I’ve long believed that concert volunteering—in which you set up a table at a show, talk to music fans, and give them an opportunity to take action—is one of the coolest ways to get involved with Oxfam America’s work. And last Friday, I had a chance to see it happen in person at the Mansfield, MA, date of Lilith Fair.
Because of Oxfam’s efforts to empower women worldwide (and because Lilith artists like Tegan and Sara, Missy Higgins, and Cat Power are Oxfam supporters) the women’s music festival has been very supportive of our work. They provided free tickets for a giveaway to our Twitter followers, allowed us backstage access to musicians, and invited us to reach out to fans at select Lilith shows. When our group showed up at the Boston-area venue, I was impressed by the prominent location of the Oxfam tent: right on the main walkway, and close enough to the second stage that the guitar chords from early-afternoon sound-check seemed to shimmer in the air as we set up our gear.
Even more impressive were our Oxfam America volunteers, some of whom I captured on film in the short video above. In just a few hours, they gathered over 600 signatures for a petition calling on President Obama to set a strategy to fight global poverty, particularly as it relates to women.
Beyond the numbers, I was struck by the quality of the volunteers’ interactions with fans. They spent a lot of time in conversation, listening to stories, answering questions about Oxfam and what we do. There’s something about a personal connection, face to face, that really gets people to stop and think about issues like poverty and hunger. And in the midst of a giant music festival on a 90-degree day—where most of the crowd is focused on getting a cold beer or catching the next act—that’s a pretty amazing achievement.
So, check out the video above to hear our volunteers talk about their experiences. And if you’d like to try concert volunteering in your community, you can sign up here.