Museum Finances

   There are times when it becomes obvious to me that some individuals do not understand what’s involved in the operation of a museum like Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). When someone tries to negotiate a discount on a gift-shop purchase, or when someone sneaks into a festival without paying admission, I realize that they don’t know who actually owns MHV and how it is funded. Of course, there are likely many people who do faithfully pay our list prices in Village Books and Gifts as well as our admission fees who also don’t really know how this place is sustained. So for everyone’s benefit, let’s review some financial facts and structures related to MHV’s operation.

   MHV is an incorporated charity. Our 400 members would in some respects be considered the owners of this museum. However, they do not own shares or any forms of equity in the corporation. So if MHV were ever to fail, the assets would be distributed among other like organizations, not among our members.

   Our income is derived from three basic sources. About 60% of our gross operating income typically comes from our four internal businesses: admission at the front entrance or at the gate on festival days; gift shop sales; the Livery Barn Restaurant and catering; and meeting-room rentals by organizations and individuals. However, there are also quite a few expenses involved in operating these four business groupings.

   We are fortunate to receive various grants from all three levels of government. Federal, provincial and municipal grants make up about 15% of our gross income in an average year. A number of these grants are for things like specific program initiatives and hiring summer staff.

   The remaining 25% of our gross revenue, which amounts to about $250,000 annually, is generated through various fundraising events like the Tractor Trek, the Heritage Classic Golf Tournament, the waffle booth at Summer in the City, the Heritage Classic Car Show, and our current trip raffle, as well as through general donations. Numerous businesses and individuals support us with regular donations toward the operation of our museum. These are annual, monthly or just random donations.

   Over and above our operating budget, we have a capital budget, which provides support for various capital projects such as the construction of the Summer Pavilion, the replacement of our HVAC systems in the Village Centre, and the restoration of the Waldheim House. With 17 heritage buildings constantly needing to be maintained, we seem to always have a few projects in the hopper waiting for funding. Right now the windmill needs a new deck, three roofs on as many buildings are leaking and need to be replaced, three rooftop furnaces on the Village Centre still need to be replaced, our sawmill needs a major overhaul, and a number of buildings need fresh paint and various siding repairs. We should regularly be painting three buildings every year.

   As a charity, MHV does not generate a profit. Our budgets always guide us toward a break-even yearend position, and we’re always grateful when that happens. In years when we do have a modest surplus, we are happy to pay off some debt.

   We are only able to operate this way because we have a supporting constituency. Thankfully there are many organizations and individuals who recognize the value we bring to the province and to this community as a museum, a tourist destination, and a community meeting place, and as a result, they make generous donations to sustain MHV’s ongoing operations. I would personally be happy to discuss questions anyone might have about our finances. Feel free to contact me at [email protected].

Calendar of Events

July 25, 10:00AM-6:00PM – Heritage Classic Golf Tournament

August 3-6, 9:00AM-6:00PM – Pioneer Days

August 13-17, Pioneer Day Camp for children ages 8 - 10

The views expressed in Community Blogs are those of the author, and are not necessarily shared by SteinbachOnline.com

Steinbachonline.com is Steinbach's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.

About the Author

Barry is the Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Village. While he does not consider himself to be a historian, he places a high value on the preservation and interpretation of the Mennonite and pioneer stories that help people of all ages understand and appreciate their heritage. Learn more about the MHV.

Login