Searching for the Pot of Gold

By Reimer, Mark U. | American Music Teacher, June-July 2010 | Go to article overview
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Searching for the Pot of Gold

Reimer, Mark U., American Music Teacher

"Philanthropy is almost the only virtue which is sufficiently appreciated by mankind."

--Henry David Thoreau

The daily operation of schools and colleges requires funding far beyond that provided through tuition, fees and taxes. As true with all major arts organizations, music programs rely heavily on donors to provide additional resources for scholarships, state-of-the-art rehearsal and performance facilities, visiting artists and scholars, student research, music, instruments, equipment and travel. To capture the hearts, minds and support of donors, the music program must work hand-in-hand with its students, parents, alumni, administration and, of course, the community to forge relationships of trust and respect.

The first step in creating a support organization for a music program is to select a board of directors whose members 1) support the musical arts, 2) support the institution, 3) are trusted and respected, both personally and professionally, in the community, 4) are willing and financially able to invest in the organization, 5) are eager to involve their friends, family and business contacts to help them grow has a bachelor's degree from Drake I University, a master's degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and a doctoral degree from Indiana University the organization and, most importantly, 6) support the vision of the organization. In addition to recruiting outstanding community leaders, the governing body should also include alumni, faculty, staff, the music executive, the administration and current music students to ensure the needs of the music program are understood and met. The chief development officer of the institution must be apprised of all fund raising events and publicity of the organization because prospective donors targeted by a music organization may also be targeted by the development office.

Once the initial board is in place, a constitution must be drafted by its members. Guiding the constitution are the organization's values and vision, and it is critical that everyone on the board share the organization's values and vision. Values answer the question, "Why should this organization exist?" And the answer is not, "To raise money." Values reveal the deeper, shared, and unifying reasons people choose to support an organization--they express why someone would feel compelled to give. Kay Sprinkel Grace, in her book, Beyond Fund Raising." New Strategies for Nonprofit Innovation and Investment, tells of the question that was posed to Black and Decker sales associates during their training: "Why do people buy a Black and Decker drill?" The answer was not, "Because they want a drill." The answer was, "Because they want a hole." (1) Vision is the long-term dream toward which the organization is continually striving. For a university, perhaps that dream might be the creation of a world-class music program, hiring the finest faculty, admitting only the highest achieving students and providing enough scholarships to sustain every major ensemble. Of all the possible goals, the most important for a university would be to raise money for scholarships. It is not surprising that the anonymous $100 million girl in 2005 to the Yale School of Music was used, in part, to provide free tuition for all Yale music majors (2) and that the $40.6 million donated the same year by David H. and Barbara Jacobs to the Indiana University School of Music (3) and the $33 million donated in 2003 by Phillip and Patricia Frost to the University of Miami School of Music also included money for student scholarships. (4) Of course, funds raised can also be used to present guest scholars and musicians, purchase equipment, instruments and music, and support student auditions, performances, tours and research.

The organization's constitution states the mission, and it is best to keep that mission simple. The values of the organization must be reflected in the mission statement.

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Searching for the Pot of Gold


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