A Prolific Romance Writer Who Also Spreads Her Money Around Widely

Novelist Nora Roberts reportedly spends eight hours a day, seven days a week writing. She has more than 200 published books to her name, including Chasing Fire, Treachery in Death, The Heart's Victory, and The Last Boyfriend. As for spare cash, she has plenty of that too, with a net worth of $350 million by one estimate

Roberts has also been quite active in philanthropy, and the Nora Roberts Foundation gives to a long list of outfits each year—around 140 organizations—mainly on the local level in her home state of Maryland and other states in the Mid-Atlantic. The foundation's main focus is literacy. Additional areas of focus are: "children's programs, arts organizations, and humanitarian efforts, with local organizations being its priority." 

In the 2014 fiscal year, the Nora Roberts Foundation held close to $60 million in assets and gave away around $1.9 million. The foundation has a website with clear guidelines. Here are a few must-knows about the Nora Roberts Foundation:

1. The Foundation Has Focused in on Literacy

Like several philanthropic authors we've talked aboutmost notably, James Patterson and David BaldacciNora Roberts is another who has championed literacy. A fitting cause for writers, we'd say. The foundation's website states that it "heartily supports organizations which seek to empower people through literacy." The foundation gives steadily to ProLiteracy, which "promotes adult literacy learning, content, programs and advocacy to help adult learners," and FirstBook, which provides access to new books for children in need. The Nora Roberts Foundation has also supported Maryland outfits such as Washington County Free Library, Boonsboro Public Library, and Shepherdstown Public Library in West Virginia, helping to fund its new library project.

2. Another Interest of the Foundation is Education

Recent money has gone to Eckerd College in Florida, Hood College in Maryland, Washington County Public Schools Education Foundation, and Shepherd University Foundation (a $100,000 grant in the 2014 fiscal year), among others. A component of this philanthropy also involves bankrolling scholarships, and each year, the foundation gives out a scholarship to a Boonsboro High School senior who aims to pursue a degree in a field related to writing (e.g. journalism). The recipient is chosen through a writing contest judged by Roberts and her husband. Through this effort, the foundation recently bankrolled scholarships at Amherst College, and via the Appalachian State University Foundation.

Finally, the foundation is also interested in funding arts as part of an integrated education. Last year, Discovery Theater received a $50,000 grant for their work in DC Public Schools based on the "Tools of the Mind" curriculum. The foundation also gives regularly to Folger Shakespeare Library's Shakespeare Steps Out program and Shakespeare Theatre Company's Text Alive program.

3. Funds Have Also Gone To Human Services

The Nora Roberts Foundation has funded Heartly House, which serves Frederick County, Maryland residents who have been impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. Recent funds have also gone to United Way of Frederick County in Maryland, Casa Women’s Shelter (a $50,000 grant in the 2014 fiscal year), Western Maryland Food Bank, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and more.

4. The Foundation Supports Arts & Culture, Too

Recent money has gone to outfits such as Contemporary American Theater Festival, Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, American Conservation Film Festival, and Smithsonian Institution.

5. The Foundation Also Supports Humanitarian Causes and Animals

Recent grantees in this area include Habitat for Humanity, Defenders of Wildlife, and Washington Animal Rescue League.

A component of Roberts' philanthropy also involves supporting health outfits. In her 60s, Nora Roberts is running an involved grantmaking operation. In addition, apart from Roberts' philanthropy through the Nora Roberts Foundation, she may have other more direct ways of giving and we may be missing some important gifts.

Related: Nora Roberts Profile