Two organizations founded and operated by fans of the rock band Phish announced today that they have raised and distributed a combined $1,000,000 for charity. The joint announcement was made by The Mimi Fishman Foundation, which raises funds through online auctions, and The Mockingbird Foundation, which publishes historical information about Phish in print and online. Both organizations are operated on an all-volunteer basis, with no salaries, paid staff, or offices.
The Mockingbird Foundation was organized in 1996 by Craig DeLucia and a dozen other fans to raise funds for music education for children through the publication of an encyclopedic book about Phish and its music. Expanding its efforts to include the cultivation and distribution of Phish-related intellectual property more generally, the Foundation has published two editions of a 900-page book, released a double-disc tribute album, produced a variety of tour-friendly merchandise, and re-launched the Phish.net website as a comprehensive database with a dozen mobile extensions. As a result of these efforts, as well as direct donations, the Mockingbird Foundation has been able to fund 193 grants (in 42 states) totaling over $613,000. www.mbird.org
The Mimi Fishman Foundation was organized in 1998, by Mimi Fishman (mother of Phish drummer Jon Fishman) and family friend David Shulman, to raise funds for vision-related charities through online auctions of Phish-donated memorabilia. While expanding its focus of charitable giving to include women, children, and animal-related charities, the Foundation also expanded its musical reach by receiving donated auction items from other bands, including The String Cheese Incident, Yonder Mountain String Band, and Umphrey’s McGee. The Mimi Fishman Foundation has administered over 30 online auctions resulting in grants being made to 38 organizations totaling over $390,000. www.mimifishman.org
Communal efforts by Phish fans reflect the history of the band itself. Phish earned commercial success during the 1990s stealthily, with little radio play and a video that primarily aired as joke fodder on Beavis and Butthead. They evolved from a rumored bar band to an idolized arena organization, benefitting from ingenuity and courage as much as from talent. Ingenuity and courage also drove fans of the same period to begin orchestrating charitable works at shows: the Green Crew collected trash from venue surroundings, the Karma Crew and Clifford Care Bears discouraged hard drug use, the Phellowship provided camaraderie for sober fans, and the Phunky Bitches provided support to female fans. While several of those nascent elements continue, the charitable ambitions of volunteer fans expanded alongside Phish’s success. Groups incorporated, boards of directors were formed, and Phish fan philanthropy was born.
The Mockingbird and Mimi Fishman Foundations look forward to many more years of serving Phish fans and grantees alike. Each has already raised the funds for additional grants to be announced this fall, and each is underway with new plans to continue their success.