Philanthropist of the month - JK Rowling

16 September 2010 | By Cause4 staff

She needs no introduction. JK Rowling, who famously conjured up the world of Harry Potter, is not only one of the world’s leading authors with one heck of an imagination, she also happens to be one of the world’s most generous philanthropists. Rowling has been described as a ‘hyper-active’ philanthropist, giving up her time, money and celebrity status whenever she can.

Preferring not merely to sign large cheques, she likes to get stuck in. She has written books in aid of Comic Relief; the sales of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ and ‘Quidditch Through the Ages’ have so far raised £15.7 million. She has also fronted readings alongside Stephen King and John Irving in New York to raise money for AIDS and the humanitarian aid organisation, ‘Médicins Sans Frontieres’.

In 2006 she highlighted the devastating use of caged beds in children’s mental institutions in Hungary when she co-founded the Children’s High Level Group (CHLG). Auctioning one of seven handwritten and illustrated copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, she raised £1.95 million for the cause. 2007 saw Rowling contribute £495,000 to a reward fund for the safe return of Madeleine McCann, who disappeared in Portugal that same year. In the same year, in company with Nelson Mandela, Al Gore and Alan Greenspan, she wrote an introduction to a collection of Gordon Brown’s speeches, the proceeds going to the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory.

More recently - and quite spectacularly - she has contributed to a cause close to her heart, Multiple Sclerosis from which her mother died ten years ago. Her substantial donation of £10 million to support the construction of a new Centre for Regenerative Medicine at Edinburgh University takes her philanthropy to a new and quite astonishing level. As she puts it: “You have a moral responsibility when you’ve been given far more than you need to do wise things and give intelligently”. May we all strive to do wise things and give intelligently.

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