The Common Service Model for State Museum Associations

The Common Service Model (CSM) for state museum associations (SMAs) addresses best practices across all areas of museum association administration: governance, financial stability, member services, communications, and advocacy. The CSM can help all SMAs operate more fully and inclusively in their state.

The Coalition of State Museum Associations (COSMA) developed the CSM through multiple consultations with the entire SMA community. In 2022, a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities funded the "Strengthening State Museum Associations to Serve America's Museums" project, which allowed COSMA to create a comprehensive written survey and hold two virtual focus group convenings. These provided fundamental information about how SMAs function. All 45 SMAs participated in the process.

COSMA will provide a series of resources, programs, and tips to assist SMAs with various activities described in the CSM. To keep up-to-date on offerings, sign up for COSMA’s announcements list.

A new LinkedIn group will also be available for discussion with staff and volunteers from other SMAs.

Resources will be added here as they are created.

There are actions that are not listed in the model that are foundational to the operation of each SMA. It is expected that they will be completed before any further activities or programs are initiated.

These include:

  • Incorporate and file Bylaws and other documents as required by state law
  • Apply for 501c status and create and maintain records required by the IRS 501c statutes.
  • File required annual paperwork to state and Federal government to maintain this nonprofit status.
  • Create basic financial systems, including a business bank account.

In addition to the activities listed in the CSM, there will be others that your organization undertakes or deems important. Each state has unique membership and challenges. Individualized programming and services should come from direct member need.

There is also no expectation that every SMA will take on every one of the activities in each category. The CSM is intended to provide a universe of options from which each SMA should choose what is appropriate for their state.

The Common Service Model (CSM) has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the Common Service Model do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.