J.K. Rowling’s story is one filled with strife and struggle and ending with stunning success. She’s someone we look to for inspiration when it comes to overcoming hardships and proving that hard work really does pay off. She is best known for authoring the renowned Harry Potter series, which propelled her from poverty into fame and fortune. But that’s not why we’re profiling her.
You see, J.K. Rowling gained billionaire status from the Harry Potter franchise’s success. As of 2011, she was estimated to be worth about $1 billion, enough to put her on the Forbes list of richest people in the world. But last year she lost that status—and not because of mismanagement.
J.K. Rowling is no longer a billionaire—because she donated so much money to charity. In 2011, she gave away about 16% of her net worth, or $160 million dollars. Perhaps it’s the fact that Rowling knows exactly what it’s like to be poverty stricken—she lived off of welfare at one point—that makes her more likely to give her wealth away.
When she spoke at Harvard’s commencement in 2008, she addressed poverty, saying that it “is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear and stress and sometimes depression. It means a thousand petty humiliations and hardship.”
Through the years, J.K. Rowling has been involved with several charities. She worked for Amnesty International after she graduated from college. She was also an Ambassador of One Parent Families (now known as Gingerbread) for seven years and was awarded the honorary position of President in 2007. She also supported the Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland for many years, functioning as a Patron for nine years and funding MS research.
In 2005, J.K. Rowling founded the Children’s High Level Group (CHLG), which is now known as Lumos. The organization works to “end the systematic institutionalization of children across Europe and help them find safer, more caring places to live.”
Rowling also has her own charitable trust called Volant. Volant helps support various projects and organizations to fight social deprivation, especially for women and children. Rowling has also supported a number of other organizations, including Comic Relief, The Maggie’s Centres for Cancer Care, the UK Labour Party, Doctors Without Borders, and more.