Oprah and Other Celebrities Have Donated Millions to Gun Control, But Where Is Their Money Really Going?

After Robert Kennedy’s assassination, Fred Rogers recalled how his mother taught him to deal with tragedy in the news. She told him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Whether it’s a hurricane destroying beloved homes or a gunman devastating innocent lives, there are always people willing to help. Sometimes, help comes in seemingly simple ways, like writing a check.

Even these efforts can go a long way. They don’t change the past, but they can contribute to future solutions. Here’s what really happens to these donations, and how to know if you’re giving to the right organizations in your efforts to help.

Florida students accepted millions from celebrities like Oprah

Oprah Winfrey speaks at the Oprah's The Life You Want Weekend

Oprah has donated millions to support survivors of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. | Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Columbine, Colorado. And now, Parkland, Florida. Disasters like these are nothing new, but they hurt a little more every time they happen.

After¬†Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School experienced one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history, Oprah, the Clooneys, and other celebrities donated millions to support survivors’ efforts to prevent similar tragedies from happening again.

Next: Who are Parkland donations really supporting?

March For Our Lives

Students participate in a protest against gun violence February

High school students participate in a march against gun violence following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

Following most disasters, celebrities and average citizens alike search for the best places to send their funds. Parkland students unintentionally made this step a little easier.

This time, donations big and small were given in support of March For Our Lives. The Washington, D.C. event, organized by affected survivors and their families, will focus on gun control, calling for an end to gun violence in schools across the country.

Next: Celebrities always find ways to help where they can.

Donations poured in after Parkland — but it wasn’t the first time

Hurricane Harvey is photographed aboard the International Space Station as it intensified on its way toward the Texas coast

A view of Hurricane Harvey from the International Space Station | Photo by NASA via Getty Images

It’s impossible to prepare for a disaster’s aftermath, especially when you know it isn’t going to be the last one. Most donations are monetary, following both natural and manmade disasters, but there are always other ways to help, if you have the resources to do so.

Some celebrities got creative when supporting Hurricane Katrina victims. Some volunteered, provided housing for families who lost their homes, and held benefit concerts.

Next: A campaign created after this disaster raised over $3 million.

Over $3 million went to support Las Vegas in 2017

Reported Shooting At Mandalay Bay In Las Vegas

Millions in donations poured in after the mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017. | David Becker/Getty Images

In October 2017, celebrities like Mike Tyson and members of the Chainsmokers donated to a GoFundMe campaign organized by Clark Country Commission Chair Steve Sisolak.

By December of that year, the Las Vegas Victims Fund became a registered nonprofit corporation to help distribute the many donations provided following the tragedy. Donations aided those injured as well as their families.

Next: How do celebrity donations actually work, though?

What happens when Oprah donates to disaster relief?

Oprah Winfrey in 2016

Oprah and other celebrities are generous with their funds, but where does the money go? | Paras Griffin/Getty Images

When celebrities like George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey donate in the emotionally charged aftermath of tragedies like these, what really happens to the money they pledge?

Many of them consult a financial advisor before making donations to learn the best organizations to offer their funds. Many media organizations also offer this information along with their disaster coverage for those who want to give but won’t do so unless they know their money will go to the right place.

Next: Is it safe to donate to a nonprofit after a disaster?

Do nonprofits make good use of the money they’re given?

red cross volunteer comforts fire victim

Red Cross volunteers help people after tragedy hits. | Pool/Getty Images

Maggie Neilson, co-founder and CEO of Global Philanthropy Group, told Billboard she’s usually not too skeptical about big donations being misused.

“Most non-profits are under so much scrutiny,” she said, “and I think the quality of their boards are so high that donations are being used appropriately for the most part.”

Next: Even if it’s going to the right place, is it really your best option?

Is donating money the best way to help?

Girl taking donation box full with stuff for donate

Money is usually more useful than in-kind donations. | Jovanmandic/iStock/Getty Images

Following the tragedy in Las Vegas, officials urged people across the U.S. to donate blood to aid survivors — something that could offer much more short-term relief than cash at the time.

Though it might depend on the specific circumstances surrounding a disaster, money is usually the best way anyone can help. It allows organizations to put donations toward the resources that matter most in a specific area — and it supports local economies.

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