In 2004, Pearl Jam toured the United States as a part of the “Vote for Change” tour. During that time, we wanted also wanted to help make a change – a change for the better.
In October of that year, we started a grassroots, word-of-mouth campaign in St. Louis, Missouri. The plan was simple; fans would meet up before the concert and bring a can of food or extra clothing to donate to the St. Louis Food Bank. Brent Hinson and Laura Trafton organized the fundraiser party at Humphrey’s in St. Louis and the response was overwhelming! Over 200 pounds of food and clothing were donated by fans, with little promotion.
In 2005, we decided to expand our efforts. Mike McCready, guitarist for Pearl Jam, is an outspoken advocate for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation for several years. In May of 2005, Pearl Jam announced a tour of Canada for the fall. We instantly set our sights on raising awareness and funds for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada.
Relying on word-of-mouth promotion through several Pearl Jam fan web sites – primarily the official Pearl Jam Message Pit forums – fans were able to hold several successful fundraisers across Canada.
In just over a month, Pearl Jam fans raised $15,000 for the CCFC.
After such a successful fundraising ‘tour’ across Canada in 2005, a group of us began to take the steps to legally formalize and incorporate the organization. February provided another chance for us to take our fundraising efforts to a new level when Pearl Jam announced a 2006 World Tour to support their new self-titled studio album.
With the help of many dedicated fan-volunteers, we were able to organize over twenty-one fundraisers, in over fifteen cities across the United States that corresponded with Pearl Jam’s tour dates.
In the Spring of 2006, the Wishlist Foundation paired up with two innovative fans that had created t-shirts in honor of Pearl Jam guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard. Brad and Brian’s guitar pick t-shirts were a huge hit amongst fans and expanded the fundraising ability of the organization by more than 50%.
On September 14, 2006, the Wishlist Foundation was legally registered as a nonprofit corporation in Illinois. Around the same time, the Wishlist Foundation secured an all-star lineup of some of the best rock concert poster artists in the industry to create a series of posters for Pearl Jam’s Australian and Hawaiian legs of their tour, to benefit the Northwest Chapter of the CCFA and the Australian Crohn’s & Colitis Association.
By the end of 2006, Pearl Jam fans had raised over $35,000 for the Northwest Chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America from pre-concert fundraisers. Other fan donations were made to the American Cancer Society, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Bridge School / Building Bridges Camp, Hui Malama i ke Kai Foundation and Australian organizations Kaleidoscope and the ACCA.
Because of financial contributions from Pearl Jam fans, we created a variety of gift items like our ‘guitar pick’ t-shirts, wristbands, stadium cups, posters/art prints, and other items and donated over $10,000 to the NW Chapter of the CCFA. We supported Mr. Backspacer and the leather back turtles through Conservation International and watched them migrate halfway across the world. Over $45,000 was donated to the NW Chapter of the CCFA from the 2006 poster series.
The Flight to Mars VIP Pre-Party conceived and hosted by the Wishlist Foundation raised over $8,000 for the NW Chapter of the CCFA and included Mike McCready & Flight to Mars participation.
Fans rallied together to have parties during the off-tour season and held simultaneous fundraisers on April 28 in New York and Chicago, raising close to $2,000. The fan community came together again at the Lollapalooza pre-party on August 8, raising over $2,000.
We supported fellow fan David Town and his team the “I Got IDs” for their CCFA Guts & Glory 5k Walk/Run. We donated to the Northwest Chapter Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness, Inc., Conservation International, Save the Children, St. Baldrick’s Foundation and the Hui Malama i ke Kai Foundation.
Eleven fan fundraisers are held along the east coast Pearl Jam tour in June. Wishlist & fans raise $17,470 for NW Chapter Huntington’s Disease Society of America, Twin To Twin Transfusion Syndrome Foundation, PA Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Monosomy 1P36 Syndrome (Lisa Shaffer) Research, Stray from the Heart, Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition, Rational Animal, Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness, Inc., Station Family Fund, and Northwest Chapter Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.
Seven fan fundraisers are held along the west coast in honor of the Eddie Vedder solo tour in August. Wishlist & fans raise $6,118 for the local chapters of Surfrider Foundation, Dans La Rue, Share the Warmth, Annex Cat Rescue, White Ribbon Campaign, Companion Animal Resource and Adoption Center, and Chicago Iraq Veterans Against the War.
Total donated to beneficiaries in 2008 was $82,323.11
Team McCready joined forces and is welcomed as a division of the Wishlist Foundation in January, starting the year off right.
Team McCready hosted a one-day, world-wide benefit event on Saturday, April 10th stretching from the United Kingdom to the United States. The fundraiser benefited Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness, an organization Pearl Jam’s lead guitarist Mike McCready supports. This event raised over $18,000!
Flight to Mars, the UFO Tribute featuring Mike McCready, Gary Westlake, Paul Passereli, Kelly Van Camp, Ty Bailie and Tim DiJulio, performed their 8th annual benefit concert at Seattle’s Showbox on Friday, April 23rd. Wishlist Foundation hosted the VIP Pre-Party for the fourth year running and raised $15,767. It was organized by Laura Trafton, Eric Long, Brad Laing, and Mike Livingstone. The fundraiser was filmed by Jason Leung, podcasted by Donny Anderson, managed by Chris Adams and photography by Anna Knowlden.
What started as a small idea among friends and fans has blossomed into an inspiring time destined to bring good will to each community we reach.