To our Trustees, Members, Neighbors, Friends, and Constituents : Why We Need Your Support
Previously I discussed the impact of state government cuts on museums around the country, including Texas. Since I wrote that essay, I have attended the Texas Association of Museums annual meeting, where I visited with colleagues and picked up more stores of what is happening in other states.
The news is not good. Clearly, we are in an era where government support for history, culture, and the arts is on a long-term decline. Government funding is important, because it is generally allocated for operations support such as utilities, salaries, maintenance—the kind of things that other funders are reluctant to support. If government support is on a long-term decline, where are museums going to find operations funding?
How about corporations? Dallas Heritage Village has always enjoyed the support of many local corporations, but contrary to popular perception, corporate funding for culture and the arts is a much smaller percentage of overall support than that from individuals and foundations. Even before the advent of the “great recession,” corporate support for arts and culture had largely shifted from “charitable” purposes to “marketing” purposes. Of course there are civic-minded corporations, but most corporate support these days is tied to attendance-driven marketing goals that don’t favor smaller arts and culture organizations. And, in any case, corporate support generally supports events, exhibits, and programs, not daily operations.
How about foundations? Foundations continue to be a valuable source of funding for museums, but they, too, tend to fund exhibits, programs, and projects, not daily operations.
What about earned income, such as income from gate fees? This is an important area of income for the museum, and we get almost 25% of our budget from admissions income, school tour fees, and facility rentals for weddings and parties. But it is not nearly enough to support the museum’s operations needs. In fact, very few museums other than the Alamo and the Sixth Floor Museum can survive just on admissions income.
Which leaves us with individual donors, the most valuable of all donors. This certainly makes sense, as trustees, members, neighbors and others who enjoy and support a museum are the ones most likely to support a museum’s daily work. Individuals tend to value and fund museums, not because of a special event, fund raising gala, or special exhibit, but because they value the museum’s mission and what the museum adds to the community.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because we need your support to keep carrying out our Texas history school programs, preserving our buildings, and keeping our community green space open to the public—in short, the work that we do every day.
We will soon be contacting all of you to support our End of Year Campaign (our fiscal year ends on September 30). Our goal is to raise $85,000, which is approximately 9% of our total budget. When you hear from us, please think generously! And if you aren’t on our mailing list and want to help, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
And remember, the funds we raise for our End of Year Campaign support our education and preservation mission, the work that we do every day at Dallas Heritage Village.