Monday, July 10, 2017

Beyond the usual suspects – how to get choir members to volunteer for supporting roles

Last week I wrote about how to sustain your choir as it grows and develops.


This week I will look at how you can persuade choir members to volunteer to help run your choir.

It is often the case that the creative heart and 'flavour' of any choir is the musical director. You join a choir because you share the passion and vision of the choir leader. This can have its downsides though as we shall see next week (see Do everything you can to support your choir leader — they're the only one you've got!)

However, musical directors don't always have the time or administrative skills to deal with the day-to-day running of the choir, hence volunteers are called upon from within the choir - whether formally as a committee or just as an ad hoc group.

It's true of ANY amateur organisation that it's often the same people who step up when help is needed (and even in some professional ones!). Over time either they begin to take control (which can be a bad thing) or they get tired of doing it (which is also a bad thing).

It’s very easy for choir members to sit back and get used to things being done for them. Also, many singers have demanding day jobs and come to choir because they can relinquish their responsibilities. So it’s a bit of an uphill battle trying to interest new volunteers.

A few possibilities spring to mind.

  • headhunt potential candidates for the organising group/ volunteer helpers. They don't have to formally be on the committee but can have a single clearly-defined role. As the choir grows and new members join, there will inevitably be fresh energy and singers bringing new skills. Either get a few people to keep their eyes out, or hand out a simple questionnaire to find out what skills singers can bring to the organising. See also Ask not what your choir can do for you – ask what you can you do for your choir
  • take it in turns – create a mechanism whereby long-standing choir members take turns at being on the committee. Maybe shorten the length they’re on it to one term? Make it clear (handout?) to the choir what the work involves and how it's not THAT onerous. The side-effect of this is that choir members will feel more ownership of the choir.
  • make it a condition of joining your choir. When a new member joins present them with a list of ways in which they can help out. For new members this might just be something simple and practical like setting chairs out. When they’ve been in the choir for a while, they might want to take on something more challenging.
I’m sure there are plenty of other ideas out there. How do you persuade those who are backwards in coming forwards? Do you have difficulties getting different people to help run your choir? Do let us know.

Next week I'll be looking at how having a unique and dynamic choir leader can make your choir vulnerable.

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Chris Rowbury



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