The holidays are fast-approaching and I'm sure you're all looking forward to that much-needed break from chorus! Except you, chorus leaders. During the chorus's "downtime," you're probably working on projects that you typically don't have time for during the concert cycle. Am I right?
Brace yourselves, because I might be adding to your workload (but with the best intentions, I promise!). Here are a few things every community chorus should do over the holiday "break."
Reviews & Bonuses with Your Hired Staff
If you have hired staff, try to schedule your annual or bi-annual reviews with them in December. Recognize their achievements, their progress on previous goals, and set some new goals for the new year. If bonuses are part of your structure, the holidays are a great time to show your appreciation with holiday bonuses or gifts!
Similar to staff reviews, the holidays are a great time to check in with your volunteers. Schedule a one-on-one check-in with every volunteer or every committee chair to see how projects are coming along, ask whether they need assistance, or help plan for future.
Volunteer and Donor Appreciation
Spend the holidays taking a bit of time to recognize your volunteers and donors. A hand-written holiday card, a festive event, or a simple call to say "thank you" can go a long way.
Review Your Brand & Mission
It's important to schedule time every year to review your chorus's brand and mission statement. During the holidays, do a quick check-in with the marketing team and board to look at your chorus's mission statement and confirm that it still applies to your organization. If you find you are in need of a new mission and/or brand, start the brainstorming process for developing a new one. If you find that your mission or brand is still accurate but the organization isn't living up to its expectations, have an open conversation about what needs to happen within the organization to do so. If your mission is perfect and your organization is fulfilling its mission, then you're golden - don't touch it!
Analyze the Success of Your Marketing Team
We've already discussed how you can analyze marketing's effect on ticket sales and in our new Choral Marketing 101 ebook, we addressed how to perform a SWOT, web, and social analysis. At the end of every year, run these various reports and analyze the data. Find out which marketing channels are driving revenue, bringing the most traffic to your site, and which social media channels/posts are the most effective. Share this data with your chorus's marketing team and reallocate funding or resources to your strongest marketing channels for the spring!
Take a look at your systems - donor management, ticket sales, financial, and choir management platforms - to ensure that they are still working for the organization.
In each platform, run a report of the full year's data. Check that the data looks correct and that it has been accurately entered and maintained throughout the year. If you find inaccuracies, spend some time investigating and see if you can develop better data integrity processes for the new year.
Platforms are constantly evolving so you'll want to also spend some time reviewing any new features within the platforms to see if you can take advantage of them for your chorus.
And finally, look for ways to improve. How can you improve data entry, systems integrations, or training for the platform? Do you need a new system to replace an ineffective one? Do you need a new solution for something you've been doing manually? Always try to find ways to do what you do better. Automate, automate, automate!
Run Your Year-End and YTD Financial Reports
On the new year, run a full year-end financial report. You'll need this information for your annual tax filings. If you're mid-season, you can also use this to project the gains/loss of your organization for the remainder of the season. Use it to check your YTD expenses, ensure that your organization is on track financially, and make any adjustments to the budget as needed. Remember to share your findings with the board!
Choruses can easily fall into the trap of managing only the day-to-day chorus operations and lose sight of what lies ahead. Take a moment to look ahead to the spring and ensure that operations and marketing are on the right track. You might even wish to start planning ahead for the next season, if you haven't already!