For the many liberal-minded members of the music industry -- artists and executives alike -- the result of the presidential election has served as a philanthropic wakeup call. With it has come the impetus to double down on activism and giving to the many causes likely to be threatened by the new administration.
A longtime supporter of Planned Parenthood, Capitol Music Group’s Michelle Jubelirer has approached her work for the organization with increased energy in light of attempts to defund it. “Aside from giving money, I’ve become more vocal,” she says. “I am using my position as a board member of Planned Parenthood to galvanize as many interested people behind me in the artist community.”
Daniel Glass, of Glassnote Records, has been focused on supporting the politicians that he sees as the future of the Democratic Party, namely recently elected California Sen. Kamala Harris, for whom he plans “to be very politically active working on behalf of what she believes in.” He singles out her stances on immigration, education and, unsurprisingly, artist compensation for praise.
With the news dominated by daily reports of threats to environmental policy, healthcare, civil liberties and other issues, the question of how best to direct energies and personal resources is not a simple one. “The election has jolted progressives out of complacency. A lot of people in the entertainment industry have been operating under the false premise that activism is easy and that we can tweet our way to social change,” says Trevor Neilson, the co-founder of Global Philanthropy Group, a firm that counsels wealthy individuals on charitable involvement. (Neilson has advised Bono, Madonna and Miley Cyrus, among others.) For executives, he encourages providing “grants to organizations that do really excellent work supporting and defending [these issues],” and for artists he emphasizes mobilizing their fan base to take action behind a unified issue. Rob Light of Creative Artists Agency concurs: “In the current climate, artist voices have become more important and need to be loud,” he says, adding that CAA “will use our collective skills and contacts in both traditional and social media, plus the live footprint to ensure those voices are heard, and keep the vitally important issues front and center.”
But with such a crowded slate of worthy nonprofits looking for funds, which issues are the best to get behind? Neilson recommends that those seeking to counteract Donald Trump’s agenda look to organizations working to fight climate change, protect LGBT rights and maintain journalistic freedoms will be particularly crucial in upcoming years. Among his favorite vetted organizations are The Climate Mobilization (theclimatemobilization.org); Cyrus’ Happy Hippie Foundation, which aids homeless and LGBT youth (happyhippies.org); and the Committee to Protect Journalists (cpj.org).
One caveat from Neilson: Aspiring social activists would do well to limit their involvements. “Focus, focus, focus,” he says. “The people that do a lot of little things often end up accomplishing very little.”