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Sustainability is key to the success and

survival of any business. For charitable

organizations, it is easy to rely on the

generosity of donors, foundations and public

funds to support annual operations or to kick-

start a capital project. With an ever changing

financial climate, one or more of these critical

funding sources can be cut or dry up

completely, leaving a nonprofit to fight for its

very existence. In order to prevent or stem this

frightful reality, nonprofits need to act and

think like for-profit businesses and develop

earned revenue streams.

Over the last four years, the Rock County

Historical Society has embraced this

mentality and strategy at all levels of the

organization. We think of our offerings: tours,

exhibits, merchandise, genealogy services,

and more, as product lines. What are the

needs of the community, and what raw

materials, i.e., our sites, collections,

photographs, and most importantly, our

stories will the community respond and react

to that equates to more revenue and support?

Our newest product set to launch in October,


Spirits in the Night

tour, is a perfect

example of this. After guest surveys and

several paranormal events in prior years, it

was a safe bet that the Rock County

community is interested and wants more of

the scary, thriller-type product. Mind you,

Spirits in the Night

is a completely fictitious

tour...there is no connection to the Tallman

family, but due to customer interest, the

Society has invested resources into the tour's

marketing and merchandising to invite non-

traditional audiences to campus for a scare

and when they get there, offering them

opportunities to add to their experience.

Making history or any nonprofit's cause

profitable should,

while giving back to and

improving the community

, should be the

primary strategy of any charitable

organization. Its part of a strategy to stay

sustainable in the 21st Century.

A look back remember When

Mike Reuter

- Executive Director, Rock County Historical Society

Profitable History


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