Volunteers are an important resource to the orchestra community. The League thanks them for supporting orchestras everywhere. See below, and in the left hand menu, for all the resources the League has to offer.

2017 Conference Materials

For materials presented at the 2017 National Conference in Detroit, click here. 

Strategic Conversations

Strategic Conversations 2018

To sign up for the 2018 Strategic Conversations click here.

Strategic Conversations 2017

Each fall members of the Volunteer Council facilitate a multiple-week conference call series for volunteer association Presidents and Presidents-Elect, entitled Strategic Conversations. On these calls we discuss governance, leadership development, member recruitment and retention, fundraising, and other topics. It is always amazing how much volunteers have in common, regardless of location or size of their home orchestras, and how the conversations and solutions suggested can be beneficial to all. With this in mind, we have decided to post outlines from past calls, making them accessible to all:

Strategic Conversations 2016

Strategic Conversations 2015

2016 Conference Materials

This year, nearly 1,000 orchestra administrators, musicians, trustees, and volunteers gathered in Baltimore for the League's 71st National Conference, in 2016.

Thank you to all of the volunteers who attended Conference and participated in a multitude of ways! Please find some of the highlights of this year’s Conference, along with session materials (including Power Point presentations and handouts from a number of the volunteer sessions) here.

2015 Conference Materials

For materials presented at the 2015 National Conference in Cleveland, click here.

Scouting and Symphony: A Partnership

As part of the volunteer track at the 2015 League of American Orchestras’ Conference in Cleveland, one of the Gold Book Awards of Excellence projects to be presented is the Girl Scout Workshop. The Illinois Symphony Orchestra Guild of Bloomington-Normal partnered with the Girl Scouts to enable the Scouts to fulfill their requirements for the Musician Award in a 70-minute interactive, pre-concert, educational workshop and by attending a follow up Illinois Symphony Orchestra Concert.  Workshop activities included:

  • Instrument petting zoo of the instrument families
  • Music around the world in anthems
  • Making instruments, performing, and conducting
  • Fun music websites
  • Preview of music to be performed
  • Concert etiquette

The presentation in Cleveland will stress how to conduct this workshop in volunteer associations' own areas, using the Illinois Symphony Orchestra Guild's partnership as an example.

Interested in conducting a similar program in your home community? Here are some materials provided by Elaine Cousins, the Illinois Symphony Orchestra Guild of Bloomington-Normal, for you to use:

PowerPoint Slides that you can use and modify for your own Girl Scout Workshop

The Complete “How To” Guide for a Girl Scout Musician Award

Volunteer Project of the Month: Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale’s New Year’s Eve Bash

Challenged by their executive director to develop a new fundraiser in a few months, the special events committee of the Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale in Montana came up with the concept of a pre-concert New Year’s Eve party at the Great Hall, a beautiful and historic setting at a local college. This 5:00pm-7:30 p.m. event allowed guests to mingle, sip drinks, sample various food stations, and listen to live piano music.

The Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, like many smaller-budget orchestras, has only four paid staff. Therefore, collaboration among board members, staff, and volunteers was key to the success of the event. The special events committee, made up of board members, volunteers, and the executive director, coordinated tasks and responsibilities: board members identified potential sponsors and assisted the executive director in making calls; the executive director created and monitored the budget; a board member with connections to the college worked with the caterer on the event’s menu and floor plan, and met with campus officials on such details as snow removal and security; the marketing director wrote press releases and designed tickets and signage;  and volunteers arranged for a liquor license, the donation of complimentary beverages, and a bakery to donate the dessert.

Beyond meeting their 100-guest goal and netting $6,900 (surpassing their $3,900 goal), members of the Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale state that perhaps the biggest benefit of the event was the camaraderie and esprit that came about from staff and volunteers working together. 

Volunteer Project of the Month: San Francisco Symphony’s Deck the Hall

One of the San Francisco Symphony’s marquee events is Deck the Hall, a holiday tradition every December since 1980. It includes a concert, silent auction, youth-oriented activities, and the unveiling of fir trees decorated by non-profits and placed throughout the lobbies at Davies Symphony Hall. Proceeds benefit SFS’s education and community programs as well as Deck the Hall Community Day, which is presented free of charge for 2,000 underserved children.

Deck the Hall engages volunteers from SFS’s Junior Committee, which includes many young professional mothers. They help secure tree sponsors and auction items, plan children’s activities, collaborate on fundraising, and help with outreach to service organizations and their own social circles. Volunteers and staff work together to produce both events, including dressing up as holiday characters. Cheryl Runneboom, immediate past president of the Junior Committee, describes it as “a great way for Committee members to get involved at the Symphony, but also to have an impact on the community.” 

The Junior Committee has been a significant source of SFS volunteer leadership; members join looking for family-friendly activities and become inspired to work in other capacities. Deck the Hall also offers volunteer opportunities to nearby corporations, many of which are technology companies seeking to give back to the community.  

For young attendees, Deck the Hall may be their first chance to experience a live performance, furthering SFS’s commitment to making music accessible to children of all backgrounds. Deck the Hall engages volunteers in a substantial project, and identifies leaders for future projects.

Governance Board Game Goes Viral!

From Seattle and Spokane, WA to Columbia, SC, symphony volunteers are rolling the dice and racking up points, all while learning about governance ... most importantly, some are also winning chocolate prizes! Developed by the Volunteer Council for the 2014 League of American Orchestras' National Conference in Seattle, the board game, titled Charting a Path for Leadership Season by Season, was an unexpected hit with the delegates.

As most of us know, the subject of governance will often cause one's eyelids to become heavy - but is it really that dull? The concept behind this game is to make learning and discussion about good governance fun – and have we mentioned competitive? The idea is so simple - traverse a game board accumulating positive points for a job well done in a particular aspect of governance, or negative points for, well, bad governance.

A sampling of landing spaces included:

  1. Establish a consent agenda for board meetings (5 points)
  2. Fail to arrange for tax filings (Lose two turns)
  3. Complete your nominating slate for 2015-16 early (5 points)
  4. Lose a turn!  No reason, just life!

At Conference, delegates played in groups of eight – there were 12 tables in all.  At each table, winners by point tally earned delicious Symphony chocolate bars. The overall high point winner received a fabulous box of chocolates from famed Seattle chocolatier – Fran's. Our very smart delegates helped game developers (and Volunteer Council members) Elaine Cousins and Linda Weisbruch work out the "kinks" on this, the game's maiden voyage. Following Conference, Elaine and Linda have continued to receive great feedback about how to make the game even better – and have had several requests to share the game.

Interested in playing the Good Governance game in your neck of the woods?  The board graphics, score sheets, and handouts are now available for download right here:

Additionally, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. will be happy to advise on where one can locate board pieces and dice for a very small investment. Isn't it time you charted a path to leadership and laughed all the way there?

Check out these happy hands vying to win at the very first game played in Seattle


Goldbook Project of the Month: The Run for Music

In its fourth year, The Run for Music has grown into a very successful fundraiser for the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra and its youth music education programs.

In partnership with the local running club, Gulf Coast Runners, this professionally managed 10k race is staged from Artis-Naples’ campus in beautiful Pelican Bay. As the race starts on a crisp Saturday morning, 1,000 runners/walkers are treated to the national anthem played by an enthusiastic collection of Naples Philharmonic musicians. Then, all along the 6.1 mile course, race participants hear motivating music played by casually dressed Phil musicians, situated along the center median of Pelican Bay Boulevard.

This event is successful for several reasons:

  1. Running is at an all-time high in the USA, and is enjoyed by all ages.
  2. This event puts the orchestra musicians “up close and personal” with the public … no tuxedos allowed!
  3. Sponsors are given great exposure to a sizable audience through logo’d race tee shirts, race day banners, orchestra and running club websites, and local media coverage.
  4. Race participants pay an entry or registration fee of $20-$35, depending upon when they sign-up for the race; 500 runners X $30 equals $15,000!
  5. The race is an opportunity to partner with another organization in the community. Aligning with a local running club is recommended. Teaming up with a local high school running program is another option.

For questions, contact Mitch Norgart, Vice President of the Naples Philharmonic League at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 239 404 7007.

For more information on this Gold Book Award winning project, please visit 10K Run for Music on the Gold Book site. For other project ideas visit Gold Book and search for projects of interest to you. Gold Book is a resource for successful projects dating back to 2005, and facilitates easy networking and information sharing organizations.

Volunteer Council

The Volunteer Council and the League of American Orchestras provide leadership skills and assistance to orchestra volunteers through ongoing education and communication.

The Council works as your link to the League, by informing the League of critical volunteer issues and delivering the most pertinent learning and leadership development to your volunteer association.

The Volunteer Council is celebrating 50 years of serving America's orchestras! See the video for some of the highlights of the past 50 years.

The League recognizes and thanks the Volunteer Council and Sustainers for their longtime support of the Annual Fund, Campaign, and National Conference, and in particular for their countless hours providing assistance to volunteers in the field.

League Resources and Programs

League Publications

Other Resources

  • Association of Major Symphony Orchestra Volunteers
    The Association of Major Symphony Orchestra Volunteers (AMSOV) is a networking and support organization for volunteer leaders of major symphony orchestras with top tier budgets in the United States and Canada