Handbell Musicians of America is, at its core, a membership association. This means our primary source of revenue comes from membership dues. Over the years, we have faced many challenges in maintaining our membership base:
- Decline in church attendance resulting in cuts to music program budgets.
- Shift from traditional worship to contemporary worship where handbells are a less accepted instrument.
- Reduced spending on music and arts education in public schools.
- A general decline in interest in joining professional associations.
We’ve worked to overcome these challenges in a variety of ways:
- Developing music and resources for handbells in contemporary worship.
- Including music and tips in Overtones as free, reproducible pull-outs.
- Offering chime and bell loan programs through the Areas.
- Hosting free workshops like Back to Bells to help restart dormant programs or encourage new handbell programs in churches.
- Including more classes on creative use of the bells in worship and handbells in education at National Seminar.
- Providing more services and resources for community groups.
- Adding more membership options such as monthly billing and sub-memberships.
- Expanding online resources and redesigning our website to attract more interest from younger generation, including the introduction of the Virtual Bell Academy.
While these activities have helped to slow the decline in membership, it is still declining. With our major source of revenue getting smaller, we have had to find ways to reduce expenses and add revenue from other sources. Steps we have taken to achieve these two objectives have been detailed in past columns from me and more will be reviewed in my annual State of the Guild report which will be published in the next issue.
As the national board has considered all of the above and the challenges facing us in the future, one solution keeps coming to the top – more energy and effort placed on fundraising and charitable giving.
In my column in the July/August 2016 issue, I reported on the activities of the Development Advisory Committee. Since that time, over $40,000 in donations have been received for a variety of funds and purposes from less than 300 individual donors. That amazing generosity is humbling. In this issue, you will find a complete list of the individuals and organizations who made contributions to Handbell Musicians of America in our Fiscal Year 2016 (October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016.) It is important to note that less than 10% of our membership is represented in this list. Imagine what we could accomplish if 50% of our membership contributed – or 100%!
- Your contribution of any amount will help. If every member gave just $15 in addition to their membership dues, we would meet the board’s fundraising goal for the current fiscal year – $70,000. There a number of ways for you to make that contribution:
- Donate now with your credit card at www.handbellmusicians.givecorps.com
- Mail your check contribution to us at PO Box 221047, Louisville, KY 40252
- Add your donation to your membership dues. A space is included on your renewal invoices where you can add the amount you would like to donate.
Participate in the Silent Auction at Distinctly Bronze or National Seminar.
Be IN beyond your membership. Be IN because you RING and care about our mission to advance the art of handbell and handchime ringing through education, community, and communication. Be IN because handbell ringing and the handbell community have made a positive impact on your life. Be IN to help bring that music and that unmatched experience to others. Be IN with your contribution today.
Jenny Cauhorn firstname.lastname@example.org