Continuing on in our membership management blog series, we're chatting today about how to utilize your members to grow the chorus.
We know that your members are the key to growing your chorus.
And, we've established that we must first invest and add value to our singers' memberships before asking them to take on more work.
Now, let's talk about what you can ask your singers to do and how to best utilize them in your efforts to grow the chorus.
Create a Culture of Volunteerism
Getting your singers to help you grow the chorus is going to take more than just asking them. You'll need to build volunteerism directly into the chorus culture so that your singers know what they will be expected to do and will be inspired to do so.
So, how do you do this?
Document the Expectations
Write down a list of chorister expectations as it pertains to volunteerism and helping to grow the chorus. What is the chorus hoping to achieve in growing the chorus? How much time is a singer expected to give the organization? What types of things will they be asked to do? How will these asks be communicated? How can a singer best accomplish these asks?
Share The Expectations
Once you have your expectations documented, you'll want to share this with not only your current singers but potential singers as well.
Include this information on your "join us" or "auditions" page of your website, your member handbook, and your members-only site.
Ask For A Commitment
For new singers - on the audition and/or new member inquiry form on your website, ask the singer which skills they can bring to the table and how much volunteer time they can dedicate to the chorus. Link to the expectations documented above.
When auditioning new singers, talk to them about these expectations. Highlight the value and benefits they will receive as a member and elaborate on the expectations for volunteerism. Before accepting them as a new member, ask them if they are willing to commit to the culture and expectations.
For returning singers - highlight any changes you make in the member handbook about singer expectations and ask them to sign a commitment form stating that they have read and understand these expectations. If possible, you may also wish to speak to each singer individually about the changes.
Remind Your Singers
Throughout the season, remind your singers about the importance of their volunteer efforts.
Your chorus leaders should be at the front and center leading the volunteer charge and should inspire other singers to follow suit. Ask them to commit to the culture themselves and to speak about it during rehearsal announcements (as much as needed).
Remind your singers by showing them the impact their volunteer efforts have had. Recognize these efforts throughout the year using some of the ideas I've listed below.
Focus on One Ask & Keep it Organized
Now that you've established a culture of volunteerism, it should be a lot easier to make the ask.
There are a lot of things we could ask our singers to do for the chorus. When it comes to growing the chorus though, there are really four types of asks we make:
- Buy tickets (or ask your network, such as friends and family, to buy tickets)
- Donate (or ask your network to donate)
- Volunteer time (or ask your network to volunteer time)
- Enhance the musical quality (by recruiting new singers and/or better preparing the music)
When asking your singers to do something, it's important not to overwhelm them with options. Try to keep your asks organized and focus on only one of these asks at a time.
If you have a members-only site or group, put their primary "to-do" front-and-center on the dashboard, main page, or bulletin board.
If you send announcements via email, have a section of your email dedicated to making these types of asks and for recognizing achievements throughout the year.
Essentially, you'll want to ensure that singers can easily find what they are being asked to do.
Make it Super Easy For Them to Do
Any time you ask a member to do something for the chorus, you should provide them with the resources to make their job as easy as possible.
If you want your members to ask their friends and family to buy tickets for a concert, create the email text and graphics for them and have them forward it along (instead of asking them to draft the email).
If you want your members to start a Facebook fundraiser for your chorus, send them instructions on how to do that, or, even better, bring your laptop to rehearsal and set it up with them.
If you want your singers to solicit donations from their friends and family, give them helpful tips for "making the ask."
It's their job to do the task and the chorus leadership's job to make that task as painless as possible.
Recognize, Appreciate, and Even Incentivize
In the past, I've written about the many ways to appreciate your volunteers. It's also important to recognize, appreciate, and even incentivize your members. This will help ingrain volunteerism into the chorus culture and will make your members feel great about the work they are doing.
Here are a few ideas to recognize your most engaged members:
- Send thank you notes.
- Waive dues or member fees.
- Member-of-the-month or -year award.
- Highlight them on your members-only site.
- Showcase them on your marketing channels (social media, website, email marketing, video, etc.).
- Give comp tickets to them.
- Nominate them for volunteer awards in your community.
- Nominate them into a chorus leadership position.
- Give them a shoutout at the annual meeting.
- Place member shoutouts in your email announcements or internal bulletin board.
- Create certificates or awards for them.
- Host a thank you party for them.
- Continue to add value to their membership through any of the ways listed in this article.
As I've mentioned, it's incredibly important to first add value and invest in your members before asking them to take on additional work. Build volunteerism into your chorus culture, make your asks, recognize your members along the way, and watch your chorus grow and thrive!
Tori Cook is the former Director of Sales & Marketing at Chorus Connection, an active board member of the Greater Boston Choral Consortium, and a soprano with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. In a past life, she was the Music Director of the Harborlight Show Chorus and President of Chorus pro-Musica. When not making music, she daydreams about adopting a golden retriever puppy and scuba diving to exotic locations around the world.