Ever wonder how CFM can deliver so much content to the field for free?
I get that question a lot, from museum professionals as I travel, and from staff of other associations wondering how they might create their own CFM-equivalent.
The answer? It’s made possible by members of the Alliance —people and institutions who support the field through their dues. This is my shameless plug for your museum to be one of these supporters.
Here are just some of the resources that membership dollars have enabled us to create and share with you, in the five years since the Alliance launched CFM:
- 3 public lectures disseminated via the web (Dr. Jane McGonigal’s on the application of games design to museums; Gregory Rodriguez on the changing demographics of the US; Jessica Harris on using food to nurture community connections);
- 4 reports on issues of importance to museums (Demographic Transformation and the Future of Museums, Tomorrow in the Golden State: Museums and the Future of California; Feeding theSpirit: Museums, Food & Community, Museums and the Future of Education)
- 3 trends reports (Museums & Society 2034: Trends and Potential Futures, TrendsWatch 2012 and TrendsWatch 2013)
- 1 weekly e-newsletter, Dispatches from the Future of Museums, that goes to over 20k subscribers
- The CFM Blog, featuring 2-4 posts a week that relay news, highlight museum practice, share resources and point to opportunities
- A Twitter stream of links to more news, resources and opportunities (and also periodic Tweet Chats on topics of interest)
- Opportunities for museums to participate in cool projects run by or instigated by cool folks (the Institute for the Future’s Massive Multiplayer Alternate Reality Game Superstruct; The World Bank’s Evoke game, Seton Hall’s Institute for Museum Ethic’s Forecast of the Future of Museum Ethics)
- Access to funding (Innovation Lab for Museums grants provided by MetLife Foundation for participation in EmcArt’s innovation program) and discounts (off the registration fee for the University of Houston’s Certificate in Strategic Foresight short course)
It’s easy to take such resources for granted, since nowadays you can swim in a sea of free content on the web. But high quality, thoughtfully selected content still has value, and it has a cost. Businesses from Google to Facebook to Coursera are trying to figure out sustainable business models for this ocean of information.
Founding CFM was an early step in the evolutionary path that resulted in AAM reinventing itself as the American Alliance of Museums. We are trying to create a sustainable business model that will enable us to serve all museums in the US (and a burgeoning number across the globe).
The Alliance’s ability to provide key products and services for free—our core publications Standards and Best Practices for US Museums and Speak Up for Museums (free to all members), the Center for the Future of Museums, our advocacy on behalf of the field—is an outgrowth of the ongoing work that is funded in large part by our member dues.
So if you want to support our work, please do this:
- If you would like to become an individual member of the Alliance, you can join here
- If you work at a museum, check to see if your employer is a current member of the Alliance (instructions below*)
- If the museum you work for is not a member, please join! There is an affordable option for every institution—from “pay what you can” tier 1 membership to a benefit-rich tier 3. (You can find a run-down of the choices here)
- If your museum is a lapsed member, please take a few minutes to renew (This is tremendously important. One thing I have learned about business models as I tweak CFM—even a couple of months lag in renewals can mess up a whole year’s income.)
If someone else in your institution makes decisions about the museum’s professional memberships, please send them a link to this blog post, along with your personal endorsement of the value of the work we do. (Heck, sign them up for a subscription to Dispatches while you’re at it.)
However you choose to support our work—through individual or institutional membership---thank you thank you thank you. If you send me a note that you joined or renewed--I would love to make that a personal thank you. Or if you choose not to join or renew, please tell me about that, too--I'd like to hear why.
*How to check on whether you, or your museum, is a member of the Alliance
- Log in to your existing account. If you haven’t interacted with AAM before, create a new account by clicking Login at the top of the page.
- Click on Edit Profile, then view your museum’s membership status in the Employment Information tab
Yours from the future,