guidelines respective to your type of organization to ensure you are not off to a bad start with the IRS. NOLO features many resources on their website to help guide inquiring organizations on how to achieve nonprofit status ( legal-encyclopedia/forming-nonprofit- corporation-alabama-36041.html).

Limit Your Purchases New non-profit organizations typically have minimal, if any, start-up funds. Therefore, you must utilize expenses wisely; it is tempting to want all of the shiniest toys and tools for a choir; but, remember that the only items required to be a successful choir are a space to rehearse, music, and voices. We selected half of our fall repertoire for Alabama Voices from the Choral Public Domain Library (CPDL) to minimize our costs. We also required members to purchase their music for the selections that were not in the public domain.

Utilize Your Resources

Our board decided from the first meeting that we wanted to maximize the resources available to us. While we did pay to rent our initial rehearsal space, all subsequent rehearsals were held at Hoover High School, which was offered to us free of charge by our Member at Large who is one of the choir directors at Hoover. I highly recommended asking for help from your members. While it may be difficult to expect volunteer members to give you their trust from the beginning, it is important to be as open and transparent with them about all of the workings of the board. Find out if anyone has experience writing grants and make it part of your financial committee to seek out opportunities to take in money for overhead costs.

Search for Applicable Grants There are many different foundations that offer grants for a vast variety of organizations. Chorus Connection offers some free resources to choral organizations searching for grants including a list of grants by state, grants by region, and national grant opportunities 1000-grants-for-community-choruses). From my experience, most federal funds require that non-profit organizations acquire 501(c)(3) federal tax exemption status to be eligible for award money. If your organization is eligible for 501(c)(3) status, I highly recommended that you complete the application process to procure financial aid that will help sustain your program. Many grant agencies offer project funding grants, which is valuable for any educational outreach, service project, commissioning project, professional development, or clinic that you plan to offer. There are also grants such as the Mockingbird Foundation that even award money for overhead ( Note that most grant agencies require your organization to exist for at least two years before you are eligible to apply. Some grants, like the National Endowment for the Arts, only offer matching grants. Tasking our Development Committee with seeking out grant opportunities is another way we delegate work, utilize our resources and give ownership to members.

Getting Organized The most grueling part of the process was completing all of the paperwork required to become a non-profit organization. A fee is required, and because there are many stipulations about finances for non-profits, it is crucial to handle this fee carefully. The paperwork required is not difficult to complete, but somewhat tedious. Creating a purpose and drafting by-laws for a

constitution can be daunting, but with an active, high-functioning Board and strong community support, it is completely manageable.

Delegate Delegating well is a useful skill set for organizing tasks to complete the large amount of paperwork required to apply for nonprofit status. Fortunately, our outstanding treasurer Rebecca Rogers was well organized, and the Board divvied up the responsibilities. We were required to establish an initial set of bylaws to govern how the group would continue to function for years to come. We used a template created by Nonprofit Ally ( nonprofit/articles-of-incorporation) to ensure we had all of the business legalese required by the state, and also to ensure that we did not leave out anything relevant and vital to the purpose of our group. The Board apportioned the articles and we each selected two for initial drafting, followed by a Board meeting at which we meticulously reviewed every word to collectively finalize how we wanted each article verbalized.

Plan Rehearsals Every level of teaching requires planning to present thoughtful, clear, and effective instruction. A statewide group like Alabama Voices that require members to travel from all parts of the state must meet much more infrequently than traditional community music ensembles. We meet monthly on the third Sunday barring any holidays that may cause us to shift our rehearsal date. For us, inefficiency is not an option. Having an inefficient rehearsal could delay musical progress and damage the group’s motivation. The Board agreed a three-hour monthly rehearsal would be adequate for progressing musically while avoiding an adverse time commitment. Our members understand that, due to our limited meetings, they must come prepared and familiar with their individual voice parts, text, and diction so we can focus our time on refining our ensemble sound. Preparing a written plan for rehearsal, pacing, and offering constructive but concise feedback are some of the most useful means of getting the most out of our limited rehearsal time (Countryman, 2007, p. 46).

Creating Community Arguably the most important aspect of cultivating a community choir is in the name itself. Typically building community within an organization takes time (Kramer, 2011). But there are steps you can take from the beginning to create an inclusive community within your organization. If members feel like their presence is unappreciated or unnecessary, they will likely leave the group.

30 May/June 2019

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