NET WORTH: $500 million, estimated
SOURCE of WEALTH: Musician, Songwriter
FUNDING AREAS: Health, Environment, LGBT, Humantarian, Arts & Culture
OVERVIEW: Most of Elton John’s charitable grantmaking supports the Elton John AIDS Foundation, but he has still found time to raise money for a variety of other causes. Elton John created the foundation in the United States in 1992 and in the United Kingdom in 1993. The two foundations together have raised more than $385 million in some 25 years.
BACKGROUND: In a music career spanning fifty years, Elton John has recorded more than 50 top 40 hits, won five Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a Tony, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
AIDS/HIV: John first became involved in AIDS work in the 1980s, when Ryan White, who was just 13 at the time, was diagnosed with the disease, which he had contracted as a result of a blood transfusion. The disease was poorly understood at the time, leading to discrimination against White, who quickly became the poster child for the disease, appearing on many national television shows, often alongside celebrities, in an effort to destigmatize HIV/AIDS. During this time, John loaned White’s mother $16,500 for a down payment on a house, which ultimately became a gift when John refused to accept repayment; instead, he set up a college fund for White’s sister, and teamed up with Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, and Gladys Knight to record “That’s What Friends are For,” donating proceeds from the song to the American Foundation for AIDS Research. White’s death in 1990, and Freddy Mercury’s passing the following year prompted John to create the Elton John AIDS Foundation. He has auctioned off pianos and other memorabilia, and hosts an annual White Tie & Tiara Ball to raise money for the foundation, which has raised tens of millions of dollars to support of HIV/AIDS Programs in 55 countries through extensive and ongoing grantmaking.
HEALTH: In addition to his work on AIDS, John has supported the Children’s Tumor Foundation, the Race to Erase MS, Riders for Health, the Breast Cancer Research Fund, and the Starkey Hearing Foundation.
ENVIRONMENT: In 2013, John made appeal to help raise money for The Independent’s campaign to curb elephant poaching. He has also helped raise funds for the Rainforest Foundation Fund.
HUMANITARIAN: After Princess Diana’s tragic death, John rewrote the lyrics to "Candle in the Wind" to honor her, and donated the proceeds from the sales to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, which does humanitarian work in the UK and throughout the world. The sales from the song raised £38 million for the organization. He’s also supported Oxfam, War Child, Project Angel Food, and the Food Bank for New York City.
ELTON JOHN SPORTS FUND: John recently raised £300,000 to create the Elton John Sports Fund, which he is using to support aspiring young British athletes. He has also raised money for SportsAid, and the Sporting Chance Clinic, which helps athletes with substance abuse problems.
ARTS & CULTURE: John has supported the Grammy Foundation and Exploring the Arts.
LGBT: John has supported the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the Trevor Project, and STOMP Out Bullying.
LOOKING FORWARD: It is a bit surprising that John has not been more heavily involved with LGBT and anti-bullying, so perhaps we will start seeing some additional support in these areas. Some of his most recent charitable activities have included raising funds for endangered animals and aspiring athletes, so look for him to expand these efforts. John also has a rather impressive art collection, so we would not be surprised to see more giving in the arts as well.