The Michigan Museums Association is a membership organization. This means that we exist out of a desire for people within the Michigan museum community to come together in a formal and structured way. Above all, this is the most important aspect of our organization, and one that is central to what we do and why we do it. Members, who provide direct and sustained financial support, are both the why and how for MMA.
Not everyone who is part of the Michigan museum community chooses to be an MMA member, and that’s OK. It’s sort of like public radio and television – a core group of people make it possible, but everyone has access to the results. We try to show the value of a membership in our actions, and work hard to be a welcoming and open community. Our hope is that over time those who are not members will choose to join us to help ensure that we can continue to serve others as well.
We have had many conversations about members over the past months. Before the pandemic hit, we had started discussions of how to restructure memberships to connect more directly with some groups within the Michigan museums community. We also hoped to provide vehicles for increased revenue. Our goal is for paid memberships to fund a full-time benefited staff position.
Once the pandemic arrived, our member discussions also focused on that. How could we support people in the Michigan museum community who were suddenly working from home? What could we do for those who were laid off or furloughed? We considered the membership renewal process and how that could be an additional burden in a time of crisis. As a result, we created online programs, a temporary COVID membership, and suspended the renewal notification process.
The pandemic isn’t over, and we might not understand the true impact for the Michigan museum community and our members for many more months, but we decided as the last quarter of the year approached that it was time to get back to some semblance of normal, and keep moving forward with our plans. As a result, we started to formulate long-term strategies for our online programs, we got caught up with membership renewals, and affirmed COVID memberships. We now know what kind of funding we have to wrap the year, and are well on our way to a new vision for online programs.
The most exciting member activity in the past several weeks, though, has been the approval of a new membership structure by the board. We will share more about what this will look like at the Annual Meeting (to be held via Zoom on October 23), but for the most part it tightens up some of the institutional memberships, and adds more options. Many members won’t see a change, but there will be more choices about how members can support MMA. We are excited to share the new plan with you.
We are grateful for the support of our members every day, but especially over the past several months. At time of crisis it is good to be with others. And even though we can’t come together in person in 2020, the Michigan museums community has certainly come together.