As we've said before, one of the huge issues with museums being able to pay their staff is that there just isn't enough money to go around. "But museums are NONPROFITS," you say. "They aren't supposed to make a profit, right?"
This misconception is at the heart of the problem, in my opinion. A nonprofit is not a business that doesn't make a profit. Instead, a nonprofit is a business that is unable to distribute profits to owners or shareholders. It has to reinvest its profits back into furthering its mission. There is no legal limit on how much money a nonprofit (in our case, a museum) can make.
So museums need to start thinking more like for-profit businesses, right? I had a conversation last night with a friend who remarked that the consumer-driven model can't work for museums. If it's all about making money, why don't museums just join with movie theaters and offer blockbuster hits inside (some museums do this with their IMAX screens, in fact)? Wouldn't that get people in the doors?
Sure it would, but then are people actually learning anything? Is the museum furthering its mission? Not really.
The important thing to know about nonprofits is they have a dual bottom-line:
1 – make money
2 – further the stated mission
Yes, museums must learn to do both, not one or the other.
Here's the challenge: how can museums (and museos) make money enough to pay salaries while furthering their mission? "If you build it, they will come" is not working. We need to do more. Any ideas on how we can put the profit back in nonprofit?