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Increase Your Financial Resilience

Hello, and welcome to summer? Or, if you’re struggling with time losing all meaning–like I am–then welcome to sometime in March when I stopped counting. I’m back from my brief medical break and am feeling strong and ready to dig in. With that in mind, here’s a roundup of recent content I’ve created to help you increase your financial resilience; including two items to write your representatives about that (if passed) will increase funding for libraries, archives, and museums.

Amos enjoys soaking his feet in the pool and crushing all the pink colored balls.

Increase Your Financial Resilience with These New Resources

A screenshot of Rachael Cristine Consulting's Get into Grants registration page. The page includes notes on course content and the registration form.

In order to become more financially resilient, we must build up our funding muscles. This includes knowing where your organization’s money comes from and how you can get more of it. To that end, I have new funding related content to share with you:

1. Over at Lucidea’s Think Clearly blog (where I’m a regular guest blogger) I’ve written a series of posts breaking down the American Alliance of Museums’ TrendsWatch2020 report. This year focused on financial sustainability and was written pre-COVID. I’ve taken each each income stream covered by AAM, summarized the content, and have added my recommendations for how to adapt and increase the health of these income streams in this new economic reality. No matter what your job is, it’s always a good idea to understand where your organization’s money is coming from and what you can do to strengthen each income stream toward a more resilient financial future. Here are the first four of six posts:

An Introduction to Financial Sustainability

Earned Income

Charitable Income

Government Income

Catch the final two in the series via the Think Clearly blog on July 22 (Financial Capital) and July 29 (Fostering Financial Sustainability).

2. My course content site has launched and is now available to everyone. A huge thank you to those who’ve joined me in the first course: Get into Grants! This course is free and open to everyone so please feel free to share the link with colleagues who may need this resource. Given that grants make up a majority of funds from both charitable and government income streams, it’s critical for you to get into and master grant funding. Need more help? Don’t worry, I have two more courses that help you create a competitive grant project and teach you how to develop a compelling grant story. Stay tuned!


Advocacy Alert

A black and white photograph depicting an empty museum gallery hall with a portrait in the far distance flanked by two windows and with a chair positioned in front of it.
Photograph by David Yu, accessed July 16, 2020, via Canva.com.

Library Stabilization Fund Act

The LSFA funds would help keep nearly 370,000 library workers on the job, defray costs related to safe re-opening, and support a range of library services to millions of patrons, including high-speed internet access and digital literacy training.

You can read more via the Society of American Archivists here.

Museum Pandemic Relief and FY2021 Funding

This request to two-pronged: 1. Approve another round of pandemic relief funding ($6-billion) to be distributed via the Institute of Library and Museum Services (IMLS) and expand existing pandemic programs such as PPP and increased charitable giving incentives; and 2. Increases FY 2021 funding to $382.7-million to IMLS, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

You can read more via the American Alliance of Museums here.

Resources to Get Started

Our collective strength relies of each of us advocating for our libraries, archives, and museums–and that advocacy work includes contacting your representatives. Need help getting started? No problem! Check out this post for how to contact your rep and what to say. And you can always snag my fill in the blank template here. Remember: Being in regular contact with our representatives about our funding needs is a necessary part of increasing our financial resilience.


What’s Next?

A colorful picture showing a hand holding a lightbulb against a sky backdrop with clouds showing white, orange, and purple coloration.
Photograph by fotographierende, accessed July 16, 2020, via Canva.com.

I’m nearing the completion of my grant course suite which leads me to: What’s Next? I’ve received requests to speak to resilient job searching tactics, tips for when to know it’s time to leave (the job or profession), and how to recruit and engage volunteers. What else would you like to see? What can I help support you on? Please comment or send me an email ([email protected]) and let me know.

And if you haven’t already, I invite you to sign up for my newsletter so that you’re first in line for any future offerings and free resource drops.

Thanks and be well!

Get into Grants by Rachael of Rachael Cristine Consulting
grants

The Get into Grants Mini-Course is LIVE!

Good news! The Get into Grants course is now open to my community! Get into Grants is a free mini-course that provides an overview of grants specific to archives, museums, and cultural heritage organizations. Whether you’re new to grants or just need a refresher, this mini-course can quickly get you up to speed with grant fundamentals specific to our field.

The following topics will be covered: income streams, funder and grant types, where to find grants, how to choose the right grant opportunity to apply for, common application elements to prepare for, tips to succeed, and proposal pitfalls to avoid. The course comes with video instruction, a copy of the slide deck, and an assortment of tip sheets, checklists, and templates to support your ongoing grant work.

Sign Up for the Free Course

Please feel free to share the good news with colleagues–anyone you know who may appreciate the free support around grants.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

As a thank you for being a member of my community, I’ve opened up the prelaunch for two anticipated full-course modules: Going from Zero to Winning with Grants! and Growing Grant Success with Better Grant Writing. You can use the promo code READY2WIN for $50 off Zero to Winning until it’s anticipated launch on August 3, 2020. And you can use promo code GROWING to receive $50 off Growing Grants Success until its anticipated launch on September 7, 2020. If you happen to have extra conference money that you need to spend before the end of the fiscal year, I recommend you put it to good use and pre-purchase these courses now. 🙂 If you’re not sure about the courses I invite you to take Get into Grants first to get a feel for my teaching style. If you have any questions on either paid course, please feel free to email me.

IMG_20200531_111905_MP_2A Note: While the tone of this post is one of excitement–because after a lot of hard work setting everything up I’m finally at a point where I can share this course with you–I want you to know I’m still thinking of you and I know things are still hard for a lot of us. I’m about to have a medical procedure and will be recovering from June 15 to July 6, but if there’s anything I can do to help support you before or after my recovery, please let me know. And because I know puppy pictures are good for the soul, here’s one of Cami in quiet contemplation. Until next time, be well.

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Strategies for How to Capture and Communicate the Value of Collection Work

Thank you to everyone who registered and attended this webinar! If you missed it or are here to view it again, you can find the recording below as well as a link to the slide deck, a list of links referenced, and a recap of the Q&A.

Abstract

Archives, museums, and cultural heritage organizations across the world are struggling with the impact of COVID-19.  As public spaces remain closed, archives and museums are challenged with fulfilling their mission while seeking economic relief. Many archives and museum professionals are facing precarious employment as they struggle to prove the value of their work. This webinar is a follow up to the Society of American Archivists’ “Deriving Value from Collections in the Time of Corona (COVID-19)” (view: https://youtu.be/vhK2ww1_ZR8).  Please join me for a deeper dive into strategies for how to capture and communicate the value of collection work. The webinar will offer a framework to define the value of your work, discuss mechanisms for capturing value, and offer strategies for communicating the value of your work to your boss, your board, your fellow staff, and your community stakeholders.

Don’t Miss Another Webinar or Workshop

If this webinar is helpful to you, I invite you to sign up for my newsletter so that you’re first in line for any future offerings and free resource drops.

Slide Deck

To get a copy of the slide deck please download the PDF via Google Drive.

Links Referenced in the Webinar

American Alliance of Museums’ TrendsWatch 2020
American Alliance of Museums Advocacy Resources
Resources for Museums on How to Identify and Articulate Value
Resources on How to Convey the Value of Archives
Society of American Archivists Resources and Toolkits
Regional Example from Oregon Heritage Commission Toolkit
Free e-copy of A Survivor’s Guide to Museum Grant Writing

Q&A Section

This section includes a summary of the questions and answers reviewed during the webinar. Please view or listen to the webinar for a fuller account of the answers.

Q. Rachael, have you had experience in situations where self advocacy is seen by higher-ups as being a “squeaky wheel” rather than a voice which deserves attention? 

A. There is always a chance that someone will perceive you as the “squeaky wheel”. If we’re doing our job, if we’re communicating the value of our work and our collection regularly, then by the time we make an ask we will have demonstrated our value. However, I also acknowledge that we’re in a position right now where a lot of us do need to ask for financial resources and it’s a difficult position to be in if you’ve not had a chance to implement strategies for capturing and communicating the value of your collection and your work. I do encourage you to try it though, even if you need to make an ask. Be clear on the value of your work and be ready with the evidence as to why collections work is so critical. If you’re showing your value as you make the request then at the very least it will be recognized as legitimate.

Q. I’m curious about strategies for initiating conversations about budgeting and revenue streams when this information isn’t readily offered to mid-level staff.

A. For some organizations, the financial records are publically available usually in the form of an annual report. If that’s not the case then I encourage you to ask questions. If your boss isn’t available or open to sharing that information, I recommend you go straight to the source–your accounting or financial department. The reason you are asking is because you want to use the information to inform your work and bring in even more revenue into the organization. Any reasonable person will want to help you achieve that outcome and will provide you the information you need.

Comment: Great points about demonstrating how archives/collection work supports institutional income and mission. I found that it also helps to track the amount of staff time and other resources spent on specific engagement events.

A. Yes! I’m so glad you raised this as it can help with your ask. If you’re tracking staff time and other costs for your work and you can tie that work (and costs) to the revenue generating event, then you’re able to backup your request with detailed numbers on how much it costs you to do your work and can demonstrate how that work is of value to the institution. I definitely recommend tracking these types of costs to “do business” as they will help you understand the finances required to operate and provide value at current levels.

Q. Would you have any comments on how to connect the development/origins of an archives or a collection with current work and initiatives? It seems there are good opportunities to demonstrate value through time (with a longer timeline) though it might be a challenge to keep focus and could lost stakeholder interest.

A. I think this could be a great opportunity for you to show value of the collection over time. You could approach it like a retrospective, using the organization’s mission (or similar) to tie the archives’ beginning to and then review the collections acquired, projects, and other milestones (where the collection has provided value) along the way. Seeing the value delivered over time could be very impactful and is a great reminder to the organization that the archives is the department that secures the organization’s legacy.

A Note About the Presenter

Rachael Cristine Woody of Rachael Cristine Consulting smiles at the camera as she poses in front of her laptop displaying Deriving Value from Collections in the Time of Corona (COVID-19) webinar.
Rachael Cristine Woody of Rachael Cristine Consulting

Rachael Woody is the owner of Rachael Cristine Consulting LLC. After a successful tenure at the Smithsonian Institution and the Oregon Wine History Archive, Woody established her consultancy to teach archives, museums, and cultural heritage organizations how to take care of their collections and advocate for their value. Woody has experienced precariously funded positions first-hand and has proven tactical strategies to demonstrate the value of collection work. As a result of her experience, Woody has dedicated herself to advocating for the value of collection work. She serves on SAA’s Committee on Public Awareness, established the Archivist-in-Residence (paid internship) program at Northwest Archivists, and serves on several salary advocacy committees.

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Register for My New Webinar and A Gift for You!

I hope this post finds you well during this challenging time. I’m writing to share a few new resources with you: 1. A new webinar focused on how to communicate and capture the value of your work; 2. A Collective Responsibility Labor Toolkit built to support library, archives, and museum professionals; and 3. A mini-course gift for you in celebration of my 3rd anniversary!


Insta Strategies for How to Capture and Communicate the Value of Collection Work

Webinar: Strategies for How to Capture and Communicate the Value of Collection Work

Archives, museums, and cultural heritage organizations across the world are struggling with the impact of COVID-19. As public spaces remain closed, archives and museums are challenged with fulfilling their mission while seeking economic relief. Many archives and museum professionals are facing precarious employment as they struggle to prove the value of their work. This webinar is a follow up to the Society of American Archivists’ Deriving Value from Collections in the Time of Corona (COVID-19).

Please join me for a deeper dive into strategies for how to capture and communicate the value of collection work. The webinar will:

1. Offer a framework to define the value of your work.

2. Discuss mechanisms for capturing value.

3. Offer strategies for communicating the value of your work to your boss, your board, your fellow staff, and your community stakeholders.

THIS WEBINAR HAS A 100 PARTICIPANT RESTRICTION

REGISTER NOW


Collective Responsibility Labor Toolkit

The Collective Responsibility Labor Toolkit offers: a collection of COVID-19 resources, “Collective Equity: A Handbook for Designing and Evaluating Grant-Funded Positions,” and a white paper “Collective Responsibility: Seeking Equity for Contingent Labor in Libraries, Archives, and Museums.”

This resource is brought to you by members of the DLF Labor Working Group and informed by feedback from the Collective Responsibility forum. Contributors in alphabetical order: Hillel Arnold, Dorothy J. Berry, Elizabeth M. Caringola, Angel Diaz, Sarah Hamerman, Erin Hurley, Anna Neatrour, Rebecca Pattillo, Sandy Rodriguez, Megan Senseney, Ruth Tillman, Amy Wickner, Karly Wildenhaus, and Elliot Williams.


3rd Anniversary Celebration

Rachael Woody, profile picture
Photo by Rachael Woody

On May 2, 2020, Rachael Cristine Consulting LLC celebrated its 3rd Anniversary! It’s been an incredible year filled with exciting projects, wonderful client relationships, and growing my business. And then COVID-19 happened. This calendar year has not been what any of us expected, let alone what we hoped for. What will the rest of this year hold? I can’t tell the future, but I can give you gift to help:

A Grants Mini-Course Just for You!

For my business, there’s one goal that remains unaltered–I intend to remake my workshops and trainings into an online suite of courses. The first of which will be a free mini-course on grant writing. Why? Because archives, museums, and cultural heritage organizations need grants now more than ever. And, given the urgency of organizations needing funding, I intend to launch this mini-course in the next 2-3 weeks. I’ll release signup information then and invite you to join.

In the meantime, what would be most helpful to you? What do you need support around when it comes to grants? I want to make sure this mini-course is as helpful as possible. Please email me with your requests.


If you know colleagues who could use access to these resources please share this post with them. They can also sign up for my newsletter here.

All images and text owned by Rachael Cristine Consulting LLC.
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How to Reject Grant and Job Applicants with Compassion During This Time

A couple of weeks ago, it was my responsibility to deliver bad news to a couple dozen people. This is an already challenging time for many and I was very sensitive to how I was about to make them feel. You see, the Archivist-in-Residence (AiR) program, received 10 highly qualified joint applications and we could only pick one. (Joint meaning a new professional and host site applied as a team = 20+ people). This meant that not only were we rejecting grant applications, we were also rejecting job applicants.

Prepare Your Compassionate Rejection Ahead of Time

The AiR team is comprised of highly emotionally intelligent people and we decided a couple months ago (pre-COVID) that we wanted to offer support to the applicants who weren’t selected. This decision is in keeping with our mission which is to advocate for new professionals in the field and support the institutions who are working to build paid internships. When I sent out the bad news I was prepared with the support offer the team came up with. I began the email notice in the usual way: “Thank you for applying, unfortunately you were not selected, it was a highly competitive application pool that helps to prove just how important this program is…” and then I got real. “I know this is crappy news during an already challenging time.” I delivered our prepared offer to share a summary of application notes, and I offered an hour of my time to both the new professional and the host site to strategize on anything they wished–from networking to other grant opportunities.

My Experience with Rejecting Compassionately

All but two applicants have responded back asking for application notes and took me up on the offer of my time and knowledge. So far, I’ve had several email and phone conversations where I’ve pointed host sites to grants they would be an excellent fit for and offered advice on how to make an even stronger application. And for newer professionals I openly and honestly answered all of their questions from what skills to acquire, to how to job seek, to how to be professionally involved; and I connected them to peers and resources to help propel them forward. I’m so proud that each of these people who received discouraging news, bravely took me up on my offer and really used the opportunity to get the support they needed. After each conversation I’ve felt joy that I could be of help, and optimistic that my advice may make a real difference to them during this hard time.

What I Learned

This whole experience has taught me two things: 1. That you really can give the gift of time; and 2. You can reject an applicant compassionately by still offering them support.

Now It’s Your Turn

During this time of extreme hardship for many, I encourage granting agencies and hiring organizations to brainstorm how they can imbue compassion into the rejections that must inevitably be sent out. First, acknowledge that this is a very difficult time for many and make a statement of empathy. Next, think of what resources you can provide to unsuccessful applicants. What knowledge can you offer to support them? Can you give the gift of 30-60 minutes of your time? Or send an introduction email to help connect people? There are likely actions you can take and resources at your fingertips that can make a difference to the person you’re sharing them with. I realize many of you are dealing with much larger numbers than a couple dozen, so I encourage you to think strategically as to how you can scale your delivery of support. Perhaps a blog post, how to video, or place on your website can host supportive material. Or, perhaps there’s enough staff to offer a few appointment slots on a first come, first served basis. Or, you can solicit questions and deliver a Q&A. My point is, there are many ways you can offer support smartly without it requiring significant labor, and if ever there was a time for you to incorporate compassion into your rejection practices, now is the time.

Stock photographs by Burak Kostak, via Canva. Image downloaded for use April 2020, and was not purposefully altered. All other image and text owned by Rachael Cristine Consulting LLC.