[Published in Apex to Zenith #55 – Fourth Quarter 2001]
By: Diane Winger
In the last issue of Apex to Zenith, which was mailed to 1,295 Highpointer households, members were asked to complete a survey about the proposed Highpointers Foundation. 201 surveys (16%) were returned by the deadline.
Things were reminiscent of the Florida Presidential vote re-counts, as Diane Winger struggled to interpret some of the more creative and unique ways of filling out the surveys. She found no “hanging chads,” but was challenged to accurately average survey results when a few respondents chose to write short dissertations on each question (Q: “How much would you be likely to donate?” A: “Well, that depends on a number of factors. The following 10 points illustrate the possibilities…”). Using her “best judgment” in interpreting some creative and a few mysterious survey answers, Diane offers some observations about the feedback received from participants.
Reflecting the diverse population of Highpointers, survey responses showed a range of opinions that were all over the board. Some opposed the Foundation in any form. Others supported some of the potential Foundation goals but not others. However, many people responded with great enthusiasm for building a museum, educating the public about highpoints, trail maintenance work, acquiring easements across private property, and encouraging conservation efforts in the vicinity of highpoints.
We asked 4 questions about financial support of various projects. The average donation toward creating and operating a Highpointing Museum (no location specified) was about $134. The average initial donations listed for trail maintenance and acquiring easements were $48 and $55 respectively. When asked how much you might donate on an on-going basis (perhaps annually) to the Foundation, the average response was about $41 (per year). Clearly, among those answered these questions, the museum concept had the strongest financial support of the options listed.
Overall, initial donations to build a museum in Missouri totaled $25,800. Total Trail Maintenance donations added up to $9,170 and money for acquiring Easements came to $10,470. On an annual basis, respondents offered $7,750 per year in donations toward the proposed Foundation.
This chart illustrates the support for building a museum in Missouri, educating the public about highpoints, and encouraging conservation work near highpoints. Conservation received the strongest support from participants, followed by the museum. Education was slightly less popular.
Enthusiasm ran high for a museum in Missouri, near Taum Sauk. When asked to rank several possibilities for creating a Highpointing Museum, building one in Missouri was strongly preferred over the other options listed. Other choices were: build a museum in some other location; display Highpointing items in an existing museum; display Highpointing items at our Annual Conventions; or create a traveling museum of Highpointing items and set up showings in numerous states.
Some people pointed out that building a museum in Missouri should not preclude also bringing items to our Conventions or creating a traveling museum.
Next, under the heading of “Show me the money,” we looked at how much money people were willing to donate for a museum and compared that with their 1st choice of where/what sort of museum should be created. People who preferred building and operating a museum in Missouri were willing to donate more (an average of $186 each) than those people whose 1st choice was to developing a museum in some other location (an average of $100 each), or any other option given.
Once person responding to the survey offered an extraordinarily generous donation for creating a museum, and strongly preferred the Missouri location. Without his financial support, the numbers in this graph change dramatically, with the average donation for Missouri dropping to $92, placing it in 3rd place.
It was interesting to note that, despite the general enthusiasm for building a museum in Missouri, most people thought they would visit it only 1 or 2 times in their lifetimes. 22% of those who answered this question thought they’d visit more often.
What happens now? A group of people have volunteered to be on the Board of Directors for the proposed Foundation. Some of the Highpointers Club members who sent in their surveys have also volunteered to help out. These people will have to look at the level of support for the various proposed Foundation goals, and determine what is feasible to achieve both on a financial basis as well as a people-power (read: VOLUNTEER) basis. They will be given all of the ratings, rankings, and comments from the surveys so they can consider the information we’ve gained from this initial set of questions.
Thanks to everyone who participated for sending in your opinions on this concept. Watch this newsletter for updates.