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.
Get Started! (links to sections below)
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)
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:
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: