The DreamWorks executive, best known for producing animated franchises like Shrek and Disney hits The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, picked up the prize at the annual Governors Awards dinner in Los Angeles.
Actors Tom Hanks and Will Smith stepped onstage to praise Katzenberg for his philanthropy, and joked about his persistence in asking for donations.
Smith quipped, "Jeffrey has no problem asking for way too much money."
Katzenberg, who has raised more than $230 million (£144 million) for charity as chairman of the Motion Picture and Television Fund foundation, told the crowd, "Mostly, all I did was pick up the phone and ask you. It's you who did it. You who gave of your time, your talent, your money, your hearts. Because that's what you do. That is what Hollywood does."
Other recipients of early Oscars at the star-studded ceremony included documentary director D.A. Pennebaker, stuntman Hal Needham and arts advocate George Stevens, Jr.