Bonnie Raitt’s Activism: Green Like Guacamole (Fund)

Bonnie Raitt is nearly as well known for her lifetime of activism as she is for her music, and no discussion of the legendary artist is complete without it. From projects like Green Highway and The Guacamole Fund, Raitt has worked with and supported many non-profit organizations for more than 50 years.

Bonnie Raitt and Guacamole Fund founder Tom Campbell in Cerritos, Calif.

She’s also known for co-founding and touring with members of Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE), campaigning to stop the war in Central America, participating in the Sun City anti-apartheid project, performing at the historic 1980 No Nukes concerts at Madison Square Garden, and continuing as well to work on environmental protection and for the rights of women and Native Americans.

“Tom Campbell is a real pioneer of outreach in the tour, music and activism arena. He’s the one that we all are thankful for because he paved the way for so many of us, like myself, following in his footsteps,” says Raitt’s manager, GRI’s Kathy Kane, who spent time working with Greenpeace and New York City’s Wetlands Preserve before going into artist management.

The 501c3 non-profit over the years has produced large outdoor rallies with attendance of up to 1 million people, benefit concerts in stadiums from 30,000 to 100,000, arenas from 2,500 to 20,000, concert halls and theaters from 400 to 6,400, and receptions from 25 to 250 donors, according to The Guacamole Fund website.

Typically, on a concert tour by one of its member artists, The Guacamole Fund will acquire a row or block of premium tickets it then sells to fans at a price that covers the ticket and a donation to the organization, which Kane jokingly calls “scalping for charity.”

“I think it’s great work they do,” Kane says. “Bonnie would do tons of wonderful receptions all the time with The Guacamole Fund. Fundraising receptions where maybe 75 people would come in after the show and have desserts and coffee and get an opportunity to meet Bonnie and take a picture, and she would go and talk to every single person there. And, you know, everybody there paid more money to come just to support the environmental activism side of things.”

Unfortunately, COVID restrictions and the establishment of artist touring “bubbles” are inconducive to receptions and close seating so, for now, Raitt’s “Just Like That” tour tickets will instead include a surcharge that will be directed to charitable purposes.
Green Highway is a foundation launched in 2002 by Raitt and Kane to serve as an on-tour outreach program. Kane fondly remembers one of their first promotions with Green Highway.

“What we did in that day is we actually brought a hybrid car on tour with us,” Kane says. “This is 20 years ago and people didn’t know what a hybrid car was. It was a new thing. So Honda actually drove a hybrid vehicle to every single concert and set it up so people could look at it and sit in it and realize that a hybrid car was just like a Toyota Corolla. They could look at the engine and see what it was about. So we sort of did an education campaign about hybrid vehicles on that tour.”

Green Highway not only encourages concertgoers to learn more about the challenges the environment faces and get more involved with “organizations on human rights and social justice, Blues and music education, safe and sustainable energy and environmental protection,” but also invites organizations within communities to come to shows, table and share their information about their work, according to Green Highway.

“Together, we are raising awareness and making an impact to improve our collective future.”