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Community Engagement Assessment Report Writing Guide

Report Outline

Each section below presents a set of guiding statements/questions to consider. Respond only to points that are most relevant to the institution. Be sure to provide an analysis of the museum’s strengths and weaknesses. For each section, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How is or isn’t it working well?
  2. How is it meeting best practices?
  3. What would you recommend?

Offer constructive criticism along with suggestions for resolution. Benchmark the institution’s current state of affairs in regards to national standards and best practices.

Title Page (1 page)

Include institution name, city, state; assessment type;  visit dates; and peer reviewer’s name, title, institution.

Table of Contents (Optional; 1 page)

Executive Summary (1 page)

Provide a broad summary of the report including background information, significant observations, identified strengths, areas needing improvement and key recommendations.

Introduction (1/2 page)

Define MAP and its benefits. State the circumstances of your site visit—dates of the visit and with whom you met (attach a copy of longer agendas in the appendix). List the museum’s goals for the assessment and any notable changes since the completion of their application and self-study workbook.

Brief Institutional History (1/2 page)

Provide the institution’s historical and physical context.  Include a brief description of the museum’s current situation and important elements from its past (e.g., date founded, museum’s purpose, overview of exhibitions/collections, program highlights, etc.).

Audiences and Community (3-4 pages)

Provide an overview of the organization’s current/ target audience(s) and community. Describe how the museum does/does not address their needs and how they are evaluating those needs. Evaluate the institution’s mission statement for clarity of purpose. Give a sense of how the museum’s mission responds to the needs of the audience(s)/community and whether or not those strategies are articulated in a written plan. Evaluate any plans that are in place and provide recommendations for how the museum can further strengthen its mission and planning.

Public Perception (3-4 pages)

Evaluate the museum’s interpretation of public perception. How does the museum demonstrate a clear understanding of its audiences and of the competition for these audiences? Address the museum’s strategies for gathering/collecting information about its image within the community and how it is using this data to inform its practices. Provide an overview of the community (i.e. population size, demographics, other cultural organizations, etc.) and identify tools/mechanisms used to gather such data. Be sure to address public relations and marketing strategies employed by the museum. Evaluate how they appeal to and serve the public. Offer suggestions and guidance in areas not meeting best practices.

Public Involvement (3-4 pages)

Describe the ways in which the community engages with the museum (i.e. volunteers, board members, financial sponsors, focus group participants, etc.). Provide a summary of the institution’s collaborative relationships and the nature of those relations—benefits, barriers, etc. Evaluate the composition and functioning of the governing authority as it relates to its commitment to the mission, understanding of and interaction with the community, and oversight of the organization. Evaluate the institution’s financial /human resources. Reflect on the organization’s financial sustainability and priorities. Offer suggestions and guidance in areas not meeting best practices

Public Experience (3-4 pages)

Describe the different ways in which the organization engages with its public (i.e. programs, exhibits, events, publications, etc.). What does the planning process entail throughout conception, development, publicity, implementation, and evaluation? What visitor services concerns are/are not taken into consideration (i.e. special needs, amenities, learning styles, etc.)? Are any advisory groups involved in the planning process? How are programs and exhibits being developed with different target audiences in mind? How have programmatic efforts been successful in meeting educational, attendance and financial goals? What are your recommendations for improvement?

Summary (1 page)

Summarize the major observations and recommendations of the report.

Recommendations (1-2 pages)

Provide a prioritized (if possible) list of all recommendations cited throughout the report.

Resources (1-2 pages)

Support your recommendations by providing a list of relevant books, articles, organizations, websites, etc., that you think will assist the organization in executing its plans.

Appendices (as needed)

Include sample documents or printed resources that support information you have provided in the report.

Average Report Length

15-25 pages double-spaced; 12-20 pages single spaced

Organizing & Writing the Report:

  • Organize your site-visit notes upon your return.
  • Re-familiarize yourself with the Self-Study Workbook and documentation.
  • Focus the report—organize your notes and thoughts within the designated headings.
  • Consider your intended audience(s) for the report as identified by the museum—staff, governing authority, donors and potential funders, community leaders and other stakeholders.
  • Don’t assume—provide enough detail for those not privy to the MAP process, but be concise.
  • Be cognizant of tone—the use of euphemisms and colloquial language can be misinterpreted.
  • Provide a balanced presentation of strengths and weaknesses of the institution.

Submitting the Report:

  • Reports should be created and submitted as a Word document.
  • Double-check all facts and proofread the text carefully.
  • Send your report to the MAP office and not the museum. MAP staff reviews all reports before sending to the museum.
  • Be timely. Reports should be e-mailed to the MAP office within four weeks of the site visit.

If you have any questions or need additional resources, please contact MAP staff at 202-289-9118 or

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