Last summer I took part in the World Busk, which was an event to raise money for David Juritz’s charity - Musequality, the event was also a world record attempt to get the most people busking simultaneously around the world at any one time.
It was good fun and I’d been meaning to get into charity busking for quite some time, so being asked to take part in the event was a good opportunity for me to actually get round to doing it.
It’s been something that I’ve always wanted to do, especially since I started busking a few years ago and I thought it would be good to one day use my music to achieve something positive and make a difference to those in the world whose lives are less fortunate than our own.
Shortly after, I was invited to join a community called Pledging for Change by the site’s founder Karen Maskall, who contacted me on Twitter.
Pledging for Change is a non profit community interest organisation that supports charities, ethical business and non-profit organisations who are trying to make a difference in the world. After joining, Karen set me a challenge to find 100 musicians out there who are willing to play for charity.
At the time, I knew it would be a few months before I could get stuck into the task as I was struggling to set up my new business selling artisan goods from South America, so I had to put the challenge on the back burner until things had calmed down and I could get back to blogging.
That moment has now arrived and I reckon it’s time to kick off the -
Street Musician – 100 Musicians For Charity Challenge
That’s right, as the name suggests I’m looking for 100 musicians who are willing to stand up every once in a while and do something good for the world in which we live.
Now, I’m not suggesting we all rush out and save the planet or devote huge amounts of time and money to yet another bottomless cause, what I’m asking is that a few of our readers and fellow musicians, including myself, make a very small pledge to go out every once in a while and use the skills we have as musicians, whether amateur or professional, to do something good for someone else rather than ourselves.
It’s not about a raising money for a particular cause or event, it’s about getting people involved on their own terms on a general level and creating an attitude where musicians across the globe think about others more often and use their skills and abilities in a positive manner. The beauty is, we can all do this without really having to divert too much time or effort from our everyday lives.
The aim is to create a relaxed community of musicians and music enthusiasts who can exchange ideas about raising money for charity, promote various causes and gain support for their ideas and fund raising events, no matter how large or small, and post the results in a friendly environment.
It will also be a great way of meeting up with other musicians in your local area who want to get out and do something fun for a change. Members of the 100 Challenge can engage in their own solo projects or get together and arrange fun events like charity street gigs, busking sessions or jam nights with musicians in their locality when ever they like.
It’s a great excuse to just get out and play.
But this challenge isn’t just about musicians playing music to earn money for charity, it’s about everyone, musically minded or not, using the skills we have and the positions we hold, and putting them to good use for the benefit of others…that is what the 100 Challenge is all about.
Being a musician and blogger, for me the best way I can help is to use my musical skills to busk and gig for charity every now and then, use my blog to reach out and help raise awareness for the charities we play for, and also motivate other musicians to do the same.
There is a huge community of guitar bloggers out there, along with many other music related sites who reach out to tens of thousands of musicians and enthusiasts around the world on a daily basis. If we can promote the idea of this challenge across a number of guitar/music blogs and other sites, we should get a good few people interested.
I know everyone has got their own problems to deal with, but compared to millions of people out there who are desperately in need of help, where a few pounds can make a huge difference to lives of many, putting in an hour of our time once or twice a year to promote a worthy cause is not much to ask.
How many times have you seen adverts on TV for children going blind, or cancer research programs asking for money and every day we pass by street collectors fundraising for the Red Cross or Children in Need. We may put a few quid in the tin every now and then and think we are doing our bit, but if we can all do just that little bit more, and enough of us jump on the band wagon, then we can make a real difference.
The one thing we all need if we are going to do something good, is support. This group will be focused mainly around the Street Musician’s 100 Challenge Group on the Pledging for Change social network site. PFC will be providing support in many ways for all our members and their charity efforts.
It doesn’t matter what skills you have got, how good you are or what instrument you play. There are also no rules on when you are going to do your bit or what you decide to do.
All you need to do is make a promise to yourself and someone else around you, that on at least one day this year, you are going to go out and do something good for a cause that you believe in.
If you’ve been thinking about doing something for charity but weren’t sure quite what to do or how to do it, then this is the perfect opportunity to make that idea into reality at your own pace and without too much pressure.
It doesn’t matter how much or how little you raise, it can be £5000 or 50 p. It doesn’t matter what you do, you can perform in public or in private to your family and friends, perform solo or in a band, as part of a death metal group or the choir.
There are many ways you can contribute and what ever suits you is the best way to go. If you are not much of a performer you could head out to a jam night and stay sober for a change, maybe donate your beer money to charity, or lug some equipment around and help out at a charity gig. You could always sell an old pedal you’ve not used for years and send the cheque off to a relief fund.
The idea is to get creative and think of some really cool ways of raising that few pounds or completing the task you’ve set yourself to do.
You can also join in as much or as little as you like over the next year. If you have the time, you are most welcome to go out and do your thing once or twice a week. Even if you haven’t got the time to do this sort of stuff, as long as you can manage one event this year, that will do for us.
How Can You Join In ?
Gig – Busk – Perform
For the pro and semi pro musicians out there, the obvious choice would be to go out and do a gig or performance and put the proceeds towards charity or a cause close to your heart. Even if you don’t get paid for it, if you promote the cause, you will help raise awareness. Play where ever you like or are able to, in a pub, club, bar, park or the street.
If you are a busker, go out and busk an extra day one week and donate your earnings to your charity. If you want to make the day more fun, get together with other buskers in your area and take turns. You could get a group together or alternate so one person busks while the other collects from passers by.
If you’re strapped for cash and can’t afford to play for free, a good way of raising extra funds without loosing your shopping budget would be to have a donation bucket at your gigs or send around a collection pot afterwards. Audiences, especially drunk ones tend to be very generous after ten pints, so a quick charity whip round after a successful gig could be quite effective and not affect your band’s earnings.
Perhaps you have a band website that gets a lot of hits. Adding a donation widget for your charity to your website can be done very quickly and easily using features provided by charity organisations like Justgiving. Click here to see what they are all about and how a donation widget can work for you.
Organise a Group Event
If you want to go that extra mile, get together with a few other artists in your area, sell a few tickets and get a charity gig night going with a few local bands and musicians. It will be a great night and you should make a few quid for the cause while also being good promotion for yourselves and all those involved.
Book Your First Gig or Busk
For the amateur musicians who want to join in – a great way to do something good, improve your skills and give your playing a boost would be to give yourself a target or date to aim for when you intend to do your first busk or live performance. It doesn’t matter how good or bad you are, if on the day of your first ever performance you are playing for charity, you’ll get a really warm response from your audience, who ever they are.
Non Performers – Lend a Hand
If you are a non performer or are not happy in the lime light, everyone can try and make use of the skills they already have. Whether it is raising money in a passive manner, or having a sponsored jam at home, lugging equipment around, helping out as a volunteer or just giving advice and bringing awareness to charities who are making a difference, whatever you do best, go out and book a date to do it so you can say you have done your bit.
As I said above, think about what you can do and you’ll come up with some great ways of earning money or showing your support in as many creative ways as possible.
Quit partying for a week and vow to practice every night instead. This will give your playing a huge boost and donating the beer money you’ve saved to charity will make you a better person and a healthier one at that.
You could do the same by giving up smoking and play like hell through the cravings and suicidal thoughts for the next two weeks.
Just don’t throttle yourself with your guitar strings if it gets too bad.
Stop eating junk food and munchies for a week and send the cash to charity. You’ll lose some weight, look better and will have kicked off a worthy diet you can feel good about.
Fix or Sell Something
If you are more of a gear or tec head, flog some equipment or fix up an old amp and sell it. You could always set yourself a challenge to buy a piece of equipment from the free ads or Ebay for a few pounds, do it up and sell it. If you make a profit, donate that to charity, if you loose out, well at least you tried !
You never know, if you get the knack for it and make some cash, you could find yourself starting up a business fixing gear and flogging it.
Charge a Little More
Tell your students that you are going to charge an extra pound or couple of dollars for your lessons one week and give the proceeds to charity. I’m sure if it’s a one off or few and far between, students wouldn’t mind paying that little extra for a good cause. You could always add an extra ten minutes on the end of your lesson to make up for it.
Spread The Word – Blog/Retweet
Bloggers can really help out by simply doing a quick post or reference about this challenge on your site, Re-Tweet links to the 100 Musician’s Charity Challenge and if an event is happening in your area, even if it is just a guy out busking for a few hours, let your readers know about it.
Already Involved ?
If you are a musician who is already involved in charity projects and have events coming up and would like to gain more support for your cause, join in and tell us about what is going on.
I think when it comes down to it, everyone has a duty to do something good for our planet at some point in their lives as each and every one of us takes so much from it on a daily basis.
It doesn’t matter how much, how little or how often we decide to give something back, or even what that ‘something’ is…all that matters is that every now and then we at least try our best to do some good.
A Call to Action
Once we’ve got enough people involved in the Charity Challenge and have reached 100 musicians (and hopefully many more), the idea will also be to extend to bigger projects every now and then where we will be calling for volunteers from the group to take part in large fund raising events such as Children in Need etc. so we can all focus our sights on one particular cause and really do some good in that direction.
With plenty of support from Pledging For Change, these events will be properly organised and on a much larger scale than our own personal fund raising antics, and as always there will be no obligation to get involved in anything unless you really want to.
Having a large community of people will allow us to engage in some really positive work in the long term future, both on a small scale, raising money for fun amongst ourselves and also on a large scale as part of the bigger 100 volunteer charity events.
Should be good fun !
How Do I Join ?
Joining the challenge is easy…
First you head over to Pledging For Change take a look around and sign up for free as a member of the community.
Or if you like you can sign up by clicking here to register as a member.
Once you have entered your details, when you reach the ‘Create Your Profile’ page – Click the box that says ‘I Am Joining For A Specific Reason’ and select ‘Musician’s Challenge’
Once you are registered, log in and join my Street Musician’s 100 Challenge group and you will see other members there who have already joined and a few discussions telling you how to get started.
Check out my ‘Introduce Yourself to the Challenge‘ post and tell us a few words about your self. What music you are into, what instruments you play, your general skill level and the sort of things you would like to do to raise a bit of cash in the future.
You can also mention if you’d like to join up with others in your area to arrange something or perhaps get an event going. You can aim for something simple like a street jam or busking session, or be a bit more adventurous and see who’s up for a charity album at some point in the future. Other like minded musicians will be able to contact you through PFC and as the community grows, the possibilities and opportunities will grow too.
Have a look at my ‘Collecting For Charity Guide‘ which gives useful information on where you stand with the law regarding your future fundraising activities.
Take a look at some of the posts and join in the discussions.
Once you have decided what you are going to be doing and where it’s going to take place, tell us about it by listing your event in the ‘Events Guide‘. You can then link to your own blog posts or website and start a new discussion about your event in detail.
You are also welcome to start your own posts in the group about anything you like. You could list your future intentions or tell us about your past successes, or failures as the case may be..
..and feel free to promote your particular charity or cause if you have one.
As part of the 100 Challenge group you will find plenty of support for your cause and as we grow in size over the next few months and head towards our target of 100 musicians busking for charity, you’ll find a good few like minded people willing to help in what ever way they can.
Whether it is busking, joining in the jam, getting a charity gig together, promoting an up and coming event or just coming along and offering support, if you are up for doing something positive or want to get an event going on in your area, put your name down for the Street Musician’s 100 Challenge, start a group post about it, and tell the world.
It is still early days yet and we have a long way to go, but it only takes a few people to make a big difference.
Thanks for Joining.