Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tonal Tuesdays - Paying for Membership

There has been quite a discussion lately in the Community Choirs section of Choral Net.  One choir leader has asked for advice on how much to charge for choir membership.  Most of these choirs are in the U.S.A. so they talk about tax forms for none profits and other area specific details.

Personally, I am thrilled that our choir is totally without membership fees.  We pay for our own transportation and our shirts.  We volunteer our time to be at our concerts and we hire no paid personnel.  We started by borrowing music but have been given a number of donations and now we are able to purchase music to use.  We have 2 treasurers who keep track of our money and we decide collectively how to spend the money.  I love this method of co-operative management.

The choir I belonged to previously started out this way and now they charge for membership and pay soloists etc.  I find that difficult to swallow.  I know all things change but I truly believe that fees can close the door to come people being able to participate.  There has been discussion about scholarships for those unable to pay but some would not like to have to disclose that I would think.

Part of my not wanting to be paid is that I don't want to "work" for anyone.  I am self-employed and so I love the freedom to choose.  I want to continue that freedom in my volunteer time.  Do I feel that my time and talent are not worthy of being paid.  Absolutely not.  However, my pay comes in the great enjoyment, and fun we have.  I can make mistakes and we just laugh and carry on.
There must be a case for high fees (some over $200 a year).  I just cannot justify it in my own mind.  what do you think?  What does your choir do?  I would love to hear your perspective.


Colleen said...

I prefer not to pay. I belonged to a club once where I had to pay to attend and I ended up teaching everyone else. I ended up resenting the money I was spending because I was getting nothing out of it. With your more experienced members you might find that they begin to resent fees because you will always have people who are more experienced than others. Having no fees sets up more of a natural mentorship situation rather than a teaching position that the teacher actually has to pay for. That's my experience anyway.

Embro Thistle Singers said...

That is an excellent point. I think we all work together so very well. It is my good fortune to have such a marvellous group indeed.