“An Invaluable Tool” – AIM Visitor Verdict

Since AIM Visitor Verdict started nearly two years ago, it has helped many AIM members to better understand their visitor experience. Funded by Arts Council England, AIM Visitor Verdict is a free service for all AIM members until October 2015.

If you haven’t yet signed up, or if you would like to know more about how using Visitor Verdict can support your museum, you can take advantage of our free Visitor Verdict workshops taking place soon in Derby and London.

Visitor Verdict is conducted by BDRC Continental in partnership with AIM and has been developed using best practice from the well-known visitor attractions research programme, ALVA Visitor Experience Benchmarking Survey.

The service offers real-time results on a user friendly online dashboard. The programme gives you information about who visits your museum, why they are there, what they do on their visit – and crucially – what they think of their experience. The results you receive are given industry context by providing a benchmark against similar museums.

Visitor Verdict can help independent museums in a number of ways by:

*Helping you to measure your visitor experience effectively and accurately

*Providing a useful and easy to use tool for gathering data for funding applications/annual reports

*Informing your marketing messages, pricing decisions and staff/volunteer training

*Attracting and retaining sponsors/funders

 *Contributing to accreditation requirements

“Visitor Verdict is an invaluable tool to help any institution better understand their visitors,” says Liam Tolhurst, Retail and Visitor Services Manager at ss Great Britain Trust. “The information it has provided us on retail use, for example, has directly led to changes in our product mix and shop layout.”

SS Great Britain, Museums at Night festival.

“An invaluable tool” AIM Visitor Verdict has helped the team at ss Great Britain (Photo credit: Adam Gasson)

Visitor Verdict FREE Workshops – How to Book:

These workshops are free and lunch/refreshments will be provided.

Derby: Monday 11th May – 11am-4pm

Derby Booking:   http://bit.ly/aimvv2015mid

London: Monday 6th July – 11am-4pm

London Booking:  http://bit.ly/aimvv2015lon

Included in the workshop:

Examples of how other museums are already using the service

Hands on session to develop reports that meet your needs

Opportunity to explore your own results if you already have 25+ completed surveys

Expert guidance on all aspects of the service: including collecting visitor’s details, using the online system, interpreting results, using benchmarking

Top tips to make running Visitor Verdict easy to manage

For further information about Visitor Verdict please visit the AIM Website


New AIM Quick Guides: Donation Boxes in Museums

AIM is pleased to introduce the first of a new series of publications called ‘Quick Guides’.

The AIM QUICK GUIDES have been developed to provide useful and relevant information across a range of topics to help support the work of independent museums.

Researched and written by Professionals in the museum sector, the QUICK GUIDES offer practical help in a shorter format to our SUCCESS GUIDES allowing us to cover particular topics in more depth.

These guides can be viewed online in PDF format or downloaded and printed.

The first publication in this series is ‘Donation Boxes in Museums’ which has been produced by Judy Niner and Amy Richards of Development Partners, sponsors of the AIM National Conference 2015 June 18 – 20 at ss Great Britain, Bristol.

Donation Boxes in Museums

Donation Boxes in Museums

On-site donations can play an important role in a museum’s overall fundraising strategy for two principal reasons.

First, the very presence of a donation box reinforces the charitable nature of the museum. Secondly, the income itself (with Gift Aid) can be significant, whether unrestricted or allocated to a specific project.

This new Quick Guide will support you with the box design, placement and promotion of your donation boxes, plus it offers tips on donation amounts and Gift Aid too.

Download Donation Boxes Quick Guides

AIM Advocacy Toolkit: Evidencing Social and Environmental Impacts of Museums

These days, museums across the UK are providing more and more services for their visitors and the communities that surround them. Long gone are the times when museums were simply repositories for interesting artefacts and historical objects because museums today often act as thriving community hubs with different activities and expanded services in place for the public. These additional activities are varied, but include workshops for school children, offering work experience placements for young people and delivering art based projects to help older people socialise. The depth and range of what museums now offer is impressive, plus most museums are extremely aware of their impact on the local and wider environment.

Understanding and evidencing your social and environmental impact and the ‘added value’ that your organisation provides adds credibility to what you do, so AIM has now produced a practical advocacy toolkit that will be useful for independent museums, for those with local authority funding, university museums or indeed for anyone who needs to be able to advocate better for their museum. This new AIM Advocacy Toolkit, supported by Arts Council England and developed by DC Research can be used by all museums across the UK and comprises an impact evaluation/assessment framework which has been tested using evidence from a small number of AIM member museums.

“AIM is delighted to be publishing the Advocacy Impact Toolkit as a practical way of helping all museums make the case for their social and environmental contribution. It is the much needed accompaniment to AIM’s Economic Impact Toolkit, which is already used by museums across the UK to give robust evidence of the positive economic contribution that museums make,” said Tamalie Newbery, Executive Director of AIM. “As public spending is tightened, it is vital that museums can speak with credibility about all the ways that they contribute to their communities and make a difference to people’s lives and the new toolkit enables them to do this with confidence.”


Museums often provide additional services for young people

This toolkit has been designed to help museums fill the gap between the activities and inputs generated by museums and to help them assess their social and environmental impacts. It includes methods of choosing your outcomes, ways of assessing your own selected outcomes and examples of best practice from independent museums across the UK to help you identify your own contributions. There is also a blank template available for download to help you compile your own documentation.

So how else can evidencing your social and environmental impacts help you? Increasingly, funding bodies and project partners such as the Heritage Lottery Fund are requiring strong evidence of how your services are used, and being transparent about how you reduce your environmental impact can support future grant applications. In addition, proving your positive impacts and strong advocacy can act as the basis for marketing campaigns and case studies to help attract new visitors to your museum. This new AIM advocacy toolkit also contains useful information about how you can estimate the value of volunteer time for ‘in kind’ funding purposes.

“DC Research are delighted to have developed the AIM Advocacy Toolkit, building on the success of the Economic Impact Toolkit we previously developed for AIM which has proved to be very useful to the independent museum sector,” said Jonathan Durnin, Director, DC Research. “The AIM Advocacy Toolkit is designed to help museums make convincing connections between their activities, and the contribution these activities make to the wider social and environmental outcomes that are important to their partners and funders. It provides the tools and the evidence to demonstrate how museums are helping their partners deliver their social and environmental priorities”.

You can find out more about this new toolkit and download the associated documents here: Evidencing Social and Environmental Impacts of Museums: AIM Advocacy Toolkit


Gift Aid on admissions schemes still low among museums, AIM survey shows 

Gift Aid on Admissions

As many as 44% of museums who could claim Gift Aid on admissions are not doing so, AIM’s 2014 Autumn Online Survey has revealed.  This rises to two-thirds of eligible museums with under 10,000 visitors per year. 

Reasons given for not cliaming included: “Not enough visitors to justify cost of equipment”; “Scheme too complicated for occasional volunteers to administer reliably, using personal details”, and “HMRC need to make the collection and claiming of Gift Aid simpler for independent museums”.

Of the 56% of eligible museums that are claiming Gift Aid on admissions, 42% are using the ‘additional 10%’ scheme and 58% are using the ‘annual pass’ scheme.  37% of the respondents did not qualify at all, as they don’t charge for admission. 

Gift Aid On Donations

The AIM survey found 22% of museums do not claim Gift Aid on donations they receive, rising to a third of museums with fewer than 10,000 visitors p.a. All of the respondents with over 100,000 visitors p.a. claimed Gift Aid on donations.

The Museums Association (MA) have also recently published an article summarising a report from HRMC which found that £2.3bn of donations were made to charities without Gift Aid being claimed in 2012-13.

The report is entitled Gift Aid: Understanding Donor Behaviour, and has led the Treasury to announce it will simplify the Gift Aid model declaration form. The new form should be available early in 2015.

The Museums Association summarises the reasons the report gives Gift Aid not being claimed by charities:

The report found that some people were not claiming gift aid because of misconceptions about it, believing that there would be a cost to the charity or to themselves, or that it was such a negligible amount that it was not worth claiming. Others were deterred by an unwillingness to share personal information, or through a general view of form-filling as inconvenient.

The report concluded: “Changing information about Gift Aid will be central to increasing the number of correct claims, and understanding is important to decisions… the findings suggest that once a decision had been made about whether to claim, behaviour quickly became habitual and automatic. Consequently, changing Gift Aid behaviour requires a two-part process: to disrupt existing habits, and to address barriers to claiming or misunderstanding.”

The full MA article is available here: Museums are losing out on Gift Aid | Museums Association.

Members can find out more results from AIM’s survey in the December issue AIM Bulletin, plus discover how museums fared this season in terms of visitor numbers and spend per head.

Safeguarding in Museums – who needs a DBS check?

SHARE East (the Museum Development service in East of England) and Community Action Suffolk have produced very clear guidance, specifically for museums, on who should and should not have a DBS check.

Disclosure and Barring Service checks (DBS checks) replace the former Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks for people working with children or vulnerable adults.

You can download the guidance here.

Making the Most of Digital Donations – a new guide by Charity Finance Group

The Charity Finance Group have published a new guide to online giving. They said:

Online giving platforms have been in existence for over a decade and there are now a large number of operators offering a range of services. As charity supporters have become increasingly familiar with digital financial transactions, taking donations online has become essential.

Making the most of digital donations: A practical guide to selecting and using online giving platforms (PDF) offers organisations a strategic approach when choosing a provider and will be a valuable resource for all charities that are looking at how they can maximise their fundraising presence online by working with online giving platforms. The guide will also be particularly useful for smaller charities that may be less sure about how online giving platforms work or what they need to do when working with different partners.

Read more and download the guide here: CFG – Taking payments online.

Making the most of digital donations: A practical guide to selecting and using online giving platforms is by Charity Finance Group (CFG) and the Institute of Fundraising (IoF), sponsored by and produced in collaboration with Crowe Clark Whitehill (CCW).


Five ways of being more financially resilient without increasing income

We really liked this blog from Kita Jiwani at NCVO about how being financially resilient isn’t just about increasing your income. They make five short points about other things you need to do to be financially resilient:

Define your strategy (and stick to it, then only bid for grants that focus on that)

Look outwardly (partnerships, awareness of competitors and comparators and what they are doing – keep talking!)

Evidence your impact (AIM will be publishing a toolkit this Autumn to help do this)

Invest in your staff (and volunteers! We all know how central people are to our museums being successful)

Stay efficient (look at project costs and core costs)

To see what NCVO say about these things read their blog: Staying afloat without more revenue | NCVO Blogs.

Give a little: Donation Box guidance – your help needed

AIM knows just how crucial good Donation Box strategy is for independent museums – large and small –  so it has commissioned Development Partners, writers of our current Success Guide on Fundraising, to prepare an online Guidance Sheet to provide easily accessible advice and information on making the most of donation boxes for all our readers.

As part of pulling this guidance together Development Partners want to hear from as many, and as diverse, museums and cultural sites, as possible.

Please help us by sparing 10 minutes to completes this survey for them. It covers a broad variety of questions, from designs to donation rates, and it will be open until Friday 22 August.

Click on this link:       https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/donationboxes .

All entries will remain anonymous. Thank you in advance for your help; if you have any questions about the survey or the report, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Legal guidance on using tick boxes for donations and Gift Aid on admissions

Charity law specialist, Farrer & Co, have produced very helpful guidance on recent changes to the law which need to be complied with when using tick boxes to add donations to transactions or when using the ‘plus 10%’ Gift Aid on admissions scheme.

The written guidance follows on from the briefing they gave at AIM’s National Conference in June at Black Country Living Museum about some of the legal implications of the implementation of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. It applies to England, Wales and Scotland.

The new regulations need to be born in mind if your online purchasing systems offer the opportunity to give an extra donation to your charity when making a purchase (for tickets or anything else). The purchaser must consciously opt in to this extra donation. It is not sufficient to give them the opportunity to un-tick a pre-selected donation amount.

Care must also be taken with Gift Aid on admissions where the extra 10% method is used. Under this method a visitor is asked to make a donation of at least 10% extra for the cost of their admission ticket and complete a Gift Aid declaration. If they do this, the whole cost of the admission ticket and the 10% donation can be counted as a donation for Gift Aid. The visitor must be given a clear choice whether to pay the extra 10% for a Gift Aid admission or the normal price.

Farrer & Co explain the implications of the new regulations on this type of Gift Aid admission, in this extract from their full guidance note which can be downloaded from this blog via the link at the end:

Until now many charities have told donors the 10% is an ‘extra’ donation over the cost of a normal ticket. The problem is that statements which imply a division between the ticket price and a donation within a single payment risk both (a) falling foul of the Regulations, as they suggest that an “additional charge” is being levied over and above contractual consideration; and (b) characterising the payment as a “split payment” (as per 2 above), of which only the donation element will be eligible for Gift Aid.

As a result, where a charity wishes to use the Gift Aid admissions scheme to claim Gift Aid on the whole amount paid for admission to charity property, it is important to indicate to the customer that the whole amount will be a single payment which can be treated as a donation for Gift Aid purposes. However, provided this is done, and the guidance below is also followed, our view is Regulation 40 should not apply to the transaction, because (a) a different sort of ticket is being sold (one on which Gift Aid can be claimed, in contrast to one on which Gift Aid cannot be claimed) and (b) there is no “payment payable in addition”, as a single price is being paid for a single item (the ticket).

We strongly recommend you read the guidance from Farrer & Co via the link below, rather than relying on the summary in this blog!

Farrer – Tick-box exercises Pre-selected donations, Gift Aid admissions and recent changes in consumer law

Tips on collections care during digitisation from @MarchesNetwork

Becky Harvey, Flying Collections Assistant, for the Marches Network, recently led a workshop for volunteers about collections care during digitisation. The workshop marked the launch of the Pen Museum’s archive digitisation project and looked specifically at ways of protecting 2D archival items to support this project.

You can read the full blog here. Below are some of the main tips that came out of the day.

Although the session was concerned with archives, much of the advice given is relevant for 3D objects too. Here are some of the tips from the day

  • Archives should be stored in a cool, dark environment with a stable relative humidity. To help achieve this keep them in acid-free storage enclosures away from windows, doors and radiators. Avoid storing boxes on the floor.
  • Keep similar materials together and try to match documents to the size of the box to avoid movement. Don’t try to fit too many items in one box.
  • Museum objects and archives are most likely to be damaged by inappropriate handling techniques.
  • Gloves can reduce your dexterity meaning it’s more likely you will damage paper items. The National Archives’ policy is that gloves are not required for safe handling unless easily damaged material, such as photographs, are being handled.
  • It is important to ensure your hands are clean by washing and drying before handling and refrain from applying hand cream. Don’t lick your fingers to turn pages.
  • How to care for... documents and archivesRemove any jewellery that might catch or scratch the materials you are working with and any nail polish that could discolour it.
  • Prepare your working area and the route you will take before moving boxes or documents. Ensure these areas are free from food and drink and that they are clean, clear and tidy. Prop open any doors or ask someone to guide you.
  • Don’t struggle: if an item is heavy or large ask for help or use a tray or trolley to move it.
  • We handle museum objects very differently to the way we would use them at home. Try to forget about the object’s function. When working with books never remove from a shelf by pulling on the head-cap and ensure the angle of opening does not strain the binding structure.
  • Keep documents flat and fully supported, ideally lift on a piece of acid free card to avoid touching the actual document. If you have to touch it, try to only handle blank parts of the page.
  • Don’t assume that modern documents will be more robust than older ones. In the 19th century mechanised papermaking and printing used cheap wood pulp which is inherently acidic and more likely to deteriorate. Furthermore resins used in production create sulphuric acid which attacks paper turning it yellow and brittle.
  • Look out for signs of pest infestation and learn to recognise common insect pests such as silverfish and booklice, which eat or graze on paper. You can find out more here.
  • Take notes in pencil rather than pen and keep potentially damaging stationery products away from your work area.

Click on ICON leaflet above for more information or for a copy of the handout from the session please contact Becky Harvey at rebecca.harvey@staffordshire.gov.uk