits (including the Jewish Enrichment Center in New York) and other museums, arts and cultural organizations, the New York City Public Library, the Central Park Conservancy, historical preservation sites, the YMCA, and organizations supporting the homeless. This part of Loeb’s giving is fueled in large part by his belief that, while the financial markets in which he works can make the world a better place, “folks are left behind.”

Progressive Issues: In addition to supporting New York’s law to legalize gay marriage in 2011, Loeb continues to support marriage equality and reproductive rights through organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood, and Media Matters.  

With a wealth of life and business experience—not to mention a net worth of $2.3 billion—Daniel Loeb continues to support a variety of causes and give back to the community.

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Organizations Profiles

Spooky Nonprofit Profile: Random Acts of Halloween

random acts of halloween

Holidays are a great time to take part in charitable initiatives; there are countless food drives at Thanksgiving, and tons of volunteer opportunities around Christmastime and New Year’s. But what about Halloween? This spooky and fun holiday often gets overlooked in terms of how to give it a philanthropic edge.

New York-based nonprofit Random Acts of Halloween is one organization that decided to make Halloween a much more charitable holiday. Since 2011, Random Acts of Halloween has been raising funds for underserved NYC charities and organizations by throwing an awesome Halloween party called the Hallows Eve Charity Costume Ball. Costumes, dancing, drinks, and charity? This budding nonprofit might have created the most enjoyable way to raise funds for worthy causes in the name of Halloween!

According to the organization’s mission, “We throw an awesome party once a year and donate all of the money we raise to otherwise unsuspecting and underserved New York City based charities and foundations. Our mission is to perform this random acts of kindness every year,” of its annual donations and work to spread kindness. Random Acts of Halloween uses the phrase “Party For Good” as a way to guide its annual event and to get New Yorkers excited about celebrating Halloween for a good cause.

In 2011, Random Acts of Halloween raised $2000 for a single charity, and since then, its fundraising efforts have improved significantly. Last year, the nonprofit raised $10,000 and was able to donate funds to five NYC-based charities. Random Acts of Halloween has supported causes that focus on LGBT issues, domestic violence, youth advocacy, homelessness, and people with disabilities. Tickets are still available for the organization’s 4th annual charity party, which is being held at a secret location in Chelsea. “The Witch’s Ball” might just be its most successful event to date.

For more information about Random Acts of Halloween, visit randomactsofhalloween.org.

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Profiles

David Kuhn Goes the Extra (11,000) Miles for Cystic Fibrosis

David Kuhn is running across the US for cystic fibrosis
Blind, 62-year-old David Kuhn is running across the US to raise money for cystic fibrosis research.
Image: runhaven.com

David Kuhn from DeKalb, Illinois has made it his mission for the past few years to complete an 11,000-mile run across the United States to raise money and awareness for cystic fibrosis. At age 62, most men and women wouldn’t dream of this kind of journey, but Kuhn isn’t letting his age, or his blindness, deter him from embarking on his 11,000-mile run for charity.

Unfortunately, there is still no cure for this debilitating disease. Kuhn’s twelve-year-old granddaughter Kylie is living with cystic fibrosis, and Kuhn hopes to help raise money to expand her life expectancy as well as others’ who suffer from this chronic lung disease.  Kuhn proclaims that it is his personal mission to help his granddaughter live as long as she possibly can, and if he can do that by putting in the miles, he will.

One major obstacle that most people suspect will deter Kuhn is his blindness. Mr. Kuhn began to lose his sight at the age of 29, when he was in a car accident involving a drunk driver. Despite this handicap, Kuhn believes that it only makes him that much stronger and inclined to complete this mission. To help Kuhn throughout his journey, his website, itsallicando.wordpress.com tracks his days and his location.  Each day, Kuhn blogs about the success of his day—including the places and people he has encountered.  You can also find out more about his personal life and goals along the way, as well as a link to donate to the cause.

Kuhn’s journey began earlier this year, where he started his run in Seattle, Washington.  Seattle also marks the finish line for when his 11,000-mile run is complete. He has already banked over 80 days, traveling through Montana, Nebraska, and Minnesota. His goal is to travel the entire outline of the United States Mainland—passing through cities such as Bangor, ME; New York, NY; Jacksonville, FL; San Diego, CA, Los Angeles, CA; and of course back to Seattle, WA.

Kuhn’s goal is to raise $500,000, and with each mile he is getting that much closer.

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Robin Williams: Amazing Actor and Generous Philanthropist

Robin Williams
Robin Williams IMG: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

Robin Williams, one of the greatest actors in history, passed away on Monday, August 11th, in an apparent suicide. Along with being considered one of the greatest comedians and actors of all time, Williams is also remembered through his extensive charity work.

One such example was through a series of TV specials that was a part of Comic Relief and helped raise money for the homeless. Williams began the series in 1986 alongside fellow actors and comedians Billy Crystal and Whoopie Goldberg.

“When we started [Comic Relief], we had to figure out what would be a suitable cause. Nobody was more adamant than Robin that it should help the homeless,” Bob Zmuda, creator of Comic Relief, told The Times in a phone interview.

Robin Williams also participated in other charity organizations such as the Christopher and Dana reeve Foundation, the LiveStrong Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and more.

“Whenever he had an opportunity to meet patients and families, he would do it. When you have a person of Robin’s caliber, it helps sick kids forget about their diseases for a while,” said Kelly Schulz, vice president of communications at St. Jude, which Williams prominently supported.

Another charity that spoke up about Williams’ contributions was United Service Organizations (USO), which provides support and morale boosting to U.S. troops and their families. “Williams traveled around the world to lift the spirits of our troops and their families. He will always be a part of our USO family and will be sorely missed,” the organization said in a statement following news of the actor’s death.

Robin Williams’ daughter Zelda Williams tweeted her delight to see people contributing to the St. Jude Foundation because of her father’s work there and encouraged them to continue doing so. She said the organization meant a lot to her and her father.

Since his passing, it has become clearer than ever that Robin Williams touched millions of people’s lives through his incredibly generosity, his kind-heartedness, and, of course, his ability to make anyone laugh.

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Justin Bieber Wins Champ Of Charity Award

Justin Bieber Champ of Charity
Justin Bieber IMG: Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com

Although bad boy Justin Bieber is mostly known his rebellious reputation, it looks like this young celebrity has one of the biggest hearts around. The pop star was honored earlier this week with the Champ of Charity Award at the 2014 Young Hollywood Awards at the Wiltern Theater Los Angeles. What was even more surprising is what Bieber did after he received the award: the star ended up giving the trophy to Make-A-Wish recipient Grace Kesablak, a 10-year-old cancer patient.

Bieber seems to be turning his path around after numerous run-ins with the law, which ultimately culminated in his Miami Beach arrest earlier this year. At the ceremony, his friend Cody Simpson presented Bieber with the award, which the young star immediately decided to give away. Along with the award Bieber kindly gave Kesablak, he granted over 200+ wishes for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Later that same evening the pop star tweeted “Grace ur incredible” with a photo of the two, asking his followers to also follow the little girl.

The fact that Bieber even came to the award show demonstrates a step in the right direction for the bad boy star, who is infamous for rarely making it to events. One reason may be that the star was booed when he was award the Juno Fan Choice Award in March, even though he wasn’t there. He also was booed when he was in attendance at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards, as there tends to be a lot of negative attention around him due to his very public indiscretions and rebellious attitude.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a worldwide organization that operates in 47 countries. It is dedicated to carrying out the one expressed wish of terminally and chronically sick children, many of which are made possible by celebrities like Justin Bieber. Perhaps the star’s recent generosity indicates that he is more focused on philanthropy than fooling around.

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Organizations Profiles

Stand Up To Cancer Partners with MasterCard for Charity

Stand Up to Cancer
IMG: via Stand Up to Cancer

Earlier this month, MasterCard Priceless Causes teamed up with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) to present “The Priceless Table at Times Square,” a limited time, participatory event for charity. From July 16th through August 2nd, MasterCard cardholders were able to reserve a seat at The Priceless Table, a pop-up restaurant overlooking New York City’s iconic Times Square. At $50 a pop, tickets were a bit steep for the five-course meal prepared by chef Marcus Samuelsson, but all proceeds go towards SU2C.

According to Forbes contributor Elaine Schattner, the elevated, communal table and open air aesthetic of MasterCard’s pop-up restaurant was designed to promote visibility for the company’s fundraising relationship with SU2C. “Since its founding in 2008, SU2C, a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, has emerged as one of the largest and most innovative anti-cancer programs,” explains Schattner of the powerful organization, which she says owes a lots of its success to its marketing team.

SU2C has captured the attention of prominent philanthropists and celebrities from around the world for its innovative approach to funding cancer research initiatives. “SU2C’s unique funding model, developed with the help of prominent cancer researchers, encourages collaboration and innovation through two new types of scientific grant,” explains the organization of how its approach differs from that of other similar initiatives. According to SU2C’s mission statement, “SU2C’s mission is to raise funds to accelerate and pace of groundbreaking translational research that can get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now.” The organization also explains how “By galvanizing the entertainment industry, SU2C has set out to generate awareness, educate the public on cancer prevention and help more people diagnosed with cancer become long-term survivors.”

MasterCard hasn’t yet announced how much funding it was able to provide to SU2C, but seats did sell out completely for The Priceless Table at Times Square, which indicates an overwhelming public response. Learn more about the event and others like it by visiting www.causes.priceless.com.