No Donation Too Small As Nashville Symphony Seeks To Fill Financial Hole

One challenge for balancing the books of any orchestra is that the number of musicians is relatively fixed. You can't perform a Mahler Symphony unless without enough skilled performers to cover every part. Operating and maintaining the symphony hall also brings a number of set costs. Credit: Bill Steber/Nashville Symphony

One challenge for balancing the books of any orchestra is that the number of musicians is relatively fixed. You can’t perform a Mahler Symphony unless without enough skilled performers to cover every part. Operating and maintaining the symphony hall also brings a number of set costs. Credit: Bill Steber/Nashville Symphony

The Nashville Symphony needs millions of dollars to get its budget back in shape. The orchestra is talking to major donors and potential corporate sponsors. But it’s also looking to the other end of the spectrum, finding new ways to solicit small gifts on the theory that every little bit helps.

Ten dollars. That’s what the Nashville Symphony is asking supporters to donate via a social media tool called Givver. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to what the orchestra ultimately needs, but in a tough time symphony spokeswoman Laurie Davis says donations of any size are more important than ever. What’s more, Givver requires people to tweet each time they make a gift, so every donation buys a little more visibility for the fundraising effort.

Donations are the primary source of income for most American orchestras. Last year’s gifts to the Nashville Symphony were twenty million less than what it was pulling in before the recession. Orchestra officials say they will make cutbacks, and have already laid off the Schermerhorn Symphony Center’s food service workers. But most decisions about what will be trimmed and by how much can’t happen until the end of contract negotiations with the symphony’s musicians, which are still ongoing.

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