How I Give: Busking for Good

Bill Hansell is a member of the Food Bank Board of Directors, and served on the Marin Food Bank board before the merger of the two organizations. You can catch him playing songs from many genres once monthly at the Marinwood and Glen Ellen farmers’ markets.

“Music is an integral part of my social life. Playing instruments and singing makes me feel good—especially when it encourages people to spend time together. Over the past couple of years, I’ve experienced a new way to bridge the separation between performer and audience.

A couple of years ago, I started playing live music at the Marinwood farmers’ market.  It was fun for me to play where people were already gathering locally and I invited other musicians to join me, too.  Collaborating with musicians of different ages and backgrounds was really fun and soon enough, people wanted to give us tips during the performance.

I wasn’t at all in it for the money, but I realized then that I had an opportunity to marry together music and fundraising. I was already inclined to perform, so it just made good sense to donate any money I could raise to a cause that I’m deeply involved with. I put a sign out by my guitar case with a note about 100% of the proceeds going to the Food Bank and people responded.

Adding the fundraising element really builds upon the satisfaction of performing. One market gig I played included hail and strong winds, but the market was still bustling and I knew that the Food Bank would benefit from my time there. Sure enough, people gave — and the momentum is growing!  My goal was to raise $1000 for the Food Bank through these small musical gatherings this year. As of July, we’ve already donated $800.

When the audience sees a cause related to the performance, it’s a good feeling multiplier.  It’s also a great funds multiplier – each dollar donation allows the Food Bank to distribute $6 worth of food. That quick trip to the farmers’ market brought food into each shopper’s home, and their donation during my performance means that food is also available to their neighbors in need. Music feeds the soul; fundraising for the Food Bank feeds the body.”

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