We had the good fortune of connecting with Caroline Buckner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Caroline, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Service first. Concert for a Cause was built with the end goal in mind. Music therapy practices in Georgia needed support for their profession and the sustainability of their businesses. Concert for a Cause began as a one-time community charity concert to support Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s music therapy department and that was all it was expected to be, a one-time event. After a second event and increased community support, I consulted with some local business professionals and made the decision to turn Concert for a Cause into a 501c3 nonprofit. I knew nothing about running a business and very little about the nonprofit industry, so this was a huge risk. I was also just starting my undergraduate studies and working part-time, so my free time was at a premium. I spent time finding resources to teach me about fundraising, marketing, and nonprofit management, as well as the basics like volunteer recruitment, board development, and even the paperwork needed to keep it registered with the state. The reward every June of seeing the impact of our donation was worth the effort put into starting the organization, and 7 years later, still is.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Concert for a Cause Inc (CFAC) began in 2014 as my Girl Scout Gold Award Project. Three years of hard work and community support later, my project became an established 501c3 nonprofit. There was a lot of research that went into transforming this project into an organization. I was grateful to find community members with nonprofit experience who could connect me to the lawyers and professionals with the know-how. I also spent a lot of time on continuing professional education sites like Lynda, Network for Good, and Council of Nonprofits to learn the different business skills needed to successfully run an organization. There were many times the first few years, and even now, where I get frustrated with a challenge. This year with the pandemic has been especially difficult since our primary fundraising and educational programming are in-person events. However, over the years I have surrounded myself with people who have the talents to overcome our obstacles. They are incredibly creative and adept at problem-solving. Without their support and dedication, CFAC would not continue to thrive. Concert for a Cause is dedicated to increasing awareness for Music Therapy through music centered community events. These include virtual and in-person concerts featuring musicians across the country, community volunteer initiatives, and educational events that advocate the importance of Music Therapy. Our events primarily occur in Fulton, Cobb, and Cherokee County. CFAC partners with local high schools, universities, and community service organizations that host events on their behalf. The signature fundraiser for Concert for a Cause is an annual community charity concert and silent auction each June where sponsors and volunteers are recognized, and grants are presented to that year’s recipients. The concert features a demonstration by one of our music therapist partners as well as performances by some of their clients. Our focus on partnering with our community and supporting all aspects of the music industry through our events really gives us an advantage. It echoes our service first values and allows us to better connect to members of our community. Supporting the growth of music therapy across Georgia is the heart of our mission. We frame our programming around being able to better meet the needs of the music therapy industry across the state. Concert for a Cause is proud to offer 2 grants, available annually to any Board-Certified Music Therapist practicing in Georgia. The Resource Grant provides funds to purchase or maintain instruments, sensory equipment, or technology that will assist the Music Therapist in better serving their clients. The Project Grant provides funds to implement new programming for the Music Therapist to offer at their place of employment. Concert for a Cause also collects items through their Amazon Wishlist to provide supplies such as instruments, books, sensory tools, and maintenance supplies to Music Therapists in Georgia. These items can be requested by any Georgia Music Therapist to better serve their clients.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’ve been dying to take my best friend to Ponce City Market and City Winery to spend the day. There’s tons of great food and shopping, as well as a stunning rooftop view with space to hang out and play carnival games. We could also check out part of the Beltline while we were in the area. When I have friends come to town, I love to show off some of the local breweries like Orpheus, New Realm, or Monday Night Brewing. Honestly, I could spend a whole week vacation just taking people to amazing breweries. On the weekends, some of the ones along the Beltline like Best End Brewing also have pop up craft festivals with live music where you can meet some amazingly talented people. Live music is also a staple when people come to visit. Smith’s Old Bar is a classic. I live north of Atlanta so I like to show off parts of Roswell, Alpharetta, and Woodstock too. The Whiskey Project in downtown Roswell is fantastic for dinner and drinks. Their old fashioned is the best I’ve ever had. Gate City and Variant are great for beer and Deep Roots has an amazing assortment of wine. There are lots of cute restaurants up and down Canton Street for virtually any style of food. Standard, Big Oak Tavern, and Loyal Tavern almost always have live music in the evenings with up and coming local musicians.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people who have inspired and supported me along the way! My parents have been incredibly patient and encouraging throughout this journey. Amber Weldon-Stevens and Cori Snyder are the music therapists who inspired me to pursue music therapy as a profession and service career. My Girl Scout family and leaders helped me get Concert for a Cause off the ground and pointed me in the right direction throughout our community. And the Board of Directors who tirelessly work to make my vision come true could never know how grateful I am for their dedication to our mission!
Katie Coe Photography Maura Roberts Photography