TO: Mr. Howard Lewis, HSP’s chairman
FROM: HSP’s board member
DATE: June 5, 1994
SUBJECT: HSP’s strategy for bright future
Dear Mr. Lewis,
There is no doubt that Historical Society of Philadelphia (HSP) needs a more defined and structured strategy in order to apply its increasingly scarce resources in the most productive way. And this way is to specialize on solely library/archive services and to transfer our museum artifacts and art to other institutions.
The society is proud of its museum. It also has one of the best historical libraries on the East coast. Modern reality, however, requires us to make decision and prioritize. HSP just doesn’t generate enough funds to support the both. And I am sure, if there had been a chance to raise more money, Ms. Stitt would have done it already. Nowadays, our first priority is to run HSP in financially sound and prudent way.
By transferring our collections to other institutions, we will accomplish several immediate and long-term goals.
First, we should eliminate our entry-level membership plan, and increase premium for our patron plan to $200. HSP is a club-type entity, and many of our members are professional or amateur historians. The average tenure of our members with HSP is more than 6 year! I strongly believe that our primary goal is to serve this specialized niche. In return, we can ask for larger membership premiums. We need to realize that HSP is not designed for general public: it is located far from major touristic attractions and other popular places.
Secondly, some of the artifacts and art pieces can be sold for cash, while others can be traded or donated. We will significantly improve our short-term financial conditions. The key here is to make sure that (1) the collections will still serve the needs of Philadelphians, and (2) the transfer will not violate laws or wills of our donors.
Thirdly, our long-term financials will receive a boost. According to the budget (see attachment 1,) HSP’s revenues from admissions is miniscule, and we experienced threefold decline in this income since 1990. At the same time, costs of maintenance of the museum are far above the revenues it provides. By getting rid of the museum, the HSP can free up about 4,500 square feet of space (see attachment 2). The society can use this space to improve storage of manuscripts, increase collection, and enlarge library’s reading room.
Finally, we can significantly cut our salaries and wages expenses. Narrower scope of HSP’s business means that the society will need fewer employees with specialized knowledge or expertize (i.e. to conduct workshops, run exhibitions,…