Toolkit: Start a Chorus


Program Costs

You can use the Giving Voice Budget Calculator to get an idea of the types of costs a host organization can anticipate, and to estimate the budget for your chorus’s first three years. Costs to operate a chorus can include staffing, sheet music, supplies (office and snacks), and rehearsal site rental. Each expense must be  covered, whether by cash, in-kind donations, or volunteer services. Early on, you will most likely rely more heavily on donated services, supplies, equipment, and facilities. Over the long term, however, plan to pay for a growing portion of the personnel, facilities, and other operating costs of the program in order to make the program sustainable.

Program Revenue

Earned Revenue. Like many nonprofit programs, a chorus presents opportunities for both earned and contributed revenue. And like most nonprofit programs, the earned revenue portion will be relatively small. The Minneapolis Giving Voice Chorus chorus has two forms of earned revenue:

  • Registration fees. Each chorus member with Alzheimer’s or in the care partner role pays $50 per 14-week session or $25 per 8-week session. This fee covers some expenses without creating a significant burden for most participants. The fee can be waived in cases where it appears to be a participation barrier.
  • Ticket sales. A reasonable charge for performance tickets not only helps provide some revenue, but also reflects the level of quality and commitment that the chorus seeks to project. (Make sure any required copyright licenses are in place). The amount will of course depend on the community and other factors.  Minneapolis Giving Voice Chorus general admission concert tickets are $12 each.

Contributed Revenue. Contributions of cash, materials, and services are essential to program success. An existing host organization will already have some systems in place for fundraising, and will need to consider how to incorporate the new chorus program into its existing messaging and procedures. Unless the host organization has a policy to the contrary, donors may designate that their gifts be used specifically for the chorus program.

In-kind contributions or loans of facilities (rehearsal and performance spaces), equipment (sound system, piano), and supplies (notebooks, CDs, sheet music, refreshments) can be very important to the program, particularly in the early months and years.

Volunteer hours will almost certainly be a major resource for the program, particularly for roles not requiring special skills. GVI strongly recommends, however, that the music director and accompanist be paid for their services.