My Music Charity Picks for 2020

Last Updated on 2022-11-02 | Originally Posted on 2020-12-10


Although the heading speaks about music charity picks for 2020, my picks aren’t what you might expect! I’m a real believer in making charitable contribution decisions as a contemplative act in the privacy of my own home. I don’t like being asked to donate where I shop, making a snap decision about a cause I likely know very little about. I say as much at the cash register, and I realize that I’m just speaking to the messenger. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want to give because I’m feeling guilty by the picture of a malnourished child or puppy in need. I want to give out of being thankful and out of abundance.

There wasn’t a lot of abundance this year, due to most of my performance income cut thanks to Covid-19. Since I’m not contributing to any of my music charity picks for 2019, I’m not mentioning them this year. They are fine organizations. Instead, I want to mention two organizations that I have long supported, and will support a little this year. Although I’ve supported both for awhile, I didn’t mention them in the past due to wanting to keep the focus on music.

My Picks – Local

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art – The focus is obviously on art over music, which you would expect. However, they have made strides in increasing their music programming. They have provided a performance space for both of our local professional orchestras for many years. Just this month, they also have made programs from the Van Cliburn piano series available online for free.

What I appreciate most about Crystal Bridges is their bold decision to reopen in June, well in advance of other museums in our region. They could have sat on their hands, hoping that Covid would go away. Instead, they figured out a way to reopen in a scaled-down, yet safe way. I strongly feel that those organizations that have figured out a way to stay connected to their communities will also be leaders in the new normal.

Their very expansive halls feel very comfortable in which to socially distance. Plus, timed entry means that there are never many people around you. A lot of their programming is outdoors. This includes their extensive trail network, with sculptures along the way, as well as the huge North Forest. I’m not personally a fan of the North Forest Lights, but it’s an especially welcomed opportunity to celebrate art in the outdoors.

My Picks – National

Wikimedia Foundation – Most people know this group by as their most prominent project – Wikipedia – but most also just take the information for granted. I heeded the appeal one year to give, and kept giving because I want this incredible Internet project to be around for my lifetime. I can’t recall how many times their information was to me. They helped me in preparing listings for my church job, writing program notes, and in lots of other research, music-related or otherwise. Plus, I even contributed an edit to one of the entries, when I found an omission relating to the AOC French sheep cheese Ossau-Iraty!

In Conclusion

Although I realize many non-profits had a really tough year, it’s been quite glaring the omission I noticed in many of their appeal messages sent on Giving Tuesday. Of course, there was the boilerplate why you should give to us! Totally omitted was any empathy towards the giver, me, about how the pandemic affected my finances this year. This struck especially close to home when it came from my two music alma maters, Purchase College and The Juilliard School.

If these alumni offices took the time to survey their own graduates, they would realize that this year has been especially crippling for their graduates. Anyone who is a performing artist, whether a member of the New York Philharmonic to this piano teacher relying on part-time gig revenue, has been affected. A sentence or two pointing to concern for the giver could have easily been included; it’s called humanity! I’m certain that this would help their fundraising efforts, both in the short- and the long-term. That’s another reason I like being a contemplative donor: I can always say no to some in order to say yes to others!

Last Updated 2020-12-11 | Originally Posted 2020-12-10

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