Built to Last — 2017 Year-End Update

Our annual meeting is upon us.

This means sifting through proposals, following up on tips from the smart folks in our network, and thinking about how our resources can best be used. This means a lot of back-and-forth on the phone and email, banging our heads against the question that all of us ask this time of year: How do we make good on our promise to change the world just a little bit for the better?

First, here’s an update on where we’ve been. We are 25 years into this. And it feels good to say we have invested well over $2 million, at a steady clip of almost $100,000 a year, to causes near and dear to our hearts—and yours. Starting with a donation from Bobby in 1990, the Furthur Foundation has walked a wide path with groups working on everything from wolves to toxic waste, migratory birds to bank boycotts, music education to marriage equality.

What makes this possible is people like you. Each step of the way, friends have pitched in as best they can. Why? Because they like the way we work. All volunteer, minimal overhead—every penny goes straight to the people doing the work. This means almost all the heavy lifting at Furthur, from the lawyer who keeps us legal to the financial adviser who handles donations of appreciated stock (and makes sure you get that tax deduction), to the accountants, researchers, and social media mavens—they are all in it for the planet.

They also like the way we think. Working together for 25 years means we have a lot of experience, a wide network, and a deep bench. We know a good cause, a good strategy, and a good team when we see it. We stay up on the issues, watch where the dollars go, and pick winners, as best we can.

Enough about us. What about you? What might a partnership with us look like? For some, it’s as simple as making a donation through our Facebook page. For others, it’s sending a check (mailing address to the right). For still others, it’s providing a gift of appreciated stock, which not only provides value to Furthur Foundation, but also significant tax benefits to donors.

However you may choose to support us, we are truly, deeply, profoundly grateful!

Thanks for all you do…


2016 Furthur Foundation Grantees

2016 Furthur Foundation Grantees

Say hello to our 2016 grantees. We are amazed at all the great work going on in the world. 2016 was the year that Bobby and Natascha Weir and Andre Carothers (and their kids), along with Mountain Girl and the rest of the Furthur board became very interested in food, in immigration, and in providing opportunities for young people in the Bay Area to experience wild nature. And we continued to show support for friends and family like Wavy Gravy, the Grateful Dead Archive at UCSC, and our past Furthur grantees who are defending charismatic megafauna.

Click through to learn more about them. And, by all means, throw your support to the ones you like.

Asian Immigrant Women’s Advocates

Brothers on the Rise

Camp WinnaRainbow

Extra Food

Food Shift

Friends of the Clearwater


The Global Muslim Climate Network

Grateful Dead Library

Health Initiatives for Youth

Homeless Garden Project

Indigenous Environmental Network
Pipeline Fighters “March to Give Keystone XL the Boot”

The Kitchen

Momentum Community

MPower Change

Mujueres Unida Y Activas

Pegasus Voyages

Sierra Harvest

The Snow Leopard Conservancy

Urban Bird Foundation

Fresh Family Thinking

Scanning for good opportunities to do good, recognizing social change entrepreneurs, and providing focused support at the right moment (and then getting out the way) is an art and a science. Like any investment strategy, it requires a combination of experience (pattern recognition), instinct, and basic research and networking.

The Furthur Foundation wants to pass this practice on to friends and family (so we started with family).

When Andre Carothers suggested we bring in our kids (or the relational equivalent), the room lit up. Bobby and Natascha in particular. Monet, Chloe, Trevor and Gabriel were on hand a month later to begin the process of looking at projects and thinking through how to be of service.

It’s all in the family…

The best part was watching all the veterans try to explain their thinking to the teenagers. It turns out we had lots of different approaches—all synced up, after a quarter-century of doing this together, in a way that was basically invisible, particularly to us. — Mountain Girl

The teenagers had opinions, it turns out. Powerful ones.

Says Andre, “I brought a project I thought would be well-received, and I made the case to the group. There was some polite back and forth, and then Monet said, simply and directly, that she didn’t get it, and she didn’t think her friends would either. She preferred doing something much more direct. Gabriel agreed, and then Trevor fell in line, and we realized that they were right.”

Fresh eyes, fresh thinking. We are back on our toes again, it seems.

2015 Furthur Foundation Grantees

Furthur Foundation 2015 Grantees

Say hello to our 2015 grantees. We are amazed at all the great work going on in the world.

We particularly loved these folks.

Click through to learn more about them.

And, by all means, throw your support to the ones you like.

We’ll be sharing more news about them in the months ahead. Subscribe to our email list to stay in the loop.

Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA or Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense)

California Wolf Center 

Camp Winnarainbow

Cheza Nami Foundation

Circle of Hearts Foundation

Coaching for Change

Conservation Imaging, Inc. Guatemala Land Conservation Project

Food Shift

Generative Somatics

Girl Ventures

Grateful Dead Archive

Hidden Genius Project

New Harvest


Pegasus Voyages

Project Equity

Social Transformation Project

Survival International

Refugee Transitions

“The Box” — A Play About Solitary Confinement. World Premiere (Z Space, 7/7/16)

The Universal Income Project



Our 2015 Investment Thesis

As we get ready for this year’s board meeting, here are some notes I shared with the board about the current group of potential grantees.

To: Ray, MG, Bob, Chris, GregFurthur Foundation Board Members
From: Andre
Re: 2015 Docket

I am very much looking forward to seeing you all this week. This list of great groups is a result of the usual combination of interests and strategies that have guided our work for years. As you all know, we:

  1. Look for leverage. With a small amount of money to give away, it’s important to find projects that have smaller budgets, and projects that propose to tackle a social problem in an innovative way, help generate other resources to bring to bear on the effort, or otherwise produce outsize results (in relation to the resources available). I think you’ll see many organizations that fit that profile.
  2. Respond to current events. You will note that there is a project related to refugees who are arriving in the Bay Area from the Middle East and need support of all kinds.
  3. Respond to larger societal trends. Economic disparity, joblessness, and the hollowing out of the middle and lower classes are large-scale economic trends that foundations like ours must respond to. You will see projects that relate to addressing these problems, including an exploration of a guaranteed minimum income and worker-owned cooperatives. In the same way, the transformation of society through technology means that we looking at two groups that help train people of color in software development and related business skills.
  4. Love charismatic megafauna. Saving and reintroducing wolves, bears, owls and other creatures at the top of the food chain has an enormous ripple effect on large environments, and is something that we have supported for years.
  5. Support training, leadership and self-care for the social change sector. Organizations that develop skills and provide other types of support for the good people who are doing social change work are by definition, if executed well, high leverage funding opportunities.
  6. Appreciate groups that stay in touch. As always, we are responsive to organizations that check in. If they remember us, report back to us, and make a good case for their work, we know they are likely well-run, viable enterprises who treat all their customers well.
  7. Love the arts and the outdoors, particularly efforts with a social mission. We are looking at supporting a play about solitary confinement that includes actors who are ex-prisoners, a group that teaches high school kids how to build businesses around their music, and a team that is rebuilding an old sailboat that takes inner-city kids sailing around the bay.

That is our “investment thesis” for this year.

Looking forward to seeing you all next week, and thanks for all you do…


June 2015 Furthur Foundation Newsletter

Here’s our June 2015 newsletter, as sent to subscribers. Not on the list yet? Sign up now, using the form on the right!

Hey there, Furthur Foundation friends!

Okay, so there’s a lot going on. We’ve got the shows in Chicago and Santa Clara; the largest and most elaborate release ever of Grateful Dead music (an 80-CD box set featuring a show from each of the band’s 30 years); Bob’s Netflix documentary; the Scorsese-produced film on the Dead (will they be filming in Chicago? opinions differ); and the ongoing musicmaking of Messrs. Weir, Lesh, Hart, and Kreutzmann. 50 years in, and the music never stops.

Wouldn’t you know that the Furthur Foundation board of directors is likewise on top of its game, working in technology, start-ups, the arts, music promotion, and the dream job of finding and making grants to the people and organizations that are changing the world.

Furthur Foundation TshirtThis is where you come in.

Bob and the team sat down this spring to design a t-shirt for the summer shows (and beyond), so you can wear our colors with pride, and look good while doing good. It’s a reissue of a shirt that Furthur Foundation board members and friends wore more than 25 years ago. The front side is a dignified and cool Furthur Foundation license-plate badge at about lapel level. And the back, of course, is the bus itself.

This reissue of our classic shirt is a limited-run production. The campaign ends on Sunday, June 14th, so if you want one (or more!) act fast.

Get the T-Shirt!

We’re working with Teespring to print the design on high-quality t-shirts from American Apparel and Bella, and we have sizes and styles for every shape, gender, and life form. All profits from the sale of this shirt directly support Furthur Foundation grantees. Like everything we do, no one here takes a cut. All donate their time to make sure the money moves directly to the good people that we’ve discovered doing fantastic work for the planet.

When you buy a t-shirt, you’re really giving a boost to a grove of trees, a coral reef, or a kid in need.

Remember, this is a limited production run — you MUST ORDER by Sunday, June 14th.

We’re so glad you’re on this list, and hope to see you pitching in when you can. It’s important to understand who’s doing the good work, why they’re doing it, and how we can all help.

Happy summer, good people, from your team at the foundation…

♥ Bobby, Mountain Girl, Andre, Chris, Greg, Ray & Mark ♥

Climb Aboard the Email Bus

Weir Looking At YouI’m looking at you…that’s right, YOU.

Want to stay up to speed on what we’re up to at the Furthur Foundation? Want to learn about opportunities to help further our work? Just fill out the handy form to the right to subscribe to our email list and you’ll be along for the ride. While you’re at it, check us out on Facebook and Twitter and like/follow us there, too.

We promise to never ever share your details with anyone else.

Thanks in advance for subscribing/liking/following. Much appreciated!

Photo by Dave Stotts Photography.


Barbara Whitestone … Fare Thee Well

Barbara Whitestone15 years ago Barbara Whitestone approached me, after we met through friends in Grateful Dead circles, and asked if I wanted to help her run the Furthur Foundation. I said yes, of course, and we began a powerful collaboration that lasted a decade.

It is impossible to speak of her, or anyone like her, in the past tense. I know she agrees, and would argue the point with her trademark passion and conviction. Energy persists, she would say (particularly hers, I would say).

She is, among her many qualities, hard-nosed, sensitive, opinionated, loving, a whirlwind of energy, and a taproot into the inky blackness. She understands the infrastructure, in both (all three?) realms. She has one foot in the spirit world, and another so firmly on the ground that it is hard for me—a narrower vessel—to reconcile these poles. She contains multitudes, and no one who knows her begrudges her any of them. A rare treat, the totality of Barbara Whitestone, for us and the world.

I know she hears this. Send her some love.