and Celebrity Philanthropists
Read our interview with Kristen Godard, current
funding committee chair for the Mockingbird Foundation,
a grantmaking organization started by a group
of fans of the band Phish that supports music
education programs for children.
Kristen Godard, Funding Committee Chair
Phish Fans’ The Mockingbird Foundation
Kristen. Thank you for talking with Youth in Philanthropy about the Mockingbird
Foundation and providing tips for how other groups of fans can get started with
Youth in Philanthropy (YIP): What is
the Mockingbird Foundation?
Kristen Godard (KD):
The Mockingbird Foundation, Inc. is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization
founded in 1997 by fans of the band Phish. The Foundation has released The
Phish Companion, a 928-page book about the band and its music, and Sharin’
in the Groove, a double-disc tribute album. All net proceeds go to charity,
supporting music education for children.
YIP: How did the foundation get started?
KD: The Mockingbird
Foundation, Inc. was formed by fourteen fans who decided to compile a book that
would represent the entire community of fans. The group first got together in
the Fall of 1996 and having seen a thread on PhishNet about the various books
that have been written about the band, decided to create their own. We legally
incorporated in the state of New York as a nonprofit corporation.
YIP: Where does the name Mockingbird
creating the book found inspiration in the PHISH song “Famous Mockingbird.”
YIP: What fields does the foundation
KD: The Mockingbird Foundation
is particularly interested in projects that
encourage and foster creative expression in
any musical form (including composition, instrumentation,
vocalization, or improvisation,) but also recognizes
broader and more basic needs within conventional
musical instruction. The Foundation encourages
applications associated with diverse or unusual
musical styles, genres, forms, and philosophies.
support for education includes the provision
of instruments, texts, and office materials,
and grants for learning space, practice space,
performance space, and instructors/instruction.
The Foundation is particularly interested in
projects that foster self-esteem and free expression,
but we do not typically fund music therapy.
is also interested in targeting children up to eighteen years of age, but will
consider projects that benefit college students, teachers, instructors, or adult
students. We are particularly (though not exclusively) interested in programs
that benefit disenfranchised groups, including those with low skill levels,
low income, or little education; with disabilities or terminal illnesses; and
in foster homes, shelters, hospitals, prisons, or other remote or isolated situations.
YIP: Are there any limitations?
KD: Grants range in size from $50.00 to $5,000.00 and are made on a one-time
Foundation is particularly interested in organizations with low overhead, innovative
approaches, and/or collaborative elements to their work. Grants are typically
made only to nonprofit organizations with tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3)
of the Internal Revenue Service code, or that have a sponsoring agency with
this status. Public schools are tax-exempt and are eligible for funding, although
grantees cannot be independent of the school, the project must take place at
the school, and must be supervised by the applicable municipality. (Organizations
selected to submit a full proposal will be required to submit documentation
of their status as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt institution or as a public school.)
The Foundation does not normally consider grants to individuals or to fund research,
fundraising organizations or events, programs that promote or engage in religious
or political activities, or organizations outside the United States. It is hoped
that nonprofit organizations that apply for support are operated and organized
without discrimination in hiring staff or providing services on the basis of
race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin or disability.
YIP: How does the foundation actually
KD: The Mockingbird Foundation collects
revenue from two principal products: The Phish Companion, a 928-page
book about Phish published by Backbeat (formerly Miller Freeman), and Sharin'
in the Groove, a two-disc release of 23 acts covering the music of Phish.
Since there is no paid staff, a board of directors oversees all administrative
activities. Individual projects are conducted and managed by working groups
of volunteers. No member of the board or any working group, and no one contributing
material to the Foundation's projects, receive any salary or wages.
YIP: Tell us more about the book.
KD: The Phish Companion
is the most comprehensive and authoritative book available to Phish fans, an
encyclopedic desk reference including an unprecedented compendium of setlists,
song histories, and show reviews, covering all facets of the band's mystique.
The tremendous 928-page tome credits nearly
1,500 distinct contributors. Additional support was provided from
official sources, including the band's archivist and the band's main lyricist (who wrote the book's
foreword.) The book includes extensive information that has never before been
made public, and elegant treatment and integration of information which had
been available, but inconsistent among several other sources. The book's accessible
tone and fascinating content appeal to casual fans as well as well-versed veterans.
Its crown jewel is the setlist file, which is easily the definitive record
of Phish's concerts from 1983 to the present. It is chock full of reviews, statistics, song histories (discussions of the origins, interpretations,
and evolution of each of Phish's songs,) creative texts, photographs and artwork.
YIP: Can you tell me more about the CD?
KD: It was produced
independently. The artists played for free, and all our net revenues go to music
education for children. The contributors represent influences on Phish, rather
than the other way around. It includes 18 genres, including rock, pop, folk,
bluegrass, jazz, symphony, marching band, barbershop, punk, ambient, and drum
‘n bass. The tracks are organized like a live show, with two sets and an encore.
YIP: What would you tell other groups
of fans that are interested in trying something like this?
KD: When fans get together
they can do great things! Get a group together and get creative. We are lucky
to have the Internet to act as a vehicle for work on our projects. It allows
fans from all over the United States (and even the world) to contribute their
time and talent for a good cause. The Mockingbird Foundation has now contributed
almost $200,000 to music education for children, and is already preparing to
disburse new grants in early 2004. If you care about something,
it is possible to make a difference!
YIP: What advice would you give to young
people who are thinking of doing charitable work?
KD: Give it a try, it is a great way
to learn new skills, meet people and help your
community! For example, the Bay Area, the
base of the Foundation’s operations, has such
a large, diverse nonprofit community that you
are bound to find an organization right for
you. The Volunteer
Center of San Francisco has a “Youth Empowerment
Program” to promote youth service. They have
an online guide called “Guide to Youth Volunteer
Opportunities” and other terrific resources.
Even if you don’t have a lot of time to “go”
someplace to volunteer, you can still help out.
Go to the Virtual
Volunteering Program of Volunteer Match.
You will see a bunch of links to organizations
that have virtual projects. There are so many
ways you can give back and it is amazing how
much of a difference even one person can make.
Look at what a bunch of fans were able to do!
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