Sunday, April 18, 2010

Strength in Numbers? Children's Museums and Partners

A number of our clients represent a merger of two or more organizations, or strategic partnerships that have formed an umbrella operating structure to coordinate activity and public identity. We have also worked on projects where our clients are organizations similar to children’s museums – such as libraries or preschools – which want to either start their own children’s museum-style facility or incorporate best practices from the field. So we wondered, to what extent are children’s museums intentionally partnering with other organizations?

Among the museums that took our survey, partnership with an umbrella organization, a parent organization, or participation in a merger is quite rare. Only 9 of the 42 respondents have such a relationship.

In the past 18 months there has been a lot of talk about mergers, co-locating, joint building projects, and other creative relationships between non-profits designed to provide some measure of economic security. We conducted this survey before the implications of the economic crises for the sustainability of small non-profits became clear. So this may be one area where planning for future projects will change the numbers, and we may see a wave of new partnerships being realized in the next few years.

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