Two Ways to Bolster Museum Support During the Holidays

While most of us focus on our annual campaigns in December, there are a variety of museum opportunities at the end of the year. The holidays offer both an opportunity for critical funding and a chance to create goodwill and remind people of the importance of your museum’s mission and work.

I’m going to recommend two December projects that are easy to implement and worth the effort. First, send a unique holiday card to your donors and volunteers. Make sure the card includes a thank you message, a mention of your museum’s mission, and a personal touch. Have your Director/CEO write a personal note in as many of the cards as possible. At a minimum, your volunteers, and at least the top 20% of your donors should get a personal handwritten note inside their card from your highest level employee.

I am also going to recommend developing an annual branded holiday event. The holidays afford museums opportunities for brand expansion, relationship building, and additional funding. There are many ways to do a holiday event; the important thing is not what you do, but that you create something unique and memorable that people look forward to every year. Also, I highly recommend making the event interactive. The likelihood of people participating every year goes up significantly when each attendee becomes part of the event. Interactive activities create unpaid digital buzz as people tend to discuss their involvement with the program.

One of the most common examples of a holiday event is a tree lighting. Have everyone bring an ornament and personally put it on your tree. A museum in the Northwest does an event in which everyone puts their name on a holiday stocking and puts it up somewhere in the museum lobby. Your event need not be fancy or expensive to implement. You can have a free admission night with wine, cheese, and a local musician. One museum in a community with a lot of local artists does an event in which local artists demonstrate their creative process in the museum galleries. The museum puts this event on for less than $1,000.

It may be possible to co-sponsor this event with another organization. Some communities do their city tree lighting event at anchor geographic locations. See if your city will co-sponsor an annual city event with your museum.

Holiday cards and events will give your museum great exposure, spread goodwill in the community, and often lead to a few extra contributions. With just a little effort, you can create big wins during the holidays.

Article was written by Frank Bennett, originally posted at

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