Much of the passion for the Harry Potter novels comes from the readers being able to relate to their characters and their actions, despite the fantastical context. It seems only logical, therefore, that the themes of love and justice, so pivotal to the series, should inspire readers to go that extra mile, and they have. Just as Harry and his friends seek to make their world a better place, with the Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore’s Army, and SPEW, so too have hundreds of thousands of inspired Potterheads around the world sought to improve our Muggle world.
Below we have summarized the main charitable efforts by both J.K. Rowling and her fans, along with details on how you can get involved.
- Program Seeks to “Transfigure” the Lives of Foster and Adoptive Families - Through the use of the "Harry Potter" series, Transfiguring Adoption helps to facilitate communication in foster and adoptive families. We interviewed the program's co-founder, Darren Fink, to find out more!
- Oliver Phelps’s Hidden Talent: Serving! - If the acting doesn't pan out, Oliver Phelps can rest assured that he has a promising back-up career in food service! Read on for what he did to help raise money for charity while honing a new skill.
“Protecting Children. Providing Solutions”
Lumos, the charity founded in 2005 by J.K. Rowling, was created with the aim of ending the systematic institutionalization of children. Institutionalization affects over eight million children across the globe, who are denied a family and placed in so-called “orphanages” often due to poverty, disability, and discrimination.
- Shining a Light on Lumos
- Supporting Lumos
- “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”
- “Lumos Maxima” Charm Bracelet
- Deluxe Illustrated “Philosopher’s Stone” Edition
In August 2013, we caught up with Lumos’s Head of Communications, Vicky Gillings, to discuss the charity and its activities.
Hi, Vicky. Thanks for speaking with us. Let’s start about the beginning – tell us a little more about Lumos. When was it founded? What is J.K. Rowling’s involvement with the charity?
Lumos is a charity that was set up by J.K. Rowling in 2007 and came into being after she was alerted to the plight of the millions of children living in institutions around the world through a Sunday Times article. The article showed a picture of a young boy with physical and behavioral disabilities who was being kept in a caged bed as a way to “contain” his behavior in a so-called “orphanage” in the Czech Republic. She was so moved by this that she began researching into this problem and wanted to do something to help those children who had been separated from their families, isolated from the community, and abandoned by a care system that was supposed to help them. This article shed light on the continuing practice around the world, but particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, of placing children in institutions, not because they were all orphans – indeed the majority of children in orphanages are not orphans – but because their families were too poor to look after them, especially if they had a disability, and in some cases, if they were from an ethnic minority. Lumos works to end the systematic institutionalization of children, and it does this by working with national governments and the local authorities to close institutions, build up community-based services that help keep children with their families, and help children become reunited with their families. Lumos trains staff from the old institutions to work in the new services and supports the creation of foster care and adoption services and an education system that is inclusive for those with disabilities. We also work on an individual basis with the children, making assessments and recommendations for their needs. J.K. Rowling is the founder of Lumos and the chair of the board, so she is closely involved with the work of the charity.
The Lumos video seemed to go down well! How did you find your first experience of LeakyCon?
I’m glad you say that about the film. Describing the situation for those eight million children living in institutions around the world is quite difficult – it’s so hard to imagine their lives and the harmful effects of being without a family. There is a wealth of evidence that shows that the children living in “orphanages,” where they are denied a family life and the individual care, love, and attention, do not thrive. Indeed, the effects of being in an institution can damage children physically, psychologically, and emotionally. Further research has shown that children growing up in orphanages have very poor life chances and are much more likely to end up trafficked, in prostitution or with a criminal record, and many more times likely to take their own lives. In light of this, we wanted a film that would convey the seriousness of the problem for those children but also explain that the solution (deinstitutionalization), while complex, is one that Lumos can deliver. I think it’s really important that we see the problem through a child’s perspective and how it must feel for them, and in this short film we see it through the eyes of “Maria.” I think that J.K. Rowling’s narration is so powerful and really engaging; it makes you want to listen. In terms of LeakyCon overall, I really enjoyed it! I have presented at many corporate types of conferences in the past, but nothing could quite prepare me for LeakyCon. It felt more like a gig rather than a conference, and everyone there was so enthusiastic and energized. You could almost reach out and touch the energy in the room. It was a great experience.
J.K. Rowling recently tweeted about one of your petitions. How has the response been to this so far?
The response has been fantastic so far. Over 6,700 people have now signed the petition, which was set up to change the way that European Union money – public money – was being spent in propping up the outdated systems that resulted in children going into institutions. The petition was calling for the use of funds to be directed toward developing community-based services that help keep families together, support services such as community centers, and specialist help for children with disabilities and complex needs. We fully expect to see some new regulations being passed in the European Commission soon, which will make a huge difference at an international level in terms of reducing the number of children in institutions in Europe – watch this space!
Funds raised from the sales of The Tales of Beedle the Bard are said to go toward Lumos. How is this money used?
Lumos is extremely grateful [for] the generous support of our founder, and yes, all the proceeds of the sale of Beedle the Bard meet Lumos’s operating costs. What this means is that the money we raise through fundraising goes directly to the projects where we work in Moldova, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Ukraine – we call this our 100% pledge. Lumos works in these countries by demonstrating, to the national and local authorities, the benefits and results of investing in changing the system that drives children into institutions. Our projects are varied but all contribute to getting children out of institutions and back to either their family, a foster family, or within family-based care. Among many other things, we have closed three institutions in the last two years in Moldova alone; set up a number of small group homes for children who, for a range of reasons, cannot go into a traditional family home; and supported the development of inclusive education programs, which means that children with disabilities can go to a mainstream school, much like they do in the UK and most other developed countries. We have provided emergency feeding programs for hundreds of children who were at danger of death as a result of being in institutions, and we have trained many care workers, policy makers, and education providers to better support disadvantaged children and meet their individual needs. The work Lumos does not only benefits children we are helping today but is [also] about investing in changing the system that means children in the future will not go into an institution in the first place.
There are many ways in which you can support the work of Lumos:
- Practice philanthropy
- Get educated
- Sign the pledge
More information can be found via the website.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard first appeared as a fictional book in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book of the young wizard’s adventures. It was purported to be a popular collection of five wizarding children’s fairy tales that was bequeathed to Hermione Granger by the will of Professor Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts. Containing clues that were to prove crucial to Harry and his friends during his final mission to destroy Lord Voldemort, only one story – “The Tale of the Three Brothers” – is recounted in the book.
In The Tales of Beedle the Bard, the four remaining stories are revealed for the very first time. Net proceeds from the sale of this book go to fund the work of Lumos.
In 2013, J.K. Rowling auctioned off the beautiful Lumos Maxima charm bracelet, a duplicate of her own treasured possession. The 11 handmade sterling silver charms, finished by hand with gold highlights and precious stones, draw inspiration from the Harry Potter series, excluding the butterfly, which is, of course, the Lumos logo.
During its Sotheby’s auction, the bracelet was purchased for £20,000 by Scottish businessman Alan Fergusson. Fergusson commented on the purchase of the bracelet after the auction:
J.K. Rowling said before the auction that she was certain the sister bracelet would go to a very nice woman, and she can be confident the bracelet will be treasured by Yvonne and my family for generations. My wife absolutely adores the Harry Potter series, and she now can’t wait until Christmas Day to open her present. As someone who supports a number of charitable causes, it has also been very pleasing to back a charity [that] creates opportunity for so many disadvantaged young people across the world.
At the upcoming Sotherby’s auction, a one-of-a-kind copy of the deluxe illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, signed by J.K. Rowling herself, is to be sold in order to raise money for the Lumos foundation. The book is to be accompanied with a letter of authentication from Bloomsbury’s Publishing Director, which states. The book has been given an estimate of £2,000-3,000 and will be auctioned off December 17, 2015, in London.
The Harry Potter Alliance
The Harry Potter Alliance
“The Weapon We Have Is Love”
Inspired by the messages of love and justice that drive the Harry Potter series, the Harry Potter Alliance was founded with the aim of utilizing fan passion to inspire and affect social change. Since its birth, the Harry Potter Alliance has inspired hundreds of thousands of Harry Potter fans to become heroes of the Muggle world.
To date, the Harry Potter Alliance has donated over 88,000 books around the world, sent ﬁve cargo planes to Haiti, and made significant contributions to the anti-genocide, LGBTQ equality, environmental, and media reform movements. They achieved their goal in making sure that all chocolate sold by Warner Bros. for merchandising purposes doesn’t use child slavery.
They are the Muggle world’s real-life Dumbledore’s Army!
- Join the HPA
- Current Projects
- Discover More
Whether you wish to participate remotely or get involved on the ground at your local HPA Chapter, there are plenty of opportunities for you to contribute to the Harry Potter Alliance’s work.
The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) is a 501c3 nonprofit that has been taking an outside-of-the-box approach since 2005 to civic engagement by using parallels from the Harry Potter books to educate and mobilize young people across the world toward issues of literacy, equality, and human rights. The mission of the HPA is to empower our members to act like the heroes that they love by acting for a better world. By bringing together fans of blockbuster books, TV shows, movies, and YouTube celebrities, the power of popular culture has been harnessed and is being used to help make the world a better place. The goal of the HPA is to make civic engagement exciting by channeling the entertainment-saturated facets of our culture toward mobilization for deep and lasting social change.
The HPA strategy includes:
- Utilizing elements of many favorite fictional universes as metaphors for making sense of complex, contemporary issues.
- Inspiring all members to take action in their local communities and all across the planet, using the power of their creativity, intelligence, and compassion to change the world.
- Creating a worldwide network of enthusiastic fan activists who are connected via the internet and social media as well as local, community-based chapters.
- Harnessing the media cycle to bring attention and action to issues of equality, human rights, and literacy.
- Bringing a diverse range of inspiration and imagination to the front lines of social change by forging partnerships between multiple fan communities.
We do not need magic to change the world; we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” – J.K. Rowling
Fan Works Are Fair Use
HPA has recently joined the community of supporters for the “Fan Works Are Fair Use” Campaign. As of now, the US Congress is in the process of reviewing the Copyright Law and modernizing the US Copyright Office, which means revisions could be made to the laws that make our beautiful fan created works possible. Fan Works Are Fair Use is a group of fan creators dedicated to protecting our right to fair use. This campaign is in the process of rallying members of every fandom to join their cause. Campaign leaders have the job of educating members about the beauty of fan created works and working to exterminate the negative stigmas about fan creations. Be sure to tell us what fan created works taught you by hashtagging your stories to #fanworkstaughtme!
Why does this matter in terms of the fandom?
Fanworks come naturally in every fandom out there. Whether it be fan fiction, fan art, parodies, or anything else, our fans’ beautiful creations are cherished by all. Currently, fan created works are pretty safe under the US Copyright laws, but if the US Congress decides to make revisions, our fandoms could be in MAJOR trouble.
Have you been obsessively checking for updates on that killer fan fic? Do you enjoy jamming out to your wrock playlist? Do you believe in the power of fan-created works? Want to join the movement? Click here.
Not In Harry’s Name
After several years of effort, Warner Bros. has committed to making all Harry Potter-branded chocolate 100% fair trade or UTZ certified. The major shift to the use of ethical cocoa sourcing is to be made by the end of 2015. Over the past 4 years, over 4,000 signatures have been gathered by a variety of dedicated HPA chapters, members, and volunteers. This is considered a major victory for the fandom, unlike any other.
The Harry Potter Alliance is kicking off its tenth year of fighting worldsuck with its Tenth Anniversary Fundraiser. In order to keep this great website going, the HPA needs YOU to spread the word! The HPA is requesting that you join the Society for the Promotion of Equality Winning (SPEW) by signing up for its regular assignment updates via email on how to help reach this year’s campaign goal here. You can also score the points that you have earned here. The SPEW member who earns the most points will also win a $100 gift card to the HPA merch store. It’s never too late to join the campaign!
First Task: September 28, 2015
1) Tell your #HPA10 story
The best way to campaign is to share what is in your heart. Is there something that you just absolutely love about the HPA? Whatever you love, share it with the people […] you love! Tell them why they should donate to HPA10! Be sure to use your unique referral link on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and everywhere else you wish.
2) Change your avatars
A great way to campaign is to change your avatar to the HPA10 anniversary campaign photo and let others know why you changed it!
Second Task: September 30, 2015
1) Continue changing your avatars and using your referral code! Use #HPA10 as a signal boost.
Third Task: October 5, 2015
1) Create a YouTube video sharing the HPA10 campaign and the mission of the HPA. Be sure to include your unique referral code and #HPA10!
Fourth Task: October 6, 2015
1) Send your personal referral link to at least ten of your contacts.
Fifth Task: October 8, 2015
1) Tell us why Harry Potter is your hero! Be sure to continue using #HPA10.
In the Harry Potter Alliance’s first decade, we’ve been lucky enough to see all of this up close. From long-forgotten forums to hallowed convention halls, the spaces we share have been home to immeasurable creativity, enthusiasm, and love.
But – as with all things – our community has faced its share of obstacles.
We believe that – as our namesake once put it – we have something worth fighting for. We want our community and all others like it to be safe, constructive, positive spaces, and we think our vision is possible. Getting there will take hard work, commitment, and constant introspection, but we’re up to the task and know you are, too.
This is why the Positive Fandom Guidelines were created. We hope that you will support and follow these guidelines everyday.
Positive Fandom Guidelines:
1. I will be kind.
2. I will remember there are many ways to be a fan.
Fandom is home to endless perspectives on and interpretations of a common material. When I disagree with a particular interpretation, I will do so respectfully and with the intention to discuss, not to win. Unironic enthusiasm means different things to different people; I will not tease or judge another fan for being too passionate about their fandom. If someone is different from me, I will celebrate their place in our community.
3. I will make our community a welcoming space.
I will do my best to make sure everyone feels invited and included, both online and in person. I will remember what it was like when I was a new fan and will do my best to help new fans find their way. Safe spaces require constant vigilance. I will respect other people’s boundaries. I will practice and encourage conscious, positive behavior and speak out against malice, negativity, and abuse. I will prioritize the comfort of victims and the community over that of abusers.
4. I will imagine people complexly.
I will remember that everyone I meet is a human being as susceptible to misunderstandings and errors as I am. I will remember that I do not always have the full story or know what a person is thinking and that others do not know the same about me. I will remember that this is true even for the most visible members of a community and that idolization and demonization are both forms of dehumanization. I will be conscious of my influence – whether it comes from age, experience, or following – and how it impacts my interactions with others. I will remember that groups are made up of unique individuals.
5. I will respect and celebrate diversity.
Because I know that diversity makes our community stronger, I will be conscious of my own privilege and how my words and actions impact others. I will respect others’ unique lived experiences and work to amplify their voices instead of speaking over them. I will remember my experiences are not universal and many different perspectives can be valid at once.
6. I will learn.
There is always room to grow, so I will be a lifelong learner and be open to new information, ideas, and experiences. As I am learning, I will remember that none of us [is] perfect – it’s okay to make mistakes. When I do make a mistake, I will remember that apologies are healthy, not something to be ashamed of. It is important that my apologies be sincere and mark personal growth.
7. I will teach.
To work toward a world where everyone can grow, I will share my knowledge and insight when I am able. When I see others make mistakes, I will remember that teaching with kindness is the best way to help them learn.
8. I will give others the opportunity to grow.
We are all learning and unlearning at different paces, and not everybody has access to the same resources at the same time. Before writing others off, I will remember that it took time and forgiveness to get to where I am today and I am not at the end of my journey. I will acknowledge that people are always growing, and views they have expressed in the past might not represent their current views.
9. I will practice self-care.
I will remember that caring for myself is as important as caring for others. I understand that it is acceptable to remove myself from situations that make me feel uncomfortable, unhealthy, or unsafe, and I will respect when others do the same. I will remember that it is okay to reach out for help when needed.
10. I will remember to be awesome.
If you would like to sign the Positive Fandom Pledge and help take one more step toward a positive fandom, then click here.
Odds In Our Favor
Back in 2014, thousands of fans joined the “Odds In Our Favor” campaign by sharing their real life stories of economic inequality by using #MyHungerGames. Over 12,000 participated, giving fans a real life perspective on Mockinjay, Part 1.
This year, the organization is bringing back this campaign, and it’s better than ever. Share your FULL story using #MyHungerGames, your struggle with inequality and how you’re fighting back. Whether you are passionate about mental health, racism, prison reform, or more, the HPA has many actions to help you dive in, make a difference, and join the revolution.
Share your #MyHungerGames stories of inequality and rebellion on social media or here.
Visit OddsinOurFavor.org to take action.
Ready to join the revolution and bring more people to the cause? Join District 13 and help recruit more rebels!
I am honored and humbled that Harry’s name has been given to such an extraordinary campaign, which really does exemplify the values for which Dumbledore’s Army fought in the books.”– J.K. Rowling
Accio Books! is the Harry Potter Alliance’s annual book drive. Since 2009, Harry Potter fans around the world have donated more than 86,000 books to underprivileged or underserved readers.
The success of each year’s drive is summarized directly by the HPA below.
This year’s Accio Books[!] drive was larger than ever. Once again breaking the record, 64,909 books were donated by our amazing members and chapters. They also brought their A-game to the Tri-Library Tournament, donating over 17,000 books to Operation Breakthrough [in] the USA and Borderline Books in the UK and the Netherlands.
Fans also spread the power of story to the halls of the US Congress by advocating for libraries on National Library Legislative Day. Tales of Chapters was also launched, a campaign that encouraged chapter members to share popular stories that influenced their worldview as a young person.
Ravenclaw won the House Cup with 230,950 points! Can another [H]ouse dethrone the Ravenclaws, ending their 3[-]year streak?
In 2014, all previous Accio Books[!] records were broken with 53,009 books donated. Of that, 43,614 books were brought in by various HPA chapters. On September 13th, 2014, the first-ever Apparating Library book giveaway was held at the Brightmoor Community Center in Detroit, MI, where thousands of books were given away to children and families in need. The event bolstered the Apparating Library’s growing reputation and it has now become known as the most magical library in history.
Ravenclaws once again dominated the competition, raising the stakes for the other [H]ouses. Which [H]ouse will reign supreme next year?
2013: LEAKYCON EDITION
In 2013 at the Portland LeakyCon, the HPA sprung a whole new level to the Accio Books! game… attendees from all over gave up precious packing space and carted 727 books to LeakyCon to donate to Books for Kids, an awesome Portland-based literacy program.
Read Indeed is a non-profit literacy organization with a very special mission: to achieve the vision of seventh-grader Maria Keller, who wants to collect and distribute one million books to needy kids by the time she’s 18. This year, we partnered with the International Quidditch Assocation and NaNoWriMo, and we dedicated our annual Accio Books! drive to Maria’s fantastic cause. Once again, our chapters and members rose to the task, and we donated 30,217 books to communities in need!
Ravenclaws finally put an end to Hufflepuff’s domination of our Accio Books! House Cup, donating over 11,000 books — over a third of our total number! Also, Edmonton PotterWatch of Edmonton, Alberta, ran away with our Chapters Cup after collecting a mind-blowing 6,703 books! How is that even possible?! Oh right, they have love in their hearts and a desire to change the world! Therefore, anything is possible! WOOHOO!
The Bedford-Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School (BSNBCS) opened in September of 2010 without a library. For our 2011 Accio Books! campaign, HPA members and chapters came together to fix this by sending in over 11,000 books (which our local NYDA chapter helped to sort). In August 2011, we were thrilled to helped open the “Imagine Better” Library at the New Beginnings Charter School.
The winner of the 2011 House Cup competition was Hufflepuff, which makes them the reigning Accio Books[!] champion for two straight years! Go Badgers!
In 2010, HPA members and chapters donated 41,415 books[,] half of which went to our partner [t]he Delta Center for Culture and Learning. The Delta Center distributed those books to communities in need across the Mississippi Delta.
The House Cup winners? Hufflepuff!
In 2009, [t]he HPA launched our first ever Accio Books! drive. Our goal for the first annual book drive? Collect and donate 500 books. The response? HPA members and chapters donated 13,481 to local communities across the world and our partner ASYV (Agohozo Shalom Youth Vilage) in Rwanda.
Ravenclaw took the House Cup, thanks to special guest Head of House Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films).
Find more information on the Accio Books! drive here.
Want to keep up with the latest magical news? Subscribe to the Wizard Activist News Dispatch (WAND.), and receive these quarterly newsletters by owl post (or Muggle post).
Comic Relief is a major UK charity that strives to fight global poverty, using the power of entertainment as a vehicle for change.
The charity hosts two major fundraising events, Red Nose Day and Sport Relief, enabling its year-round ambition to tackle the causes of poverty and social injustice around the world.
Since its launch in 1985, Comic Relief has raised over £900 million, worked in more than 70 countries, and funded 15,786 projects in the UK alone.
The organization specializes in making a difference for young people, mental health, those suffering from domestic violence, malaria, or HIV, and helping better education systems.
In 2001, J.K. Rowling was invited to participate in that year’s fundraising efforts. That March, the culmination of her agreement, the publication of two short books inspired by the Harry Potter series, was finally complete. Since it was republished in 2009, every copy of Bloomsbury’s editions sold results in a donation of £1.15 toward the charity.
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- Quidditch Through the Ages
“A copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them resides in almost every wizarding household in the country. Now Muggles too have the chance to discover where the Quintaped lives, what the Puffskein eats, and why it is best not to leave milk out for a Knarl.“
Read more about the book here.
“If you have ever asked yourself where the Golden Snitch came from, how the Bludgers came into existence, or why the Wigtown Wanderers have pictures of meat cleavers on their robes, you need Quidditch Through the Ages. This edition is a copy of the volume in Hogwarts School Library, where it is consulted by young Quidditch fans on an almost daily basis.”
Read more about the book here.