Since 1997, the team has worked to mobilize the talents of artists and music professionals to assist families affected by domestic violence. The project takes action by releasing benefit music CDs in order to raise public awareness about domestic violence and fundraise for local emergency and ongoing services. More than $125,000 in project proceeds have been donated to RESPOND, Inc., (RI) one of the oldest domestic violence service organizations in the country. The Respond CD Project also supports the Family Violence Prevention Fund, the nation’s premier organization working to end abuse.
The Respond CDs provide a natural focus for media attention that is helpful for future fundraising efforts. Also, the Respond Project has boosted staff morale at RI, brought 45 volunteers, and greatly increased the number of contacts from battered women via their website and hotline. RI’s Board of Directors credited the CD project with fueling its growth over the last three years from an annual budget of about $300,000 to $1 million. RI ultimately expanded its services into 11 new communities.
In 1998, a group of artists released a 2-CD benefit set called Respond, a collection of 27 songs by women songwriters from the Boston area raising funds and awareness about domestic violence. The Respond CD was named “one of the most important and courageous records of the decade” by Billboard Magazine’s editor-in-chief. Respond was also featured in stories on MTV, VH-l, NPR, and CNN. The team went on to organize more than 50 concerts related to the effort. Respond artists sold the CD at their own concerts and talked about the widespread problem of domestic violence on their tours and in radio and television interviews. Respond II released in January 2003 and includes 16 Grammy-nominated artists including Dolly Parton, Sarah McLachlan, the Indigo Girls, and Odetta.
The team remained committed to extending the impact of their proven model. They forged relationships with Amazon, Yahoo!, Barnes and Noble, Columbia House, and other corporations to strengthen the project. In addition to creating effective partnerships, the team members also work to support each other and manage to have a great deal of fun together, which keeps them energized and committed. They meet regularly evaluating their progress, coordinating, and strategizing.
One of the most compelling aspects of the project is how artists have come together from many different music genres to participate. Also, artists from the CD became involved in events to further organize the community. For example, several Respond artists performed as part of a domestic violence rally at the Massachusetts Statehouse to encourage legislative action. In addition, artists from the Respond CD organized private concerts for the staff and clients of RI to increase morale.