Professional athletes are best known for their contributions to their respective sport but are less often recognized for their contributions to charity. Whether it’s individual donations to different organizations or people, or they have a foundation (always named after themselves, of course), the following athletes deserve some credit for all that they do.
While many millionaires tend to want to keep all of their money, despite having some wiggle room with their finances oftentimes, there are still many that want to give much of it away to causes they deem worthy or relevant to solving the problems of today’s world. Though they may not have the time to volunteer their own time, their money allows professionals in that field to continue to do their work and effect change.
Find out which 14 athletes give the most charitable donations and who they’re supporting.
14. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo was named the most charitable sportsperson last year by Do Something on their Athletes Gone Good list. One of his most notable donations was the $6.5 million he donated to Nepal after they suffered a massive earthquake last year. He has also covered the cost of a 10-month-old’s brain surgery, which cost $83,000, and paid for a 9-year-old cancer patient’s medical expenses. He used his nearly $700,000 bonus and donated to different charities, and gave $165,000 to fund a cancer center in Portugal where his mother was treated. He said this of his donations: “My father always taught me that when you help other people, then God will give you double, and that’s what has really happened to me. When I have helped other people who are in need, God has helped me more.”
13. Serena Williams
Serena Williams has her own fund and is also a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. She has aided the organization in the 1 in 11 campaign to support the 1 in 11 children around the world who aren’t able to attend school for a variety of reasons. The campaign is aimed at making access to education easier for young boys and girls so that they can fulfill their potential.
12. Brett Favre
His foundation, “Fourward Foundation,” is aimed at supporting underprivileged children in Mississippi and Wisconsin. Since it was founded, the foundation has donated $2 million to local charities that help the youth in their community.
11. Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw donates significant portions of his eight-digit paychecks to causes in Africa, including his program called Kershaw’s Challenge. The program is run by him and his wife and aims to change the lives of at-risk children and communities. The pair also runs an orphanage in Lukasa, Zambia and supports a variety of organizations, including the Habitat for Humanity. He was given the Roberto Clemente Award, which honors the top humanitarian amongst Major League Baseball players.
10. Mia Hamm
Mia created her foundation after her brother died from a blood disease in 1997, and it supports patients that need bone marrow and blood transplants. They raise funds and awareness for families in need of the transplants by hosting events like celebrity soccer games and providing support for bone marrow research projects.
9. Jeff Gordon
This NASCAR champion runs the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation, which aims to battle pediatric cancer until no child has cancer. In 2009, he set up a pediatric cancer research fund at Riley Hospital for Children. This cost $1.5 million and since it was founded, it has made great strides in developing treatments for neuroblastoma and brain tumors.
8. John Cena
7. Eli Manning
The quarterback for the New York Giants has his own Children’s Clinic in Mississippi that provides outpatient care for 75,000 children annually. He raised $3 million for the clinic over a 5-year period and donated $1 million to University of Mississippi’s Ole Miss Opportunity Scholarship fund. When Hurricane Katrina hit, Eli and Peyton filled a plane with suggested supplies from the Red Cross and sent it to aid the victims.
6. Peyton Manning
Peyton started the “Peyback” Foundation in 1999 to help at-risk youth and has donated $1.3 million for youth organizations that promote the future success of disadvantaged youth. The Foundation also provides nearly 1,000 meals for Thanksgiving every year. Last year, Manning donated $3 million to his alma mater, the University of Tennessee, to add to his Peyton Manning Scholarship Endowment and help double the amount of students receiving scholarship funds annually.
5. David Beckham
David Beckham just celebrated his tenth anniversary with UNICEF, where he has volunteered as a Goodwill Ambassador and used his global voice and helped raise funds for children in danger worldwide. In honor of his anniversary, 7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund was founded and is a testament to the personal commitment to continue helping for another 10 years. He also donated $4.5 million to two French children’s charities in an agreement he made to donate all his earnings while he played for Paris Saint-Germaine.
4. Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods may not have the most stable personal life, but his donations to charity have been unwavering. He runs the Tiger Woods Foundation, which provides educational opportunities for youth worldwide. Just from the annual Tiger Jam concert alone, the foundation has raised $14 million to benefit the children. Woods has donated over $12 million of his own tournament earnings to his own foundation.
3. Derek Jeter
Jeter established his Turn 2 Foundation in 1996, which aims to “create and support signature programs and activities that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol and ‘TURN 2’ healthy lifestyles,” according to the foundation’s site. The foundation has raised $18 million since its establishment.
2. LeBron James
His impact through the LeBron James Family Foundation has helped countless children and young adults with education. He partnered with the University of Akron to provide a guaranteed four-year scholarship to the school for students in James’ “I Promise” program who qualify. The scholarship will cover tuition and the university’s general service fee, which is currently $9,500, for 1,100 students. That racks up to $41.8 million he’s going to spend for teens to get a higher education.
1. Lance Armstrong
Lance is largely revered for his cancer fighting efforts. He started the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which hosted the “Livestrong” campaign and sold 50 million yellow bracelets to raise awareness about cancer and independently raised millions to help fund cancer research. They’ve raised over $500 million since its inception, which has helped 2.5 million cancer survivors with free patient navigation services.