Dubuque Chorale

Strategic Plan, July 2015

Mission Statement: The Dubuque Chorale’s mission is to engage, educate, enrich, and inspire the community by presenting diverse choral music with artistic excellence.

Overall Strategic Goal - Grow within the 35-60 mile radius of Dubuque; developing awareness, financial support and membership of the Chorale, in order to become a premier, viable educational and entertainment option in the region.


There are to be eight (8) areas or subcommittees of the Board of Directors that in conjunction with the Board will have responsibility for the strategic plan. These subcommittees with the current chairs and board liaisons (July 2015) are:

Artistic Planning:Bob Demaree, Jeremy Mims, Karmella Sellers
Membership:Lou Dalton, Angie French
Fundraising:Megan Egan
Education & Outreach:Lorrie Etheredge, Marian Furst
Logistics:Mary Beth Ferring, Peg Jones
Publicity:Ruth Assmus, Neil MacNaughton, Mark Oppedahl
Auditing:Martin Fiesler, Betsy Badger
Governance & Personnel:  Mary Kelly, Terri Eckhart

All teams/subcommittees should be soliciting members from the Chorale to assist as necessary to meet the objectives of the strategic plan and of the subcommittees.

Goal 1 - Continue to create imaginative, educational, and artistic programs that fulfill our mission statement.

Objective A: Design programs and events of cultural and artistic enrichment.
Committee/s:Artistic Planning, Education and Outreach
Action Item 1: Regularly convene a group that will continue to design programs and events of cultural, artistic, educational, and community enrichment for both our members and our audiences.
Action Item 2: Coordinate events between Chorale, Cadenza, and the Children’s Choir.
Action Item 3: Develop a rolling three year plan of concert programming and evaluation of the concert offerings.

Objective B: Look at diversity and how to reach underprivileged populations.
Committee/s:Education and Outreach, Membership
Action Item 1: Identify underserved populations and barriers to participation within the greater Dubuque area and how we can serve to reach out to underserved populations within the region.
Action Item 2: Attempt to build an ongoing initiative to explore connections with underserved groups.
Action Item 3: Explore partnerships or collaborations with groups already serving underserved populations.

Objective C: Consider partnering with other artistic organizations.
Committee/s:Artistic Planning, Education and Outreach
Action Item 1: Consider bringing in a “major performer” to share a performance. Or, work on a joint project of that type with an existing Dubuque organization.

Goal 2 - Strengthen membership of the Dubuque Chorale through relationship-building and increased dedication of its members for the sake of improving audience and community appeal and the sustainable future of the Chorale.

Objective A: Continue developing a written protocol for management of the database which contains contact information for current, former, and prospective members of the Chorale, as well as donor and patron information.
Committee/s: Membership, Logistics, Governance
Measurements: Plan will be prepared by subcommittees, discussed by the Board, and adopted as an official policy of the Dubuque Chorale, by no later than ________
Action Item 1: Continue updating information in the database.
Action Item 2: Present database management plan to the Board.
Action Item 3: The Board will vote on the protocol for the database and adopt it as an official policy of the Dubuque Chorale.

Objective B: Review and revise the Chorale Member Handbook in May of even numbered years to ensure that the handbook reflects ongoing evolutionary changes of the organization.
Committee/s: Membership
Measurements: Plan will be approved by the beginning of each season in an even numbered year.
Action Item 1: Review and update the handbook.

Objective C: Improve the retention of Dubuque Chorale members, strengthen the relationships between individual members and sections, and continue to recruit new members.
Committee/s: Membership
Action Item 1: Maintain existing programs, including:
  • Send recruitment posters marking the start of a new season to churches and schools, and post in local businesses and art district in July/August of each year.
  • Periodic survey to solicit feedback from the current members on morale.
  • Weekly “introduction” activity.
  • “Bring a Friend” during season's second rehearsal.
  • Snacks during rehearsal break.
  • Afterglow coordination.
  • Artistic Director’s Blog.
  • Fall retreat activities.
  • Pre- and Post-concert parties (e.g. Christmas).
  • Name tags.
  • Photo Directory.
Action Item 2: Attention by the section coordinators to variance in attendance/absences and commitment of members to individual performances. Section leaders must follow up.
Action Item 3: Board and Membership team will have discussions of how to manage ensemble size and “health.”

Goal 3 - Ensure long-term sustainability of the Chorale through strategic and financial planning.

Objective A: Strengthen relationships with current donors, increase the pool of donors and provide other means of sponsorship (scholarships, grants, etc.) in order to continue growing the budget to meet the needs of the organization.
Committee/s: Fundraising
Measurement: Meeting the annual budget.
Action Item 1: Send out fall fundraising letter to friends and members inviting them to donate to either the fall and spring concerts or both.
Action Item 2: At each concert, ask concert-goers to fill out part of a “ticket” with their information so that we can contact them with future concert information and hopefully build up our email list.
Action Item 3: Contact the businesses on our list and add to the list for formal contacts regarding sponsorship.
Action Item 4: Add business contacts.
Action Item 5: Continue to seek out specific corporate or business partnerships.
Action Item 6: Continue to utilize Cadenza as a fundraising tool.

Objective B: Develop and implement a program to continue increasing the endowment.
Committee/s: Fundraising, Finance
Measurements: Increase the balance in the endowment fund.
Action Item 1: Send an email to potential donors before the end of the year to remind them of the tax deadline and how to donate and obtain the tax benefits.
Action Item 2: Work on a spring mailer regarding the endowment fund to friends and members.
Action Item 3: Fundraising Committee will send annual targets for increasing the endowment.

Objective C: Implement an annual program to seek grants that will support the work of the Chorale.
Committee/s: Fundraising, Operations Coordinator
Action Item 1: Continue research at the McCarthy Center at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque.
Action Item 2: Make a list of grants available to us and the deadlines for application so we can plan ahead.
Action Item 3: Identify members of the organization who can assist in the writing of these grant requests.

Goal 4 - Strengthen current community relationships and develop new community connections.

Objective A: Strengthen current and build new relationships, in an ongoing time frame, with other artistic organizations in the region for the purposes of musical collaboration and joint fundraising.
Committee/s: Education and Outreach, Artistic Planning, Operations Coordinator
Measurements: By achieving the action steps below.
Action Item 1: Continue to work with the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra to strengthen our relationship with them.
  • Work to secure programming ideas more than one year in advance
Action Item 2: Continue to build relationships with area universities.
Action Item 3: Continue to build relationships with other community choirs.
Action Item 4: Continue to build relationships with area high schools.
  • Invite high school concert choirs to perform on our concerts.
  • Consider whether the Dubuque Chorale or Cadenza might perform at high school concerts.
Action Item 5: Continue SongFest.

Objective B: Strengthen connections with Dubuque area businesses and charitable organizations.
Committee/s: Fundraising, Education and Outreach, Artistic Planning
Measurements: Increased community visibility and financial support.
Action Item 1: Continue to build relationships with philanthropic and service organizations. Connect to a variety of organizations including:
  • Local service organizations
  • Local hospitals and other similar institutions
  • Charitable organizations that need support for individual projects (e.g. ACS Run for Life)
Action Item 2: Continue to determine ways to utilize Cadenza to support businesses and philanthropic initiatives.

Objective C: Develop additional programs and events in order to broaden the appeal of the Chorale and to provide the region with additional educational and entertainment options.
Committee/s: Artistic Planning, Artistic Director, Board of Directors
Measurements: By completing the programs or events.
Action Item 1: Continue pre-concert “Conductor Chats” in order to more fully inform audience members about the literature.
Action Item 2: Continue a regularly recurring travel plan every three years for the ensemble.
Action Item 3: Continue to apply for performances at ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) convention programs.
  • Investigate Iowa CDA Summer convention as option.

Objective D: Support the continued success of the Dubuque Chorale Children’s Choir for three to five years prior to increasing the number of ensembles.
Committee/s: Education and Outreach, DCCC Artistic Director, Board of Directors, Operations Coordinator
Measurements: A quality musical experience for the children.
Action step 1: Work toward a more balanced representation of students from all area schools (including home schooled students).
Action step 2: Establish a DCCC parent support team to assist the director.
Action step 3: Develop a Dubuque Chorale mentoring process, whereby adult singers attend DCCC rehearsals on a regular ongoing basis.
Action step 4: Design and implement a local tour for the DCCC and establish policies to enable the DCCC director to lead the tour.

Goal 5 - Create management and material infrastructure in order to provide continuity and foundation for continued growth and stability of the organization.

Objective A: Develop and implement a long-term staffing plan in order to provide the necessary staff for growth and sustainability of the Dubuque Chorale.
Committee/s: Governance and Personnel
Measurements: Meet the staffing needs of the organization within its budget.
Action Item 1: Develop an organizational chart.
Action Item 2: Identify positions that need to be sustained, created, filled, or eliminated.

Objective B: Review ongoing facilities, equipment and staff needs and recommend acquisitions as necessary.
Committee/s: Logistics, Operations Coordinator, Fundraising
Measurements: The new acquisition of items.

Objective C: The development of a Dubuque Chorale Archive.
Committee/s: Governance and Personnel
Measurements: Archives are established and managed.
Action Item 1: Investigate who could be a partner in this venture.
Action Item 2: Investigate the financial implications.
Action Item 3: Determine what information would be housed including both visual (programs, posters, articles) and aural (digital recordings) and how it would be maintained and updated.

Objective D: Review the chief organizational documents annually (e.g. Constitution and Bylaws, Strategic Plan, etc.), reassessing goals, objectives and action steps.
Committee/s: Governance and Personnel, Board of Directors
Measurements: Regular updates.
Action Item 1: Review and update the Constitution and Bylaws in the winter months for review by the board. Changes to be voted on at the Chorale’s annual meeting.
  • Current and Past Presidents review the Constitution and Bylaws on an annual basis, taking into account the evolving structure and needs of the organization.
Action Item 2: Review and update the Strategic Plan during the summer.
  • Hold a “Town Hall” meeting, including full membership, to elicit new ideas.
  • Updates are compiled and reviewed by a committee of Board representatives and other singers.
  • Revised Strategic Plan is reviewed and approved by the Board.

Objective E: Develop and implement a plan for recruiting volunteers from both within the membership and from local partners.
Committee/s: Membership
Measurements: New organized and revised volunteers list and hours.
Action Item 1: Determine tasks that could be completed by volunteers. They may include:
  • Spending hours in the Chorale office at the Schmidt Center doing clerical work and maintaining a public visibility.
  • Doing offsite work stuffing envelopes, delivering publicity materials, preparing programs, selling ads, etc.
  • Helping with the necessary details setting up and managing concert appearances.
  • Assisting the Music Librarian in creating folders and ensuring that music is accounted for.
Action Item 2: Develop a method for tracking and recording the hours of volunteer service generated on behalf of the Chorale for grant writing purposes.

Goal 6 - Increase visibility and commitment from/to the community.

Objective A: Develop an annual marketing plan to increase the visibility, awareness, and support (financial, attendance, etc.) of the Dubuque Chorale’s music programs and contributions to the local community and region.
Committee/s: Publicity
Measurements: Completion and publication of a marketing plan. Community awareness through an increase of attendance and contributions.
Action Item 1: Develop a working publicity committee to include specialists in particular areas, including:
  • Posters/flyers/annual brochure
  • Programs/ad book
  • Billboards
  • Media Coverage
  • Advertising
  • Public Service Announcements (PSAs)
  • Social Media
Action Item 2: Develop a standing methodology for promotional exchange.
  • Utilize DSO complimentary tickets as an offering to potential donors.
  • Work with area businesses to find “raffle items” for concerts.
Action Item 3: Develop Social Media content and context.
  • Use Facebook and Twitter to promote concerts.
  • Look into Twitter to provide “blast” reminders of events.
  • Investigate other social media platforms.
Action Item 4: Give specific consideration to outreach in specific ways, including:
  • Churches
  • Multicultural organizations
  • Bridges/Circles
  • Farmer’s Market
  • High Schools (solo and concerto type competitions)
  • Arts Trek (including Cadenza)
  • School Tours (Children’s Choir)
  • Philanthropic organizations
Action Item 5: Continue to build connections with programs like Distinctively Dubuque.

Objective B: Work to develop and implement a recruitment plan centering on local businesses and institutions in order to form “pipelines” for current and future members, increase attendance at venues and to increase/broaden financial support.
Committee/s: Membership, Publicity, Education and Outreach
Measurements: Awareness on campuses about the Dubuque Chorale. Also, increased attendance by students.
Action Item 1: Create a listing of institutions to be contacted and collect contact information.
Action Item 2: Create a poster/flyer to be distributed to the schools.
Action Item 3: Contact colleges/university directors. Invite them personally to the rehearsals and concerts.
Action Item 4: Offer to have singers from the Chorale to present to the students.
Action Item 5: Have a special invitation made to the directors and students.

Goal 7 - Ensure the financial viability of the Chorale.

Objective A: Reevaluate and refine the organization’s financial system.
Committee/s: Auditing, Treasurer
Measurements: By whether the system becomes more functional and usable.
Action Item 1: Develop balance sheet with assets listed in addition to current budget.
Action Item 2: Develop a rolling three year budget plan.
Action Item 3: Budget for external assistance or tax support when our budget is over $50,000.
Action Item 4: Consider paying employees through a staffing agency in the future.
Action Item 5: Consider enlisting an independent auditor to review books annually.
Action Item 6: Consider growing Board to include someone who has expertise in financial planning and management. This could be a “pro bono” contribution to our organization from an individual or a company.
Action Item 7: Create a reserve fund account that would hold 10-15% of the annual budget.
Action Item 8: Continue to sponsor members with financial issues. Perhaps get donors to sponsor members in return for tax deduction.
Action Item 9: Reevaluate how we maintain confidentiality of financial assistance program.
Action Item 10: Assist fundraising committee by categorizing giving to endowment, annual, and other giving. Also help evaluate worth of in-kind (e.g. volunteer hours) donations for grant writing purposes.

Updated at Board retreat on July 11, 2015, approved August 2015

Strategic Plan

The strategic plan defines goals and objectives for the next three years.

Goal 1: Artistry »
Goal 2: Membership »
Goal 3: Fundraising »
Goal 4: Community »
Goal 5: Organization »
Goal 6: Publicity »
Goal 7: Finance »