Giving Tuesday, and Celebrating 200 Blog Posts

December 7, 2020

It is that time of year again to talk about the importance of Giving Tuesday and generosity as we prepare for the holiday season. Giving Tuesday is a global movement that started in 2012 to encourage people to do good especially during the holiday season. It inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. Last year, according to their website, individuals in the United States raised $511,000,000. While the Giving Tuesday event occurred on December 1st this year, it is not the only time individuals can donate to museums and non-profit organizations. It is a reminder to be inspired and inspire to do good Museums and non-profit organizations prepare each year for Giving Tuesday to connect with the communities they are a part of, including through emails and newsletters, and encourage community members to donate to their causes if they are able.

There are many Giving Tuesday campaigns that museums and non-profit organizations utilize to bring awareness to their causes. Some of them include but are not limited to:

Three Village Historical Society, which works within the community to explore local history through education about the history of the people who have lived in the Three Village area from earliest habitation to the present, sent emails out to members, volunteers, et. cetera the Giving Tuesday campaign. Within the email, they were selling the new book A Celebration of House Tours Past to commemorate the 40 years of the Candlelight House Tour that would have occurred this year and were originally going to have a limited-space dinner to replace this year’s tour but had to cancel due to updated regulations in response to the pandemic. The Candlelight House Tour typically accounts for a large portion of the funding that sustains TVHS for the year to come. The email also stated:

All of us at the Three Village Historical Society are doing everything we can to give back as we continue to adjust to the world around us. We are excited to offer new virtual programming in the coming year to help you engage in online education, and learn something new about our local history!

That’s why we’re asking for your continued support this #GivingTuesday. If you are able, please consider making a donation today. We’ve set an ambitious goal of 50 online donations and new or renewed memberships. You can become one of our generous supporters with a donation of any amount or with a new membership beginning at just $40 annually.

In addition to the donation and membership, there is also an Online Holiday Market. Originally going to be outdoors, the Holiday Market have items that include but are not limited to vintage framed photos, ornaments, books, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and tote bags.

 I received an email from Reimagine which is a non-profit organization sparking community-driven festivals and conversations that explore death and celebrate life. Reimagine shared a letter from one of their collaborators, she wrote about how much Reimagine meant to her when she lost both of her parents, to show how the support they receive helps them build a community that gives needed space for grappling with loss.

Facing History and Ourselves is a global organization with a network of 300,000 teachers, in every type of middle grade and secondary level school setting, that uses the lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate. Through the partnership with educators around the world, they are able to reach millions of students in thousands of classrooms every year. Within their Giving Tuesday email campaign, Facing History and Ourselves expressed their gratefulness for this year’s Thanksgiving for the teachers’ creativity, compassion, and resilience as well as the contributions members made to make the work with teachers and students possible. Also, they expressed that while the holiday season will be challenging for all of us they found hope in the teachers being able to use their resources and being able to help teachers transition to remote learning when the pandemic hit.

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) shared their Giving Tuesday campaign through the members’ Weekly Dispatch email newsletter. They ask readers to think about doing good with AASLH through the Annual Fund, and shared that the donations power new professional development programs, efforts to improve diversity and inclusiveness, and help promote the relevance of history.

Preservation Long Island sent a thank you letter to express that they are thankful for the continued support through their virtual programming. There were also included links to make donations and becoming a member if one is able to do so.

Each of the above examples pointed out that if you are able to make a donation to please make a consideration to donate, and that you do not need to wait until Giving Tuesday to extend generosity.

In the past four years since starting this blog then ultimately the website, I wrote and released 200 blog posts. Thank you everyone who has read, shared, and commented on the blogs from when I first posted a blog to the most recent blog posts. To celebrate this milestone, I decided to do something really special for the blog and website. The blog and website will be expanded to offer everyone more opportunities to bridge between individuals and the museum and public history field through various projects that strive to be more accessible offsite.

Some of the various projects I am planning include books to become a part of the narrative within both fields. I will be making an announcement soon about an upcoming book project on the museum field I am starting work on.

In order for these projects to come to fruition, I ask you all to make a donation of as little or as much as you can on the donation page.  I believe that every little bit helps, and that it is especially hard nowadays make large donations. This is why I created a page on Buy Me a Coffee, and you can access it on the donations page. Buy Me a Coffee is a more simple and fun way to support projects like this one, and you do not need to create an account to contribute. You can donate as little or as much as you could. On this page, I am also offering consulting to provide advice on content creation as well as advice on any upcoming projects related to museums, history, and public history.

If you are not able to make a donation, you can also share this post and donation page. Also, I will share updates in the blog on how the projects are coming along to share with you what each donation is working towards; so, stay tuned.

Thank you in advance! Your support is greatly appreciated.

Donations Page

To go directly to my Buy Me a Coffee page, click here.

Previous Relevant Blog Post:

Reaction: Giving Tuesday; Low Salaries in Museums

Links:

Three Village Historical Society

TVHS Online Holiday Market

Reimagine

Facing History and Ourselves

AASLH

Preservation Long Island

About Buy Me a Coffee

Charging Admission to Museums during this Pandemic: A Discussion

August 13, 2020

As some museums are either considering or planning to reopen their doors, there is some discussion about charging admission to visit both virtually and in-person. The pandemic has caused numerous financial hardships for many people, museums, nonprofits, theaters, stores, et. cetera. Museums charging admission is not a new topic in the field, but it has especially been relevant within the last months as museums consider re-opening their doors. In order to figure out how to keep museums running financially, museum professionals have been talking about whether or not to charge admission for some virtual experiences.

A conclusive answer for all museums would be hard to reach since each museum have their own budgets and their own limitations, and the pandemic created even more limitations for museums. In the blog post I wrote a couple of years ago What We Can Do About Admission Fees to Our Museums? I pointed out that

Many museums have different admission policies based on their operation budgets and funding they may or may not receive from donors and sometimes the government. The decision on what the admission prices to museums is not an easy one to make. Many museum professionals and visitors debate over what would be an appropriate amount to pay admission to museums.

With the pandemic continuing to financially effect museums among other recreational, educational, and businesses, the previous statement I made in that post is still true now but with more things to consider. It is not only museums, schools, businesses, et. cetera that are struggling but families and individuals are also struggling, and for many spending money on trips to museums (that have re-opened their physical sites to certain extents) is not a priority.

Museums are considering varying options to address the admissions issue. The Three Village Historical Society in East Setauket, New York, for instance, decided on suggested donations for their virtual events. One museum in Germany decided to do an experiment with a different way of charging admissions. In the post shared on the American Alliance of Museums website, they shared information from the experiment by the Weserburg Museum of Modern Art in Bremen, Germany when they decided to change their admission policy to a “pay as you stay” model; there were two test phases that occurred in December 2019 and March 2020 when visitors paid one Euro per ten minutes, and in their results they revealed that while changing the admission to exist prices was a challenge the efforts had exceeded their expectations. Some of their findings include

The results of our experiment show that this pricing approach, which so far only existed in theory, not only worked in museum practice, but produced positive results. We must, of course, gather more data to understand the effects better, and it is in no way obvious that the system would work in other museums. It is also unclear what the effects would be in the long run. Available studies suggest that prices are rarely the decisive factor in the decision about whether or not to visit the arts, at least in Europe. We must also assume that the promotional effects wear off over time. But even if it is only a minor contribution – if a novel pricing model such as this can support our mission to be accessible, visitor oriented and open to new audiences, we should not leave this stone unturned.

When I read the article, I thought that “pay as you stay” model is an interesting option that museum professionals should examine to see if it would work for their museums. Since the United States especially has many museums of varying types, sizes (physical and budget), et. cetera, one model would not work for all of them. Colleen Dilenschneider released some information on her study on admissions to cultural institutions in the post Still Worth It? Admission Cost During the Pandemic for Cultural Entities (DATA). In the post, Dilenschneider pointed out a few things, including but not limited to, that people believe cultural entities are not less worthy of admission costs and that leaders should take a thoughtful approach to the decisions that need to be made about admissions rather than a reactive action. She also described value-for-cost perceptions which is a metric to help professionals understand how much perceptual value derived from an experience relative to its admission price unique to their institutions. For instance, the data informs three conditions as perceptions are being examined keeping data factors in mind:

Value of 100 = Optimally priced. This is the goal! This value means that the organization is priced and perceived such that the cost is not a significant barrier to engagement… while also not leaving money on the table!

Value less than 100 = Value disadvantaged. The lower the value, the proportionately greater the potential barrier to attendance the price point poses. For some organizations, this also represents an opportunity to improve the experience so it’s perceived as more worthy of one’s time and money.

Value greater than 100 = Value advantaged. The higher the value, the more money the organization proportionately risks “leaving on the table.” People would pay more for this experience without it jeopardizing attendance numbers.

In the end, the decision to charge admission is what all museums face but factors such as budgets and funding influences their decision to charge or not charge admission.

I recommend taking a closer look at the resources I mentioned in the list below.

What are your views on admissions to museums, cultural institutions, et. cetera during this pandemic (either virtually, in-person, or a hybrid)?

Links:

“Pay As You Stay” – an alternative pricing model for museums?

What Can We Do About Admission Fees to Our Museums?

Three Village Historical Society

Still Worth It? Admission Cost During the Pandemic for Cultural Entities (DATA)

How Museums Can Generate Revenue Through Digital Content and Virtual Experiences

Reaction: No Money, No New Ideas Conundrum

April 4, 2019

I’m back! I am officially married and I am back from my honeymoon. Thank you all for your patience and support while I took time off to make final preparations for the wedding. My husband and I went into New York City to spend our honeymoon, and we did a number of things we have not done before in the City such as going to see The Phantom of the Opera and Hamilton, visited the Fraunces Tavern Museum (stay tuned for a blog post about this museum), and visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Museum. After we came back from the honeymoon, I came across another post on the Leadership Matters website about an important conundrum that is facing museums and non-profit organizations: no money, no new ideas.

Joan Baldwin wrote about how money and new ideas are important for museums. As museum professionals, we should understand that we could not have one or the other. If we focus too much on bringing in money then we would potentially lose out on new ideas that can keep visitors coming back for more of what we offer. If we focus on too many new ideas, we may not have enough money to support all of these ideas. It is a conundrum we are all familiar with, and it is worth discussing especially as we prepare for new museum professionals to emerge in the field.  One of the takeaways that stuck with me when I read the post was how the right balance between money and new ideas can make a difference. She pointed out that money is important and can ease some worries,

But an organization can be really rich and also really boring. Surely you’ve been to some of those. They are beautifully presented, but stiff, still, and flat. There is, to quote Gertrude Stein, “No there there.” But there are other organizations where, without warning and often without huge budgets, you’re challenged, confronted by things you hadn’t thought about before or presented with memorable narratives. They are the places you remember. They are the ones that stick with you.

One of the reasons I have worked in small museums is how unique the narratives are, and the staff that work with a limited budget are faced with the challenge to keep their exhibits and programs both relevant and interesting for visitors to make numerous trips back to them. I have written about museums I previously visited, and the majority of the ones I write about are those that face the challenge everyday to keep people invested in the narratives. For instance, in a post called Museum Memories: Stanley-Whitman House, I wrote about how the narrative of the house not only shares the history of the families that lived in the house but the history of the town of Farmington; the Stanley-Whitman House is one of the places that continues to find ways to bring attention to its narrative and its significance in the community.

Another point that I took away from the post is the significance of having creativity within the museum. Baldwin revealed in her post that

Imagination and ideas are a museums’ biggest tools. Otherwise you’re just a brilliantly-organized storage space. And yet how do you get out of the scarcity mindset? Practice. Truly. And start small.

It is true that the biggest tools that we can use as museum professionals are our imaginations and ideas. This is also why it is important all of us should take self-care seriously when it comes to using our imaginations, ideas, and creativity. If we continue to work while we burnout, we will not be able to come up with fresh ideas we need to help our museums keep running. Also, it is important that we participate in professional development and networking programs to get inspiration for our own ideas. As the saying goes “Practice makes perfect”, and it definitely applies to us as museum professionals attempting to use our imaginations and ideas for our museums.

I also read the advice Baldwin left for leaders and board members, and I try to follow each advice in my own practice as a museum professional. For instance, I try to model respect and treat everyone’s ideas as doable especially when I work with volunteers who are passionate about the work we do and they bring up ideas that may be helpful for the museum. I think this is what all museum professionals should do no matter what title they hold because if we keep shutting down each other’s ideas we may not be able to have the leaders we need for the future of the museum field. Also, I pay attention to and try to read as much reading material I can get my hands on to expand my knowledge in the museum field and beyond to get inspiration.

I read the advice Baldwin gave for board members, and this advice is important for all board members to follow. Baldwin provided a list of advice she had for board members who may be reading the post:

If you’re a board member:

Model respect and treat everyone’s ideas as doable even if they’re not actionable in the moment.

Know what matters. Understand your organization.

Invite a different staff member to your board meeting every month. Ask them what they would do if you gave them a million dollars. Listen. (And ban the eye-roll.)

Devote some time as a group to talking about ideas as opposed to what’s just happened, what’s currently happening or what will happen. How can you raise money for an organization if you’re not excited about what it’s doing?

Think about ideas as cash catalysts.

All of these points are wonderful and should be followed to not only help the museum but also develop a better relationship between the staff and board. For instance, I think it is a wonderful idea for board members to invite a different staff member to board meetings each month. Staff and board will be able to learn from one another about each other’s perspectives, and help one another come up with ideas that could be practical to execute for the museum. Another quote I would like to leave here is what I hope everyone will consider:

If you’re a leader or a board member, you’re role isn’t to maintain the status quo. You want more than mediocrity, don’t you? You’re a change agent, and change doesn’t have to come in a multi-million-dollar addition. Sometimes it comes in a volunteer program that models great teaching, a friendly attitude and deep knowledge.

It does not take much to create change in a museum, and we have a responsibility as museum professionals to figure out ideas we can use to help our museums move forward.

Resource:

https://leadershipmatters1213.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/the-no-money-no-new-ideas-conundrum/