The SAR Magazine

Winter 2018

The SAR MAGAZINE is the official quarterly publication of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution published quarterly.

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WINTER 2018 3 W elcome to the New Year! The year 2017 was fantastic for the Society's growth, with total membership at year end of 36,961 (35,285 in 2016) and 4,895 new members (3,619 in 2016). We will have to await the 2018 reconciliation to know how we did on retention. However, retention starts NOW by focusing on engaging our members. Our 64,000-member objective is still eight years off, 2026, so we can't rest even with a great year. We are ready for growth. We have great genealogy staffing, almost double what we had a year ago, but usable space for the staff must be addressed by your trustees with funding buildout of the second-floor office space. We are addressing the technology challenges we have. I have put the further development of our website into a "fix the basics first" mode as recommended by the Information Technology Audit and Summary, which is available to every member through ShareFile. I encourage you to download and read them. While we are addressing the basics, I would like to address some other basics that need to be brought up. n Why did you join SAR? n What is the Mission of SAR? n What is the Core Business of SAR? n For what would we like to be known? I bet you joined SAR for the same reason I joined: To honor and perpetuate the memory of our Patriot ancestors; to enjoy fraternity with other descendants; to share the principles of the founding of our country; and maybe to extend a form of educational outreach to family, friends and schoolchildren. You might say this is our Core Business. As a society centered on genealogy, our Core Business works because it can be accomplished from anywhere. All of these things we can do from our homes and in our local communities. Over a decade ago, we decided to build a new building because it was needed. And we did. It started as a library plan next to our home on Fourth Street, but it changed as vision changed. This new space included room for our library holdings and headquarters staff. It also included space for what became the concept for the Center for Advancing America's Heritage. None of this was inherent to our Core Business, and it distracted us. Until 2012, nearly the time it took to finish the new building, we had been stagnant in growth. We appear to be back on our Core Business track and are growing. Should we get distracted from our core again by moving into the museum business? It has been a decade (2008) since I chaired the Task Force for the Center to attempt to identify what that could mean. Recently, I was reviewing my papers accumulated during that process of determining what could be housed at our facilities on West Main Street in Louisville. My notes clearly state that a museum was not what we should have, but rather an educational outreach center that could serve the whole society, from Maine to Hawaii. Sometime after 2008, an idea was put forward to build a museum. A design, Solid Light, was called in to do preliminary planning. Our original $5 million budgeted for the SAR headquarters building and library ballooned. Estimates now are for an additional $8 million for buildout of museum components and another $30 million for an endowment to fund future losses resulting from museum operations. We are reminded of what a major donor, supporter and former Foundation president has stated: that ALL museums lose money, and this is the reason we need a $30 million endowment! If being in the museum business were our core business, the Solid Light plan for a museum would be wonderful, but, unfortunately, it is not our Core Business. A brick and mortar museum in Louisville has been done by others. These museums are attractions, but not educational centers, and they are only local. This is what the Solid Light plan is, a local attraction. Imagine the tens of thousands of hours and the many millions of dollars that it will take to enter the museum business, a business that almost always loses money. Is operating a brick-and-mortar museum our Core Business? We have been led to believe that it is. As I have been touring the State Societies, I have been listening and asking a lot of questions about what we should be doing at our home in Louisville. What I hear is that a few SAR members have been major contributors to this plan, and that makes it appear it will succeed. However, the idea of a museum in Louisville is not being supported by the general SAR population. We have just completed an Information Technology Audit. The lack of SAR management direction is the reason our website is unsatisfactory. We, the SAR, failed to first establish exactly what we wanted to accomplish with a new website and continued to ask for more and more before ensuring the basics were completed. We need to regroup and fix the basics of our website before moving ahead. This lesson of not planning has cost more than $500,000 for something that does not fulfil all that we would have wanted. So, I ask you—how is it that we think we can manage an undertaking as large as a museum when we had been unable to build a great website? Think about this—$8 million for buildout and museum components and at least $30 million for an endowment to offset the operating losses—$38 million dollars, 76 times the amount we spent for an unsatisfactory website, and we still owe more than $300,000 to the bank for our building loan after many years! Compatriots, we need to re-evaluate NOW. Should we continue to ask our membership to throw money at something that will only be locally influential? The time has come to end the museum project and focus on our Core Business. Larry T. Guzy President General Getting Back on Track

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