Whether it's an illness that's affected their family, or getting behind a social movement, it seems like every celebrity has their own cause. The cynic in us suspects they are doing it to stay in the spotlight, but there are many celebs operating quietly, donating out of their own pockets. Here are five generous celebrities, for whom philanthropy is a way of life.

Bill Gates

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Co-founder of Microsoft and super nerd Bill Gates has made billions from his computer creations, and has generously given away much of his fortune. Gates and his wife started the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has projects around the world from water sanitation to developing vaccines, and the couple have pledged to give 95% of their income to the cause.

The generous businessman has even encouraged other billionaires to give by starting The Giving Pledge, so far getting 128 billionaire individuals to pledge at least half of their fortune to good causes—whether it's during their lifetime or in their will.

 

The Beckhams

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David and Victoria Beckham may have retired from the worlds of football and pop music, but they've certainly stayed in the spotlight over the years and are well known for their generosity. From running their own charitable trust to donations to UNICEF and the Red Cross, they've supported a wide range of causes.

David Beckham pledged to give away all his wages - said to be worth about £3.4 million - earned when he played at Paris Saint-Germain while Victoria regularly thrills local charity shops with huge designer donations. 
 

George Lucas

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Writer, producer, and director George Lucas is one of Hollywood's most famous creatives, and in 2012 he sold the rights to his Star Wars franchise to Disney for $4 billion dollars.

However, just 100 days after announcing this landmark deal, Lucas pledged that most of the money he earned would go towards an educational charity, committed to improving the teaching process in schools across the USA. 
 

Meryl Streep

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Meryl Streep's versatile acting talents have won her three Oscars, yet she still makes time to support dozens of charities, and to speak out on causes that she believes in. Streep and her husband run the Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts, a long-established organisation for various artistic products, and gave a generous donation of $1 million to Vasser College, her alma mater.

She's also long been a supporter of causes such as Oxfam America and has spoken out publicly on behalf of organisations such as American Forests.
 

JK Rowling

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She may be one of the world's best-known writers, but Harry Potter author JK Rowling tends to stay out of the spotlight, donating a large percentage of her income to various charities.

Rowling founded the Volant Charitable Trust, an organisation that fights social deprivation and research into multiple sclerosis, and is said to have donated about £105 million of her fortune, losing her billionaire status.

She also penned the Harry Potter themed booklets Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages for charity, which have made about £15.7 million in profit for Comic Relief and international organisations since 2001.

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