SHARED Enterprise is a HLF Catalyst-Funded project supporting museums throughout the East of England to explore new ways of generating income and to make better use of existing financial opportunities. Becky Wash, Curator of Essex Police Museum, talks about her recent experience of working with SHARED Enterprise and a step they’ve taken to increase their income.
The Increasing Individual Giving training session run by SHARED Enterprise allowed those on the course to apply for a grant of up to £500 to improve access to individual giving.
The Essex Police Museum costs £40,000 a year to run and has been self-funded for the last three years. The museum is a registered charity and has successfully found funding from online giving, gift aid and setting up a Payroll Giving Scheme.
The museum’s donations box – a small clear box that sat on a small table near the main entrance is the only donations box in the museum.
Although it did bring in some money we felt it was low down and easily missed by visitors.
The grant allowed us to apply for funding so we could purchase a new and improved box.
We looked at the variety of donations boxes available:
- Donation Buckets
- Charity Pots
- Box with a hole for a coin or folded notes
- Interactive donations box
Then we looked at the prices – and picked ourselves up from the floor!
We wanted something that looked professional but was affordable and meant something to our museum.
Interactive boxes are fun but they are normally filled with coppers rather than notes.
Someone suggested that we make a box from an old police helmet – but I wanted to make sure that we continued to use a transparent box. It allows the visitor to see exactly how much is in it before they make their donation. There has been some research into the use of transparent donations boxes and this YouTube video explains a case study in more detail.
We have always and continue to leave a float of £10 in our donations box made up of a £5 note, £2 coin, 2 x £1 coins and 2 x 50p coins. It most certainly discourages any coppers (unlike our non-see through boxes which we leave at Essex Police Reception and the local corner shop). We often see a note or two in our box but the majority of coins that enter the box are gold.
So we went back to our original clear box – how could we improve it?
Our answer was to improve the box signage and to make the clear box prominent.
I contacted a carpenter friend of mine and explained what I wanted. The finished piece was a traditional looking Police Box measuring 85cm high, almost double the height of the original table.
The box most definitely stands out and we have had many positive comments, but it is early days yet to say whether the box has helped to increased donations to the museum.
The project cost £150 in total which also included the price of a new plastic box (with lock) and new signage (not seen in the photos).