One of the most challenging aspects of charity work is getting the word out. Even in the era of social media, it is difficult to reach people and convince them to support a cause, especially during a global pandemic. Yet, music has the power to bring people together during divisive times. Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans found a way to fuse music and charity together. By hosting concerts around the world, he has raised billions of dollars in the fight against global poverty.
Now 37, Hugh Evans was born in Melbourne, Australia. His goal in life is to eradicate global poverty completely, and he is confident that he can do it. Evans believes that people created poverty and that people can destroy it. In an interview for the Sydney Morning Herald, Evans noted that there are more than 2,000 billionaires in the world. If they each gave as much as Bill and Melinda Gates give, poverty would cease to exist completely. Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, “could do it on his own.” But most billionaires are not pitching in enough, or at all. So, Evans calls for systematic change by engaging governments, corporations and ordinary non-billionaires.
In 1997, 14-year-old Hugh Evans went on a World Vision trip to the Philippines and saw extreme poverty first-hand. An extremely poor family hosted him. They slept on a concrete roof and had little to offer him besides a straw mat. Lying on that mat, watching cockroaches crawl around him, Evans realized that something needed to change. It was then that he decided to commit his life to ending poverty.
After returning from the Philippines, Evans earned a scholarship to study at an international school in India. There, he learned even more about global culture, language and poverty. He spent weekends doing charitable work in nearby slums or at a branch of Mother Theresa’s charity. Evans even took a gap year after high school to work with HIV/AIDS orphans in South Africa. By the time he was 20, he had a much more personal understanding of global poverty than most middle-class Australians will ever have.
In 2006 and 2007, as a university student, Evans organized the Make Poverty History concerts in Australia, featuring Bono, the Edge and Eddie Vedder. Those concerts introduced him to the idea that celebrities could harness real power in the mission to end poverty. Since then, he graduated from Monash University with a science/law degree, got his master’s in international relations and founded Global Citizen. Through this organization, he has coordinated many more concerts around the world, including Together at Home, the live-streamed concerts during the COVID-19 quarantine. Rather than buying tickets, concert-goers must earn them by taking actions as members of Global Citizen. They can do so by signing petitions, contacting world leaders and taking quizzes to educate oneself about global poverty. These may seem like small feats, but advocacy and education are some of the most powerful weapons against global poverty.
Always a hard worker, Evans often endures long days and sleepless nights to organize charitable events, often under short notice. When COVID-19 began reaching countries that already struggle to meet healthcare needs, Evans and his team immediately started planning the Together at Home concert, which they were able to organize in just three weeks.
Inspiring Future Progress
In a world with constantly changing interests and opportunities, nonprofit organizations must work hard to continue attracting attention and fundraising effectively. Hugh Evans’s first-hand experience with poverty has successfully raised billions of dollars towards the fight against global poverty, and he is only 37-years-old. His establishment of Global Citizen is one of the most prominent triumphs in helping impoverished people all around the world. Not only does the organization provide the necessities for survival, but it also gives impoverished communities the tools to bring themselves and others out of poverty. It may have started on a straw mat in the Philippines, but Evans’s optimism and diligence have reached across borders and will continue to support the dignity, compassion and humanity necessary to end global poverty.
– Levi Reyes