Expanding CHC Partnerships

Candice McClendon (center) attends discussion group at a CHC Orientation in Austin.From 2016 to 2018, Candice McClendon worked with the County Historical Commission (CHC) Outreach Program at the Texas Historical Commission (THC). Her first task was to coordinate regional orientations, which allowed her to discuss CHC challenges with appointees across the state. Candice noticed that many CHCs struggle to build effective partnerships with other organizations. Wanting to learn more, she met with CHC chairs and studied CHC reports to try and understand what CHC Outreach could do to help appointees.

Photo: Candice McClendon (center) attends discussion group at a CHC Orientation.

What we learned from CHCs

Building constructive relationships within the community is a vital contributor to organizational success, yet some CHCs don’t prioritize partner maintenance and development. Many appointees believe they already have effective relationships throughout the county, so they don’t look for ways to improve partnerships and find new partners.

Diversifying organizational relationships increases organizational capacity for a CHC––robust collaboration enables a CHC to consider and execute new ideas and events that can’t be accomplished using only CHC appointees.

To understand how CHCs navigate relationship building, CHC Outreach met with chairs who work effectively with a variety of groups outside of the CHC. A common theme emerged from these conversations that reflected what we learned about CHC partnerships from reading CHC annual reports. High-performing CHCs develop partnership strategies.

Through our research, we have a better understanding of how much effort goes into cultivating quality partnerships. We also have a better understanding of what is gained by investing CHC time to sustain these partnerships over time. 
Photo: Tom Green CHC hosts regional meetings to learn more about preservation efforts in the region.

Why partnerships are important

CHCs promote an awareness of local, regional, and statewide cultural heritage by developing programs that enrich our understanding of Texas history. This mission is challenging, even more so when pursued solely with CHC organizational resources. The chairs with whom we met agreed that the best way to accomplish the CHC mission is to partner with other organizations and individuals outside the CHC.

Expanding partnerships increases the following. 

  • Visibility in the community 
  • Awareness of community history and heritage
  • Interest and support for CHC
  • Pool of potential appointees
  • Resources (e.g., people, funding, etc.)
  • Support from county commissioners court
  • Educational opportunities for the community and CHC
  • Diversification outreach opportunities

Consider potential partners

Consider potential relationships that might help the CHC preserve our collective history and heritage. The following webpages examine a broad range of potential partnerships for CHCs, discusing how to initiate and manage these relationships. This first section focuses on partnering with the THC.

  • What it means to have a constructive partnership with the THC.
  • Why developing and maintaining partnerships with the THC is important.
  • How to improve communication with the THC.

This second section focuses on partnering with organizations that have direct ties to history and/or preservation.

This third section deals with connecting to organziations in fields/disciplines related to history and preservation. 

Templates and worksheets related to partners

In 2018, CHC Outreach staff provided a partnership session at the Real Places Conference. We considered what we learned from the potential partner exploration series above, and assembled some templates to help CHCs consider partnership management. The session introduced the following documents. 

  1. Questionnaire––Reflecting on partnerships
  2. Worksheet––Considering new partner organizations
  3. Worksheet––Diversifying partnerships
  4. Template––Sample partnership inventory
  5. Web page listing––CHC Partnership Web Series

If you need supplemental instruction for using these documents, contact CHC Outreach Program staff.