In interesting post and discussion today about the closing of the COSI Toledo Science Center. Not-for-profits often struggle to adjust to a constant changing landscape because historically they have ignored many market forces that force the business world to evolve.
Many Science Centers that are prospering have done so through balancing revenue generation and revenue creation. Taking some of the best practices from business is more than brand strategy, but includes leveraging technology, driving operations efficiencies, strong customer relationship programs – basically operating with purpose and accountability.
The Saint Louis Science Center is a good example of a well run science center that is adapting many best practices from the for profit world. They hired a fill time VP of Business a few years back from the for profit world to lead this effort and the SLSC now has one of the highest ratios of attendance per dollar spent according to 2006 ASTC data.
Below is a portion of the post from Pail Orselli on the Exhibitricksblog.
In case you hadn’t heard, COSI Toledo closed down permanently on December 31, 2007, after 10 years of operation.I think its a little sad and scary that one of the early “brand(ed) names” of the science center business, COSI, has taken such a drubbing in both its greatly expanded Columbus location, as well as in its now defunct Toledo satellite.
Unfortunately, the news of museum closings, like COSI Toledo’s, begs several important questions: 1) Are the traditional business models of museum operation truly sustainable? 2) Is the public really willing to support museums directly (through admissions, contributions, etc.) and/or indirectly through taxes, millages, etc.? 3) Should the IRS that grants 501 (c) 3 non-profit status for museums insist on more realistic business plans? All tough questions, which I don’t claim to have the definitive answers to, but I am interested in starting a dialogue. So, what do you think?