Te Kotahitanga
Manu Reo o Aotearoa

Young Person's Guide to Starting a Choir

Mch Rgb Disk smallThis resource was written with young choral practitioners in mind but is applicable for anyone who wants to start a choir. It was written as part of the “Singing for Lifelong Wellbeing” project, funded through a grant from ManatÅ« Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage.

Young Person's Guide to Starting a Choir
Initial questions → Planning and research → Setting up officially → Running a choir → Administrator's Toolkit → Financial matters → Funding applicationsOther resources

Financial matters

The best way to remain in a healthy financial state is to have a robust financial plan and budget. 


  • There are many ways that a budget can be laid out. It is best to have one overall budget for the year that includes general operational costs, marketing, concerts, audition costs, fundraising events etc.
  • The fuller the budget, the more useful it is both as a management tool and to include with funding applications.
  • A budget is a dynamic tool, and you should review it regularly.
  • Be realistic and honest with the costs. It is wise to under-estimate your income/revenue and over-estimate your expenses.
  • Many artistic groups budget performance ticket income on the basis of 40% of venue capacity.
  • It is normal for a budget to be GST-exclusive. Make sure you are consistent in the way you treat GST and account for it in your records.


Fundraising is just as much about engaging with your community and building lasting relationships, as it is about gathering funds.

Have a clear reason for fundraising. Create a plan, set some targets, and make a budget. Don’t forget to think about whether support-in-kind might be helpful.

After any event, donations drive or other fundraising activity, make sure you thank everyone who supported you or made a contribution – both financial and volunteers. Keep a clear record of the money raised and report back to your community on the success of your project and the impact that it has made.

Funding will come from five main sources:

1. Concert tickets, membership fees and subscribers

Pricing of these items is important to ensure that people feel it is reasonable, affordable and value for money. Keep an eye on what other organisations are charging in your area.

2. Grants

There are a wide range of funding bodies around the country, but each has its own unique set of priorities and interests.

Creative Communities is worth looking at, particularly if you are starting out and are not yet incorporated. You can apply for a modest grant as an individual. Creative Communities is a collaboration between Creative New Zealand and local councils around the country, so have a look on your council website. They generally have two or three funding rounds a year and are keen to support local initiatives. There is a video about and links to other Creative NZ funding for organisations and groups here on this website.

Local Gaming Trusts can be really helpful with funding venue hire or equipment. Access the websites of gaming machine societies who operate and distribute grant funding in your area and around Aotearoa New Zealand here: List of Society Websites - dia.govt.nz

Generosity New Zealand provides information about grants and funding schemes around the country. This is a paid service but is available free through many public libraries.

Public Trust and Perpetual Guardian have a number of grant opportunities for community groups around the country.

Our guide to writing a strong funding application

3. Sponsorships and Partnerships

Sponsorship can be hard to secure and requires work to maintain the relationship with the sponsor. You have to have a clear idea of what you can offer them in return for their support.

Don’t underestimate the collective networks of your membership. Have simple and clear communication about your needs and share with your members. You may be surprised who may wish to support you.

Developing a partnership with a supportive school or church may help with providing a good and reasonable rehearsal space. And a local printer may supply a good discount if you prove a regular and loyal customer. It is all in the relationships you build.

4. Fundraising events

Fund-raising events such as concerts, quiz nights, sponsored singalong and raffles all take quite a bit of work and involve some up-front costs.

  • You need to make sure that the event costs remain low so that the profit is meaningful. These events may help to raise your profile in your community also.
  • Events such as busking may require a council permit, so make sure you get any required license or permit to stay compliant.

5. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding can be good for raising funds for specific projects or items such as uniforms, recording a CD or mounting a tour. See the links below for reputable, NZ-based crowdfunding platforms.

Things that will help you to be successful:

There are plenty of good examples of these plans online.