When COVID-19 hit, the Chorus Connection team started preparing for a variety of scenarios. Like many choral organizations, we had conversations about the value we could bring to our community and how we might adapt to the changing times. We talked a lot about our fears and challenges for the choral industry. Through our conversations, we agreed that the best value we could bring during this time would be to help choruses survive this thing through every means possible.
And, so, we got to work. We started creating pandemic-related content, such as our Season Planning eBook, we sent COVID-19 resource roundups to our subscribers, and we used our online Facebook community, The Chorus Management Network, to engage in pandemic planning conversations with choral leaders from around the globe.
We reached out to umbrella choral organizations like choral consortia, Chorus America, GALA Choruses, and the Barbershop Harmony Society to co-create content and share key findings with each other as we learned more about the needs of our choral communities.
We knew that our product, our chorus management software, would be one component of helping choruses survive. After all, Chorus Connection has always been a great tool for building member communities online. And it has served an important administrative role, saving volunteers and staff time so they could focus on growing their chorus. But we also knew that finances would be tight this year so we weren't sure if Chorus Connection would make the "cut" with nonprofit budgets.
In my sales role here, I speak with community choral organizations every week to learn more about the challenges they are facing. In those conversations, I also learn why they think our product might help them solve these challenges.
I was perhaps surprised to find continual, and at times increased, interest in Chorus Connection even amidst financial uncertainties. As I learned more from my conversations with these choral leaders, I found myself(!) being more and more convinced that chorus management software was a crucial piece in helping choruses operate in COVID-19 times.
Today I share my takeaways from those conversations with you. These are only a few of the reasons choruses are still evaluating and purchasing chorus management software.
Engage and Retain Singers
In the absence of live rehearsals, choral organizations find themselves temporarily without any form of physical connection to their members. As a result, the sense of community has been partially lost, making it even more difficult to engage and retain singers.
One great way to both add value to memberships and engage singers is to set up an online members-only community — a place for your members to gather and converse digitally.
Chorus Connection does just that. Using our member directory, bulletin board, and group emails, choral leaders are able to plan fun and unique activities with their members to keep them engaged. During COVID-19 times, we've heard of choruses doing things like recipe exchanges, book clubs, guest lectures, musical games, educational classes, and online mentorship programs.
Expand Their Membership & Grow Their Community
As community choruses pivot to virtual rehearsals, they are finding that geographic distance is no longer a barrier to membership.
Because of this, choruses are beginning to restructure their membership model to make room for singers outside of their local area. One such example is the concept of "associate memberships" like that of New York City Gay Men's Chorus.
Chorus Connection enables these types of memberships. Our customers can welcome members from all over the world into their online members-only community. Plus, our advanced segmentation functionality helps choruses easily differentiate membership types and communicate and coordinate with these separate groupings accordingly.
Growing a member community in this way can help bring in revenue in the short-term and further grow a supporter base and brand awareness in the long-term.
Reengage Their Alumni
In a similar vein, with the move to virtual rehearsals and content, choral leaders are discovering new opportunities to reengage their alumni. Indeed, many are already reaching out to alumni to take part in their virtual choirs and such.
As Chorus Connection stores alumni data, customers can easily access and export alumni emails in order to send mass communications to them via an email marketing tool or similar. Of course, there's also the option to invite alumni back into the online choral community with just the click of a button. As alumni rejoin the online member community, choruses can engage their alumni in similar activities to those mentioned above.
Unfortunately, this pandemic has brought on major staffing changes for nonprofit organizations such as furloughs and layoffs. While simultaneously, choruses are spending a lot of time restructuring their business models as they're venturing into new territory. This means they're working harder with less assistance.
Because of this, choruses are finding the need to become hyperorganized and are investing in tools and software that make it easier to do their jobs. We've written extensively on what a robust chorus management tech stack should look like and chorus management software is just one piece of that puzzle.
Our time-saving features work in any rehearsal or performance scenario, whether it be virtual or in-person. Choruses can use our Calendar for coordinating both virtual or in-person rehearsals, virtual choir deadlines, and even use Event RSVPs to gauge interest in projects. They can use Music and Files to organize and disseminate music files, including those of virtual choirs, or other member files such as handbooks and waivers. They can use Attendance to track both participation in virtual events as well utilize it for contact tracing at in-person events. Most, if not all, of the features we've used pre-pandemic still serve an important role in this new world.
Implement Touchless Payments
Meanwhile, choruses are also beginning to research and identify best practices for social distancing and sanitation for future live events. Choral leaders are quickly realizing that they need to implement touchless payment methods for collecting member dues, donations, and ticket sales.
COVID-19 has created many new challenges for choral organizations. The major shift from live to online rehearsals and performances is, frankly, devastating. But we are also incredibly lucky enough to live in a time where digital connection, community, and music-making is possible — if we're willing to learn and invest in the technology to make it happen, that is.
While Chorus Connection certainly wasn't built with COVID-19 in mind, community choruses have found that it still suits their needs and helps them navigate this new world.
If you're interested in learning more about Chorus Connection, book a demo!
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.