Live-Aid – Impact on Philanthropy

On October 23, 1984 Bob Geldof saw a BBC report about a famine in Africa.  Little did he know that the report would not only change his life forever but that his response would leave an astounding legacy that would impact an untold number of lives in Africa, forever changed the face of philanthropy, and be the spring board to bring television and global telecommunication technology into the 21st Century. 

In 1985, Live Aid embodied the purest of motives: a desire to help and a belief that each one of us can make a difference. There was both a touching innocence and an electrifying energy about that hot summer July day. Live Aid was the first to harness the powers of mass media and peer-to-peer persuasion to bring the world together around a targeted cause – and in the process it started  the trend of high-profile, celebrity-endorsed charitable efforts, and changed the face of philanthropy forever. It also started the Millennial trend on devoting time to a cause instead of simply donating to charity.

In her July 13, 2015 article in The Atlantic Kristie York Wooten sums up the impact brilliantly with, “If Live Aid had never happened, would Richard Branson have swum with Desmond Tutu while discussing world peace? Would Ted Turner have funded mosquito net initiatives, or Bill and Melinda Gates committed their wealth to provide vaccinations and contraceptives, or Jimmy Carter spent his post-presidency trying to eradicate tropical diseases in countries like Nigeria? Would George W. Bush have enacted PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), a massive government initiative to fight AIDS/HIV around the world? Would David Cameron have devoted unprecedented amounts of money to the UK’s foreign assistance budget? It’s also easy to question whether the African schools, water wells and AIDS-awareness campaigns of Oprah, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Will.i.am, Annie Lennox, and Alicia Keys would exist today if Live Aid hadn’t set the precedent for celebrity focus on the continent.”

“What really happened at the concert is that a new generation was born, a generation meant to be aware of what’s going on around us.” Elizabeth McLaughlin was 23 when she attended the London show

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