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 applications → Other resources

Writing a strong funding application

Preparing funding applications can be a time-consuming exercise, but if successful, they can make a major contribution to the success of your events and the sustainability of your choir. So it's worth planning early and taking the time to do them well.


  • Find out what funding opportunities are in your area:
    • National gaming trusts such as Pub Charity, NZCT, Lion Foundation, etc.
    • Local gaming trusts
    • Community trusts
    • Philanthropic organisations
    • Some useful websites are GoFundMePerpetual Guardian,  Creative Communities (on your local Council website), Creative New Zealand
  • Find out what they fund (some mainly fund sport), and read their guidelines and eligibility criteria to make sure that your project aligns with their priorities.
  • What documentation do they need – quotes, letters of support, etc. – and can you get it within the timeframe? Quotes (for venue costs, staging elements, etc.) need to be accurate and issued within the timeframe the funder has given.
  • Look at the application deadline, the decision/notification timelines and the reporting requirements to make sure that they are achievable and that your event fits within their timelines.
  • Detail is everything!
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to the funder to ask questions and to develop a relationship. Grants staff will be happy to answer your questions, and this may ultimately save you time, effort and possibly disappointment.

Prepare your application

You want to tell your story succinctly and clearly in words that describe how your choir, event or project and application align with the funder’s criteria and values. Be clear about your objectives. Provide information that is both factual and emotional.

You need:Briefly describe:Show importance through:
Clear objectivesWell-defined goalsA sense of purpose
A realistic budgetThoughtful allocationConfidence
A strong narrativeCompelling storytellingInspiration
Measurable impactDemonstrable outcomesCommunity engagement
  • Show your timeline and the key operational factors in mounting your event.
  • Show how you will engage your stakeholders, i.e. how you will attract your audience.
  • Show how you will measure your outcomes. What will make your project successful and impactful and how will you report on that?
  • Be genuinely enthusiastic about your project and express your appreciation for them considering your application. You want to build a good relationship with the funder, and this will depend on mutual respect and trust.
  • But be honest also about the challenges you face.
  • Give an honest and realistic budget.
  • Most importantly – answer their questions! Give them the information they say they need and not what you think they need.
  • If you can’t provide them with all the paperwork they have asked for (such as three quotes), then explain why this wasn’t possible. Perhaps there is only one supplier/provider in your area.
  • Get someone who isn’t as close to the project to read your application and check the budget. If you are close to a project, you can assume other people know as much as you do and it’s hard to see errors. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If your application is successful

  • Do what you said you were going to do in the application. If you have to change your plans, contact the funder to discuss the options. They may want the grant to be refunded, or they may be happy for you to use the grant for a different purpose.
  • Invite representatives of the funder to your event.
  • Credit the funder in your advertising, programme, on your website, in social media, and verbally if you have an after-concert function.
  • Collect feedback, reviews, photos etc. that can be shared with the funder.

If your application isn’t successful

  • You could ring the funder and ask for feedback on your application. How could you have made it more successful? Often, they don’t have enough money to support every application, so it might come down to which applications met their guidelines and criteria most closely.
  • Their feedback may help you with your next application.

Reporting/application acquittal

  • Make sure you do this before the deadline.
  • Provide clear proof of using the grant money.
  • Answer their questions clearly and provide supporting documentation. You could include links to online material, photos and feedback received from participants and audience members etc.
  • Again – relate your answers to the funder’s criteria and core values.