1985's Live Aid concert changed fundraising.
1985's Live Aid concert changed fundraising. - 
Listen To The Story


Steve Chiotakis: Global fundraising to help victims of disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis are common these days. But 25 years ago, it was practically unheard of. That is, until two big music concerts -- one in Philadelphia and another in London. Live Aid brought together a galaxy of pop stars to raise money for Ethiopian famine relief, and it changed the business of fundraising, as the BBC's Rebecca Singer reports for Marketplace.

Rebecca Singer: In the summer of 1985, over 150,000 people packed into stadiums on both sides of the Atlantic. The pop-star-turned-activist Bob Geldof had mobilized musicians in a new type of fundraising.

Bob Geldof: It's only the biggest pop event and certainly the most important because of what it's for, and what it's for is the worst natural disaster mankind has ever seen.

The events raised millions of dollars and aid did reach poverty-stricken people across Africa. But after Live Aid, organizers realized that money was just a temporary fix and a more sophisticated approach was needed.

Peter Gill was one of the first journalists to cover the Ethiopian crisis. He says Live Aid forced American and European governments to pay attention to African poverty.

Peter Gill: I don't believe famine of those proportions is possible.

Since Live Aid, charities have pushed for more permanent, structural changes like canceling the debts of developing countries and also the introduction of fairer trade rules.

In London, I'm the BBC's Rebecca Singer for Marketplace.