Monday, January 29, 2024

Changing your choir members’ payment system

I wrote an earlier post about different choir payment systems: Pay as you go or regular fee upfront – what is the best system for singers in your choir?

What if you want to change from one system to another? How can you make it as pain-free and simple as possible?

I’ve already considered the pros and cons of the two main choir payment methods: pay as you go (PAYG) and lump sum in advance.

As your choir develops and grows you might think about changing the payment method you currently use.

For example, a new choir might start out as PAYG whilst it attracts members. You don’t want to put people off at an early stage. You want to allow people to try out the new choir without too much commitment.

But over time, a new choir will settle down and start to develop a regular (and hopefully growing) membership. You might end up doing more performances and more complex songs, both of which require more of a regular commitment from choir members. If singers can drop in and out whenever they choose, it can make rehearsals more difficult.

Moving from PAYG to a lump sum payment can upset some people. But it may also mean that poor, irregular attenders will either quit or start to come more regularly.

Paying a lump sum in advance is like buying your place in the choir. You may not be able to make every single rehearsal, but your place is guaranteed (otherwise someone on the waiting list can have it!).

Moving from one system to another might be difficult for those on a low income. Paying a small amount each week can be more manageable than having to fork out a lump sum at the beginning of each term.

If you do decide to move to a lump sum system, you need to make sure that you don’t exclude anyone. You might want to offer singers the option of paying in instalments (one of my singers used to pay each half of the term separately). You could also offer tiered membership: discounted rates for those on lower incomes, plus the option to pay an ‘enhanced’ rate for those who can afford it (thus subsidising some of the poorer members).

Make sure you have a clear and simple method of payment. Some choirs ask members to set up a standing order from their bank. Others might allow PayPal or bank transfer before term starts. Whichever method(s) you choose, ensure that it’s accessible for everyone.

However you decide to manage the change in payment method, you need to give your singers plenty of advance notice and an opportunity to speak to someone in private if they are having financial difficulties.

It’s rare that a choir will move from a lump sum in advance method to PAYG, but it is possible. This will probably be less painful for choir members, but will increase admin. Again, you need to let singers have plenty of notice.

Chris Rowbury


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