Simple Plan Foundation Has Raised Half A Million For Youth Charities

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Simple PlanMany people get behind causes and charities and musicians are often asked to become spokespeople, "ambassadors" or simply perform at a fundraising event when they reach even a modicum of success. When Montreal's Simple Plan had sold close to 4 million albums worldwide, the pop-rock band felt it could not only launch its own foundation but keep it going year after year.

"It was actually a friend's idea and it was right before a big Canadian tour," singer Pierre Bouvier tells Samaritanmag. "Most of the shows were if not sold out, then close to it. There was a friend of ours that said, ‘You have to start a foundation because once you're in there and you have all these venues that are already taking percentages, if everybody cuts a little bit off their percentage, and puts it into this, we can raise a lot of money and make an impact and from there.'"

Drummer Chuck Comeau remembers it being his parents', André Comeau and Françoise Talbot, idea.

Simple Plan 323"The Foundation was started in 2005," he tells Samaritanmag in a recent email. "We were receiving thousands of letters from fans sharing with us some very sad and tragic stories and telling us how much our music was helping them deal with their difficult situations. We wanted to do something more than just write songs for them so my parents suggested that we should start our very own foundation to give back and help young people in need. The band was into the idea right away and the Simple Plan Foundation was born."

The objectives, as outlined, on the web site are to:

- Help various groups and organisations working with young people facing difficult teenage problems: drugs, depression, suicide, poverty, and children affected by war

- Support various social and medical organizations dedicated to helping ill and handicapped children and youths

- Promote musical training in schools as a way of helping young people develop a passion and find a purpose in life

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Since 2008, The Simple Plan Foundation has donated a half-a-million dollars to various Canadian charities, according to Talbot. In just the past year, recipients have included War Child Canada, Leucan (Pediatric cancer), Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Mental Illness Foundation, Montreal Children Hospital Foundation, Portage Foundation, Dr. Julien's Foundation, Culture X Montreal Nord, Gris (demystifying homosexuality), Wapikoni mobile, and more. The figure does not include the band's most recent endeavour, a $10,000 donation and sale of Help Japan band t-shirts with all proceeds going to the Red Cross Japan earthquake/Asia Pacific tsunami relief efforts.

"Everyone who works for the Foundation are volunteers to keep overhead low," says Bouvier.

The board of directors consists of the band members — Bouvier, Comeau, bassist David Desrosiers, and guitarists Sébastien Lefebvre and Jeff Stinco — along with president André Prud'Homme, first vice-president, CIBC Wood Gundy; Comeau's father, Pierre André, who is a lawyer at the firm Dufresne Hébert Comeau; Anne Valérie Ménard, whose father Jacques, chairman of BMO Nesbitt Burns and president of BMO Financial Group, Quebec, is an honorary president of the Foundation's fundraising events; and Catherine Sharp, marketing director at Canon Canada. "We found a good team," says Bouvier.

Comeau's parents have put the events together, says Bouvier.  Foundation spokesperson Talbot tells Samaritanmag that "Up to now, the Simple Plan Foundation has organized three major events (Meet & Greet, live and silent auction, performance by Simple Plan) to profit its own Foundation, each one raising more than $125,000. Each of them was also combined with a press conference announcing its donations to different charitable organizations dedicated to helping troubled youths and sick children."

Chuck Comeau in Quebec Remparts's Hockey for CharityThe first event was a benefit brunch held at Mel's Cité du cinéma (movie studios), August 17, 2008, which was attended by Gérald Tremblay, Mayor of Montreal and Régis Labeaume, Mayor of Quebec City. The second was a show at the Metropolis, September 24, 2009, which raised $170,000, $70,000 more than the year before, says Talbot. And the third was held at the Club sportif MAA, November 14, 2010, a benefit lunch offered by five well-known Montreal restaurants and other sponsors, plus an acoustic concert by Simple Plan which raised nearly $150 000 that will be used for 2011, she says.  

"Sometimes, the Simple Plan Foundation is also participating in benefit events in partnership with other foundations, sharing the profits," adds Talbot, citing Simple Plan's appearance at a Quebec Remparts junior hockey game, back on December 20, 2008, playing for charity and performing acoustically in the middle of the rink. This past November 16, the band also appeared at a fundraiser at Beaubois College, the alma mater of the band members, except Desrosiers.

"The members of Simple Plan also occasionally participated in some events to profit charities they hold in high esteem," Talbot says. "For example, they took part in a big open-air show at Ski Bromont, on March 14 2009, to profit Leucan and they participated, on July 9 2009, in the 14th edition of the CIBC Charles-Bruneau Bicycle Tour in order to raise funds to help children with cancer. They recently made donations for Haïti and Japan.

Auction at Metropolis"I finally want to mention that organizing benefit events is not the only way for our Foundation to collect funds. Simple Plan has negotiated with the venues where they perform, whereby a percentage of the profits resulting from the sale of merchandise are automatically directed to the foundation," she says.

"Lately, [Simple Plan] has negotiated with some tour promoters an agreement where a portion of tickets sales went directly to the Foundation. The band hopes to conclude similar agreements in the future. Another kind of agreement was recently concluded with Apple, Lava/Atlantic and Warner/Chappell making ‘Save You,' a charitable single to raise money to fight cancer: global proceeds from each download of the single was donated to the Foundation."

Bouvier, whose brother beat cancer, says that all five members have "a little bit of a different opinion" on the causes that the Foundation should focus on. "That's why we give a lot to different charities," he explains. "We give to 10, 12 different charities every year. That way, there's always one or two that are more specific to a certain person [in the band]. Obviously with my brother, I've always tried to give back to cancer research and cancer support groups around Montreal that can help out people that are dealing with that kind of stuff."

The most recent fundraiser, these $20 t-shirts that feature the red sun disc from the Japanese flag in between the words "simple" and "plan" and underneath "#helpjapan," are an ongoing item. The site says it is a pre-order and will ship soon. "If they don't sell anymore, then there's no point in printing them, but I think we'll probably keep it for a while," says Bouvier. "We're saying to our fans, 'If you want a Simple Plan t-shirt, please buy this one because this one we're not taking money from it.'"

Samaritanmag.com is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.