Woodstock: The Festival That Inspired A Generation To Give Back

Fifty-one years ago, the most iconic festival in music history, Woodstock, ended after three days of rock 'n roll in upstate New York. Unlike any musical event that came before it, the festival drew crowds of over 400,000 and is widely regarded as the defining event of the peace and love movement from the counterculture generation.

Along with music, hippies, drugs, and free love, Woodstock was also considered a breakthrough moment in mass community cooperation which helped to inspire acts of philanthropy for years to come. The spirit of Woodstock continued after the festival ended, with a simple message: "No one is happy until we are all happy. No one is safe until we are all safe."

People who didn't attend the festival were able to experience it in all its glory in 1970 when the Woodstock film was released. It became a huge success and large audiences around the world experienced the power of mass engagement for good. Despite the rain, mud and unsanitary conditions, people crossed the country and came together for peace and love in a time of rage and resentment. The festival became a catalyst for the surge in contemporary social activism in North America and was felt around the world. It showed that anything could be achieved by a collective group.

During the ten years after Woodstock, the American government certified the launch of more than 150,000 new nonprofit organizations. Hundreds of thousands of Americans were being employed by charities. Activists formed 20,000 new charities supporting education, 15,000 new community development organizations, 11,000 for the arts, and 3,668 new women's advocacy groups, according to an article by CultureSonar.

Woodstock had inspired a new form of social entrepreneurship -- for the people by the people. Woodstock enabled people to see the importance in creative, grassroots organizations to influence change. No matter your race, creed, or colour, no matter your social standing or degree of wealth, you could help the vulnerable, the poor, the weak, the disenfranchised. Charity was no longer the benevolent activity of wealthy people donating to "appropriate" and worthy causes, it was for everyone.

Three days of peace, love and rock n roll over an August weekend in 1969, activated the altruism of an entire generation whose charitable influence extends around the world to this day.


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