Singing DeliveriesBy performing Carol-Grams, the Illinois Valley Central High School Chorale Booster Club in Chillicothe, Illinois brings holiday joy to the local community, while raising money for its program.
In Chillicothe, Ill., finding the perfect gift to send to hard-to-shop-for relatives might have been a bit easier for some this year. The Illinois Valley Central High School Chorale held its third annual Carol-Gram fundraiser, which was promoted as a novelty gift to send to family members and coworkers. For a $20 donation, the IVC High School Chorale sang three Christmas carols, and delivered a card and a plate of homemade cookies to the recipient.
"You're going to have a lot that are relatives who want to give something to Aunt Susie, but they can't think of anything to get her," says IVC Chorale Booster Club member Amy Greer. "What a cool thing to have her nephew come in and sing to her with his buddies."
Along with singing to chorale members' families and area businesses, the group tried to meet special requests. "We had a business offer to donate $100 for us to come and sing for 10 or 15 minutes at its Christmas open house," Greer says. "That's $100 more than we had 15 minutes ago. We've had a few people ask us to come sing at Christmas parties, too. So there are really a lot of different ways we've done it."
This year, there were about 16 students who participated in the Carol-Gram fundraiser, which lasted for a couple hours each of its two nights. The club tries to limit its "delivery area" to a 10-12 mile radius around the school, in order to keep transportation costs and travel time limited. "We basically set it up for a Friday and Saturday night," Greer says, "And we really didn't want to go beyond 8:30 or 9 o'clock, since we started at about 6 o'clock and wanted to get the kids home at a decent time. Although on Friday we started earlier, because we got some requests to go to people's work."
In order to have a successful event, though, just getting the word out about the fundraiser may not be enough. "Don't just say that it all goes to the booster club." Greer warns. "People want to know what they're helping you achieve. They want to be part of it, so tell them why you're raising money. It's boring to them if it's just going to the boosters. If it's helping with something else, and they get to be part of it, they'll be more interested. This year, for example, we were raising money to use in our scholarship fund for a group trip to New York City."
Along with this advice, Greer has some practical tips for other groups who are interested in this type of fundraiser:
- Make sure a solid group has committed to participating, or helping with the preparation and promotion.
- Set the dates and area in which the group will perform. This should be done about a month in advance, in order to have enough time for promoting the fundraiser.
- Send information to the school newsletter, local newspapers and local radio or TV stations and ask them to list it in the community calendar. Make sure contact information is included and easy to find, along with what donors get out of it (such as the cause they are supporting, the number of songs that will be sung, and any other extras).
- Choose and practice the songs as a group. It's important for the singers to feel comfortable performing. If they are not confident in this area, creating small books with the songs, and arranging for someone to provide accompaniment may be helpful. This can be as simple as making books with construction paper covers, and asking someone to ring a bell or two in time to the singing.
- If a school chorus, or other group of students is singing, make sure there will be enough adults coming to drive and supervise the group. They can also help plan the route, and keep track of any cards or treats that are being dispersed.
- Plan and schedule the route in advance. This will help the donors to ensure their recipient will be available at the Carol-Gram's arrival, along with making more efficient use of time and transportation.