About a month ago, the Illini Secular Student Alliance spearheaded a community effort, rarely paralleled by other nonreligious student groups, which capped our 2013 fundraising efforts for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. With a lot of help from one of our Outreach Assistants, Justin Tanaka, ISSA put on a benefit concert at Canopy Club in Urbana. We brought together seven local bands and partnered with the University of Illinois Chapter of the Foundation for International Medical Relief for Children to bring in a crowd of over one hundred fifty people.
Since the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s big charity event is the annual Light the Night Walk, we so cleverly dubbed this concert “Rock the Night.” The concert featured Bones, Jugs & Harmony, Church Booty, The Northbound, Jay Moses, Fauve, Red Devil, and Justin’s band, A Cool Hand.
I believe it was the most enjoyable charity event I have been to in a while. Don’t get me wrong, I delight in every chance I get to give a little bit of what I have to a good cause, but at this event I paid five dollars to hear seven bands. I could sit back, beer in hand, chat (or yell, essentially) with friends, and know that my money was going toward helping people that need it more than I do.
After expenses, we raised over $600 for the two charities, with due recognition to the wonderful bands who donated their time. Additionally, the headlining band, FAUVE, must have been swept up in the spirit of it (so to speak) and made their own $100 donation to LLS!
One of the best parts about the event was the scope of the audience we reached in promoting our secular and charitable values, because enjoying live music is something that all varieties of people love to do. Not only did one of our campus’ charitable organizations reach out to join in helping us, over one hundred fifty people showed up to an event put on by an explicitly nonreligious group.
And if you’re a secular group out there (or any group for that matter) that wants to put on a similar event for a good cause, Justin will assure you that it’s easier than it sounds! He’ll be blogging a step-by-step guide soon, but for now here’s what he has to say about the event:
First, I need to say thank you to everyone involved. Canopy Club was wonderfully accommodating, and the sound engineer, Mike, worked just short of a miracle fitting so many bands into one night. Also, everyone should know that the bands played for free to make sure we could raise as much as we did, and many of them rely on music to make a full or part time living, so thank you all; I can’t stress that enough!
Second, I must admit that I was a little nervous at first. It had nothing to do with organizing a show, I do that all the time, but this was my first act as a non-insignificant liaison for the secular community. It must have been that the bands, the RSO’s, and the concertgoers alike surely included every faith and non-faith on the pie chart, but to my surprise and relief, no one cared. I’m not entirely sure why I thought that anyone would care that atheists were raising money for charity, but that, to me, is still pretty cool: humans working together to do a good thing.
I’ll have a “How-To” guide up soon for anyone interested in putting on a benefit concert, and it will echo a “For Dummies” guide, as I am a huge fan of the series. In general, I find that some event planning has a lot of brainstorming for clever things to do, but I promise that charity shows are very straightforward. “Build it and they will come” is not far off.