Museum Membership Managers Get Connected

By Traci Manza Murphy, Winterthur’s Assistant Director of Membership

Connecting with peers at other museums and gardens in town or across the country is easier than it has ever been. There’s a membership managers listserv where colleagues can post questions or ideas and get near-instant feedback. Our peers subscribe to our Facebook feed, get our e-mail updates, and read our newsletters. They are often members themselves. And every 18 months or so, membership managers from museums worldwide come together for the American Museum Membership Managers Conference.

Last week it was held in Philadelphia. Winterthur was part of the host committee and helped plan the conference, attended by nearly 300 museum professionals from organizations such as the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Rosenbach, Longwood Gardens, The Tate, The Royal Ontario Museum, and the Detroit Zoo. Long days (breakfast roundtable meetings began at 7 am) turned into longer days with evening events hosted by the PMA, Franklin Institute, PAFA, and the National Constitution Center.

The take-away? Brilliant ideas. Loads of energy and creativity. And a seemingly endless list of small tweaks and big changes we can implement here at Winterthur to make our membership program better. Stay tuned for a newly designed “This Week at Winterthur” e-mail for Members. Keep an eye out for a new gift membership package. Enjoy repeats of Member Orientation Mornings (although we like the idea of changing the name to Member Welcome). Small changes that any given Member might not notice (i.e., a change in postmark, a slightly redesigned envelope, more frequent e-mail), when amortized over nearly 10,000 Member households, can make big differences in how we inform Members of happenings here at Winterthur, how we keep Members engaged, and how we best use their membership dues. The biggest difference we can make is to reduce the cost of acquiring and renewing Members, because every dollar we save in one household translates to nearly $10,000 by year end.

Members make a real difference at Winterthur—and this conference makes a real difference in how membership staff operate the program. We can’t wait for the next one, spring 2013, at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. Now, back to work.

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