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The recommended mission statement did not represent a radical departure from the statement that had been in effect, but committee members thought it achieved four objectives. First, because it was more precise, committee members believed that it related the Society's programs to its resources more effectively. Sec­ond, they thought that the new mission statement required the Society to recog­nize that it was not just a museum or a library but that its appeal lay in the integration of its varied collections, through which it could make history mean­ingful. Third, the new mission statement emphasized the educational responsi­bility of the Society. Fourth, the mission statement was to guide the Society in refining its collections, in terms of both acquisitions and selective and careful deaccessions. The committee was quite specific that deaccessioning should not be thought of as a solution to the Society's financial problems. It stated that "great care should be taken to insure that proceeds from deaccessioning are not used for operating purposes except for specific instances related to the collections."

The advisory committee recommended a series of short-, intermediate-, and long-term financial goals. Because the committee had been working in concert with Debs and her staff, these goals paralleled those that had been outlined in Debs's bridge plan. For the short term, the committee emphasized not only the absolute necessity that the Society balance its fiscal 1989 budget but also that it "raise adequate funds annually so that operating deficits are eliminated." The in­termediate step called for the Society to raise $10 million from a consortium of private foundations and public sources to pay for care of the collections, to main­tain public programs, and to begin to carry out deferred maintenance on the Society's landmark building, all within a balanced budget. The long-term goal of the plan was to launch a campaign to raise $25 million in endowment by 1995.

The committee's report discussed the first and most immediate goal—the Society's fiscal 1989 budget deficit—at length. The progress that the Society had made toward closing that deficit was perhaps the most significant reason for the committee's optimism about the Society's long-term future. The committee noted that seven months into the 1989 fiscal year, the Society's board of trustees had reduced the projected deficit by 41.5 percent, from $1,190,000 to $700,000. The report also highlighted the fact that the $700,000 year-to-date deficit from July through March was a significant improvement over the previous year's deficit of over $2 million. The committee was most congratulatory regarding the com­mitment shown by the trustees, reporting that deficit reduction came almost exclusively on the revenue side and almost totally through increased trustee con­tributions. "More money has been raised since September for operating purposes than ever before, with the trustees themselves having contributed over $1.3 mil­lion in funds and gifts-in-kind during the present fiscal year."

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Source:  OpenStax, The new-york historical society: lessons from one nonprofit's long struggle for survival. OpenStax CNX. Mar 28, 2008 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10518/1.1
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