How to Start a Non-Profit Music Organization

by David Koenig

A non-profit music organization can help to promote and organize music activities, such as concerts, workshops, fundraisers and social events. A non-profit can be as formal or informal as you like, although the more members you deal with and the more money you handle, the more structure you will need.

Contact your Secretary of State's office (the Lieutenant Governor may be the specific contact in some states) and ask for information about non-profit organizations in your state. Your state may have its own additional requirements for non-profits.

Form a board with a chairperson, secretary and treasurer. The chairperson organizes and hosts meetings. The secretary takes minutes (a written record) of the meetings. A treasurer takes responsibility for finances. The board may include just the founding members of the group at first.

Write a mission statement for your music organization. This tells people its purpose. Example: "The Springfield Concert Association exists to organize monthly concerts in Springfield and promote other music and arts events in the city." Make it no more than a paragraph.

Write Articles of Association for your music organization. This document states your purpose, rules and activities in a formal and orderly way and in more detail than the mission statement. Provide details of positions and responsibilities, e.g., musical director or artistic director, membership rules, how the organization makes decisions and how it is to be funded, e.g. arts grants, private donations, membership dues or fund-raising concerts.

Go to a local bank or credit union and open an account for the group. This makes collecting and keeping track of money a safer, more secure process.

Join a professional association for music organizations. For a fee, they provide you with resources, advice and opportunities to network with similar organizations and individuals. Examples include the National Association for Music Education, the American Choral Directors Association and the National Band Association.

Contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to apply for tax-exempt status under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. If you show the IRS you offer a public, charitable or socially beneficial service through music, you can make big savings this way.

Tips

  • Creating a web site is vital to gaining a wide audience in the modern world. As your organization grows, consider applying through your Secretary of State for trust or corporation status.

About the Author

Dave Koenig has written professionally since 2005. His writing interests include the arts, film, religion and language. Koenig holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical-theological studies from Manchester University and a Postgraduate Certificate of Education in religious studies from Lancaster University.

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