Doing It For The Love

Steve Dezember reached out to Michael Franti in 2013 with a request. Steve, a longtime fan who lives with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, wanted to come to a show and meet the artist with whom he’d struck up a friendship. 
Michael and Sara Franti

It’s not an unusual request, and one that Franti’s team granted. Steve, in his wheelchair, and his wife Hope were accommodated on the side of the stage during the show. That’s when the unusual happened.

“During the show – Steve at that point was in a wheelchair – they were really rocking,” Harmony Plenty, executive director of Do It For The Love, told Pollstar. “Steve turned to Hope and said ‘I really want to get out of my chair.’ “So they got him out of the chair and there they were, on the stage with Michael playing, and they were dancing. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. They were crying, everyone on stage was crying, everyone in the house was crying.

Do It For The Love

“Michael and his wife Sara walked away from that and saw how powerful an experience that was, how much strength it gave Steve and how much joy it brought. They said, ‘We want to do more of that. We want to bring that experience to more people.’”

And that’s how Do It For The Love, something of a “Make A Wish” program for music fans, was born. Three years later, Do It For The Love – now a public benefit 501c3 – has granted nearly 700 “wishes,” bringing fans with life-threatening illnesses and disabilities to concerts and giving them the chance to meet their musical heroes.

In addition to Franti, artists who have participated in the program include Shawn MendesEd SheeranU2Paul McCartney, and many others. The premise is simple, but the execution comes with challenges.

Children and adults with disabilities, including military veterans living with PTSD, are eligible to receive wish grants. Do It For The Love provides transportation and a hotel room for the recipient and up to three friends or caregivers, tickets to a show, swag and a meet-and-greet opportunity. Sara Agah Franti is an emergency room nurse with an extensive medical background who has seen the positive effects music and the live experience can have on people facing extraordinary challenges.

“Michael and I always knew we wanted to do something together,” Franti told Pollstar. “Our backgrounds are very different; medical and music. But they are both about making people feel better and be happy and secure, helping them through hard times. So we knew there was going to be something that would bring our two worlds together.”

The Frantis reached out to friends in the industry like Libby Anschutz, the director of community relations for AEG Live Rocky Mountains and daughter of AEG principal Philip Anschutz; Gary Gersh, president of global talent for AEG Live; and Dave Graham, CEO of promoter Latitude 38. All serve on Do It For The Love’s nine-member board of directors.

“Libby is so passionate and always philanthropic,” Franti said. “She runs her family foundation and we thought she’d be a great asset and contribute to a diverse perspective. We want to bring all aspects of music and health to our board. With nursing, I bring in health. Gary Gersh helps bring in the promoter aspect. We also have Dave Graham who is with the BottleRock festival.

“Everyone brings a diversity of life experience and perspective, is super engaged and that’s really important to us. They’re not just there as an advisory board; we want everyone that’s on the board to really believe in our mission and vision and want to see it grow as much as we can. They have the same heart and the same passion to give back.”

It takes more than an engaged board and dedicated founders to make Do It For The Love work.

Ed Sheeran

The three-member staff, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is always in need of artists and venues to participate in the program. In order to grant wishes, they need not only cash donations but tickets, merchandise, and artists’ time. At least as important to Do It For The Love as the tickets, time, photos and autographs is simply exposure – trying to get the word out to artists, venues and promoters that the opportunity to give back to their communities and provide memories of a lifetime is there.

Franti says there are ways the industry can help.

“The No. 1 thing is access,” Franti explained. “We want people to know who we are. We know people in the industry are busy. The shows are busy. There’s a lot of people they can be reaching out to and we want to know they recognize our names so when we send an email out, people see us in the subject line and we are a trusted organization.

“Providing those tickets and those experiences is huge. It the main thing that will help the individual, that will help with our budget, and just spreading the word. If you want to help us fundraise, we’ll get you involved in that too.

“Reach out to us. We can make it happen so you can help change some lives.”

Do It For The Love has an extensive website with photos, videos and further information about grant-giving, grant-making, and how to brighten the lives of children with life-threatening illnesses, people with severe challenges and wounded veterans at