Music Library Sponsorship: Fundraiser and Community Builder

May 10, 2019

Jackie Hawley

This is a guest post by Jackie Hawley, who has been a regular contributor to Anacrusis, the official journal of the Choral Canada and current board member of Choirs Ontario.  She is the Founding Artistic Director of the Cantiamo Choirs of Ottawa and co-founder of the Nipiit-Katittut – Voices United (NKVU) educational engagement project.

Good ideas should be shared! Here is something that has worked very well for my choirs. I hope you will find this useful for your choir as well.

A few years ago, when my Cantiamo Girls Choir was quite new, we had a local business person offer to make a donation to the choir. We had not solicited this sort of thing at that time in the choir’s development so we were happily inspired to think about how we could recognize our supporters with more than a tax receipt. This person had a favourite piece that we had sung in our concert. I thought that it might be a nice idea to have the donation directed towards covering the cost of buying those scores for the choir. Then, in the library data base we added a column to keep track of these dedications. In our concert program, we list the dedication under the title of the piece every time the piece is performed. Our first library sponsorship was for Morten Lauridsen’s Dirait-on. So, in the program under the title of the piece is listed in italics in smaller print: Ken Leslie – State Farm Insurance – 2005. This will be in programs from now on any time we perform this piece. It is good advertising for the local company, it shows the support from the community and it pays for the piece for the choir which allows choirs funds to be budgeted elsewhere.

We have had people sponsor pieces for all kinds of reasons. Some examples of dedications are: In memory of John Smith; In honour of John Smith, from the Smith family; For John Smith – Christmas 2012. This also makes a nice gift for grandparents of choristers. They can be gifted the sponsorship of their chorister’s favourite piece and see their name in the program. This year both of my parents turn 80. My daughter is a composer and my Cantiamo girls insist on singing Laura Hawley’s piece Maid on the Shore every year. It is the Cantiamo favourite. It has been recently published so I have sponsored this piece for the choir with the dedication: Happy 80th birthdays Walter and Lorraine Wilush.

If I Were the MoonWe also use this sponsorship idea to show gratitude and recognition to volunteers who have made a significant contribution to our choir. Our seamstress, Maureen Russell, has (and still does!) sewn and altered our choir gowns for the entire 11 year history of our choir. Last year in our 10th anniversary, to honour Maureen, we dedicated the first song the choir ever sang, If I Were the Moon by Canadian composer James Wright, to her in our library. The dedication With gratitude to Maureen Russell appears under this piece whenever it is printed in the program. We also honour our volunteer choir managers when their term is over with their choice of a piece from the library.

There are many benefits to this music library sponsorship program. There is the obvious benefit of covering the cost of scores. The extra great thing about this is that there is a wide variety of amount which is of value. Sometimes people feel that a donation needs to be in the hundreds of dollars to be significant. With the library sponsorship, there are pieces where a set of 30 scores for our training choir might be $60.00. This is a manageable donation for many people and is much appreciated by the choir when the cost of the scores is covered. Another benefit is the community building aspect. It is very nice for people to see their name or name of a loved one in the concert program. It is also a great way for businesses to advertise and show their support to choral singing. And, it is a nice way for alumni to remain connected to the choir as quite often the girls or their parents will make a library donation in the year the chorister graduates from the choir. Through this sponsorship program, people feel a tangible connection to the organization and they can see exactly where their money has gone. What better place for a donation to go in a choir than to the music!

This is a very easy project to do. People see past sponsorships in our programs and when there is space we also print a brief explanation.  The Cantiamo Girls Choir website includes a chart and donation form for Music Library Sponsorship, which you are welcome to copy and revise to fit your own choir needs.

The philosophy of the Cantiamo Girls Choir of Ottawa is to share what we have to help each other as we all do the same good work. My Ottawa Children’s Choir has just started its own library sponsorship program and people are quite excited about it. I have a colleague who just started a children’s choir in her church and began this idea from the start. Not only are all of her pieces sponsored, she even has money waiting for new pieces to be ordered so they can be sponsored!

I hope that you will try this with your choir. It is easy, successful, and a great community builder! I also hope that you will be inspired to share your good ideas with one another. We are all so fortunate to work in this field of creating and sharing joy and beauty so let’s make sure we always stand together and help each other in our quest to keep people singing!


Do you have a good idea that should be shared with our musical community? The Leading Note welcomes guests posts! Please submit articles to to be considered for future publication on our blog.

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