Video: Non-Profit? Most Museum Visitors Don’t Know

In this 1:51 video, Colleen Dilenschneider of Know Your Own Bone explains that nearly 60 percent of Americans don’t know that history museums operate as non-profit organizations.  It doesn’t get much better for those who visit history museums—53 percent are unaware.  That may be alarming because we often distinguish ourselves by our non-profit status.  Dilenschneider, on the other hand, suggests reframing the issue:

Our key differentiator is not our tax status, but that our dedication to making a difference is embedded in the very structure of how we operate. There’s a thought that we need to run “more like for-profit companies” (and in some ways we do, but the blanket directive is an ignorant miss). But look around. For-profit companies are actually trying to be more like us in the sense that they want audiences to know that they stand for something that makes the world a better place.

The video is a quick overview but you’ll find more details in “Nonprofit Recognition: What Matters More to Visitors Than Your Tax Status“.

Data source: National Awareness, Attitudes and Usage Study, a partnership project of IMPACTS Research and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

1 thought on “Video: Non-Profit? Most Museum Visitors Don’t Know

  1. Trevor Jones

    Colleen’s material is always thought provoking, but this one really forced me to examine some of my core assumptions. I’ve never consciously thought about the fact that most visitors don’t know or don’t care that we’re non-profit. I just assumed they knew and thus made decisions based on the fact that we’re the “good guys” who are trying to make the world a better place. So, now I’m rethinking how we as an organization and I as a museum professional can do a better job of sharing what we stand for and why we are worthy of support.


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