Asking brass group members for donations?

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Mikebmiller
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Asking brass group members for donations?

Post by Mikebmiller » Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:05 pm

Last year, I started a symphonic brass ensemble that did a few rehearsals and put on a concert, which was really well performed, although not particularly well attended. I paid for everything except for one tune out of my own pocket, which ran to several hundred bucks.

This year, I have an even bigger and hopefully better group assembled and once again I have so far paid for everything out of my pocket. Between buying music and renting a recital hall, it will cost somewhere around $400 to put this show on.

Here's the question - is it reasonable to ask the members of the group to kick in $20 or so each to help defray the costs? Everyone is playing for free and I hate to ask them to do it, but I am not a rich guy and $400 is a reasonable chunk of money. I'm not complaining, as the whole thing was my idea, but everyone in this group has a job and could afford $20. I know that most community bands ask members for annual donations, so it doesn't seem totally out of line, but I hate to make anyone mad.

If I do ask for donations, what is the best way to approach it? Should I set up a gofundme? Paypal? It seems a bit tacky to just ask people to hand you cash. If this group continues, I would like to turn it into a 501C with it's own bank account and so forth, so that I am not actually asking people to give ME money - I am asking for the group.

I do plan on asking audience members for donations this year and having a donation jar at the back of the room, but am not really counting on that to be a big money maker.

Thanks for any advice.
norbie2018
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Re: Asking brass group members for donations?

Post by norbie2018 » Mon Sep 09, 2019 4:13 pm

If the performers go into the rehearsals
& performance knowing they need to pay I think you're good to go. However, if you've already booked them and are only now thinking of asking for the dough - well, I think that would be a bit tacky, at least inconsiderate.

In addition, the $25 our community concert band asks us for is for the entire season, not one concert.
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Matt K
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Re: Asking brass group members for donations?

Post by Matt K » Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:27 pm

I don't think it's an unreasonable request - or you can possibly find sponsors for the event. I was in a band that did something similar. We ended up getting a grant from the town I was in to play a ribbon cutting ceremony + the other concert we were going to do. Ended up making a small amount for each player too.
Mikebmiller
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Re: Asking brass group members for donations?

Post by Mikebmiller » Mon Sep 09, 2019 6:05 pm

Sponsors would be excellent, but I have no idea who would want to be one. If I could guarantee a big audience, it might be easier. Last year, I think we had about 35 people show up.
thatme
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Re: Asking brass group members for donations?

Post by thatme » Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:49 pm

I personally wouldn’t find it offensive if you asked for $20, even now - just explain it like you’ve done here.

And be sure to hit the audiences up for donations at your “free” concert. I’ve been in lots of groups that leave buckets near the entrance and mention about a donation just before intermission. And then play a really upbeat, fun song just before intermission so everyone is happy when they walk out!
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Re: Asking brass group members for donations?

Post by AndrewMeronek » Mon Sep 09, 2019 8:02 pm

50/50 raffles are also a pretty popular way to get audiences to chip in for band expenses.
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Pre59
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Re: Asking brass group members for donations?

Post by Pre59 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:45 am

I think that you've left it too late to ask for a contribution for this concert. Better to have a meeting to discuss future plans and include financing when this one is completed. You'll know what and who you're dealing with then.
CharlieB
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Re: Asking brass group members for donations?

Post by CharlieB » Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:26 am

How about if you approach the Spartanburg Community Band to see if your group can operate as an adjunct to their band, much as the Jazz Ensemble does ?
https://scband.org/
Mikebmiller
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Re: Asking brass group members for donations?

Post by Mikebmiller » Sat Sep 14, 2019 10:16 pm

CharlieB wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:26 am
How about if you approach the Spartanburg Community Band to see if your group can operate as an adjunct to their band, much as the Jazz Ensemble does ?
https://scband.org/
I have several folks from SCB involved in the brass choir, but I have no desire to have it be a part of that group. I want to maintain control.

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Vegasbound
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Re: Asking brass group members for donations?

Post by Vegasbound » Sun Sep 15, 2019 12:46 am

From my point of view I would say that by asking the other members for donations you would lose over all control and become more a cooperative

Why could that be a problem, stops you replacing players, programme choices etc
Mikebmiller
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Re: Asking brass group members for donations?

Post by Mikebmiller » Sun Sep 15, 2019 9:08 pm

Just to be clear, I do not wish to be the dictator of this group. I am hoping to turn it from a one off ensemble to an ongoing group that plays 3 or 4 concerts a year. I need to get others involved in helping run things, and I can’t afford to self finance every concert. Every group,has to start somewhere.
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BrassedOn
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Re: Asking brass group members for donations?

Post by BrassedOn » Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:49 pm

I've seen lots of conversations along these lines. It might be a little late to ask for $ for the current season, but base that on what you know about your people.

Whatever you do, explain your mistake for not thinking ahead enough about the expenses, the burden on you, apologize, and then just be sure to ask nicely and say clearly what people would be paying for. For example, it would be odd to ask for money for new library charts, because 1 person owns the charts at the end of the season. Even if charts "belong to the band", typically they are sitting in one person's closet and if the band folds, that individual takes possession. Charts are capital investments, whereas library fees to pay for copying, venue or rehearsal space fees, equipment or music rental, sound techs, transport, and advertising are consumable or intangible. Makes more sense to distribute those costs among the members.

I'm guessing some people signed up thinking it was no cost, so risk of losing members. Just trying to think of a creative solution. Maybe One way to ease into it is to give members a choice.
1. Provide one of the charts on the planned repertoire list. (if they own it or have access already, no cost to them; if they buy it, they own it after the performance)
2. Sponsor local ads, or posters for your events and post in public.
3. Sponsor a program ad for their own business or practice.
4. Volunteer hours for some necessary/arduous task (library comes to mind as time consuming but requiring real focus).
5. Bring in 1 $100 business sponsorship (business gets ad in program, banner, announcement etc.)
6. Provide gear that otherwise would have a cost (percussion comes to mind, PA, etc.)
7. Provide a venue. Maybe they belong to a club, church or something and they can access a performance space.
8. be creative, let them offer/bid their own solutions.
9. Donate cash to the organization for whatever. I remember in HS, I had a band fee, and instead of selling Christmas cards, candy, water heater jackets (for real in VT), I wrote the check for my fee out of my own money.

If this is growing and you are wanting to really build something that will live on for years, you might elect to go for business sponsorships: Before hitting the bricks for sponsorships, remember businesspeople work from data. They might expect a band to have a website with calendar, contact info, clear stills, social media and links, and video posts of prior concerts. For the sponsorship, what do they get? Have a sample program with $50, $25 ads, sample text of what you'd say during band announcements, image of a business banner hanging in front of the band at a live event.

Other than businesses, one group I was in had a city grant for performing, which obligated the group to a couple free public concerts at public venues like mall performance stage at Christmas and annual community music fest (can still take donations) or music in the schools events (no donations). Bringing music to in-need neighborhoods that don't see much in the arts can be a selling point. Our group also had public schools music teachers and other teachers like math and science. The earned some kind of community/volunteer credit for being in a community ensemble, and the city liked how the teachers got that opportunity. Also, attaching your group's performances to existing events like art walks, first Fridays, cultural events, etc. can build in an audience. More people even small donations can add up. Just some thoughts. Good luck in your group.
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1994ish Getzen Eterna 1062 Dave Taylor (stacked)
Mikebmiller
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Re: Asking brass group members for donations?

Post by Mikebmiller » Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:53 am

Thanks. That is great advice. At this point, I don't think I will ask anyone to donate for the current concert. I will put out a bucket and see if I can pull in a few bucks from the audience. This is a new group and only our second concert. In order to move forward and be able to accept "charitable" donations, I guess I need to look into forming a 501C. I don't want people to feel like they are giving money just to me, but to the group.
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