The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History was awarded with a grant from the Enterprise Foundation recently.
Though the grant was only for $1,500, museum executive director Matt Edwards said the funding source is both appreciated and important to the operations of the museum.
Edwards said though the $1,500 might seem like a drop in the bucket to an organization with an annual operating budget of about $300,000, the grant can be used for general operating costs. Finding grant dollars which can be used for those costs, rather than earmarked for a certain cause such as a new exhibit, can be difficult.
“It’s challenging to find grants for the humanities,” explained Edwards. “There are far fewer grants available than when I started this 20 years ago, and there are more organizations competing for those grants.”
“The hardest grants to find are those which can be used for normal day-to-day operations.”
The museum draws monies from a number of different sources to support its operations, according to Edwards.
“We have a pretty diverse funding mechanism,” said Edwards, noting admission fees, membership fees, sales revenue from the museum’s gift shop, grants and fundraisers help to support the mission of the museum.
Additionally, local governmental entities financially support the museum. According to Edwards, the city government normally contributes $10,000 each year. Prior to 2007, Surry County also made an annual contribution. Though the annual contribution stopped, the county has made allotments for capital projects since 2007, one of which totalled $150,000.
Edwards said fundraising, such as the museum’s upcoming Casino Royale Night, account for 20 about percent of the organization’s funding, and contributions account for 10 to 15 percent of the museum’s budget. Grants account for about 10 percent of the budget.
The latest grant from the Enterprise Foundation was garnered through a community relationship with a local business.
“Insteel has been a long-time, strong supporter of the museum,” explained Edwards. “They asked if we would file jointly for the grant.”
Edwards noted Insteel has a working relationship with the Enterprise Foundation, which is the “philanthropic arm of the company that, through its regional subsidiaries, operates the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands.”
“Were honored to have been selected as a recipient of this grant. As a general operating grant, this contribution can be used to fund all aspects of museum operations,” wrote Edwards in a press release. “Grants like this are fairly hard to come by and this contribution will go a long way towards helping us continue to present quality exhibits and programs for the community and our guests.”
In an interview, Edwards again voiced his appreciation for the operating funds.
“We are grateful to Insteel and the Enterprise Foundation for this,” remarked Edwards. “It is beneficial to all concerned and will help us carry out our mission to collect, preserve and interpret the natural, historic and artistic heritage of the region.”
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.