Heritage Areas Focus on Organizational Sustainability

July 5, 2018 || Posted by: F. Calarco (NERO)

Organizational Sustainability Workshops took place in Baltimore, Maryland on June 14th and 15th for National Heritage Areas in the Northeast Region and was hosted by Baltimore National Heritage Area. A second session took place for the Midwest, Southeast, and Pacific West Regions in Lawrence, Kansas on June 25th and 26th hosted by the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.

The training was facilitated by Peter Lane and Carol Hamilton of the Institute for Conservation Leadership (ICL), in collaboration with the Heritage Development Partnership – a 501(c)(3) arm of the Alliance of National Heritage Areas that acts as the advocacy group for all of the NHAs.
The National Park Service, which provides funding and assistance to the 48 national heritage areas around the country, also attended the workshop and helped to organize and support this effort.

Person on the right points and person on the left holds a poster while speaking to a crowd.
Facilitated by Peter (left) and Carol (right) from the Institute for Conservation Leadership (ICL), workshop activities included creating organizational “impact maps.”


The goal of the sustainability training was to provide information and guidance to the not-for-profit organizations that manage the NHAs on how they can evaluate their organizational structures, identify strategies to improve partnerships and community engagement, as well as diversify funding opportunities. Attendees included staff and board members of these organizations. While coming from heritage areas diverse in size and function, participants were able to work and learn from one another through a range of interactive and hands-on sessions.

People talk while sitting and standing around a table.
Representatives from NHAs providing feedback on another NHA’s vision statement during the Lawrence session.


This series of activities provided a number of insights, including understanding assumptions of different organizational components, approaches for engaging board members, understanding consistent and simple ways of evaluating programs and events, and finding inspiration from other heritage areas’ “best practices.” Other sessions focused on developing new forms of revenue streams, and learning how to prioritize programs and events based on their potential benefits to the organization.
People talk while sitting and standing around a table.
The “hot topics” activity stimulated a number of thought-provoking conversations during the Baltimore session.


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Last updated: October 15, 2018