It always feels good to help others and other musicians can always use help and support. This post introduces you to 25 Music Charities to think of when creating your next fundraiser.
We live in crazy times and the world needs more support, more love, and more empathy. Choose one of the music charities from this list and plan a benefit, shout them out on socials, do a Facebook fundraiser for your birthday, donate an instrument – it will feel great no matter what you do to contribute to our artist community in need.
This is the final part of our 3-part series on making a difference through music charities fundraising. Part one – The Musician’s Guide to Charity Fundraising walks you through all of the possible ways you can raise money – benefit concerts, social media fundraising and crowdfunding and breaks down how to use each to raise money for any music charities of your choice.
Part two – How to Do a Benefit: Guidelines for Performing Artists and Others Who Want to Make a Difference is a guest post from past Cyber PR artist and board member of WHY Hunger by Jen Chapin. Here she walks you through the 7 steps you need to prepare for a benefit show.
For this post, we compiled a list of our top 25 Music Charities for you – some we have worked with and know personally and we came across and liked their messages and missions. The ones with * denote the fact that Ariel sits on their boards.
We have broken the 25 Music Charities up into 5 categories:
- Musical Health Care
- A Helping Hand For Working Musicians In Need
- Empowering Female Artists
- Music Education and Youth Outreach
- Hunger and International Outreach & Support
Links for how artists can get involved and help are included. Pick one that resonates with you and go make a difference!
Music Charities: Musical Health Care – Providing Cancer Research & Hospital Support
The TJ Martell Foundation was founded by Tony Martell in 1975 after losing his son, T.J. Martell, to a long battle with Leukemia. The foundation is a way of keeping a promise to his son who asked him to raise one million dollars towards cancer research so that “no one else will have to experience what I am going through.” Soon after his son’s death, Tony was joined by many of his friends in the music industry like Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, and Duke Ellington to hold a fundraiser at Buddy Rich’s nightclub in New York. At this event they raised $50,000 and the T.J. Martell Foundation was born. Since then the T.J. Martell Foundation has maintained its deep roots in music, raising over 280 million dollars for cancer research in the process.
In 1999, music industry entrepreneurs Michael Solomon and Vivek Tiwary connected over a tragic event in their lives. They both lost loved ones after extensive hospital stays. Michael lost his 21-year-old girlfriend, Kristen Ann Carr, to a long battle with sarcoma and teamed up with her parents to form the Kristen Ann Carr fund to raise money for cancer research.
Musicians On Call’s Volunteers deliver the healing power of music by going bed-to-bed to perform acoustically for patients, their families and staff. Their Bedside Performance Program serves patients of a wide demographic affected by conditions that keep them hospitalized overnight, or alternatively, hospice and other forms of long-term care. Volunteer Musicians are never alone and are always accompanied by a trained MOC Volunteer Guide who is familiar with each hospital’s protocols and procedures. While nearly all performances are in patients’ rooms, occasionally a musician may play for small groups (in the lobby, dining room, etc.).
Music Charities: A Helping Hand For Working Musicians in Need
Founded in 1994, Sweet Relief Musicians Fund is dedicated to providing assistance to career musicians of all genres who may be struggling to make ends meet in the face of illness, disability, or even age-related problems as they grow older. The organization recognizes that even if a grant recipient has private or publicly funded health care they can still require assistance in this trying time of their life. Thanks to Sweet Relief, artists who have lead significant professional career in music can receive a helping hand with medical and living expenses including insurance premiums, prescriptions, medical treatment and operative procedures, housing costs, food costs, utilities and other basic necessities.
Musicians Foundation provides aid that enables performers, educators, composers, and arrangers to continue pursuing their artistic process and vision. As the oldest non-profit of its kind in the United States, Musicians Foundation is dedicated to assisting musicians and their families in times of emergency, crisis, or transition. Their goal is to relieve the financial burdens of musicians who qualify according to the Foundation’s criteria.
Music Fund is a humanitarian project that supports musicians and music schools in conflict areas and developing countries. Music Fund collects instruments, repairs them and gives them a second life in 16 projects in Africa, the Middle East and Central America. They also train instrument repairers and offer the exchange of teaching skills.
Established in 1989 by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, MusiCares was created to aid musicians who may feel that they have nowhere to turn when confronted with a financial, personal, or medical crisis. MusiCares consistently partners with other outstanding artists and organizations, like Faith Family Medical Clinic, Actors Fund, Bohemian Foundation, and many more to help them provide the most thorough assistance possible.
Jazz Foundation of America was created with the purpose of “Saving Jazz & Blues roots one Musician at a time.” They recognize that changes in the music industry, especially in the world of Jazz, have left many behind including underground legends, session players and even the big names themselves. When age, illness, or disaster threatens a long career, many have nowhere to turn. On their website they state, “These musicians have been saving us with their music our entire lives. These are dignified people who never think to ask for help. Our lifesaving programs turn despair into hope.” JFA achieves their mission through a multitude of programs that provide artists with housing and emergency assistance, pro bono medical care, as well as disaster relief. They even create employment opportunities through programs like “Lessons From the Legends” and “The Gig Fund.”
Music Charities: Empowering Female Artists
The Girls Rock Camp Alliance is an international membership network of youth-centered arts and social justice organizations. They provide resources and space for community building to their members in order to create a strong movement for collective liberation.
Women in Music is an organization with a mission to advance the awareness, equality, diversity, heritage, opportunities, and cultural aspects of women in the musical arts through education, support, empowerment, and recognition. Their seminars, panels, showcases, achievement awards, and youth initiatives celebrate the female contribution to the music world and strengthen community ties.
Music Charities: Music Education and Youth Outreach
Based in New Orleans, Roots of Music was founded with the purpose of empowering youth ages 9-14 of New Orleans through music education, academic support, and mentorship while preserving and promoting the unique musical and cultural heritage of New Orleans. Founder, Derrick Tabb, who was featured on CNN Heroes, ensures they operate with the objectives of bringing youth from all parts of the city together and keeping them off the street. Roots also focuses on developing talent in children and preparing them to move on to more intensive musical education programs throughout the iconic musical mecca of New Orleans.
VH1 Save The Music Foundation partners with local communities and local school districts to revitalize and build sustainable music programs. They achieve this goal by investing in schools, supporting teachers, and advocating for music education. Their efforts have allowed them to help over 2,000 schools across the country.
In 1992, Jeff Campbell organized a street musician concert to benefit the homeless and within three years he formed a non-profit organization called Hungry For Music, dedicated to expanding opportunities in music for children. Since then, Hungry for Music has placed more than 11,000 instruments in the hands of aspiring musicians – children whose trajectory has been forever altered by the life-changing gift of music. They have delivered anything from trombones and violins to xylophones and guitars to children in 49 states and 25 countries.
Founded in 1981, All Stars Project (ASP) is a national nonprofit that uses a performance-based approach to help tens of thousands of inner-city youth and their families create success in their lives. Through programs like their All Star Talent Show Network, people learn new performances onstage and off. During these experiences they try new things, become more worldly, and begin to create new possibilities for themselves and their communities.
Music Unites is the leading non-profit charity organization supporting music education around the world. Music Unites partners with music stars, celebrity ambassadors and music sponsors to promote music projects and events at local schools with the goal of educating kids through music. Along with their music partners, this organization regularly releases news, events, video and press. Some ambassadors of Music Unites have done workshops which include Swizz Beats, John Forte, Sting, Gary Clark Jr., and more.
After reading media stories about the low-quality education New York City students were receiving then seeing first-hand a school utilize music education as a solution, Education Through Music founders Edmund Schroeder and Eldon Mayer decided to take action. In 1991, they started the foundation to provide music education to schools that did not have the resources to teach their children the arts. Since then, Education Through Music has grown into an organization that is reaching thousands of children, giving them the high-quality music education they deserve. Education Through Music (ETM) utilizes music education as a catalyst to improve academic achievement, motivation for school, and self-confidence.
Little Kids Rock transforms lives by restoring, expanding, and innovating music education in schools across the U.S. Since 2002, they have given more than 650,000 under-served schoolchildren across the country access to fun, engaging music classes and brand new instruments at no cost to the students, teachers, or school districts. Little Kids Rock trains public school teachers and donates all of the instruments, curricular resources and support they need to ensure that their kids receive the right to rock! Unlike other music organizations, Little Kids Rock does more than just donate instruments – they build lasting music programs that focus on teaching kids to perform, improvise and compose the popular music genres that they already know and love.
Founded in 2000, Guitars in the Classroom trains public elementary school teachers from coast to coast to sing, play folk instruments, write lyrics for learning and teach all standard subjects through hands-on music and the power of song. GITC’s efforts focus on serving students during their most formative years when foundational skills in speaking, reading, writing and thinking as well as interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence can grow quickly.
The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus presented by OWC is a non-profit state-of-the-art mobile audio and HD video recording and production facility. The Lennon Bus is highly adaptable, designed to provide students, their schools and communities with performances, hands-on demonstrations, remote recordings, and studio sessions customized for their needs, levels of experience, and interest. The Bus travels the country visiting schools, music and technology conferences and events, and partners with communities and media outlets to call attention to the importance of arts and digital media education. In its 21st year, the Bus continues to be dedicated to providing young people with tours of the studios, participation in free digital media production workshops, and the production of giant peace signs.
Music Charities: Hunger and International Outreach and Support
Why Hunger was founded in 1975 by the late Harry Chapin and Radio DJ Bill Ayers with the goal of “building the movement to end hunger and poverty by connecting people to nutritious, affordable food.” Partnering with hundreds of musicians, photographers, and chefs they have successfully worked to mobilize artists and their fans to raise awareness as well as creating and supporting lasting solutions to hunger. This means that they don’t just hand out food, they recognize that hunger is only a symptom of greater social injustices that make people unable to afford food or even access land and resources necessary to produce their own. They tackle the issues at the source. You as an artist can get involved in many ways from donating, volunteering or even hosting one of Why Hunger’s Homemade Jams, a DIY campaign that allows you to host a house concert to raise funds and awareness.
Musicians Without Borders uses the power of music to bridge divides, connect communities, and heal the wounds of war. They are committed to providing participants the time to develop skills and talents, process grief and loss, and build bridges of reconciliation in societies divided by recent or ongoing conflict. They work closely with local musicians and organizations to build sustainable projects in response to local needs. Musicians without Borders is building a global network of musicians and music lovers who support the organizations work with their time, energy, expertise and financial donations.
Music Seeds International (MSI) is a registered non-profit Canadian music charity that works with disadvantaged youth using music as the tool to educate, heal, and empower. Kids learn about language, creativity, self-expression, and social issues by writing, singing and recording songs and videos.
War Child’s mission is to help children in war-affected communities reclaim their childhood through access to education, opportunity, and justice. War Child takes an active role in raising public awareness around the impact of war on communities and the shared responsibility to act. They work with children all over the world to reduce the effects of poverty, provide an education, and to defend and promote children’s rights.
The Johnson Ohana Foundation is a non-profit public charity founded in 2008 by musician Jack Johnson and his wife, Kim, to promote positive and lasting change within communities by supporting organizations that focus on environmental art, and music education. Jack and Kim Johnson have been effecting change worldwide by leading the music industry in greening practices and using their success to support many social and environmental issues, such as the Kokua Hawaii Foundation and 1% For The Planet.
The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation keeps music alive in schools by donating musical instruments to under-funded music programs and providing vital support services to school districts nationwide. They give economically-disadvantaged youth access to the many benefits of music education such as more success in school as well as increased creativity and expression through playing music.
Music for Relief was founded in 2005 by the band Linkin Park in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The organization is dedicated to providing aid to survivors and communities affected by natural disasters in order to help them rebuild and recover. Throughout its first twelve years, thanks to incredible artist partners, donors, and supporters, Music for Relief responded to more than 30 natural disasters across four continents providing immediate relief and funding long-term recovery that is sustainably focused.
Interested in learning marketing strategies to promote your fundraising? Check out Ariel’s latest book Ultimate Guide to Music Publicity