It is important for folks in Maine's community of collecting institutions to understand how they can best advocate for their organization and others in the field. Staff and volunteers of nonprofits may worry about how speaking to elected officials and the public about important issues may jeopardize their nonprofit status, but these concerns are largely unfounded.

What is advocacy?

Advocacy is information
You have the right, and the duty, to talk to your elected officials and the public about issues affecting your museum. They need to know the good work you do, and what you need to continue your good work. It is as straightforward as a conversation.

Advocacy is not lobbying
Educating public officials and the public about issues affecting your museum is not prohibited by law and will not endanger your nonprofit status. You have a right to advocate on behalf of a cause you believe in. Our legislators and elected officials need the information we provide to help them make informed decisions. Find out more about advocacy vs. lobbying and learn about the rules for nonprofits from the IRS

Advocacy is Important
Advocacy is active support for a cause –  your museum, archive, library, historical society, or historic property. Without advocacy, collecting institutions are not at the table when decisions are made about funding, regulations, public policy, taxes, etc. Cultural organizations are affected in many ways by all levels of government: federal, state, and local. 

(adapted from the Virginia Association of Museums)

Training in advocacy

Video: The American Alliance of Museums offers this video training series.

Paper: The American Library Association offers this printable training outline.

Interactive online: The Maine Office of Tourism offers this free online training course in customer service for folks in the tourism industry.

In-person: MAM offers a free in-person advocacy training at Maine Museums Day. In addition, these organizations host workshops and conferences that often include training in advocacy:

Economic impact statements

An economic impact statement is a tool that utilizes statistics and compelling narrative to demonstrate the impact that an organization or group has on the economy.

Download MAM's 2019 economic impact statement of Maine's museums

Make your own using this guide from the American Alliance of Museums (yours doesn't need to be as pretty as MAM's)

Feel free to borrow statistics from these reports:


Make an advocacy plan

Developing a Plan for Advocacy: Check out this guide from Community Toolbox

Advocacy All Year: Check out this sample annual plan for MAM members of small advocacy efforts throughout the year

Find your representatives

Use this website to find the elected officials who represent you at the state and federal levels.

Use this website to find who represents who represents you in the state legislature.

Contact members of your local city/town council/selectboard.

Reach out to your local chamber of commerce.

Communicating with elected officials

Use these suggested letter templates from the American Alliance of Museums.

Connect with your elected officials and local chamber of commerce on social media and get them on your regular mailing list for programs, events, and exhibitions.

Read these rules for nonprofits from the IRS. There is very little risk of jeopardizing your nonprofit status. 

Communicating with the Press

Getting your news to the media is a great way to advocate for your institution on the local level.

Find your local TV and radio stations using these lists from the Maine Association of Broadcasters

Find your local newspapers using this list from the Maine Press Association

Upcoming MAM advocacy events

    • 18 Feb 2020
    • Maine State House, Augusta, ME

    Save the Date:

    Maine Museums Day

    February 18, 2020

    Learn about advocacy, meet your legislators, and help us celebrate and advocate for all museums!  

    The event will include a training on best practices in advocating for your collecting institution, time for attendees to meet with their legislators, and a reception in the Hall of Flags.

    Stay in touch for many more details to come.

    Help Advocate

    Please use these materials to communicate about the impact of collecting institutions.

    Maine archives, historical societies, and museums are valuable economic engines in their communities, contributing millions of dollars to Maine‚Äôs economy, and enticing visitors to stay longer, spend more, and return in the future.  However, their value is more than dollars and cents, these collecting organizations create the unique feel of our communities, while preserving and sharing our most cherished history, art, and culture.  These Maine institutions, found in communities - large and small, rural and urban - provide opportunities for our citizens to understand where we have been and who we are as a society; they offer places where we can contemplate beauty and meaning in our lives, provide a sanctuary where we can refresh our spirits and reflect on our lives.  Archives, museums and historical societies can educate and inspire all ages, from the senior living in retirement, to the child just beginning school and learning about both our individual and common heritage.  Investment in the arts and humanities is essential to our well-being as Americans, and to the generations who will follow us.

    As valued partners in our communities and the state, our collecting institutions need protection. At risk are vital funds through state and national granting organizations, and support for important projects like the Maine bicentennial in 2020.  Join us for the next Maine Museums Day on February 18, 2020!

Past advocacy events

05 Feb 2019 Maine Museums Day
20 Mar 2017 Maine Museums Day
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