Remember during Christmas 1984 when everyone got the 45, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" recorded by Band Aid? Profits from the record raised money for famine relief in Ethiopia.
The single was quickly followed by the American version, "We Are The World," in the spring of 1985. It also raised money for famine relief in Africa.
Below are some recent examples I found of proceeds from songs, or CDs benefiting a cause or nonprofit. I'd love to hear your examples too.
1. The album Instant Karma, a collection of John Lennon remakes by artists like U2, Ben Harper, and R.E.M., raises money for Amnesty's Darfur work.
2. Dark Was The Night will be released on February 17th to raise money for Red Hot, an organization, "dedicated to fighting AIDS through pop culture." (Thanks @abfdc for the tip). They've produced 14 other albums featuring every genre of music from country, to jazz, to Bossa Nova.
3. Putamayo World Music donates to a range of nonprofits.
4. For each (free) download of Peter Buffett's Christmas album, Star of Wonder, Amie Street and The Robin Hood Foundation will donate enough money to feed 15 people through The Food Bank of New York.
5. Satchmo.com has a list of 35 Hurricane Katrina Benefit CDs.
6. Proceeds from SERVE3: The Hard Rock Benefit Album will benefit WHY (World Hunger Year). There is also a SERVE2 CD, and a SERVE CD.
7. Hopeless Records, in partnership with its nonprofit, Sub City, will release an 8th benefit CD in conjunction with its Take Action Tour. DoSomething.org will receive 10% of the ticket sale proceeds, and 5% of the suggested retail price for each Take Action! Volume 8 CD.
8. In 2004, Band Aid 20 re-recorded, "Do They Know It's Christmas," to fund famine relief in Darfur.
9. Just heard about one more: If you download Jennifer Hudson's Super Bowl rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" from iTunes, the proceeds will go to the Hudson-King Foundation, "a charity Hudson co-founded in the wake of the murders to provide counseling and other needs for families who lost a loved one to a violent crime."