January 2017 Newsletter

President's Message

Holiday Greetings!

2016 has been an exceptionally busy and productive year for CCHS.   In addition to sponsoring interesting and well-attended workshops, symposiums and an annual meeting, we’ve developed a Strategic Plan with the following vision statement that will guide us in everything that we do for several years.

CCHS will be the recognized leader (by providing differential value and high professional standards) in empowering historical societies (their staffs and volunteers) in their mission to preserve California history by making them stronger and more responsive to their communities (protecting and preserving the historical record and interpreting the past to the public) through organizational development (symposiums, workshops, webinars, electronic publications) and the sharing of successful strategies (networking).

The Strategic Plan is comprised of five strategic initiatives, or goals:  The Regional Vice President (RVP)  Program which defines the roles, responsibilities, recruitment, training and retention of RVPs; The Knowledge Base initiative which provides online educational articles and papers intended to improve the effectiveness of historical societies and the sharing of ideas; Internal Leadership which creates an organizational structure to address the long-term future of CCHS; Fund Development to provide sources of revenue to fund programs needed to execute this plan, and finally, Audience Development which will focus on CCHS’s audience.

“A non-profit is only as powerful as the people who support the organization. It is imperative to attract an audience of volunteers, financial contributors and thought leaders.  The process of building that support network is Audience Development.”

Audience Development is a newly coined term that describes any activity which is undertaken specifically to meet the needs of existing and potential audiences and provides value to the audience with quality content.  In our particular situation, it is a commitment that CCHS is making to our “audience” or CCHS members….local historical societies and individuals interested in “preserving and protecting the historical record and interpreting the past to the public.”

Audience development can include marketing, education, mentoring….any activity that develops a strong, mutually beneficial relationship with, in the case of CCHS, our member organizations.  As a process, audience development employs a wide range of marketing tools such as research, publicity, communication and customer relationship management.

Initially, our audience development initiative will focus on identifying our audience, specifically CCHS member organizations in certain targeted regions.  Once that is accomplished we will concentrate on developing an on-going relationship with the leadership of those historical societies.  We will obtain information from and about our audience, establish the needs of our member organizations and how CCHS can bolster these targeted organizations.  We will endeavor to demonstrate that CCHS membership has value for our audience, and importantly, we will determine what our audience expects from us. This will be done with the goal of supporting and strengthening local historical societies in our targeted regions by communicating our vision and by sponsoring workshops and other quality activities that will help them better serve their audiences. Through this process CCHS will become known as the “go to” organization that can be relied upon to deliver the services that the CCHS audience requires to meet their mission.

Future CCHS newsletter articles and other communications will share specifics of each of these five strategic plan initiatives, and when and how they will be implemented.  I’m pleased to announce that one aspect of the RVP initiative is already being scheduled.   Because we recognize that it is essential that our RVPs receive training and support, CCHS is scheduling training sessions for current and prospective RVPs early in 2017 in southern California and in northern California.  RVPs, unique to the CCHS organizational structure, serve as liaisons between members and CCHS.  They facilitate the exchange of knowledge and expertise between organizations and individuals committed to preserving California history.

You will be reading more about this 3-year strategic plan as we develop and implement the five initiatives.  In the meantime, if you have questions about this exciting commitment that CCHS has made to our current and prospective member organizations, please feel free to contact CCHS at Arrowhead Management or contact me directly.

If you have ideas for subjects or topics that you think would be helpful or instructive that we might consider for a workshop or a Knowledge Base paper, please share them…that is what CCHS is all about.   Our conference is designed to serve as a formal and/or informal venue for discussion, consultation, debate, talk or dialogue … specifically, the exchange of ideas and information about the subject that we are all passionate about --- history.  Our goal is to “Honor Our Past and Build Our Future” by becoming the “recognized leader in empowering historical societies in their mission to preserve California history by making them stronger and more responsive to their communities through organizational development and the sharing of successful strategies.”

As we begin a new year, I would like to thank each of you for your interest and support.  We look forward to continuing our dynamic and mutually beneficial partnership during 2017.

My best wishes for a Happy New Year,

Andrea Blachman, CCHS President

[email protected]



First Vice President's Message


Coming Soon! 



Michael Otten, CCHS 1st Vice President

Region 8 Vice President (Sierra Gateway)

[email protected]



Second Vice President's Message

Membership - A Relational Experience    

How many times has your Board said, “We need to increase our membership”?  Or, “I wish we could recruit younger members”.  And last but not least, “We need new members, but are not sure how to get them”.  If this sounds familiar, you are not alone.  This is a common challenge all historical societies are facing today.

Typically there are two types of challenges we face with membership development.  There are internal challenges and external challenges. 

Internal challenges include:

  • Getting the Board to recognize their role in membership development
  • Not considering membership development as only the responsibility of the Membership Chair, but a process influenced by the entire organization
  • There is little consideration or understanding of what members needs are vs. “we have always done it this way”

External challenges include:

  • Lack of interest in history
  • Don’t see any benefit in becoming a member
  • Currently a member of too many organizations

To address these challenges will require CHANGE!  Too often we are so focused on history; we don’t notice the changes happening around us that require us to look at membership development in a different way.  When I think about change I am reminded of a quote from General Eric Shinseki-“If you don’t like change, you will like irrelevance even less”.

There are two types of membership development approaches, transactional and relation- centered.  With the transactional approach we focus on “selling” to non-members to pay the membership fee and become a member.  “If you become a member you will get the benefit of membership which is our newsletter, discounts at local merchants, special invitations to our functions, etc.   This approach is common for many historical societies.

However, there are some historical societies that take a relation-centered approach by inviting people to become part of a distinctive community for sharing information & knowledge and meeting new people.  A relation-centered approach would be describing your organization from the potential members prospective.  To have an active membership it is important to incorporate strategies that are member and relation-centered.  This would apply to recruiting new members and retaining existing members.

Considerations for recruiting new members might include the following questions.

      1.            Does your organization represent the diversity of your population?

      2.            Are your citizens aware of your accomplishments?

      3.            How effectively are your programs and projects communicated to prospective members?

      4.            Is your Board of Directors communicating the efforts and accomplishments of your organization to their friends?

Considerations for retaining existing members might include the following questions.

      1.            How effectively and frequently does your organization communicate with members?

      2.            Are you aware of why members are leaving your organization?

      3.            How relevant is your organization to its members interests?

      4.            Are personal calls made to lapsed members?

Once these questions are answered, it’s time to create a plan.  To effectively increase membership it must be a focused effort led by a committee.  The committee makes membership development a team effort for generating ideas and implementing programs for recruitment and continued enhancement of relevant programs to improve retention.  The committee can act as an excellent resource to the organization to develop the organization’s membership marketing strategy and programs.  The committee will also develop approaches for receiving member feedback and presenting it to the Board of Directors for action.  The goal of the committee is to generate ideas and implement programs to recruit new members and retain existing members by identifying things that are relevant to member needs and provide value.

Potential historical society members represent a specific segment of the general population.  As you develop strategies for attracting new members, identify target groups (i.e. Baby Boomers, etc.) for new membership and set recruiting and retention goals.  The challenge is to define them, attract them, socialize them and engage them in ways that fulfill their specific needs as well as advancing the goals of the society.

As you develop strategies for attracting new members think about what can be done to stimulate diverse membership.  Also, consider what will attract “younger members”.  Options might be to create social and networking activities, using social media, asking them to help solve problems you are facing.

To engage existing members, think about them as “customers”.  Make members feel appreciated by recognizing their achievements.  Poll members on what they are interested in.  It is always good to feature photographs of members on your web site, digital media and in newsletters.  Establish a regular communication plan to share information with members.

Now, I know what you are thinking, WOW, this is a lot of work.  Yes it is, but to recruit new members and retain existing members is one of the most important things you should spend your time on to achieve your organizations vision of preserving California’s history and being more responsive to your community.

In summary:

  • What changes can you make to improve your membership development activities?
  • Identify what is working well and improve it
  • Identify challenges if addressed that would have a positive impact on membership development
  • Pick one or two things you can focus on and successfully execute them
  • Seek the involvement of your entire Board to help with membership development.




- Melos Institute-Pacifica, California

-Rotary Club-Membership Committee Manual


Best regards,

Ralph H. Thomas, CCHS 2nd Vice President


It's Not Too Late - 
Renew Your CCHS Membership through 2017 Today! 

Don't miss out on the exciting opportunities coming up in 2017 with CCHS! Membership includes access to our network of RVPs, knowledge base, organizational development to strengthen your historical organizations, discounted insurance, and of course, historical tours at our annual meetings, symposiums, and workshops! 

Renew online today, or refer to the invoice sent to you in the mail if you would prefer to pay by check. If you did not receive an invoice, or would like to request another copy, please contact Arrowhead Management at (909)480-3964. All memberships are considered valid for one calendar year beginning January 1st. Any memberships updated now will be considered valid through December 31, 2017. 


JFK University Museum Studies Presents: 
Our First Ever Continuing Education Series
Online and Onsite at a Museum Near You! 

CCHS is excited to announce the Museum Series Fundamentals courses offered by JFKU! Designed to help you strengthen your historical society or small museum, these courses offer a well-rounded introduction to the information and professional skills vital to a thriving organization. 

Each course includes 12 hours of content with online learning modules to be done at your own pace, some live sessions, and an onsite hands-on training class at a California museum or historical society. Courses will provide online learning modules with recorded lectures, student-instructor discussion boards, live chats, training videos, readings, reflection and written assignments with instructor and peer-to-peer feedback.

Designed to be taken in sequence, these courses are specifically created for volunteers, non-expert staff, and board members of historical societies and small museums. 

This program costs $350 per course or $1,750 for the entire series.

Series Requirements:

  1. Museums 101 - January - February 2017
  2. Strategic Thinking & Planning - March - April 2017
  3. Collections Management Basics - May - June 2017
  4. The Visitor Experience - July - August 2017
  5. Fundraising & Marketing - September - October 2017

After completing all five courses, you will receive a certificate from JFK University! Courses may also be taken individually if you are interested in a particular area of study or find one course could be especially helpful for you and your organization. 

Click here for more information and online registration. Please email [email protected] with any further questions. 


Spring Workshop in Los Angeles Area -
Stay Tuned for More Details! 

CCHS is excited to be offering a spring workshop in Southern California instead of the Spring Symposium. Details regarding date, location, and topics will be made available in the near future, so get ready to mark your calendars! 


Do you like this page?

Be the first to comment

Conference of California Historical Societies
Bringing together California's historical community to share California's heritage, learn from one another and strengthen our communities.