Tuesday, May 13, 2008

AAM 2008 Conference Session: Corporation and Museum Partnerships

To say that I have been preaching corporate partnerships for museums as a form of revenue generation would be a bit strong, but not too far off the mark. So I was excited to attend the "Corporation and Museum Partnerships: Understanding and Meeting Each Other's Needs" session, which offered these basic, yet important key points for helping museums to understand the needs of corporations.

-- Museums must understand how corporations work in order to successfully ask for support.
-- Museums should be strategic in their requests; demonstrate how their needs fit the needs of the corporations.
-- When competition for money is fierce and the economy is tough, it is crucial to engage in strategic partnerships that will result in strong marketing opportunities. Marketing on the other hand is not considered "tangible value" according to the law.
-- The Sarbanes-Oxley Act mandates (among other things) that public companies be able to demonstrate to shareholders how corporate donations benefit the company's bottom-line.
-- However, corporations recognize that philanthropy does contribute to a healthy economy, thereby contributing to the bottom-line.
-- In the past, corporate sponsorships and donations were considered separate activities, but that seems to be changing.
-- Museums must be willing to adjust the "fixed menu" of benefits available to corporations--they are not interested in more fancy dinners.
-- Offer the corporate name in the name of an event sponsored by the corporation, because unless the name is part of the event itself, the media will often neglect to mention who is sponsoring the event.

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