Advocacy Resources

The Alliance offers several resources for building your advocacy skills, learning about Congress, making your case and getting involved in advocacy for your museum. 

Why Advocate 

  • Advocacy for Museums Matters: There is no need to wonder just how important it is to engage in advocacy for museums. This is a comprehensive primer on what advocacy entails and why it matters.

  • Advocacy-Why should I care? I'm not a CEO! You might think your museum job has nothing to do with advocacy or public policy. Nothing could be further from the truth! See some of the federal, state and local issues that impact museum professionals in this piece developed by Kate Schureman at the Peoria Riverfront Museum and Brenda Raney at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
  • REAL WORLD ADVOCACY = DISASTER PLANNING: Advocacy with elected officials is often described as similar to donor cultivation. But as she explains in this Museum magazine article, super-advocate Karen Witter is increasingly convinced that museums should consider advocacy as a form of disaster planning. You don't want to miss this “Top 10” list for adopting advocacy as another aspect of disaster planning!

Tools to Advocate

  • 75 Advocacy Ideas in 75 Minutes: What was the last thing you advocated for—what movie to see this weekend, or which restaurant to go for dinner, or the destination for your next vacation? We are often advocating without even realizing it. Use our 75 ideas to get started advocating for your museum.
  • Alliance Advocacy Alerts: Nothing has a more powerful impact on members of Congress than hearing directly from their constituents. We’ll let you know about breaking news and key moments in the policy process so you can weigh-in with your elected officials. 
  • Advocate from Anywhere: Help make the case for museums to your legislators, locally. We’ve made it easy to get involved with our step by step guide.
  • Communicating with Legislators: Legislators have incredibly hectic schedules, but legislators and their staff want to hear from constituents like you. Being prepared to accommodate their demanding schedules can help you make your case.

  • Contact Congress: Throughout the year there are several legislative issues affecting museums. The Alliance has several templates to make communicating with your legislators easy. Personalize and send letters to your legislators today.
  • Economic Impact Statement: This brief form allows you to easily capture for legislators the vast reach of your museum in your community. Personalize with your logo and share with your community today.
  • Educational Impact Statement: This brief form allows you to provide a snapshot for your legislators of the educational impact of your museum. Make sure your legislators know all you do to educate your community.
  • Economic and Educational Impact Statement Samples: Now more than ever, legislators and funders need to know just how your museum impacts your community. Let your legislators know that museums are critical partners in education and local economic drivers. Our templates are easy to personalize. See several samples developed across the field.
  • Getting to Know Your Legislators: Taking the time to learn about your legislators is an invaluable asset to advocacy efforts at any level of government. Learning about your legislators can help set you apart from the others competing for your legislators' time and attention.

  • Glossary of Legislative Terms: Understanding the process is an important part of effective advocacy. Use our guide to get a quick handle on key phrases and procedural terms used in Congress.
  • Invite Legislators to Meet Locally: Lend your voice and be part of our national network of museum advocates. We’ve made it easy to get involved with our step by step guide. Now you can be involved without traveling all the way to Washington, DC.
  • Issue Briefs: The Alliance closely tracks several legislative and policy issues affecting museums—including funding for grant-making federal agencies, tax incentives for charitable giving and education policy. See our individual Issue Briefs (PDFs) for more information.
  • Find Your Legislators: Enter your address to find your federal and state legislators and their office and contact information, as well as social media information (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube).

  • Legislative Record for Museums: Use this just-updated members-only resource to see how your elected officials are doing on key public policy issues affecting museums. Please login to access these records and find out if your legislators are standing up for museums. Find additional information in the 2013-2014 and 2011-2012 Legislative Records.
  • Legislative Update: How Museums are Faring: Alliance Government Relations & Advocacy staff, joined by Alexandra Coon of the Massillon Museum, provided a practical walk-through of the latest legislative issues affecting museums. We discussed the Alliance’s field-wide legislative agenda, highlighted key opportunities to demonstrate the public value of museums and provided a non-partisan preview of the 2014 mid-term elections. Missed the program? Check out the slides (PDF).
  • Making the Case with Elected Officials: Making the case for museums with elected officials doesn't have to be intimidating. Get our best tips for making sure you are prepared to make the case to any of your elected officials.
  • Museums Advocacy Day: Museums Advocacy Day is the perfect opportunity to make a unified case to Congress in support of museums. The Alliance makes it easy by providing comprehensive policy briefings and scheduling your meetings on Capitol Hill. Alliance members register for free and the entire museum field is encouraged to participate.

  • Museums Do That (video): At AAM, we hear stories about museums changing lives everyday. We produced a new video conveying just two of these compelling stories, first shared at Museums Advocacy Day 2014. They exemplify the often misunderstood, and under-appreciated, value of museums. Please use this tool in your advocacy and fundraising efforts, or even link to it from your website. Let us know how you use it or if you have your own video about a great museum story, please share it with us!
  • Museum Facts Infographic: Many members of Congress are not fully aware of all that museums do in the communities they serve. Start your conversations with these simple, powerful facts about museums. Get the infographic (PDF).   

  • Online Advocacy Programs: Want to learn how to be a good advocate for your museum, but don't have a lot of time? Check out our online advocacy programs and learn more about advocacy for museums.

  • Post-Election Town Hall: Alliance president Ford W. Bell and senior director of government relations and advocacy Gail Ravnitzky Silberglied shared their analysis of the 2012 election results and what they mean for the field in our first Town Hall on Nov. 16. Watch the complete one-hour presentation and answers to participant questions.
  • Protect Giving Resources: Working with the Charitable Giving Coalition, the Alliance provides museums these template materials (several in Microsoft Word) that can be personalized to reflect the impact of charitable giving at your museum and help ensure that legislators and the media understand this important issue.
  • Speak Up For Museums: The AAM Guide to Advocacy: Advocacy-the act of communicating how essential museums are to our communities and to society at large-can be as simple as chatting with a visitor or welcoming a school group. But it also involves making your case to elected officials. Speak Up For Museums is full of smart, practical advice on how to be an effective advocate, making it essential reading for everyone from paid and volunteer staff to your board of trustees.
  • Stand for Your Museum Mission: We're excited to partner with BoardSource to release Stand for Your Mission, a discussion guide for museum leaders—especially directors and trustees—to get involved with advocacy. Download your copy today and take the first step in harnessing your board's power as advocates.
  • State-by-State Snapshots: Find out how much funding museums in your state get from IMLS, NEH, and NEA in these individual state snapshots for all 50 states and Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

  • Ten Rules for Engagement: Getting involved in advocacy can be fun and easy. See our top ten list of tips for engaging in effective advocacy.
  • Year-Round Advocacy: Engage legislators and other stakeholders in the work of your museum, every day of the year, wherever you are located.

Advocacy Guidelines

  • Museum Advocacy in an Election Year (or any year!): These days, every year feels like an election year. Museums and nonprofits can participate in advocacy and advocate on behalf of their mission. Learn what is and is not allowed in our election year advocacy guide.

  • Nonprofit Voter Resources: The Alliance shares a selection of resources available for nonprofit museums, organizations and their staffs, many provided by Nonprofit Vote. Find easy-to-use, detailed information about what you and your staff can and cannot do.