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Heritage Engagement Tools

Oregon Heritage, which includes the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), is committed to finding ways to support organizations doing heritage work across Oregon. We develop statewide plans to guide our work and partner with organizations and agencies on plan initiatiatives. We also are ocmmitted to providing tools, research, and studies for heritage organizations to use in planning, advocacy, grant writing, and more.

Oregon Heritage & SHPO Plans

The Preservation Plan and the Oregon Heritage Plan are intended to guide heritage efforts statewide and the work of Oregon Heritage.

​The 2018–2023 Oregon Historic Preservation Plan is organized into 10 key issues that emerged from the SHPO's statewide outreach. Each is discussed and associated with one or more of the five approaches to preservation planning: identify, evaluate, designate, treat, and educate. For each issue, a broad goal statement captures the desired outcome, followed by specific objectives for meeting that goal.

The plan is intended to embolden advocates in their chosen roles, to reveal any gaps int he network of services, and to reinforce ways the heritage community can work better together.

2018-2023 Oregon SHPO Preservation Plan

​Prepared by the Heritage Commission, the 2020-2025 Oregon Heritage Plan identifies opportunities to strengthen heritage in the state and lays the foundation for the Commission’s priorities. The plan identifies four goals with corresponding outcomes and measures.

The 2020 Heritage Plan is a call to action for heritage efforts to unite around common goals. The Oregon Heritage Commission invites individuals and organizations to discuss these goals, consider how they align with institutional and regional opportunities, and join the Commission in this work. Together, individual steps will add up to important outcomes for the state resulting in more stories told, more people served, and more sustainable heritage organizations. The Heritage Commission provides grants, incentives, technical assistance, and recognition programs to support this work.

This plan can also be used as a tool for recovery. Use this time of reopening and recovery to reflect on your mission and goals and see if this plan and accompanying Recovery Framework insert can inform, inspire, and integrate within your plans for the future. The Oregon Heritage Commission designed this plan as a tool to guide the work of heritage organizations throughout the state. It is intended as a framework to anchor heritage organizations as critical assets serving their entire community. We hope that it will lead to a strong network of heritage organizations contributing to the fabric of the state.

2020-2025 Oregon Heritage Plan
Oregon Heritage Plan Recovery Framework Insert

2020 Oregon Heritage Plan Tools:

Case Studies

Oregon Heritage periodically publishes case studies of projects and/or entities that leverage several different resources to accomplish their heritage goals. We also highlight projects that have success following a process that could be used as a model for others.

​Case Studies related to Community Heritage Efforts

Case Studies related to Museum Projects


We have several partners that we work with on ongoing or special initiatives. They also have resources that may be useful to heritage organizations such as grants, research resources, and other heritage preservation tools.

Sharing the Value of Heritage Toolkit

This toolkit is an ongoing effort of Oregon Heritage to compile data, resources, and guidance to help heritage groups recognize and communicate the value of their work. The more we articulate heritage values and impacts, the more we strengthen public perception of heritage efforts, expand funding opportunities, and encourage long-term support for Oregon's heritage.
We encourage you to use these resources to create compelling impact statements about your work when you communicate with the public, donors, and community leaders.
Tools will be added on an on-going basis to provide:
  • state and national data
  • resources to collect local and organizational data
  • guidance on how to use these tools
The goal of the Toolkit is to provide current, relevant, and easy-to-use resources your heritage group can adapt to fit your needs. To keep this a dynamic resource, tools, guidance on using each tool, and examples will be added semiannually. Check back often to access useful national resources and original state-level data compiled by Oregon Heritage.

​Value of Heritage Message Platform

Making the connection between your heritage work and its impact on the community is essential for building support and understanding. This guide will help you communicate both what you organization does and why it matters.

  1. Adapt It: Select messages that resonate with your work, and/or use these examples to create your own messages.
  2. Action: Use value messages the next time you need to prepare a testimony, an email, op-ed, press release, speech, or even a social media post.
Cultural Value of Heritage Flyer

Stories are powerful ways to illustrate the cultural impact of your heritage preservation and outreach efforts. The Cultural Value of Heritage flyer is an example of how your organization can pair a message, story, and image to demonstrate cultural value.
  1. Adapt It: Read through the Cultural Value of Heritage Message Platform impact messages (page 3) and think of a story in your work that exemplifies impact. Pair your story with a message and an image to create a flyer. Successful stories may include: 1) an individual's personal story, 2) a connection to your organization's project, 3) a quotation that summarizes the concept in the narrator's own words, 4) an ending that connects to a larger goal.
  2. Action: Distribute your flyer to potential board members, with your annual appeal letter, after a testimony to your city council, or share this flyer with local leaders to spark a conversation about the value and impact of heritage efforts in your community.
Cultural Value of Heritage through Volunteers Messaging

A recent report from the Oregon Heritage Commission highlights the value of heritage organizations from the volunteer perspective. The study showed that volunteers contribute time because of the historic mission of the organizations. It also demostrated that people feel more connected to their comnunities through their volunteer experience. Use this study to promote your organization's value.
  1. Access Tool: Value of Heritage through Volunteers Messaging Platform
  2. Adapt it: Review the report and summary, then review the model messaging platform. Think about how your organization reflects this value point.
  3. Action: Insert your oranization's information and value, then spread the word.

Museums as Economic Engines Report (2017)

Museums play an essential role in cultural and social life across the US. Beyond this cultural impact, the museum sector is also essential to the national economy of the United States. In 2017, the American Alliance of Museums partnered with Oxford Economics to study the museum sector's significant contribution to the US economy. The study examined contribution to the GDP, jobs, and the amount of tax revenue that is generated for all level of government.

  1. Adapt It: Compare the Oregon report and the National Museums as Economic Engines Report to any data you may have about local impact. If local information is not readily available, use the AAM Economic Impact Template to quantify your organization's impact in the community.
  2. Action: Use this report and your community statistics when you speak with decision makers and the public. Consider compiling statistics in a letter you send to the Chamber of Commerce and City Council each year.

​Heritage Vitality Study (2011)
A report commissioned by the Oregon Heritage Commission to identify individual and collective challenges facing Oregon heritage. Proposes comprehensive solutions to these challenges.

Cultural Heritage Travelers in Oregon Report (2012)
A study conducted by Mandala Research LLC with support from the Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Cultural Trust, and Travel Oregon to identify the level of awareness of cultural heritage activities in Oregon, perceptions of the cultural heritage assets to the State, willingness to visit, and the economic impact.

National Survey of Heritage Funding and Incentive Programs for Oregon (2017)
A research report intended to identify state, county, and local incentive and funding programs for the broad heritage community in Oregon.  A research report intended to identify state, county, and local incentive and funding programs for the broad heritage community in Oregon.

Cost of Collections Care (2017)
A guide that documents the cost of collections care for museums and other cultural institutions to help organizations plan for collection care costs or use for support in applying for grants or fundraising efforts.

Digital Heritage Collections Survey Summary of Key Findings (2018)
This survey summary outlines how many of the respondents are digitizing collections, how they are made if available digitally, and any interest in collaboration on a local, regional, statewide level in digitization efforts.

The Value of Oregon Heritage Organizaitons' Volunteers: An Oregon Heritage Commission Volunteer Study (2020)
The Value of Oregon Heritage Organizations' Volunteer Study Summary (2020)
This study explores the value of heritage organizations through the volunteer experience. Volunteers support these organizations with hundreds of thousands of hours of time, in turn the experience great community connection.

Outreach Initiatives

​2020 is the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in the United States. We are joining in with Oregon 2020 to commemorate the event by collecting information on places associated with women in Oregon History. These may be residences, business places, social gathering spaces, sites for suffrage and women's rights efforts, burial sites, campuses, etc.

Some ways to participate include:

  • Please provide any and all information and documentation you can by visiting The information will be added to the Oregon Historic Sites Database and may be used to designate properties to the National Register of Historic Places in the future. For information about what to submit, contact Jason Allen at 503-986-0579.
  • Get some ideas for programs, events, etc. here.
  • Let us know if you are doing something to commemorate the anniversary and we will promote it. Send the information to

​Need some help to thank your heritage hero volunteers? We've got you covered!

Volunteer Appreciation Graphic


Feel free to use our "Thank You Volunteers" graphic we created that was inspired by the theme for our 2020 Oregon Heritage Conference, Harness the Power of Heritage! Access the graphic here.

Volunteer Appreciation Language Template - Direct Thank you to Volunteers:

Thanks for being a heritage hero!

Yes, you. You're a hero to us!

It's Volunteer Appreciation Week and we can't say enough how much the time and effort you give helps us succeed. It takes a dedicated team of people who care to keep the doors open, the lights on, and operations moving. Every hour a volunteer sits at the front desk, staffs an event, attends a board meeting, changes a light bulb, writes a grant, repairs whatever thing has most recently broken, calls a donor, or weeds the yard—makes a difference. 

And it's more than that. Your volunteer work supports our community's identity. Heritage organizations like ours help community members remember and learn from the past. They provide spaces for reflection and critical thinking about our future. They make vibrant communities.

Thank you for your contribution to us and the community. Thanks for being our heritage hero!

Volunteer Appreciation Language Template -Social Media Post Template:

It's Volunteer Appreciation Week! Join us in thanking our dedicated volunteers!

Volunteers provided _(total hours)__ hours of service to our organization this year.
Volunteers allowed us to welcome ___(number that pertains to your org)_ school groups/visitors this year.
We're proud of the major projects our volunteers helped us accomplish: ______________.

We couldn't do what we do without our volunteers. Help us thank our heritage heroes in the comments below!  

Volunteer Appreciation Ideas During Social Distancing

  1. Write and mail a thank you letter.
    1. Add a gift.
      1. Lifesavers – “You are a lifesaver!"
      2. Mints – "You mean a mint to us!"
      3. Chocolate Coins – "Your work is solid gold!"
      4. Gummy Bears – "We can't bear to be without you!"
      5. Coffee Packet –" You keep us going! You keep it perky!"
      6. Fortune Cookie – "You are our good fortune!"
  1. Do a drive by and hang a sign at their house.
  2. Share with the world. Tell the number of volunteers and hours of work, and where appropriate and with permission list them individually.
    1. Newsletter announcement
    2. Social media post a thanks
    3. Send a letter to the editor of your local paper
    4. Put a big thank you sign on your window
  3. Have an awards program
    1. Mail the award
    2. Feature individual stories in newsletter and social media
    3. Hold an online ceremony – in formal gear and all to make it fancy!

​May is Historic Preservation Month! Oregon Heritage wants to help you celebrate preservation in your community. The following tools are available to you:

  • Send your preservation related events to and we will highlight them online and in the weekly Oregon Heritage News listserv.
  • If you are looking for ideas on what to do during social distancing times, check out this list to get inspired and help with your planning.
  • Join us on May 6 for Part 3 of Oregon Heritage's COVID-19 Commiseration Calls featuring Preservation Month activities that folks have done and lessons learned or ideas on what else to do. Please join us if you have had events and share what worked so that other folks can have a chance to do it in their community.

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