An organization that is ready to use the StEPs program is:

  • Aware that time, money and paid/unpaid workers will likely always be in short supply but is committed to doing the best it can with limited resources.
  • Also aware that its board of directors or other governing authority should be supportive of its participation in StEPs because they will be involved in answering some assessment questions and other activities.
  • Eager for change even if it means that some long-held traditions and practices may need to be reviewed and discussed.
  • Understands that discussions about changing long-held traditions and practices may make some people uncomfortable, but also understands that the good of the organization, not individuals, comes first.
  • Enthusiastic about using StEPs to guide planning and decision-making and to steer everyone within the organization towards the same goals.
  •  Interested in learning more about national museum standards and the benefits that can be realized by meeting the standards at the Basic, Good or Better levels.
  • Optimistic that addressing museum standards can bring exciting opportunities, increased support and credibility, meaningful community engagement, and long-term sustainability.


Notice that the above list does not include the need for paid staff or a minimum annual budget. Paid staff and an ample budget are not necessary ingredients for participation or success in the StEPs program. Many suggested changes in the StEPs program involve communication and consensus building, such as drafting a policy or changing a procedure, instead of spending money.

You will likely find that you can use StEPs to gain more support, both financially and otherwise, as you are able to justify fundraising projects and funding requests by connecting them to the recommendations and standards outlined in StEPs.

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If you decide your organization is not quite ready to take part in StEPs, AASLH recommends you consult the following resources that will help you prepare to begin the StEPs program:

Brophy, Sarah. Is Your Museum Grant-Ready? Assessing Your Organization’s Potential for Funding. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2005.

Catlin-Legutko, Cinnamon and Stacy Klingler. Small Museum Toolkit. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2012.

George, Gerald. Starting Right: A Basic Guide to Museum Planning, third ed. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2012.

Masaoka, Jan. Best of the Board Café: Hands-on Solutions for Nonprofit Boards, second ed. St. Paul, MN: Fieldstone Alliance, 2009.

Reibel, Daniel B. Registration Methods for the Small Museum, fourth ed. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2008.

Some states have field service programs that offer more individualized assistance for local organizations such as onsite or telephone consultations. Visit the FSA Agency Listing to see if your state has a field service program.