Tag Archives: Engagement pyramid

What Drives Revenue at History-Focused Organizations?

If a well-managed museum has robust programming, a large endowment, and a profitable gift shop, should they still rely on contributions and grants? Often regarded as a fundraising burden to reduce or eliminate, instead we might want to consider these revenue sources as one of the best ways to sustain and expand an institution. Sixty-six percent of History-Focused Organizations [Museums (NTEE A50), History Museums (A54), History Organizations (A80), and Historical Societies & Historic Preservation (A82)] depend on contributions and grants for at least half of their annual revenue and nearly forty percent rely on contributions and grants for more than three-quarters of their revenue (see Figure 1 below).

To maximize revenue, museums must navigate fundraising in the present and future. Understanding the donor and engagement pyramids simplifies fundraising and ensures focus. Small history-focused organizations, in particular, must invest their limited bandwidth strategically to achieve success.

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A Clever Model of Engagement for Your Desk or Office

Travis Kirspel's Engagement PyramidI’ve been working on a strategic plan for the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs for the State of Delaware for the past few months and after a recent meeting, I stopped by the office of Travis Kirspel, one of the planning team members and the Curator of Digital Assets.  A set of geometric solids in his bookcase caught my eye–I associate them with early science and cabinets of curiosity–and it turns out he created them.  He’s interested in community engagement, so he used his skills as a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design to develop a clever model that pulls together various theories into one object.  He graciously provided more details, as well as the blueprints so you can create a pyramid for your desk or office.

The Pyramid of Engagement:  A Psychological Model for Building Community Relationships by Travis Kirspel

It is said (albeit on Wikipedia) that the Egyptian pyramids were, well, pyramid-shaped as a nod to the “primordial mound” from which the earth was created. They have also been described as more like “resurrection machines” than “tombs” by design. Essentially, the deceased pharaohs’ souls became superhuman cannonballs launched through Continue reading

A Six-Stage Strategy for Engaging People

Engaging people is one of the primary responsibilities of an historic site, although we might call it membership, attendance, advocacy, support, fundraising, or “resources development” (yup, that’s what it was called at one place I worked).  Expanding and growing engagement is usually focused on direct and simple efforts, such as working on individuals to give increasingly greater sums or putting out more announcements to increase attendance.  Results are usually sporadic, rough, and unpredictable.

Engagement Pyramid by Gideon Rosenblatt.

I recently learned of a thoughtful strategy from Gideon Rosenblatt, the former executive director of Groundwire, a company that helps environmental organizations connect, inspire, and mobilize their communities.  He lays out engagement in a spectrum of six stages from Observers to Leaders and each has a decreasing number of people involved.  This is best illustrated as a pyramid, with the large group of Observers at the bottom and the small group of Leaders at the top.  He’s found that each group has a specific mindset and communication preference, and therefore, organizations can effectively engage Continue reading