9 Best Charities That Help Musicians Thrive (Complete 2024 List)

9 Best Charities That Help Musicians Thrive (Complete 2024 List)

By
Diana Stancu

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Music is one of the most celebrated art forms. It has the power to unite and uplift people beyond words. However, musicians’ career paths are often difficult, with about 70% suffering from mental health issues and 60% experiencing financial difficulty. All of this makes it harder for them to continue sharing the gift of music with the world. As a result, many charities are working to improve the lives and careers of music makers. So we had to ask: What are the best charities that help musicians thrive?

The best charities that help musicians thrive are MusiCares, Help Musicians, and the Musicians Foundation. Other charities, like the Jazz Foundation of America and Musicians Without Borders, empower music makers and help them connect with music lovers worldwide. 

Whether you want to help musicians overcome financial or health crises, support them to share their talents with the world, or guide aspiring musicians to develop their careers, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities helping musicians thrive are all about, how they work, and what would be your best way to make a contribution.

Here’s What All the Best Charities That Help Musicians Thrive Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their achievements, overall impact, and transparency ratings.

They mainly operate in North America and the UK, but they also support local musicians to connect with fans worldwide. 

Most of the charities below offer financial grants to musicians struggling with personal crises and issues, like illnesses or injuries, mental health, and income struggles.

Furthermore, their programs support musicians to develop their careers and skills, while connecting them with musical mentors and business advisors. In addition, some charities organize concerts, festivals, and awards to give recognition to music talents nationwide.

Yet, through different means, all the charities share the same goal of keeping the impact and love of music alive by helping musicians flourish. 

These Are the 9 Best Charities That Help Musicians Thrive in 2024

Below are our favorite charities helping musicians thrive (you can click on their link to directly jump to their section in this article):

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

1

MusiCares: We’re Here to Help Musicians

MusiCares: A Safety Net for the Music Community in Times of Need

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Their transparency & ratings:

MusiCares has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

We help the humans behind music because music gives so much to the world.”

MusiCares

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What they do:

MusiCares provides preventive care, recovery resources, and financial assistance to musicians in need. For example, their Mental Health & Addiction Recovery Services connect struggling musicians with emotional support groups and mental wellness workshops. They also fund inpatient addiction recovery treatments and provide continued outpatient care. Also, their Health Services provide screenings for hearing health and hearing loss prevention, as well as vocal health care. In addition, they aid musicians with financial literacy courses, affordable housing, and career development opportunities

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, MusiCares has distributed over $100 million to aid the physical and mental health of more than 200,000 struggling musicians. For example, between 2012 and 2022, they invested $10 million in their addiction recovery programs. Also, they offer free custom hearing protection to more than 3,500 musicians each year. In addition, during the COVID-19 pandemic, they accomplished the largest relief effort in the charity’s history, distributing $37,5 million to nearly 50,000 musicians

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to MusiCare via their website. You can also support them by buying their merchandise or participating in their supportive events

2

Help Musicians: We Want a World Where Musicians Thrive

Logo for Help Musicians
Love music? Help musicians

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Their transparency & ratings:

According to their financial report, Help Musicians spent 94.7% of their total income on charitable activities and 5.3% on fundraising campaigns. 

“We love music and help music makers at times of crisis, but also at times of opportunity.”

Help Musicians

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What they do:

Help Musicians guides music industry workers to develop their career path. For this, they offer support for music writing skills, academic studies in music, or mentorship from an established musician or business agent. Furthermore, they give preventive hearing protection and help musicians who struggle with injuries or illnesses that endanger their work. Also, they share welfare resources for those who encounter personal crises or retirement issues. In addition, they have a 24/7 counseling hotline for musicians struggling with mental health issues or experiencing harassment in their work. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Help Musicians has been supporting music makers in need. For example, in 2021, their crisis relief fund for the COVID-19 pandemic delivered $24 million to 20,000 musicians. In the same year, their hardship fund aided over 6,500 music workers through more than $4,5 million in payments, which covered medical treatments and necessities. Furthermore, their mental health support hotline received almost 1,200 calls, with 500 musicians getting continuous mental health counseling. They also distributed 366 creative grants for career development worth over $1 million.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Help Musicians on their website. You can also offer support by volunteering or starting a personal fundraiser

3

Musicians Foundation: Aid for Musicians. Made for Musicians.

Logo for Musicians Foundation
Robert Sheff / Blue Gene Tyranny - Musicians Foundation Story

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Musicians Foundation holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“Thoughtful, direct financial assistance for any professional musicians in need.

Musicians Foundation

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What they do:

The Musicians Foundation provides financial grants to underserved musicians that help pay essential bills, like medical treatments, mortgages, and other basic needs. Furthermore, their one-time assistance grants range between $500-$3,000 and offer critical support to music workers facing unexpected hardships and crises, or for those who want to develop their careers. To raise all funds necessary, the charity organizes bequests, benefits, and musical or artistic events across the country. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Musicians Foundation has awarded over 25,000 individual financial grants worth over $15 million to struggling musicians across all 50 states. Furthermore, they have granted nearly $650,000 in music scholarships to more than 400 recipients. For example, between 2015 and 2021, they assigned over 330,000 scholarships to 132 promising music students, each worth between $75,000 and $100,000.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Musicians Foundation on their website. You can also contribute by shopping on Tribe Socks, where a portion of your purchase will be directed to the charity.

4

Sweet Relief Musicians Fund: Healing Musicians and Music Industry Workers in Need

Logo for Sweet Relief Musicians Fund
Sweet Relief: Who We Are

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Sweet Relief Musicians Fund has a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator

“We offer support to all types of career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing physical or mental health issues, disability, or age-related problems.

Sweet Relief Musicians Fund 

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What they do:

The Sweet Relief Musicians Fund supports both famous and everyday musicians suffering from health conditions that endanger their ability to continue their careers. For instance, their Music’s Mental Health Fund aids musicians that struggle with depression or self-harm. Furthermore, their Cancer Fund helps musicians and music industry workers battling all forms of cancer and other debilitating illnesses or injuries. For this, they offer financial grants, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, covering their treatments and basic necessities.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund has continued to support musicians battling health issues, both mental and physical. For example, in 2019, they invested nearly $1 million across more than 40 individual funds offering critical support to a wide range of musicians across the US. Furthermore, in 2022, their Music’s Mental Health Fund raised more than $100,000 to provide mental health services to 250 music professionals and family members in need. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund via their website. You can also contribute by joining as a volunteer, starting an online fundraiser, or purchasing their merchandise.

5

Jazz Foundation of America: They Created the Soundtrack to Our Lives. We Help Them in Return.

Logo for Jazz Foundation of America
Jazz Foundation 2015

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Jazz Foundation of America has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator

Saving blues, jazz & roots one musician at a time.

Jazz Foundation of America

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What they do:

The Jazz Foundation of America assists struggling musicians with housing and emergency assistance to prevent homelessness. They also provide healthcare services for uninsured musicians in health crises and help music workers rebuild their homes and lives after natural disasters. Furthermore, they offer career opportunities to musicians in need by organizing pop-up concerts in public spaces and connecting them to audiences in elder-care and assisted-living facilities across the US. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Jazz Foundation of America has provided free medical care worth over $9 million to more than 1,900 veteran blues, jazz, and roots musicians. In addition, they organize almost 1,000 concerts in 17 states which reach more than 80,000 listeners, from children to seniors in elder care facilities. Also, their emergency funds support 30 musician emergency cases a day and nearly 9,000 assists every year. For example, in 2019, they invested $2,6 million to aid 2,200 emergency cases and help create 4,700 work opportunities

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Jazz Foundation of America via their website. You can also contribute by shopping for their products and joining their fund-raising music events.

6

Musicians Without Borders: War Divides, Music Connects

Logo for Musicians Without Borders
Musicians Without Borders  | About Us - 2020

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Their transparency & ratings:

According to their financial report, Musicians Without Borders spent 86.5% of their total income on charitable programs, 6.7% on management costs, and 6.6% on fundraising campaigns.

“We use music to bridge divides, connect communities, and heal the wounds of war.”

Musicians Without Borders 

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What they do:

Musicians Without Borders empowers music makers to lead activities like singing, songwriting, and dance, to aid communities affected by violence and conflict. Their musicians offer relief, connection, and provide a much-needed safe space. Moreover, they promote therapeutic uses of music and offer coaching to local music bands. For example, they run programs in Africa and South America to build communities that act creatively and peacefully in the future. Furthermore, in the Middle East, they encourage creativity and inclusion in places where people live in fear and isolation

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Musicians Without Borders has continued to help both musicians and at-risk communities to thrive and flourish. For example, their South American program has helped 300 local musicians to uplift nearly 50,000 children in violent and poor regions. Furthermore, their African program has trained 225 local music leaders and supported 35,000 locals through musical engagement and creativity. In addition, in 2021, the charity connected 7,200 musicians with 500 local music trainees across 5,200 artistic activities.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Musicians Without Borders on their website. You can also support them by fundraising or donating personal musical instruments

7

Music Maker Foundation: Tending the Roots of American Music

Music Maker Relief Foundation: Our Mission

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Music Maker Foundation has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.

“We meet the day-to-day needs of the artists who create traditional American music, ensure their voices are heard, and give all people access to our nation’s hidden musical treasures.”

Music Maker Foundation

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What they do:

The Music Maker Foundation serves the most vulnerable artists of American roots music by distributing grants and social services in cases of crisis or chronic poverty. Also, the charity works to book shows for underserved musicians, while providing management services and professional development. In this way, they support them to build their careers, income, and skills through touring. Furthermore, they organize musical exhibitions and stage youth engagement programs to ensure that aspiring musicians have access to the right tool to start their careers.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their inception, Music Maker has given over 15,000 financial grants to more than 500 underserved musicians across the nation. In addition, they have helped their partner artists to organize 8,000 live performances across 32 countries. They have also supported promising musicians to release nearly 3,000 songs and 200 online albums. Moreover, they have connected with aspiring musicians through 52 educational and academic exhibitions in 50 institutions across the US. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Music Maker Foundation via their website. You can also contribute by shopping for their products or participating in their musical events and exhibits

8

Blues Foundation: Memphis-based. World-renowned. For Musicians.

Logo for Blues Foundation
Support The Blues Foundation

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Blues Foundation has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, with a 100% score for Finance and Accountability. 

“We preserve blues heritage, celebrate blues recording and performance, expand worldwide awareness of the blues, and ensure the future of the uniquely American art form.”

Blues Foundation

⚒️

What they do:

The Blues Foundation supports aspiring and established blues musicians for better health and career prospects. For instance, their Handy Artists Relief Trust provides health screenings and treatments for blues musicians with health issues. In addition, they cultivate the next generation of blues musicians through a Youth Membership in their community of artists. They also fund youth blues camps and other education programs to hone the skills of aspiring music makers. Moreover, they host the Blues Music Awards and the Keeping the Blues Alive Award to celebrate the best blues recordings and contributions.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Blues Foundation has served over 50,000 blues musicians and has created a web of 4,000 members across the US. Furthermore, they collaborate with 100 blues experts from the industry to choose Blues Music Awards winners for 25 categories. In addition, between 2020 and 2022, their healthcare relief fund has supported over 250 musicians through the COVID-19 pandemic by distributing $300,000 in grants for utilities coverage and $160,000 for housing payments.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Blues Foundation on their website. You can also support them by becoming a member of the foundation or volunteering at their Blues Hall of Fame Museum. 

9

Newport Festivals Foundation: Supporting Musicians, Students, and Educators

Logo for Newport Festivals Foundation
Lagunitas | Newport Festivals Foundation

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Newport Festivals Foundation has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator

“For decades, our festivals have shown that music has the ability to change lives. Our mission is to foster their legacy and support artists and music education programs year-round, across the country.”

The Newport Festivals Foundation

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What they do:

The Newport Festivals Foundation provides financial relief to musicians in need, especially in times of health crisis. For this, they distribute financial grants to folk, jazz, and country musicians. They also support aspiring musicians through a wide library of educational workshops, tutorials, and performances from established music workers. In addition, the charity organizes the annual Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals to give artists a space to express themselves freely, connect with their community of fans, and create the next generation of music legends. 

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Newport Festivals Foundation has continued to help musicians thrive. For example, in 2021, they provided 113 financial relief grants to nearly 530 musicians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the same year, they offered 56 grants for music education programs across the US. Moreover, in 2022, they offered musicians 160 grants to create pro bono music education videos online. In the same year, they brought nearly 100 mental health clinicians to their festivals to counsel struggling artists and their crews. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Newport Festivals Foundation on their website. You can also support them by attending an internship program or donating a musical instrument

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities helping artists thrive. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarise yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing a charity’s progress in reaching its targets, the chances are they’re not making a substantial positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to helping artists thrive – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

Illustration of a signature for Diana

PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

The way we think about charity is dead wrong | Dan Pallotta

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