To be a bestselling author, you must have quite an expansive imagination. The following four bestselling authors, however, imagine a world not afflicted by poverty as they give their time and money from book and movie royalties toward helping the world’s poor.
Sylvia Day’s Day it Forward
Japanese-American romance author Sylvia Day is no stranger to the bestseller’s list, as she has received the distinction of being the number one bestseller in over 20 countries worldwide. Day has published dozens of romance novels in dozens of languages around the globe, but perhaps her biggest accomplishment is her charity work.
Day’s charitable works have a wide scope, ranging from engaging with other romance writers in her Daylight Scholarship and Romance Writers of America programs, to orphans in Ohio and overseas troops in her One Way Farm and Troops Ongoing Project charities respectively.
One of Day’s more interesting approaches to charity has her readers and fans sending her short essays describing which charities are important to them or why it is important for others to help out said charity. Day’s program, aptly named Day it Forward, has reached an eclectic group of charities including the Red Panda Network — a nonprofit dedicated to eco-conservation, sustainable livelihoods and alleviating poverty in Nepal. Day it Forward has also contributed to United for Puerto Rico, Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children, and many more since its inception in 2015.
Dave Eggers and the VAD Foundation
The next writer on the list of bestselling authors who give back is the man responsible for A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and the literary magazine McSweeney’s, Dave Eggers. Eggers is a spokesman and co-founder of the Valentino Achak Deng (VAD) Foundation that works to educate the war-ridden regions in South Sudan.
Eggers and Valentino created the VAD Foundation after Valentino — a community college student known for his enchanting public speeches and work for the Southern Sudanese communities — asked Eggers to help him write his autobiography. Valentino thought his story “could convey to the world the realities of what had happened in the civil war in South Sedan, and its effect on the people there.”
The duo decided that the proceeds from the book, ‘What Is the What,’ would go to South Sudanese communities to help recover from the war, including Valentino’s home village of Marial Bai. They founded the Marial Bai Secondary School as part of the VAD Foundation, and the structure was the first fully-operational high school in the entire region.
Since the school is independent of the Sudanese government, poor funding and budget concerns leave the school unaffected, and the school consistently ranks as one of the best schools in the country, thanks to the charitable efforts of Eggers and Valentino. Due to the success of the Marlai Bai Secondary School, the South Sudanese government has granted the VAD Foundation a new campus, which will soon be transformed into the Alok Girls’ Academy.
John Green’s Project for Awesome and The Foundation to Decrease World Suck
John Green, author of the heart-wrenching tale ‘The Fault in Our Stars,’ certainly gave his fans reasons for tears in his story about two cancer patients falling in love, but fret not, because Green’s Project for Awesome (P4A) only promises happy tears.
Project for Awesome operates similarly to Sylvia Day’s Day it Forward mentioned above in that he asks fans to tell him and his board which charities mean the most to them and allows the P4A community to have some say in which charities receive donations. According to Green’s website, P4A occurs annually on the second Friday and Saturday in December and “thousands of people post videos about and advocating for charities that decrease the overall level of world suck.”
The P4a raises money for Green’s foundation, The Foundation to Decrease World Suck, and acts as an aggregate nonprofit, donating its proceeds to other nonprofits and charities. P4A, a 100 percent volunteer operation raised over $2 million last year, with the proceeds going to a whole slew of charities ranging form Save the Children, Against Malaria Foundation, Ultimate Peace, The Ocean Cleanup and many, many more.
Isabel Allende Foundation
Isabel Allende, the prolific Chilean writer, recipient of Chile’s National Literature Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama founded the Isabel Allende Foundation to pay respects to her late daughter Paula Frias.
Frias spent most of her short life volunteering in poor communities in Venezuela and Spain before her untimely death due to a rare blood disorder that Allende says “nowadays should not be fatal,” but she received negligent treatment in the hospital. After an epiphany Allende had while on a trip to India grieving for her lost daughter, she decided to create a charity devoted to helping empower women, girls and immigrants.
The Isabel Allende Foundation, like most of the programs headed by the rest of our list of bestselling authors who give back acts as an aggregate organization, giving grants and donations to other nonprofit organizations headquartered in her native Chile and now home of California. The grants range from $1,000 to $80,000 and fund a wide range of programs such as the Global Fund for Women to Kids in Need of Defense.
Although our list of bestselling authors who give back can’t quite write out global poverty entirely, their charitable efforts and nonprofit foundations are certainly a step in the right direction.
– Nick Hodges