When I was in graduate school, working toward my Master of Science in Historic Preservation, I started to meet and get to know people who were passionate about preserving our historic built environment. Some of them worked at state agencies or in city governments or non-profit organizations, and others were volunteers or just interested individuals. I also started getting phone calls and emails from regular Joes who were concerned about a specific historic building in their town or neighborhood and didn’t have a clue how to go about trying to save it. Then I looked at all of the preservation programs that are in place, and I realized that most of those programs focus on the buildings/resources … but not the people.

Because my professional background includes a decade in training and education, I know that helping people to become more effective in whatever it is that they do can generate a significant return on investment. I’ve also personally experienced the power of strategic planning – the real stuff, not just a workshop where a consultant helps you identify a laundry list of goals and then leaves you with a binder and no tools for reaching those goals. I’ve used those planning tools to reach my own personal and business goals, and I figured that I could help other people do the same thing.

That’s why I’ve focused my consulting practice on the people who own, manage, or advocate for historic resources – not the resources themselves. And to that end, I limit the firm’s work to three specific areas:

  • Building Knowledge. You have to know what you have, in order to make good decisions about what to do with it.
  • Building Organizational Capacity. This includes Defining Goals for long-term success; identifying Current States and Goal States in the areas of Facilities, Finance, People (including both board and staff) and Programs; and establishing a RoadMap to establish a path from where you are now to where you want to be in each of those areas.
  • Building Financial Strength. Too many non-profit organizations are forced to spend their time chasing money instead of working on their mission because they haven’t invested in creating multiple sources of income, developing donors, or establishing an endowment.

I believe that the best opportunity for my firm to make a positive change in the field of historic preservation is to find ways to help as many people as possible become more effective in these areas. To that end, I’m interested in you – whoever you are – and how McDoux can help you become more knowledgeable and capable. If you’re reading this, then you probably want to preserve something. So let’s work together to make that happen!

Think about what you’re hoping to accomplish. Whether it’s something big or something small, I’m sure that at least a portion of what you want to do can be completed by the end of next year. Are you willing to set a goal for yourself for December 31, 2011? Maybe you want to transition to a career in historic preservation and you know you’ll need to get more education in the field … by the end of next year, you could be completing your first semester of graduate school! Or perhaps you’re concerned about your downtown and you’d like to see a Main Street program there. In 16 months, you could have organized others with the same objective and completed the application to your state’s Main Street Program. In 16 months, you can complete an historic resources survey of your neighborhood – maybe even your town, if it’s small enough. Maybe you just want to commit to volunteering an average of three hours a week to your local historical society, and you’re having trouble finding time in your busy schedule. Or you want to complete a National Register nomination or a local landmark designation for your house. Or raise $10,000 for a Civil War battlefield educational program. Or organize a community photo day to help your local library create a local history collection.

No matter what you want to do, the next 16 months are going to go by whether you’re taking action or not. Why not set that goal, make a plan, and get started! McDoux Preservation has more than 350 friends on Facebook today. Imagine how much we could all accomplish if each of us just did one thing for historic preservation ….

If you have a goal, I commit to help you figure out how to make a plan to achieve it … provide support to help you along the way … and hopefully connect you with other people who are trying to do similar things. So let me know: What’s your goal? How can I help? Please feel free to post to Facebook, here in the blog comments, or contact me directly at Steph at McDoux.com.