“How do we get money for this?” is probably the most common question asked with respect to sustainability. There is no single answer. Each organization that considers moving from a grant-funded, one-time project to a long-term program should engage in a planning process to find the most appropriate set of answers.
This survey of selected cultural heritage organizations revealed a number of interesting patterns. Perhaps the most general observation is the need for much more attention to business planning in the strategic-planning process. The survey revealed that only a few institutions are already doing business planning and verified the importance of businesslike thinking to improving the sustainability of digital asset management programs.
Although little formal business planning is under way, most responding organizations are familiar with business-planning elements. None would have much difficulty completing a business-planning template. However, they have varying levels of experience with many of the template elements, especially market research and needs assessment, marketing, and outcomes assessment.
The organizations selected to participate in this survey were known to be well along in their digital asset management efforts. Many had already begun to implement strategies for sustainability. These strategies ranged from budgeting digital library activities as a core function supporting the mission of the organization (a trend most noticeable in larger university libraries) to generating revenue for digital asset management services. The results of this survey, coupled with the experience of many smaller cultural heritage organizations, make it clear that the great majority of libraries, museums, historical societies, and archives launching digital asset programs have not done business planning. If leading organizations have seldom moved ahead with this approach to sustainability (even though they may be ready to do so), then the cultural heritage organization that might be regarded as representing the norm has much to do in the arena of sustainability planning. Both categories of cultural heritage organizations have much to gain from taking the approach recommended here. The business planning approach allows a far longer-term, strategic perspective than the alternative of simply asking, “How do we get money for this?”