Building Partnerships with History-Related Organizations

County Historical Commissions (CHC) naturally partner with history- and preservation-related organizations, which include, but are not limited to, the following: museums, historical societies, cemetery groups, veterans groups, reunion groups, landmark commissions, and even other CHCs. 

What does this partnership look like? It’s a mutually beneficial relationship with other history-related groups within the community that improves overall preservation awareness. Preservation is at the core of these organizational missions, which becomes the common denominator to strengthen joint efforts.

Build healthier partnerships by evaluating areas of growth for your CHC. You know the CHC has healthy partnerships when the following takes place: 

1. Share Information -- There is no reason to be territorial about preservation work in your area. CHCs handle countywide preservation efforts as directed by the county commissioners court. This does not mean that ONLY the CHC can direct preservation efforts in your county. In fact, state statutes direct CHCs to work in partnership with other preservation entities in the county

So, there’s no reason to keep information from other groups; in fact, sharing information and resources benefits each organization and ultimately preservation as a whole. CHCs who work with other preservation entities gain support to accomplish the overall plan for the preservation of the county’s historic and cultural resources. Share the preservation connections you build with the public. There may be a group other than the CHC that can answer a question or provide assistance. Don’t hesitate to connect citizens with those groups, especially when they have expertise to offer. 

2. Everybody Wins -- It’s easy to rationalize that a CHC is the umbrella organization over which all other history-related organizations should fall. However, these other organizations contribute to the overall outcome of preservation efforts and should have equal consideration when working together.

Understanding how joint efforts suit your own needs is simple, but partnerships are not about “what you want, when you want it.” Further county preservation efforts by supporting the objectives of each partner and assisting when needed, even if not directly involved. Promote your fellow preservationists and their work!

3. Collaboration – Collaboration is more than just contributing money or people to an event or project. Plans and outcomes should reflect what each partner envisions––what each wants to accomplish and hopes to gain. Help ensure that all voices are heard when planning and working together. Be flexible so that collaboration can take advantage of the different strengths exhibited by each organization its individual members. 

4. Respectful Interactions – Positive attitudes are required to develop constructive partnerships. Having a difference of opinion is to be expected, and is an opportunity to both learn and educate. Frame a proposal with data to support ideas and recommendations, and be open to feedback. Demonstrate an understanding and knowledge of the situation but do not assume that you know more than the others at the table. 

Respectful interactions do not include bullying behavior. Initiating conversations with complaints and criticisms will damage a relationship. Be nice––a healthy partnership considers the needs of both parties. Issues should be resolved with respect and understanding. This means that, sometimes, you won’t get your way. Sometimes, you’ll need to submit to another for the greater good.

5. Relationships Evolve -- Realize when the CHC isn’t partnering in such a way as to meet the needs of other organizations and make adjustments to address those needs. Reevaluate what the CHC is willing to give and brings to the table. Also, think about how a partnership complements the CHC and contributes to the community. If another organization expends more energy and resources, consider what else your CHC could provide to balance the workload. In turn, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need to balance the CHC’s workload. 

To use these questions to guide conversations within your CHC about improving partnerships, click here

Subsequent articles will focus on WHY partnerships with other history-related organizations are beneficial to CHCs.   

To read about the advantages of partnering with history-related organizations, click here

To learn more about how to improve partnerships with history-related organizations, click here

To review THC partnership information, click here