Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sanford Dole Ensemble Seeks Board Members

The Sanford Dole Ensemble is looking for new members for their board of directors, and sent email a couple of weeks ago:
Sanford Dole Ensemble is poised for growth on several fronts. We are expanding our concert season and beginning a serious fund raising program. It's now time to expand our board to help us grow wisely and quickly. Can you help us?We are seeking nominations for additions to our board of directors. We thought we'd start by looking to you -- the people who already know and love us. Some working knowledge of nonprofit organizations is required. Other professional expertise -- financial, legal, promotion, event planning -- will be good. Foremost is the willingness and ability to advocate for us in fund raising. 
If you don't have deep pockets yourself, you must be willing to ask people you know for money. We'll craft the message for you, but we need you to reach out to your friends and contacts on our behalf. Could be as simple as bringing them to concerts, hosting a house concert or other gathering, or introducing them to another board member who is comfortable making a contribution request.2010-11 is going to be an exciting year for the Ensemble with new venues and our first commission. If you would like to be considered for board membership (or can recommend someone), please contact RuthE. Wells at RuthE@MyDutchUncleSF.com by September 17. 
Don't wait. Put your hat in the ring right now. We've got work to do! Thank you for your support of SDE.
SDE is a small professional chorus that performs an interesting repertory, including quite a bit of new music. I've never heard them, but plan to hit at least one of their programs this year.

After reading the email above, I had some questions, which Ruthe Wells was kind enough to answer for me. I know enough about how Chora Nova functions that these answers likely apply to most small choruses, professional or amateur. (Chora Nova, with which I am again singing, is an auditioned amateur chorus.)

1. Would you have any sense of the time commitment involved? Number of board meetings, their frequency, and length? Time outside the meetings per week involved with being on the board?

The SDE board meets approx 8x/year.  Our meeting calendar has been driven by the development of the concert season, growing from two single-performance concerts our first season to six performances of four programs this coming year.  Meetings are generally Sunday at 1:00 pm in the Potrero Hill neighborhood (near Sanford’s church gig, St. Gregory of Nyssa Church), scheduled at the convenience of a majority of board members.  Meetings generally conclude in an hour and a half.In addition to board meetings, board members are expected to assist with concert production details: various aspects of publicity, providing singer hospitality, organizing ushers/ticket management, sometimes providing reception food (or paying for catering), greeting audience members, etc.

2. Types of decisions the board makes, board activities, etc.

Sanford handles all artistic arrangements, with advice/consent from the board.  We’ve talked about creating a separate artistic advisory board, but our current recruitment is focused on the operating board.  Because there is no organizational staff other than Sanford, the board is directly involved in the functions of promotion, fundraising and concert production.We anticipate doing more with board members in the coming year with respect to hosting/staffing house concerts as a fundraising mechanism, as well as working on a donor cultivation campaign and grant writing. 

3. Can you expand on "some working knowledge of nonprofit organizations"? 
I guess it’s a way of saying, it’s not enough to be a fan of choral music.  The most effective board members will be people with an understanding of the ways in which nonprofits operate differently than for profit companies. We also need the expertise of people who have current communications technology experience – e.g., know something about Twitter and Facebook. Perhaps the most important understanding for prospective board members is the need to provide or actively participate in the cultivation of contributed income.

4. How deep do a board member's pockets need to be? That is, how much money do you expect to be donated or fund-raised by a board member?
The SDE board has never had a set expectation of monetary support.  Currently, everyone makes a financial donation of some kind, plus contribution of time/skills (e.g., getting the brochures mailed out, distributing news releases, researching donor prospects, etc.).  In our upcoming season, we need to raise approximately $90,000 from new sources.

If you're interested in serving on SDE's board or you know someone who is, contact RuthE Wells at the email address above, and feel free to point others to this blog posting.

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