Isabel Allende

NET WORTH: $12 million

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Author, Journalist

FUNDING AREAS: Women's Rights, Reproductive Rights, Education & Youth, Healthcare, Global.

OVERVIEW: Isabel Allende does her grantmaking through the Isabel Allende Foundation, which primarily supports nonprofits in California and Chile that provide vulnerable women and children with access to reproductive rights, healthcare, education, and protection from violence. The foundation has a website but is currently not accepting unsolicited proposals. The foundation made a little over $1 million in grants recently. The bulk of grants are between $5,000 and $10,000.

BACKGROUND: Isabel Allende was born in Peru to Chilean parents in 1942. Raised in a family with political ties, Allende fled Chile for Venezuela and became an American citizen in the 1990s. Her first novel, The House of the Spirits, became a worldwide bestseller. Other works include Of Love and Shadows and The Infinite Plan. Allende has written many other books, and among her awards, she is a recipient of the 1996 Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature, the 1998 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, and the 2010 Chilean National Prize for Literature.


WOMEN'S & REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: Grantees include Women's Recovery Services, Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Homeless Prenatal Program, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, a "grassroots organization of Latina immigrant women with a double mission of promoting personal transformation and building community power for social and economic justice," and Thistle Farms which "provides case management and advocacy to over 700 women yearly as well as a two-year residential program with five homes in Nashville, and a program for inmates inside prison." 

EDUCATION & YOUTH: Allende, via her foundation, supported organizations like 10,000 Degrees, which seeks to "achieve educational equity, and support students with need to access and complete higher education to positively impact their communities and the world"; Kids in Need of Defense; and Legal Services for Children.  The foundation's grantmaking has also supported 826 Valencia, which helps youth with their writing, Huckleberry Youth Programs, Fairfax Anselmo Children's Center, Hannah Project, whose goal is to "boost the academic performance and college graduation rates of African American and other low-income of color in Marin County," and San Jose State University.

HEALTHCARE: Allende's philanthropy in this area is at least in part personal: she lost her daughter Paula to porphyria, a rare group of disorders resulting from buildup of certain chemicals related to red blood cell proteins. Unsurprisingly, she has supported the American Porphyria Foundation. Other grantees include Center for Early Intervention on Deafness, and Shanti Project, a "community of volunteers and staff which provides emotional and practical support to San Francisco's most vulnerable individuals living with life-threatening illness."

GLOBAL: Grantees include Nepal Youth Foundation, Human Rights Watch, Global Fund for Women, Sisters International, V-Day, Survivors International, and Soroptimist International of Marin County. Soroptimist is an international organization for business and professional women who work to improve the lives of women and girls, locally and worldwide. Grants have also gone to a few outfits in Chile and Spain. 

BAY AREA COMMUNITY: The Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco and KQED have been recent beneficiaries of the Isabel Allende Foundation. Money has supported human services organizations, including SF-Marin Food Bank.

LOOKING FORWARD: On her foundation's website, Allende states that she has found it more efficient to concentrate on specific issues in limited areas. Allende has been a prominent advocate for women's rights and money will likely continue streaming to those interests. Apart from Allende's formal charitable organization, she may have other more direct ways of giving and this guide may leave out important gifts.