Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Spare Change: A New Way of Giving

A local group is using music and some spare change to help charities — and filming every step of the way.




photo BY DOUGLAS DUERRING

 

In March 2017, a group won an Awesome Pittsburgh grant and did something unprecedented: They shared a portion of their $1,000 winnings with the other finalists.

Since then, Spare Change has continued the spirit of sharing the wealth, partnering with musicians, businesses and nonprofits around the region — and beyond — and proving that a little bit of money from a lot of people can make a big impact.

“We’re using music to unite businesses in support of charity,” says group founder Josh Corcoran. “Central to this idea is it can be as simple as donating some spare change and just trying to do something positive in the lives of others.”

It all started in February 2017 when Corcoran, a singer/guitarist, and drummer Pete Peters were playing an open mic night on the South Side. Afterward, they headed out into an unusually warm night and decided to busk for fun. A homeless man came by and asked for some money; they gave him everything passersby had thrown into their guitar case.

“His reaction kind of led us to want to see: What can we do with spare change?” says Corcoran. “The very next night, we went out and did it again.”

Corcoran filmed those first few nights on his phone, and the videos became the group’s first and second “episodes.” Drone pilot and aerial photographer Taylor Mantick joined them in episode 5; Mantick, Corcoran, singer/guitarist Jared Stillman and chief operating officer Allan Durrand currently make up the group.

Just before filming the third episode, where they ran into a group of girls raising money for The Education Partnership, a Pittsburgh nonprofit that provides school supplies to underserved students, the group applied for an Awesome Pittsburgh grant. In the fourth episode, they donated money to several groups and began traveling to other towns to partner with specific causes. Their 11th and most recent episode has more than 69,000 views.

Music is central to their mission; it’s how they got their start and how they are expanding their reach. For their first episode of 2018, which will debut this month, the group will travel to Barn Sanctuary, an animal haven in Michigan, owned by a friend of musician Bryce Vine. 

“We had a good relationship with the artist,” Corcoran says. “Bryce let us use his music but also said reach out to my best friend Dan [McKernan] who has a nonprofit Barn Sanctuary.”

Spare Change will film their episode at the nonprofit and partner with a business that will donate to Barn Sanctuary in the form of a sponsorship, a development to the Spare Change model they started around the 8th episode. The group typically works out an agreement with the nonprofit to divide some of the money from fundraising to cover production costs.

“What we’re trying to do is [tell sponsors], rather than spend money on marketing, reallocate those dollars and make a donation to our featured charity,” Corcoran says. “You’ll get the same level of exposure, but instead of using money for marketing you’ll be making a contribution to a worthy cause. And of course the benefit to them is they’re able to get tax deductible contributions.” 

Most of the money Spare Change has raised has come from those sponsorships, but they also encourage small donations like those that gave them their start; they use Spotfund for “crowdgiving,” which allows users to donate as little as $1. Corcoran says it’s like asking people to “throw a dollar into a digital guitar case.”

“I’m excited about this year, having all of this in place and seeing what cool things we can do with it,” Corcoran says.

Spare Change inspired another group to donate its winnings from Awesome Pittsburgh, which was founded in 2011 and awards a $1,000 grant nearly every month to an idea that’s tangible, useful or just plain awesome. 

Awesome Pittsburgh co-founder Mike Capsambelis says it’s been exciting to see how Spare Change has taken off.

“It’s really what we always hope to see with Awesome Pittsburgh grants,” he says. “We want to see people experiment with new ideas and try new things. It’s OK if not all of them turn into something, but it’s really exciting when they do.”  
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

PG&H Brings Locally Made Home Goods to Downtown

The yearlong pop-up shop on Smithfield Street features everything from wall coverings to furniture, all crafted by local makers.

Your Ultimate Holiday Guide to Family Fun in Pittsburgh

We found the must-do events you should put on your holiday bucket list this year.

A Chess Phenom at 4, Pittsburgh Teen is King of Queen's Gambit

Ashley Lynn Priore is teaching young Pittsburghers chess so that they can empower themselves and their communities.

A 9-year-old's Nonprofit is Still Giving Back 12 Years Later

Started by college student Conner Hagins when he was 9 years old, Cuddles for Kids strives to brighten up the lives of hospital patients with toys, treats and special events.

PM on KD: Our December "Faith" Issue

Pittsburgh Magazine editor Brian Hyslop appeared on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to discuss our December cover story on what local faith leaders say is how best to move forward in the wake of the Tree of Life tragedy.

Meet Pitt's Soft-Spoken Professor Who Writes Crime Novels

Writer Kathleen George’s sinister mysteries have created a dark, alternate Pittsburgh. In her latest, however, the heyday of the Hill District is brought to life.

Yes, Virginia, Christmas is Preserved and Restored in Oakmont

The volunteer-run Kerr Museum offers tours on Saturdays — with a festive twist for the holidays.

Catching Up With Rivendale Farms Susanna Meyer and Neil Stauffer

The two foundational figures of Pittsburgh's sustainable farming movement blend old-school know-how with forward-thinking practices at the Washington County farm.

MultiStories: Three Times a Bust – The German National Bank

The bank was at the center of a corruption scandal which eventually led to an overhaul of Pittsburgh city government.

Matters of the Heart

In a city of eds and meds, it’s to be expected that some couples are going to meet in the medical field. We found some of the best “meet-cutes” from recent Pittsburgh weddings.

At Scene75, Be a Kid (or Bring Your Kids)

The entertainment center in Edgewood is a great time with or without little ones.

Pitt Attaches Old-School Signature to Narduzzi’s Championship Prediction

Thanks to wide receivers recognized for their blocking ability and an offensive line endearingly referred to as “knuckleheads“ –– the Panthers are one win away from making their head coach's bold pre-season prediction a reality.

Pittsburgh Restaurant News: Reduced Hours and a Chef Change

Two Oakland restaurants now have shorter hours and a chef moves from Downtown to Lawrenceville.

What Unites Us In the Wake of the Tree of Life Tragedy

We asked local faith leaders for their response to the massacre at Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill –– and how we can come together and more forward as a community.

Pittsburgh Restaurant Review: Molinaro Ristorante

Ron Molinaro's Downtown restaurant offers high-end Italian dishes made with top-notch ingredients, but is it worth the price premium?
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Your Ultimate Holiday Guide to Family Fun in Pittsburgh

Your Ultimate Holiday Guide to Family Fun in Pittsburgh

We found the must-do events you should put on your holiday bucket list this year.

Comments

PM on KD: Our December "Faith" Issue

PM on KD: Our December "Faith" Issue

Pittsburgh Magazine editor Brian Hyslop appeared on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to discuss our December cover story on what local faith leaders say is how best to move forward in the wake of the Tree of Life tragedy.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pittsburgh Restaurant News: Reduced Hours and a Chef Change

Pittsburgh Restaurant News: Reduced Hours and a Chef Change

Two Oakland restaurants now have shorter hours and a chef moves from Downtown to Lawrenceville.

Comments

How to Shop Like a Pro for Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh

How to Shop Like a Pro for Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh

Our guide to produce, pastries, libations and more will help your table brim with tasty treats from Pittsburgh-area businesses.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Fitness: Five Great Trails to Run in the Fall in Pittsburgh

Fitness: Five Great Trails to Run in the Fall in Pittsburgh

Don’t resign yourself to the gym treadmills just yet – fall is one of the best times of the year to get outside and pound the pavement, surrounded by falling leaves and the possibility of grabbing a hot latte on the way home.

Comments

Love Sourdough? Find the Best There Is at These Five Bake Shops

Love Sourdough? Find the Best There Is at These Five Bake Shops

We dove into the local artisan bread scene to find the best places that bake naturally leavened bread in Pittsburgh.

Comments


At Scene75, Be a Kid (or Bring Your Kids)

At Scene75, Be a Kid (or Bring Your Kids)

The entertainment center in Edgewood is a great time with or without little ones.

Comments

Five Essential November Events in Pittsburgh

Five Essential November Events in Pittsburgh

Avian art, altruistic alt-rock and more November nights.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pitt Attaches Old-School Signature to Narduzzi’s Championship Prediction

Pitt Attaches Old-School Signature to Narduzzi’s Championship Prediction

Thanks to wide receivers recognized for their blocking ability and an offensive line endearingly referred to as “knuckleheads“ –– the Panthers are one win away from making their head coach's bold pre-season prediction a reality.

Comments

Steelers Have Changed the Narrative in Dramatic Fashion

Steelers Have Changed the Narrative in Dramatic Fashion

A defense that was groping to accomplish the simplest of tasks has started to dominate. The offense has stopped getting in its own way and started exploding scoreboards.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

The 400-Word Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

While Harry Potter diehards will find more than enough sustenance in the sequel, non-devotees may have a rough time following the action.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The 400-Word Review: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Coen Brothers' western anthology is less than the sum of its parts, but it boasts some great tales.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Matters of the Heart

Matters of the Heart

In a city of eds and meds, it’s to be expected that some couples are going to meet in the medical field. We found some of the best “meet-cutes” from recent Pittsburgh weddings.

Comments

‘X’ Marks the Spot for This Wedding Scavenger Hunt

‘X’ Marks the Spot for This Wedding Scavenger Hunt

She thought she was going on a simple scavenger hunt. She never dreamed it would end with a wedding.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
PG&H Brings Locally Made Home Goods to Downtown

PG&H Brings Locally Made Home Goods to Downtown

The yearlong pop-up shop on Smithfield Street features everything from wall coverings to furniture, all crafted by local makers.

Comments

Schoolhouse Electric Brings Hip Lighting, Coffee, to Pittsburgh

Schoolhouse Electric Brings Hip Lighting, Coffee, to Pittsburgh

The Portland, Ore-based lighting and furnishings store, which shares space with a high-end coffeehouse from the team behind The Vandal restaurant, is located in East Liberty's Detective Building.

Comments