When Metallica met with professor, philanthropist and new acquaintance Dr. Edward H. Frank in 2017 to consult on its new All Within My Hands (AWMH) charitable foundation, Frank advised the heavy metal titans to “do no harm” by steering clear of potentially contentious causes.
“I didn’t want to do something where we were trying to do good but unintentionally caused something to [reflect badly on] the band,” he tells Billboard. He cites as a recent example the backlash wealthy donors received from people who accused them of exploiting the Notre Dame Cathedral fire tragedy for the sake of their own image. But drummer Lars Ulrich — whose band has weathered its share of controversies — wasn’t fazed. “[He] was like, ‘Nah, we’ve been through that stuff,'” recalls Frank. “‘Don’t worry about it.'”
Frank is now executive director of the nine-member AWMH board, which includes Tony DiCioccio, who oversees everything tour-related; Marc Reiter, who handles the band’s creative functions; and Vickie Strate, who manages Metallica’s digital properties and fan club. (None of the members are paid, but associate director Renee Richardson receives a salary.) According to Frank, AWMH has raised approximately $7 million to date through band and board member donations and external gifts, and has allocated over $2 million in grants.
Metallica agreed that Frank’s “do no harm” advice should define its charitable work. The 2-year-old organization focuses on causes like workforce education and the fight against hunger, an extension of Metallica’s prior efforts: For over two decades, the band has donated a portion of ticket sales from every North American and European tour to food banks. “We’ve been working with local promoters and having them research who would benefit the most,” Strate tells Billboard.
Strate came up with the idea for AWMH’s Day of Service, which will take place for the second year on May 22 at food banks across the country. “When we were talking about the mission of the foundation, it was really important to the band that fans be involved,” explains Strate. “We wanted people to feel like they could touch it without feeling like they needed to make a donation. That led logically to volunteerism.” Supporters can sign up through the organization’s website to volunteer at their local food banks, where they may run into Ulrich, guitarists James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett or bassist Robert Trujillo, all of whom also volunteer. By posting about their experience on social media, participants are then entered in a contest to win memorabilia.
In 2018, AWMH invited 25 food banks (and 1,000 volunteers) to participate in the Day of Service. This year, working with hunger relief institution Feeding America, AWMH has doubled that number. “I’ve gone to concerts, and you get blown away by how passionate people are about this,” says Frank. “We wanted a way to harness that passion.”