Nail Choir Administration Like A Boss!
Most of us, when starting our careers in music, completely underestimate the amount of administration time and effort it takes to run a choir – from financials to producing lyrics and sheet music, from registration to merchandise, it can become overwhelming as your choir grows but by following a few simple techniques, life in the office doesn’t have to overwhelm or dampen your creative juices. The Canadian Choir Leader Network (CCLN) gives you some useful points for consideration.
Don’t Let the Paperwork Drag You Down!
- Find good helpers. We touched on this in last month’s blog post, but this is an important part of ensuring your door registration (including payment collection if applicable), performances, social planning, merchandise distribution etc., goes smoothly. Firstly, look for people you know you can work with. Some members may be enthusiastic, but they may also require a lot of ‘hand-holding’. Members who always arrive early and have a lower level of commitment in their personal lives are a good choice, as well as those who make friends easily as they’ll be respected by their peers – important when you’re creating an ‘unofficial’ hierarchy within your group. Consider using a tablet for checking people in at the start of rehearsals. Free apps such as Attendance2 on the iPad are a great way of helping you learn the names of your choir members (photos) and tracking their attendance as well as generating reports.
- Look for free or low-cost platforms that help streamline your administration processes. Tried and trusted platforms such as Google Forms or Jotform are great for administrative tasks like choir event signups, registrations, performances and socials, etc. Communication platforms like Mailchimp are a wonderful tool for collecting and storing member data, sending emails and colourful newsletters. Using tools like these help keep your administration streamlined and well organised for ease of reference – it takes a bit of time to set up initially, but find what works for you and your choir identity, and you won’t regret it. If more than one person administers your choir, try a collaborative communication platform like Spark email (FREE!), allowing multiple users to share, designate, and work on emails in real-time.
- For accounting purposes, there are several free platforms available. One of the most feature-rich and user friendly is Wave – perfect for ‘creative’ types who need something visually accessible and easy to use from the get-go. However, if you have somebody dedicated to the accounting side, a more robust platform such as Freshbooks (a Canadian company) or Quickbooks might be ideal.
- Keep the lines of communication open. An informed choir is a happy choir, and nobody likes to arrive unprepared. Regular written and verbal communications will help facilitate a smooth and efficient rehearsal, performance, workshop or social, leading to a stress-free environment for both you and your members. A weekly newsletter or ’roundup’ of what has been covered at rehearsals (and what is scheduled for the following week), including links to signups, music downloads, announcements, etc., sent on the same day each week can be well received and appreciated by your members. Create a dedicated Facebook group and provide fun, post-rehearsal updates where relevant and post entertaining or informative videos on all things choir-related to maintain engagement. For a Facebook alternative, the free Band App is incredible for keeping in touch with groups/communities and organising a range of communication – imagine Whatsapp on steroids!
- Plan-ahead sounds obvious, but it’s easy for us to get carried away with the creative and forget the practical side of things. Set yourself a timeline at the start of each season to accomplish your administrative tasks. It’s always good to have deadlines, and if you plan, it won’t be nearly as stressful as trying to figure it out as you go along. Utilise free time-planning platforms such as Ntask or Asana to help you delegate and organise important tasks colourfully and clearly.
- Finally, for all-in-one choir administration solutions, check out industry-specific platforms such as Chorus Connection and Choir Genius. Whilst these may provide a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, containing all tools in one place, be aware that these can be limited in what they can achieve as compared with using a series of separate, dedicated, more powerful platforms.
Some of us find ourselves working with Boards. Some are fortunate enough to employ an assistant to help; others have to handle the administration aspect themselves, but whichever position you find yourself in, being super organised is key. Get this right, and your well-oiled choir machine will make for happy members and a relaxed and stress-free working environment for you!
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I also want to contribute that there are some awesome all-in-one platforms that replace all those free tools (MailChimp, member database, Eventbrite, jotform etc.). If you have even a small budget to spend on a really good comprehensive management system it can be a total game changer 🎉
We use http://www.choirgenius.com (I know there are some others as well)
Thanks, Sabrielle! Yes, there are indeed some great all-in-one choir management solutions. We have found that there are limitations to some of them, depending on what you are trying to achieve, but if a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution works for you, then definitely worth looking into the many options.