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.