Prince’s secret, but fierce, philanthropy

Prince spent his life supporting good causes. But we only found out about it after he died.

The day after Prince passed away, his friend Van Jones gave an emotional interview on TV. He told the world that Prince’s musical genius was only part of the story: “the world needs to know that it wasn't just the music”. Prince was passionate about a range of social causes, including access to clean energy. “There are people who have solar panels right now on their houses in Oakland, California, that don't know Prince paid for them.”

That was through Jones’ Green for All programme. It enabled young people to get involved in clean energy by training them to install solar panels in their neighbourhoods. As Jones later told Rolling Stone in an interview about Prince: "He's trying to create something that everybody can dance to. Politically, poor kids putting up solar panels? Everybody can dance to that.”

According to his ex-wife Manuela Testolini, Prince was a “fierce philanthropist." He supported a whole host of good causes - community gardens, food banks, arts festivals, racial justice, women’s shelters, coding education, all sorts.

When he arrived in town to do a show, he didn’t just bring music. He’d pile up boxes for a local food bank. If it was cold, he’d run a coat drive. He showed his support for women’s rights with plenty of strong women in his bands, and he licensed his song "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" to girls attending an empowerment conference for young women in Minneapolis - something he didn’t do lightly!  

Why keep it a secret? It’s not totally clear, According to Testolini, Prince didn’t want his fame to overshadow the cause he was working for. He wanted the work to be the focus, not him. But he was keen that people took action themselves. As Testolini puts it: "He really wanted to wake people up."

So we’re heeding Van Jones’ call to action - the world does need to know it was more than the music. We’re taking him as an inspiration, but also remembering that it’s all about us taking action ourselves.

That’s why we’re fundraising £30,000 to put solar panels on the roofs of six inspirational organisations working for a better world. They’ll cut their energy bills - meaning they can spend more on their amazing work - and cut carbon while they’re at it. Now that’s something we hope Prince would have been proud of. Will you join us in honouring Prince’s legacy?