ALL AROUND | Preservation groups


by | ALL AROUND, Preservation groups | 0 comments

If you build it, they might come or they might not. If you market it wisely, they will.

The first thing that you’ll need to do is meet with the association board & tell them your plans. You’re going to need their backup. You can copy the activitie’s list & see which ones interest the board members. I would be very surprised if you were to be greeted by anything other than enthusiasm. Non-profit boards are always thrilled for volunteers to step up, not just with ideas, but with plans of action.

The key to marketing is understanding the needs of the neighborhood. Ask the board if you can use their communication lines to survey the neighborhood about their preservation interests & needs.

After you get communication going, you are going to run into one or more people (perhaps someone on the board!) who share your passion for saving our built heritage. Set up a one-on-one meeting with them & see what their thoughts are. Send them links to these articles & get them onboard with helping you implement an activity or two. It’s a way more fun game to play with a friend!

If you have no survey & don’t really know what people’s interests are, just start! Pick an activity from my public events list & promote it. Your attendees will become your committee members.


1. On your association’s email blasts. Generally these are sent to all on their mailing list, both members & non-members.

If they should have a print newsletter for members, ask if you can create an “ad” for your event.

2. Posting on the association’s Facebook page. My posts can be shared, including those about building a neighborhood group.

Whoever runs the association page can set up a notice for any meeting or presentation as an event where it will be shown many more times than just a regular post.

3. If your association will allow it, create a Facebook page for the committee. Post about committee activities & share information about preservation from other sites.

Join several FB, old house group pages as well as group history pages for your area. When you have events, or want to share some special news, share your posts to these group pages.  This will greatly amplify your exposure.

Take pictures at your events & post those afterward, along with attendees’ rave comments. Make sure you have ok from people to post their photos or blur the faces.

4. There are many sites online where you can post events. I recommend studying their individual terms of service before you sign up for them.

Print media is floundering but there are many still alive & there are also online newspapers. Submit press releases to all of these. Here’s a good write-up on how to do that.  From this you can build a list of journalists who are interested in preservation. It is helpful to built good relationships with them.

5. Discuss with the board the idea of the preservation committee having a visible presence at all association events such as general meetings, events & social gatherings. I would suggest that you use a card table with an antique table cloth that you would sit beside, with a large, pretty flower arrangement on it, with fliers for the next committee activity. You might want to create a flier for the committee which promotes some of its activities.

You are going to want to create a sign-up list for people who are interested in the committee. Speak with your association board about ownership of these names & addresses. Ideally, you can have your own list to which you can mail as a group, & you also want to be able to connect individually with the more interested people.

You also want to have a list for people who attend your events. Some of them will not be residents of the neighborhood & will have no interest in the association’s other activities. You will want to have your own list of committee members. Get these lists & what you want to send to them, sorted out with the board.

6. Trotting door-to-door with fliers ( 2 up on 81/2″ X 11″) that you stick in people’s doors. This is a really good way to generate interest because you’ll see neighbors when you’re out & about & you can chat them up about the new historic preservation committee. You’ll promote the event, but you’ll also encourage them to participate on the committee. You can do this too with the committee meeting fliers. It’s great exercise!

7. Generally there will be businesses that line the commercial boulevards of a neighborhood. Ask the businesses if you can post a mini-poster (11″ X 17″) in the window or somewhere in their store. (If you are so unfortunate as to a couple have less wholesome businesses, I’d recommend that you skip those.) I always took a roll of tape with me so that I could attach it myself, or provide tape for the proprietor to attach it.  Extend a warm personal invitation for them to attend the event, & express your heartfelt thanks.

It’s also a good idea to promote in all the historic neighborhoods in your city. We cruised all over the county putting up our fliers. And we drew people from allover too!

8. If you are partnering with another organization, even going on a field trip, encourage them to promote to their public. Let them know about all the ways that you will be promoting them!

Take photos at these outings. Send the venues the photos so they can post on their FB pages. (Make sure you have ok to post anyone that you have in your shots, or blur faces.)

One of the things that I love the most about preservation advocacy, is that it provides opportunities for personal contact & allows people to contribute to the neighborhood in a positive way that is not taxing for them. Many of the businesses are struggling & they will be very pleased to be able to help, even in a small way. It is a continuous exercise in community building in our extremely disconnected world.

You may run into some rude & grumpy folks. Keep smiling. Remember that you do not know their story. I always had 2 goals when I hit the streets- to promote the committee & to brighten people’s lives. You never know whose cat died that morning.

You represent the association, the committee & our built heritage with everything you do & say. Be the bright spot in everybody’s day, grow your group & make the world a kinder, more beautiful place.

9. Suggest to the neighborhood board that they host an event every year that validates their volunteers. It could be just a segment of a regularly occurring event, or a complete program, but please ensure that your committee volunteers get a public shout-out. A follow-up article in the newsletter is also appreciated. Volunteers work because they believe in the cause & because it’s fun. Preservation volunteers work even when it’s not fun, (Damn the cursed wrecking ball!) but we always enjoy the fellowship & a pat on the back is always appreciated.

Awarding presentation volunteers

10. Track your marketing & attendance. If a particular program doesn’t draw, take a look at the marketing. If it was well-marketed, you might not want to present that particular topic again, or, perhaps you could repackage it.

Persist. Building anything worthwhile takes a great deal of intelligent planning, hard work & willingness to admit that your most brilliant idea was a bust. They won’t all be. I promise you many wins & grand successes.


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