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Inexpensive ways to use IT to support your community choir


Must-Have Apps: The Wiki

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Your choir probably generates a lot of time-sensitive news and information -- announcements to choristers, press, and such. For such content, a content management system is the ideal way to organize and convey your message.

But reference material is different. It doesn’t change very often, tends to be related to a lot of other static content, and needs to be easy to search and navigate. A chorister handbook and a corporate intranet portal are good examples. Continue Reading →

Must-Have Apps: Money Management

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I’m sure that I don’t have to explain to anyone reading this blog the importance of keeping track of a choir’s money. In particular, nonprofits tend to operate on very narrow margins, so knowing how the dollars come and go is vitally important to keeping your choir in business.

If you’re just starting a choir and you haven’t considered using a finance app, you might be tempted to try tracking the state of your finances in a spreadsheet. But finance apps these days are so inexpensive and easy-to-use that they are well worth the investment, both in software and training.

There used to be a great variety of options in the world of accounting software for small businesses. (Does anyone remember the epic battle between Microsoft and Intuit?) But the choices in financial applications have take a similar path as office apps - there are fewer choices, but the ones that remain are exceptionally good.

These days, the leading options in small business finance software are QuickBooks, Sage Peachtree, and AccountEdge. Any of them will provide a perfectly serviceable solution for your choir. A complete review of any one package is outside the scope of this blog post, but there are many reviews available online.

Here at the Girl Choir, we use QuickBooks Online. Although it has somewhat fewer features that the desktop app, it has everything we need to run our choir. Plus, it gives access to everyone who needs it wherever the happen to be: from any of the computers in the office, from the laptop of our treasurer, or even from the office of our accountant at tax-time.

Must-Have Apps: Email Marketing

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Despite the rapid growth in usage of social media platforms, email marketing still matters. It’s one of the fastest, most effective, and least expensive ways to get your message out to the world.

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Must-Have Apps: Contact Relationship Management (CRM)

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Who are the people in your list of contacts? If you’re like most choirs, chances are they are your:

  • singers (and, if you’re a children’s choir, their parents),
  • staff,
  • audience members,
  • donors,
  • volunteers,
  • suppliers,

and lots more.

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Must-Have Apps: Online Ticket Sales

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Anyone who has produced a concert knows how much effort is involved in ensuring that ticket sales are handled correctly. There’s a lot of information to keep track of, payments to process, will-call lists to generate, seating charts to worry about, and more.

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Must-Have Apps: Content Management Systems

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Nobody writes static web pages anymore. Users have come to expect interactive and up-to-date content everywhere they surf. And there is no easier way to provide that experience than with a content management system or “CMS”.

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Must-Have Apps: Hosting Services: Your Off-Ramp from the Information Superhighway

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In previous postings, I discussed must-have apps for your office (the “intranet”), which helps your insiders do their jobs. But any choir that wants to attract audience members, donors, and choristers must also have a presence on the internet.

If the internet is an information superhighway, then a hosting service (or internet service provider, or “ISP”) is an information strip mall.

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Must-Have Apps: TechSoup: A Recipe for Success

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In my previous entry, I mentioned TechSoup as a source for inexpensive Microsoft Office licenses. Well, it’s also a source for a whole lot more. Software, operating systems, graphic design tools, … even telephones, copiers, and computers can be purchased at deep discounts. TechSoup is an absolutely must-have app for any nonprofit technology buyer.

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Must-Have Apps: Office Supplies

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If you use a computer -- whether a Mac or a PC -- you’ll have to read and write documents in Microsoft Word and Excel format. Eventually, you’re going to be given Powerpoint slides to read or present. This isn’t an endorsement of Microsoft; it’s a fact of life -- Microsoft Office is the de facto standard for document exchange between PCs.

Unfortunately, Office is pricey. A single-user, single-computer business license for Office is $199.99, and if you need to add Publisher or Access, the price is to $399.99. If you need Office on multiple computers, this can add up quickly.

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Must-Have Apps: What Do I Need?

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Chorus America recently asked the following question on their Facebook page:

Chorus administrators, what are some of your essential software programs/websites/apps for managing your choir?

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