Funding a Church Music Program
  • I want to solicit ideas from Forum readers who may have experience finding creative ways to fund church music programs. How might one go about finding financial support as either a supplement or an alternative to the general church budget? Has anyone set up an endowment, similar to a concert series, but that funds choral (and possibly orchestral) music in the context of liturgical services? Can this be done in such a way as not to compete for (increasingly scarce) donations from musically or liturgically sympathetic parishioners?
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I was at an Episcopal church (mind you, I doubt this would work at a Catholic church) where it was customary for the congregation to pay for extra music at Christmas and Easter, and then that money would be used for hiring orchestral forces as possible. Even though it was a poor congregation, they got some very good results. Perhaps something similarly direct? A note in the bulletin "money needed for X for such and such day. Please see Richard for details on how to give." or something could do some good.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Gavin, I was just thinking this past Sunday about that very thing. It would be easy to donate to specific things like that, or toward the purchase of new hymnals (PBC!). Why aren't there such appeals (specific ones) in the bulletin every week? I'm constantly shocked at the poor use of our weekly bulletin. A full half of it is secular advertisement.
  • Several suggestions:
    [1] Ask that special Christmas and Easter flower donation program also be extended to special music.
    [2] Start a 'Friends of Saint Theobald's Music' organization that maintains its own mailing/publicity list that goes beyond the regular parish list to include former members and a wider segment of the larger community.
    [3] Do some sort of publicity-conscious fundraiser congruent with the goals of the music program: hymn-sings, benefit concerts, civic events, etc. Get everything involved with the program itself donated.
    [4] Sell additional program booklet advertising for special events.
    [5] Ask for dues from performing group members for new music, etc., which allows shrinking budgeted monies to be focused on other necessities. You can do this on a sliding scale basis: e.g. $10 regular, more if you can, less if you must.
    [6] Figure out if donated services by professional musicians can be used as tax write-offs.
    [7] Trade teaching/rehearsal space for professional services.
  • When our schola was just starting out, we made a CD that sold like crazy at $10 each. It brought in a surprising amount of revenue.

    Another option is to have the schola establish a separate 501c3 and have parishioners donate to that. Pastors might be testy on this point though
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 993
    Pastors do get testy about funding through separate 501c3s. And unless the ensemble performs independently or schedules other concert series, as well as during liturgies, it seems odd.

    I do think it's alright to look for funds from people who are especially devoted to church music, giving them acknowledgement in programs/bulletins. Again, make sure that the pastor doesn't think they're diverting funds from the general collection to your group alone.

    The CD idea is good. Keep your production as economical as possible and you'll have an initial rush of money. (Know that after the CD has been around for a while, it won't sell much at all.)
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    Here is a grant program that might be helpful