BCMA’s Brain offers a collection of learning resources suitable for museums of all shapes and sizes.

Help keep our collective Brain active and growing by sharing your ideas for new resources and innovative practices here.


Nonprofit Administration and Governance Essentials

Ethics Guidelines (Canadian Museums Association, 2006)

Glossary (BCMA Best Practices Module, 2005)

Financial Management (BCMA Best Practices Module, 2005)

Good financial information is critical to the effective management of all businesses, including museums. Effective financial management benefits all aspects of the facility’s operation by providing relevant information to the board, management and staff. Board members rely on financial information to effectively oversee the activities of the museum. Management and staff use financial information for planning and delivering programs. The intent of this Module is to document the fiduciary responsibility of museum management by explaining basic principles and standards of financial management.

Financial Management

Prepared by David Hall, Economic Planning Group, & Rick Duckles, BC Forest Discovery Centre


Governance (BCMA Best Practices Module, 2005)

While organizations in the museum and heritage sector take a number of legal forms, from not-for-profit societies to line and operating agencies of larger government or corporate entities, they all rely on governance structures to provide the leadership, legal, and accountability frameworks that guide day-to-day operations. Good governance is both an obligation and an opportunity to ensure that a museum serves its constituents in the most effective manner possible. It is instrumental in ensuring operational stability, guaranteeing accountability and transparency, defining and clarifying roles and functions, and in developing and strengthening relationships with staff, volunteers, community, and stakeholders. More than simply a management tool or monitoring system, effective governance can reduce risk, improve communications and responsiveness, and enhance efficiency, effectiveness, innovation, and sustainability. This document outlines best practices in governance for museums in British Columbia, drawing on the experience of both the museum and not-for-profit sectors in Canada. It has been written with the intent of providing our community of practice with a framework from which to consider policy and decision-making structures, operational constraints and opportunities, and management practices.


Prepared by Joy Davis & Lisa Mort-Putland, Cultural Resource Management Program, University of Victoria


Strategic Partnerships (BCMA Best Practices Module, 2005)

In the complex society in which we live, it is virtually impossible for a museum to make its way
without establishing alliances and partnerships that work to strengthen its ability to fulfill its
mandate. Museums establish short or long-term relationships with individuals, organizations,
governments and businesses that contribute to the museum and, at the same time, provide some
benefit to their partners. The details of these relationships vary, from direct financial or in-kind
contributions in return for advertising or promotional opportunities, to cooperative ventures with
other museums or community organizations. In all of these partnerships, there is recognition that
museums are not alone and require allies and collaborators in order to better accomplish their
own objectives.

Strategic Partnerships

Prepared by Ken Mather


Succession Planning (BCMA Best Practices Module, 2005)

Succession management is a continuous strategic process that enables a museum to sustain its operations in times of senior staff transition by proactively recruiting and grooming people for promotion to key roles. Succession planning and management includes systematic analysis of the museum’s competency requirements, employee skills analysis, recruitment and retention strategies, and ongoing staff development. While succession planning and management activities generally focus on senior leadership positions, a wise organization also plans for transitions in key managerial, professional, volunteer, and board positions to ensure continuity in operations.

Succession Planning

Prepared by Joy Davis Cultural Resource Management Program, University of Victoria


Tourism and Museums (BCMA Best Practices Module, 2005)

Museums are an important part of a local tourism industry. While much of what museums already do prepare them for their role in tourism, having an understanding of the overall industry will make your museum better able to tap into the tourism market.

What is Tourism? The World Tourism Organization defines tourism as, “the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business or other purposes.” The Canadian Tourism Commission further defines a tourist as being, “an individual that has traveled 80 kilometres or more to the location they are visiting”.

Tourism and Museums

Prepared by Lee Boyko


Marketing of Museums & Development of Audiences (BCMA Best Practices Module, 2005)

Marketing is a comprehensive communications strategy that encompasses all communications undertaken by a museum. Promotion of the museum’s activities (collections, exhibits, facilities and public programs) is often the most visible form of marketing, but marketing also includes other elements such as the presentation of the museum site itself, and informal communications with the community through board members, volunteers and staff as ambassadors of the museum.

Marketing of Museums & Development of Audiences

Prepared by Yvonne Sharpe



For further reading

Destination BC’s Learning Centre

Digital Marketing; TripAdvisor, Website Effectiveness and Digital Readiness. Includes a checklist that organizations can download to assess their level of digital readiness. 

Experience Development; helps activities, attractions and museums create unforgettable experiences, programs, and services for visitors.  Features a video on sustainability and customer service training articles and courses. 

Social Media Marketing; workshop and checklist for content marketing and a couple social media articles. 

Accessible Tourism,  Safety & Emergency Preparedness and The Super, Natural British Columbia ® Brand; useful information for all tourism organizations.


Canadian Museums Association Resources

Over the years, the CMA has been involved in a number of projects that result in publications, studies, guidelines, and other reports, such as:

More Than Willing Hands : A Report on Voluntarism at Museums (CMA, 2001)

Human Resources Guidelines: An HR Toolkit

Roles and Responsibilities of Museum Boards of Trustees (CMA and CAMDO, 2004)

Fundraising Ethics

The Association of Fundraising Professional’s standard body for fundraising professionals and related guidelines. Click here to access the website.

Common Ethical Issues in Fundraising

Code of Ethics

The Accountable Nonprofit Organization



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