Museums are notoriously underfunded, especially smaller museums that don’t get a lot (or any) funding from their local, state, or federal government. Keeping museums accessible is important for most institutions, which prevents them from raising admission fees (or enacting admission fees at all).

how museums can generate more income

Income is crucial to a museum, however. Artifact care and conservation, exhibit upkeep, new exhibits, not to mention employee salaries, all rely on a steady stream of income.

How can you increase the income your museum brings in? We have five ideas to drive revenue.

Five Income Generation Ideas for Museums

1. Lockers

If your museum is in a large city, you probably get your fair share of people who are traveling or out and about exploring for the day. Lockers that allow them to store their luggage, larger bags, or coats while they’re visiting your museum are extremely convenient. For you, though, they can be a source of income. Charging a small but reasonable amount, like $1 per hour, for storage keeps the lockers accessible to all visitors.

You’re not likely to pay someone’s salary with money from lockers, but it can be a nice little addition to your museum’s bottom line. The added convenience for your visitors is a bonus!

2. Rent Out the Museum for External Events

Renting your museum out for external events is a great way to bring more visitors to your museum and bring in more income. You’ll need to decide which area(s) of your museum you want to rent out and what groups or events you want to open it up to. Some ideas to consider:

  • Weddings and receptions (will you allow alcohol?)
  • Professional groups
  • Historical, science, or art groups (depending on the subject of your museum)
  • Private events like retirement parties or family reunions
  • Yoga classes

Renting out even a portion of your museum can be a lot of work but it can be very lucrative, especially if you provide a unique experience for visitors!

3. Overhaul Your Membership Plans

If your membership numbers are stagnant or dwindling, it’s time to look at your membership plans. Here are some specific things to consider:

  • Are you giving people what they want in a membership plan? Are you giving them access to the most popular events or exhibits?
  • Is there value at all membership levels?
  • Do you have enough levels for potential members to choose from?
  • Is the price of membership equivalent to the benefits? (Are you giving them enough to make it worth it for them?)

Some museums, like the Dallas Art Museum, allow members to add benefits to their membership a la carte. This is a great way to add value and let members choose what they want out of their membership.

4. Overhaul Your Donation Boxes

Believe it or not, the appearance of your donation box(es) and what’s already in it impacts how much people are willing to donate. If you have a clear box, always leave some money in it. People are more likely to donate when they see other people already have!

And if your box doesn’t accept credit or debit cards, you should make that addition as soon as possible. Fewer and fewer people carry cash anymore, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to donate! Make it easy for everyone to donate during their visit.

5. Host Movie Nights

Whether you screen movies in your auditorium or on the lawn, movie nights can be a huge revenue generator for museums! Choose films that are relevant to your museum or fan favorites to draw in crowds. You can bring in funds by charging an admission fee or making admission free but charging for concessions.

Manage Your Museum’s Finances and Fundraising with Software from Capital Business Solutions

Simplify your museum’s accounting and fundraising processes with one of our  accounting and fundraising solutions. Manage your income, expenditures, members, and more with software created just for non-profits! Learn more by calling us at  (888) 249-6008 or by filling out out online contact form.