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From the BHS Board: New Philanthropic Strategy

New Philanthropic Strategy for the Barbershop Harmony Society

On June 6th, the Barbershop Harmony Society Board of Directors announced a new fundraising strategy to support our BHS singing communities and programs. Effective July 1, 2020, the Barbershop Harmony Society will manage its own charitable efforts, rather than relying on Harmony Foundation International, Inc. (HFI) as its intermediate fundraising organization.

The accompanying Frequently Asked Questions will give you a more thorough understanding of why we are taking this step.

At the heart of the matter is this: Because the impact of your generosity is so incredible, the Society Board has been concerned for several years about the inefficiencies of the charitable process itself. From 2015 through 2019, HFI raised $16.2 million, almost entirely from the BHS community, and granted $3.6 million to Harmony Hall programs (22%) and $2.2 million to chapters and districts (14%). Said another way, $10.4 million, or 64% of what was raised from the BHS community, was spent on things other than BHS programs, chapters, and districts -- the very things our community most cares about.

Please note: This disagreement is a business one, centered around unified messaging and the cost of fundraising, with the SBOD believing that 36% of revenue going to BHS programs, chapters, and districts is too low.

The Society Board believes it is our fiduciary responsibility to make sure the dollars donated by BHS members are used for the donors’ intended purposes of supporting BHS programs, activities, and operations, whether at Harmony Hall or in our chapters and districts. The Society Board of Directors and HFI Trustees have been discussing how to work more closely together for almost 2 years. We were not able to reach an agreement on how to do so. Therefore, the Society Board concluded that the best way to ensure that your dollars support BHS programs, chapters and districts would be to operate our own fundraising program.

On July 1, we will launch a new giving platform. Among other features, it will allow the donor to designate up to 85% to the local level. It will include robust tools to allow us to partner with chapters and districts to use the platform to do your own direct fundraising.

Our new strategy will empower you to:

  • Connect your generosity more directly to the impact you wish to make.
  • Direct a much larger portion of your giving to your chapter or district, should you choose to do so.
  • Ensure that the largest possible portion of your gift goes directly to the work you care about.
  • Manage all the ways you may relate to the Barbershop Harmony Society — as member, singer, donor, ensemble member, arranger, contestant, learner, educator, spectator, buyer, etc. — in a coordinated way.

Thank you for making an impact

We appreciate everything you do to support barbershop as a way to transform lives and communities. Whether you do so as a singer, volunteer, chapter leader, donor, or all of the above, you are important to us. With your support, tens of thousands of youth and hundreds of music educators and classrooms have been transformed by barbershop, hundreds of chapters have gotten stronger, millions of people have enjoyed our YouTube videos, and BHS has come to be seen as a leader in the choral arts field.

As you can imagine, it has been a long and heartbreaking process for us to decide to separate from HFI, as their staff are our colleagues and close friends. We imagine you’ll feel the same way. We expect you’ll have a lot of questions, and possibly concerns, about this change. We hope we can answer some of them here. We are focused on the opportunity to create more barbershop in a world that sorely needs it, and hope you’ll do the same.

On or about July 1, we will send you detailed information about our new giving platforms. We hope you’ll give it a look, and consider being a part of it. If you would like to make sure we send you a reminder when we are up and running, simply leave your name and contact information here.

The Society Board of Directors thanks you for your passion for our hobby, and your commitment to spreading barbershop throughout the world, whatever form that commitment takes!

In Harmony,

Barbershop Harmony Society Board of Directors