Why don’t people give money or time to an organization?

Research on volunteering and philanthropy always finds one particular response near the top of the list: “I was never asked.”

The same may go for politicians, the folks who provide your public funding.

So, have you ever invited your representative to your museum?

Maybe it’s time to participate in a new American Association of Museums initiative: “Invite Congress to Visit Your Museum” Week, August 11-18, 2012. By doing so, we can all inform our decision-makers about the unique role museums play in American community life. When applying for funding, museums need to argue that they are more than mere recreation centers, such as a golf course or a sports stadium. Museums are also centers of formal and informal learning; they encourage civic dialogue; and they inspire.

How can you share this message with your congressional representative and other potential supporters? “According to a recent study,” AAM President Ford Bell reports, “constituent visits have more influence than any other influence group or strategy. This ‘Invite Congress to Visit Your Museum’ event is the perfect opportunity for Congress to learn first-hand how museums provide essential community services.”

AAM has made it easy to participate. Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Find out your representative’s name.
  2. Send a letter, and invite them to visit.
  3. To follow-up, contact the representative’s local office and get the name of the scheduler. Call or email that person.
  4. Continue following up until you can arrange a meeting. It’s ok to offer alternate dates.
  5. AAM also offers a “How To” guide to help you prepare before, during, and after the visit.

For more information, go to AAM’s “Speak for Museums” website.

Oh, and while you’re at it, consider inviting your state representatives, as well as people on your city and county councils of government.

Let them all see the amazing work you do!

If you’ve already had politicians visit your museum, how did it go? Share your experience in the comment area below!