The Mid-Texas Symphony Orchestra: "Take a seat with the Orchestra"

A new twist on donor recognition

The premise:

The Mid-Texas Symphony Orchestra, located approximately 35 miles east of San Antonio, launched a donor-recognition program targeted to increase donor contributions while creating a stronger sense of “family” between musicians and patrons.

How it works:

Many orchestras have a chair-endowment program to recognize donors, but the MTSO decided to take it a step further by embroidering the names of donors on seat covers that are placed on the musician’s chairs. Three donor categories—$1,500 for a principal’s chair, $1,000 for a second’s chair, and $500 for a section chair—were established and colors assigned to each donation level: gold, red, and white, respectively. Donor names are embroidered on the black seat covers and are visible to the audience only when the orchestra is not seated. Additionally, a chart on display in the lobby indicates the orchestra “seating arrangement” and the donor’s names are listed above their sponsored seat. The program is in its first year.

The Results:

  • The Mid-Texas Symphony finds this program successful for several reasons: The seat covers travel easily to the orchestra’s multiple venues
  • The “seating arrangement” on display in the lobby generated interest from new donors, adding ten new contributions in the first year
  • The lobby display also sparked immediate cases of donors increasing their contribution level – in one circumstance, a donor immediately joined the gold $1,500 level
  • The program has connected donors to the musicians whose chairs they sponsor (although donors are not officially granted a meeting with their musician, the emotional attachment created by the seat cover sometimes facilitates an unofficial introduction)

To read more about the Program:
The Mid-Texas Symphony Orchestra: Take a Seat

For further information
Jack Linden
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