Opening doors workshops

Participants came from far and wide to attend this series of four half-day workshops, and feedback from participants seemed to indicate that the investment of time was worth the effort.

Thursday’s workshops – recruiting and retaining volunteers and the schools programs – both filled to capacity, while slightly lower numbers in Friday’s workshops (marketing to local communities and fundraising) were slightly smaller groups, which meant that we were able to have some focussed discussion about what was going on in particular museums.
Presenters of all sessions were impressed by the level of knowledge and activity that is already being undertaken.
The major points that came through the discussions are summarised below:

RECRUITING AND RETAINING VOLUNTEERS
• Make sure that volunteers understand what they are signing up for – spell out for them what their role will be.
• Create job descriptions for each role. That way there will be no confusion about what is expected and make sure that adequate training is provided
• Be sure to acknowledge and thank volunteers for their time and effort
• Don’t expect people to come to you – if you need volunteers, make sure that people know that you are looking, and what skills you require. Ensure that your organisation doesn’t present as a closed shop
• Think about what motivates people to volunteer. This may help you to think about the kinds of roles that volunteers might play in your organisation.

SCHOOLS PROGRAMS THAT WORK
• Make sure that you understand how a visit to your museum will fit the school curriculum – teachers need to be able to justify time away from school
• Think about what experiences students can have in your museum that they can’t have at school
• Make it as easy as you can for a teacher to plan a visit. Promote your program to teachers with an outline of the program that answers their questions before they’ve even asked them
• If you can link your program to other activities/events (eg International Year of... ; Book Week etc) even better!
• Avoid ‘worksheets’ – aim for interactivity (sometimes this might look like a worksheet, but it involves some kind of connection).

MARKETING TO YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY
• Marketing is about communication
• If you don’t have much in the way of budget for marketing, make use of promotional opportunities that may be available through local media – they are always looking for stories, so build a relationship
• Always be on the lookout for ways of linking what you are doing to wider events – eg every ANZAC Day, local media will be looking for local content relating to the theme – do you have something in your collection that might be relevant?

SUCCESSFUL FUNDRAISING EVENTS
• Planning is the most important part of running any kind of event – be sure that everyone involved has a clear understanding of the overall projects and their own role within it
• Think about the type of event that you are holding – is it appropriate to your community? (is it still appropriate? – sometimes things that used to work have run their course, and need a new lease of life)
• Promotion of an event is vital to its success – this needs to be part of your thinking from the outset
• Sponsors can make a considerable difference to the success or failure of an event – think about what they hope to achieve from their involvement and make it happen!

Newsletter reference

CMP News No. 47 June 2010

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