While ‘leverage’ is a key concept in the for-profit sector, it also explains how the American Independence Museum in Exeter develops corporate partnerships.
“We try to create opportunities to engage our sponsors in ways that benefit them both internally and externally,” said museum Executive Director Emma Bray. “It is why we call them ‘partnerships’ now rather than ‘sponsorships.’ It is not about asking for money. It is about working together for a common shared vision.”
For Bray, this shared vision is a vibrant, dynamic Exeter.
“This community is growing–from the work by TEAM to promote arts and culture to other organizations working for a brighter future, this is an exciting time for Exeter,” she said.
For Ruffner Real Estate’s Florence Ruffner, who has served on the museum’s board and financially supported the museum for years, a vibrant Exeter benefits everyone.
“I love this town and think we have a hidden gem here,” she said. “I believe this is a wonderful place to work and live. I think the museum is an important part of our continued growth.”
Karin Behrens-Bouvier, financial advisor with Edward Jones in Exeter, said she elected to support the museum because of her love of history.
“I was drawn to start my business here because of Exeter’s historical significance,” she said. “Supporting the museum seems like a great way to demonstrate my appreciation for its history.”
Jeff Foy of Foy Insurance said he appreciates the diversity of programming developed by the museum in recent years.
“It gets people into town to discover for themselves why all of us really love this town,” he said.
According to Bray, engaged corporate partners serve as the museum’s strongest “sales force.”
“It is one thing for us to advocate for our mission, but to have our partners do it for us is incredible,” she said.
This engagement with corporate partners sometimes creates entirely new programs.
“We are beginning to work with RiverWoods Exeter to create a volunteer program for their residents,” said Bray. “This is an outstanding opportunity for them and for us as an organization.”
Other partnerships help push programs over the proverbial top, which is the case with the museum’s Traveling Trunk program. Educating more than 500 kids in schools in the past academic school year alone, the program was initially funded by the NH Charitable Foundation and has since been supported by Service Credit Union.
“This Traveling Trunk program has been in Florida, New Jersey and places throughout the Northeast,” said Bray. “This experiential education program would not exist without our partners and Service Credit Union’s continued support.”
Entering its second year of partnership with the museum as a supporter of Revolutionary Story Time!, Exeter Hospital also supported the American Independence Festival this past July.
“Exeter Hospital has been great, as we have found a way to work together in programs and events that enhance the fabric of our community,” said Bray.
Other partners, like Bob Mitchell, not only invest financial resources through their businesses to support the museum, but substantial time.
“Bob is instrumental in our festival in July,” said Bray. “His vision literally helped to create our Traditional Artisans Village, which is now supported by the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.”
The museum also offers a successful Lecture Series, which provides afternoon Lunch & Learns and evening Tavern Talks. The series has been presented by People’s United Bank for the past two years.
“They often attend our lectures and speak at them,” she said. “It is wonderful to create opportunities for our partners to speak directly with our members and visitors.”
As a result of a partnership with Chinburg Properties, the museum now offers free admission for veterans, active military and their families.
“Partnerships enhance our accessibility, program infrastructure and financial stability,” said Bray. “In return, we attract more people into town who in turn make investments of their own into the town’s economy…There is a business case for why museums can serve as a hub for a town–and I think we have that here in Exeter with support from our partners and donors.”
Home to a world-class collection of 3,000 historic artifacts, the museum welcomes more than 5,000 visitors annually and distinguishes itself with educational school programs and events that make history fun and relevant.