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Volunteer Notes - Summer 2017

The League of American Orchestras’ Volunteer Council leads, advocates, and champions volunteer organizations in their efforts to support their orchestras’ community outreach and civic partnerships to advance the experience of orchestral music.

AnchorIn this issue:

picture1.jpg Anchor A Letter from Incoming President, Becky Odland

In 1942, the movies Casablanca and Bambi were released. The most popular holiday gift was Little Golden Books. A loaf of bread was 9 cents, a gallon of gas was 19 cents, and a postage stamp was 3 cents. At age 13, Anne Frank wrote her first entry in a new diary. The most popular song was Deep in the Heart of Texas.  AND the League of American Orchestras began "when Leta Snow, longtime manager of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, gathered representatives from 40 orchestras in 28 states 'to stimulate interest in civic symphony orchestras, to further the welfare of these orchestras through an exchange of ideas and programs,’ among other goals." (From Robert Sandla's article in Symphony, the magazine of the League of American Orchestras, Summer 2017 issue.)

The League is marking its 75th anniversary this year, a remarkable milestone. The Volunteer Council, under the League's umbrella, has been supporting orchestra volunteer organizations for 53 years. I am honored to be the Volunteer Council's president this year, following a lineage of extraordinary leaders. My orchestra organization is Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra of which I am a past president. I have been a member of the Volunteer Council for five years, holding various positions including Volunteer Notes editor, Gold Book Awards chair, Member Recruitment, and Touch Base Calls.

Mark your calendars for the League's 2018 Conference to be held in Chicago, June 13-15. The Volunteer Council will be spending the year planning the volunteer track for Conference. We also offer a variety of resources such as quarterly issues of Volunteer Notes, personal touch base calls, Strategic Conversations for organizations' leadership, in addition to award winning projects and best practice webinars found online at americanorchestras.org/board-members-volunteers/volunteers, Mentoring services for new volunteer organizations and auxiliaries in stress are also offered. Contact Caitlin Whealon, League volunteer liaison, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be connected to the appropriate person for your specific needs.

One of our major resources for volunteer organizations is a collection of award winning projects from around the country that are online for all to view and use, tailoring them to their own association’s needs. I invite you to submit a project(s) from your organization to Gold Book to be considered for presentation at the 2018 Conference in Chicago and to be added to the online collection. The deadline is August 1. Go to goldbookonline.org for submission guidelines. Further information can be found in the article in this issue.

Another service offered by the Volunteer Council is Strategic Conversations. Please join me and Volunteer Council President-elect Tiffany Ammerman (Marshall Symphony League, Marshall, Texas) for five one-hour, peer-to-peer conversations offered to incoming volunteer presidents and presidents-elect on various topics. We have been told, countless times, how valuable these learning and networking sessions have been. For more information and registration, see the article below.

Finally, new this year, we have launched a Facebook page, Friends of the League of American Orchestra Volunteer Council. We invite you to join!

Best wishes for the coming year in your volunteer efforts supporting your orchestras. A sincere thank you for all you do! And cheers to another 75 years of the League's work.

Becky Odland,

President 2017- 18

Register Now for Strategic Conversations


Debbie McKinney
Notes from Debbie McKinney, Outgoing Volunteer Council President

Sixteen volunteer members (including two ex-officio members) from fourteen states, representing all orchestra group sizes, dedicated themselves to the Volunteer Council and our mission to support volunteers nationwide. Caitlin Whealon, the League of American Orchestras' staff liaison to the Volunteer Council, was an essential part of every aspect of our work!

This year, we participated in several projects to strengthen our engagement and expand the conversation with the League's leadership and staff:

  • The Volunteer Council worked closely with the League's Development Office staff to develop and implement a volunteer fundraising strategy through letter, email, and phone solicitations. Each Volunteer Council member donated to the annual drive.
  • The Volunteer Council hosted a wine and cheese reception for all League staff during our Winter Meeting, furthering our relationship with staff and providing an opportunity to discuss our shared interests.
  • League staff contributed to our Strategic Conversations, our conference call series from October through December for volunteer association presidents and presidents-elect, assisting them in making plans for a successful year in leadership.

Planning the volunteer sessions at the National Conference in Detroit represents our most significant contribution and is detailed in the article, "2017 Conference Highlights," by Tiffany Ammerman, Conference Chair. Council members helped draw attendees to Conference by contacting volunteer associations within a 300-mile radius of Detroit via email and phone calls. Volunteer Notes also enticed volunteers from across the country to attend the 72nd national League Conference.

We welcomed two new members this year representing the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Madison (WI) Symphony Orchestra.

The League raised $3,067,197 in fiscal year 2017, reflecting an increase of nearly $200,000 over last year’s results. The Volunteer Council played an essential role in making the 2017 annual fund drive a success, which yielded a total of $102,680 for the League—an increase of nearly $30,000 over last year. 
The League’s first ever one-day fundraising campaign—League Giving Day—surpassed its goal of $75,000 to achieve a total of $112,718.  In addition to exceeding its financial goal, League Giving Day:
  • accelerated year-end giving, especially among annual fund donors, reversing the trend of securing annual gifts in the final hours of the fiscal year;
  • attracted 47 first time donors to the League, and nine donors who have not supported the League in more than 5 years; and
  • created a compelling rationale for donors to give more than once in a single fiscal year, resulting in 37 donors giving two or three gifts in FY 2017.
It was a privilege and a pleasure to serve as President of the Volunteer Council this year. It would not have been possible without the incredible work and dedication of all sixteen wonderful Volunteer Council members. They are extremely talented and dedicated individuals, and I am proud to count them as my life friends.
Thank you!
Debbie McKinney                                                                                                                                                        
Volunteer Council President, 2016-17                                                                                                         
Oklahoma City Orchestra League

2017 National Conference in Detroit: Highlights
Tiffany Ammerman, Conference Committee Chair
The 72nd National Conference was held at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center Tuesday, June 6 to Thursday, June 8. The Conference theme, Detroit Rising / Transformation in American Orchestras allowed attendees to address issues facing American Orchestras while encompassing Detroit’s struggle in overcoming hurdles to become a city on the rise. The music community can literally “take note of” Detroit’s accomplishments as orchestras all over America are transforming in the face of rapidly changing public policy landscape. 
  • The Conference explored the role of orchestras in our increasingly diverse society and our abilities to be creative, while remaining inclusive to our communities and the culture of our orchestras themselves.
  • The week began for volunteers on Monday evening with the Gold Book reception honoring the following winners of eight Awards of Excellence projects and the Classic Award. Gold Book Award Winners showcased their projects with PowerPoint presentations over the next several days.
    • Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Guild’s Arts and Academic Study Group (Plus Classic Award)
    • Women’s Symphony League of Austin’s Red Haute Valentine Party and Children’s Style Show
    • Oklahoma City Orchestra League’s Music Competitions… An Enduring Legacy
    • Friends of Symphony Orchestra Augusta’s Silent Art Auction for Scholarship Fund
    • Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Guild’s Duplicate and Social Bridge Tournament
    • Symphony League of Kansas City’s Rhapsody in Blue Ball
    • Grand Rapid’s Symphony Friends Rumsey Street Bazaar
    • Utah Symphony Guild’s Music Outreach Program
  • Immediately following the reception, volunteers arriving early were afforded the opportunity to attend a wine tasting and dinner event at Andiamo Restaurant on the Waterfront. Volunteers enjoyed the opportunity to network with colleagues at the wine tasting before being seated in small groups over a delectable dinner. Conversation flowed, and creative ideas were exchanged.


Wine and Dine, Italian Style!
  • The Volunteer sessions opened on Tuesday morning with a welcome message from Volunteer Council President Debbie McKinney and Ginny Lundquist, President of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Volunteer Council and liaison to the League of American Orchestras’ Volunteer Council.  
  • On Tuesday and Wednesday, ten winning projects were showcased in stimulating Roundtables, an “expo” type format. Two additional tables displayed Volunteer Council resources and leadership tools. These presentations were made by the following organizations: 
    • Amarillo Symphony Guild’s Belles and Beaux Team App    
    • Women's Symphony League of Austin’s Children's Day Art Park
    • Women's Committee of the Cleveland Orchestra’s Music Study Groups 
    • Detroit Symphony Orchestra Volunteer Council’s Nutcracker Luncheon:  Eat, Shop, Join
    • Houston Symphony League’s Making Friendships for a Lifetime 
    • Kansas City Symphony Alliance’s 47th Symphony Designers’ Showhouse
    • Kansas City Symphony Alliance’s Rising Symphony Stars 
    • Las Vegas Philharmonic Guild’s Light Up the Night with Liberace
    • Women's Association of Northwest Indiana Symphony Society’s 27th Annual Festival of Trees
    • Friends of Music Guild, Orchestra of Southern Utah’s Community Recitals Benefit Musicians & Community 



Chatting with Gold Book award winners

Roundtables – What are they . . . ?  Fun, fast, expo-style way to present winning projects and take home good information.

One day’s wealth of Roundtable award winners!

  • The networking lunch was also held on Tuesday. This important session featured speakers, Michele Hodges, President of Belle Isle Conservancy, Philip Rivera, Director, Volunteer Services of the Detroit Institute of Arts, and Renee Rodriguez, Volunteer Manager of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. These community leaders discussed volunteer leadership and member recruitment and retention best practices. 


Conference delegates enjoy Networking Luncheon

  • A panel followed titled “Volunteer Strategic Conversations – It’s Your Turn to Talk,” derived from Strategic Conversations held earlier in the year with League/Guild Presidents and Volunteer Council Leadership, focusing on struggles and successes from the field. The panel allowed the opportunity to continue the conversation with delegates discussing membership issues, challenges and successes. 
  • On Thursday, the excitement continued with a panel, “Leveraging Community Resources,” featuring two Gold Book Winners presenting creative ideas for community inclusion for successful projects.
  • The Final Hour on Thursday included an exciting and fun session, “Jeopardy:  The Membership Game” created by Immediate Past President, Linda Weisbruch to assist delegates in better member recruitment, retention and development.
“Alexa” and her “assistant” explain Volunteer Council’s version
  • Conference Delegates then assisted in “Build-A-Webinar.” For the first time ever, Conference volunteers previewed a webinar draft, suggested content, and shared experiences. 

You, too, could be at these tables!

Special thanks go to the Conference Committee chairs and to Caitlin Whealon, our League liaison, who helped make this Conference a success!
Check back later this week for all PowerPoints, scripts, and handouts for each of the Volunteer Projects can be found on the League's website.

Join us next year in Chicago! 



Exploring online resources for Volunteers


A panel presentation of two inspiring projects            
A second day’s wealth of Roundtable Award Winners!


Gold Book Award Winners enjoying the reception in their honor
Panel of Gold Book Award Winners 
A brief moment before presentation of Gold Book Awards
Enjoying the Gold Book Award Winners’ Reception
Enjoying Andiamo’s wine tasting
A quiet moment to chat
Las Vegas Philharmonic Guild happy with their award!
Happy Conference organizers
Networking Luncheon ready for guests!
Dinner at the Whitney
photos by Beth Wise and Carol Lou Yaeger

The Volunteer Council invites you to have a seat at the table next year! 

  • Share your best practices and projects with volunteers across the country.
  • Submit your project to the League of American Orchestras' Gold Book at goldbookonline.org

Could one of these awards go to you and your volunteer organization in Chicago?