Raising the profile of WRVS Archive: Using the award of the Memory of the World Inscription to develop access to collections

Goal

The goal was to develop collection access by securing additional funding (either internally or externally) for cataloguing the collections.

Situation

The WRVS Archive had been unable to access funding either internally due to its low profile within the organisation or externally because it found it difficult to meet funders' criteria. Inscription on the Memory of the World's  (MOTW) UK Register (under the UNESCO umbrella) provided independent proof of the value of the WRVS collection. It was placed on the register alongside impressive items such as the Death Warrant for Charles I and the Wedgwood Museum Archive. Providing a clear benchmark for the outstanding value of the collection. This MOTW listing provided the basis for requesting internal funding.

Stakeholder communication

Chief Executive

Message: the WRVS has a valuable history, which can be used to promote the current-day organisation.

Communications methods:

  • single email to the Executive Committee about the MOTW award
  • bi-annual newsletter about the archive highlighted the award
  • media briefings by the WRVS media team

Outcome: through a number of routes the Chief Executive became aware of the validation of the archives' value and the potential for promoting the WRVS. This raised the Chief Executive's interest who then discussed the Archives with the WRVS Trustees.

Trustees

Message: the WRVS Archives have a wider, proven cultural importance that is of interest to the broader public. This provides significant promotional opportunities for the community, marketing and fundraising departments.

Communication methods:

  • meeting with the Chief Executive who outlined the success of the Archives as a result of her own raised awareness from the MOTW award
  • a subsequent presentation by the Archivist

Outcome: increased awareness by the Trustees of the Archive and their realisation that the Archive could be of practical use to the wider organization. This, along with the CEO's greater awareness enabled the Archivist to make a successful internal funding bid for cataloguing resources, something that would not have been possible before the MOTW award and internal recognition. The Trustees also commissioned the Archivist to write a small book on the history of the WRVS as a leaving present for the outgoing Chairman.

Conclusion

This message worked because of several elements. First, external validation from an international body identified the worth of the collections. Second, there was an effective chain of communication up through the organisation. The Chief Executive was made aware of this success and then informed Trustees of the award and its value. So the Trustees were informed by a key individual who had direct access to their discussions.

Find out more about the WRVS Archive and Heritage Collection