Lindsborg’s Old Mill and Swedish Heritage Museum finished out 2023 strong, with $87,945 raised in the Museum Membership Match Challenge in November and December.
According to the organization, the year-end challenge campaign was made possible by Julie-Ann Neywick – a longtime volunteer and supporter of the museum – who put forward a pledge of $50,000 to encourage museum memberships as well as one-time gifts.
Lenora Lynam, Executive Director of the museum, said it was a great way to wrap up a year that saw the 125th anniversary celebration since the construction of the 1898 Smoky Valley Roller Mills.
“This was a milestone year, and the support shown to us by our entire community of supporters was amazing,” Lynam said. “This gives us a strong foundation as we mark another milestone in 2024 – 120 years since the construction of the 1904 World’s Fair Pavilion.”
Neywick pledged to triple match any new or renewing individual, family, and business membership purchased before the end of 2023 – up to $50,000. This meant that a $40 individual membership secured another $120 for the museum, a $60 family membership another $180, and getting a $125 business membership secured an additional $375!
What’s more, she agreed to triple match any one-time gifts above and beyond the cost of memberships as well, with the proceeds going to provide museum memberships to families with a financial need.
Donors responded to the call in a big way, with a total of $7,580 coming from all 2024 members, as well as $30,365 in one-time gifts – with $20,000 of that coming from a single anonymous donor. The giving was more than enough to fully secure the $50,000 from Neywick’s triple match pledge.
Other highlights of the campaign include:
- A total of 139 individuals, families, and organizations gave under the Match Challenge (an increase compared to 122 members at this time last year).
- The breakdown of membership was for 61 individual memberships, 70 family, and eight business memberships.
- For 2024, 34 of the memberships were new!
One-time gifts were sufficient to supply up to 650 family museum memberships for free to families in financial need. A simple application to receive one of these free at-need memberships is now online at tinyurl.com/FreeMuseumMembership. A printable form is also available at www.oldmillmuseum.org/members that can be mailed in to the museum or brought in person. The application deadline will be Wednesday, January 31, 2024, and will be given on a first come, first served basis.
Adam Pracht, Marketing and Communications Director at the museum, said that during some transitional years, museum supporters have really stepped up.
“We have had some major challenges, and have been so gratified to see our museum family answer the call to meet them,” he said. “Looking forward, honestly, financial challenges will continue to be part of what we need to overcome to succeed. We’re confident that our community will continue to recognize the value and importance of the historical treasures we have here.”
Donors can also help the museum to succeed on an ambitious but important goal to add $1 million to the museum’s endowment fund by the end of the year. So far, that mark is about 5% complete, but achieving this vision will help provide significant, consistent income for the museum’s annual operating budget.
The museum has two buildings on the National Register of Historic Places – the 1904 World’s Fair Swedish Pavilion and the 1898 Smoky Valley Roller Mills. The mills still roar to life and run again once per year the first Saturday in May for the museum’s annual Millfest. This year that will be on Saturday, May 4. Lynam said that these sort of unique experiences are only possible with ongoing and generous support.
“Our work as an independent nonprofit is never really ‘done,’” Lynam said. “But the generations that came before us entrusted us with a valuable historic legacy in these beautifully preserved buildings. We have a responsibility. We know that with the help of our supporters, we won’t let them down in their trust.”