Post Oak County Historical Commission is a fictional organization in a fictional county. Texas Historical Commission (THC) staff created Post Oak County as a teaching tool and reference for Texas CHCs. We present this fictional information in a variety of ways to provide general guidance to CHCs. Our hope is that the examples, which highlight common challenges, will help Texans develop stronger CHCs.
Response from our Audience
The Post Oak CHC recently asked county residents how they would like to celebrate Texas Independence Day. We posed this question to the public using social media and email. Although our initial “ask” didn’t provide many responses, we adjusted our approach, asked again, and were rewarded with a wealth of input from the community.
Our event planning committee reviewed the responses, tallied reoccurring themes, and determined the four most popular themes, which are listed below.
Identifying Potential Partners and Donated Services
Using these themes as a guide, our planning committee identified potential partners for our Texas Independence Day event––business and organizations that are associated with, or are interested in, one or more of the event themes. Once potential partners were identified, we brainstormed on three aspects of partnerships for each potential partner:
- Specific ways that each partner could have a substantial role in the event;
- Specific ways that each partner could have an easy and/or inexpensive role in the event; and
- Specific ways that each partner would benefit from participating in the event.
If you were considering partnering with a high school, here are examples of how these three aspects of partnerships apply:
- Substantial role in the event–– audio equipment, bleachers, marching band performance
- Easy and/or inexpensive role in the event–– student and/or teacher volunteers, promote event information over teacher and parent listservs
- Partner benefits––engaging students in civic events, providing performance opportunities, formal thanks in event brochures and promotional material
This preparation demonstrates that our CHC has considered a meaningful role for each potential partner and can explain why it is advantageous for them to invest time, energy, and money to this community event. This is a respectful way to initiate a partnership that will endure.
Contacting Potential Partners
We divided up our potential partner list, giving each member of the planning committee the responsibility to ask 2-3 organizations to participate in our event. Below is a list of the types of individuals and organizations with which we hope to partner. The planning committee was asked to call potential partners, discuss donation ideas and benefits, and secure a “yes” or “no” answer within 2 weeks, so that planning could commence in a timely fashion.
Follow-Up and Provide More Information
Many business and organizations were interested, but hesitant to commit without more details. Understandably, these potential partners wanted to have a tentative schedule of the event and a more formal participation request in writing. This request worked well for our CHC because it forced us to put our expectations in writing and for our partners to respond in writing, as well.
Here is an example of the email message we sent to Barbara Putrino, our contact with Post Oak High School, the school in closest proximity to the Post Oak County Courthouse.
Thank you for speaking with us last Friday about partnering to involve your school in our Texas Independence Day celebration on March 2.
The Post Oak County Historical Commission (CHC) would like students and their families to be a part of this community celebration, and we would like you to comment on the degree to which your school would be willing to participate.
Marching band: As we discussed, the Post Oak High School marching band would be a wonderful addition to this community event, which will take place on the courthouse square from 3–8 p.m. Since the band is already practicing for a state competition, this event might provide a more formal practice for them.
PA system: We also discussed borrowing some audio/visual equipment to amplify our announcements and guest speakers. You had mentioned that we would also need to find a staff member who would be willing to oversee our use of the equipment; if you have someone to suggest, we would appreciate a recommendation.
Student volunteers: As always, this type of event could use some young blood! We have several opportunities to use volunteers and would love to provide community service hours to your honor society students who are in need of hours.
Please reply as soon as you have confirmation on any or all of these items. We will call you next week to check in. Don’t hesitate to call if we can provide more information.
Clotilde Mae Garland, Post Oak CHC
Post Oak CHC--Main Page
Post Oak CHC--Promoting CHC Events
Post Oak CHC--Responding to your Audience