It’s an unfortunate reality of news media that when disasters like the recent earthquake in Haiti occur, headlines about the actual event — the victims, the damage caused, the recovery effort — are quickly usurped by a more saleable angle: what do celebrities think about it, and how much are they donating?

Sure it’s heart-warming to read about regular folks dipping into their pockets, too, but let’s be honest: it’s more interesting to see which famous people actually give a damn and, more importantly, which are willing to fork over a portion of their vast, vast cash reserves for the cause.

So which celebs have gone beyond empty platitudes and actually ponied up some dosh for Haiti? And, more importantly, beyond the headline-grabbing figures, is the amount even a drop in the ocean of their epic bank accounts?

Here’s a run-down so far:

Haitian-American hip hop artist Wyclef Jean (despite facing some financial woes of his own, foreclosing on his mansion home a few years ago) has raised over $3 million through his Yéle Haiti charity and has been personally pulling out dead bodies from the rubble (though The Smoking Gun has unearthed some pretty concerning information about the charity and raised serious questions over just how charitable Jean really is).

Gisele Bundchen — the highest-paid model in the world, with an annual income of around $35 million — is giving $1.5 million to the Red Cross.

Brangelina (combined income last year: $55m) are donating $1 million to Médecins Sans Frontières.

Sandra Bullock ($17m last year) has also written a $1 million cheque to Médecins Sans Frontières

Mads (the biggest money-spinner in the music world in 2009, raking in $242m) is giving $250,000 to the Red Cross.

Cyclist Lance Armstrong (whose income last year probably wasn’t quite the $28m it was last time it was reported in 2005, though he scored several mill from the SA Government, at least) is giving $250k.

Film-maker Tyler Perry ($125m in 2008) is kicking in $250k.

Actress Alyssa Milano (salary remains elusive, though she’s hardly been pulling in the big roles lately and the book she released last year isn’t exactly making any best-seller lists) is kicking in $50,000 to UNICEF and is challenging big corporations (via Twitter, natch) to match her donations.

In non-cash donations:

Tennis ace Roger Federer ($33m last year) is organising a bunch of exhibition matches during the Australian Open in Melbourne to raise money.

Lady GaGa (no idea what she earns, though she claims to be perpetually close to bankruptcy due to all the hideous outfits) is giving all the money she makes in ticket sales and merchandise from her next concert to the cause.

Chelsea Clinton (who likely earns $100,00+ a year, though mum and dad probably have a few spare quid to share with her) is hosting a 90-minute “spin” class (that’s the one with exercise bikes) at a Manhattan gym, with bike seats going for between $100-$1000. No, really.

Meanwhile, magician David Blaine is “giving” a free performance of street magic tricks. Hasn’t there already been enough suffering, Blaine?!

So you may not have a spare million to offer, but you can feel a certain smug satisfaction with the knowledge that even if you give $100, you’re probably making a more generous donation than Madonna.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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