Summer Festivals: Where Music & Philanthropy Collide

Morgan Schneeberger 07.17.09

Every fall I fly from Charleston, S.C. to Austin, TX for Austin City Limits. ACL is a three day music festival that uses the beautiful Zilker Park to house eight stages, 130 bands, and thousands of people from around the world who love music. Last year I had to smile when I noticed how “green” the festival had become. As attendees, we were encouraged to recycle and were enticed with swag as we did so. We also were offered the opportunity to purchase a “BeGreen Fan Tag” that would offset our carbon footprint from travelling to Austin. I immediately started wondering who was benefiting from these efforts.

In doing further research, I started noticing a trend between summer music festivals and nonprofit organizations. For example:


A portion of the ACL ticket, plus the BeGreen Fan Tag money, goes to the Austin Park Foundation.
Lollapalooza, in Chicago Illinois, partners with the Parkways Foundation.

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, in San Francisco CA, partners with San Francisco’s Recreation & Park Department.  


Are you noticing a trend?


As I closed out my research, I thought about how all types and sizes of organizations could capitalize on opportunities like the above mentioned environmental organizations. These festivals provide a captive audience, with similar interests, who inadvertently will learn more about the organization because of NPO branding and imagery on the festival websites, swag, venue, etc.


Now I know you may be thinking, “Great for those organizations, Morgan, but we don’t have anything like ACL or Lollapalooza in our town.”  That’s okay! Use what's already happening in your town. For example, every year in Charleston we have a Charleston Fashion Week where a portion of the proceeds benefit Dress for Success. A perfectly matched nonprofit organization with a local event! Don’t be scared to check out your local happenings and see if you can’t get affiliated with an event to raise awareness and money!  


Do you work with any local festivals in your city? Leave a comment and let us know how you started your partnership!