Minnehaha County Historical Society:

Our Vision for the Future - Strategic Plan 2016-2020


Founded in 1927, the Minnehaha County Historical Society started as a small grassroots group and evolved into a force for historic preservation. We’re a strong, stable organization that must continue to evolve in order to meet new needs in a large, diverse, and dynamic landscape.


In 2016, the MCHS board of directors launched an intensive strategic planning process to assess the Society's current strengths and areas of opportunity, and to set forth a vision for the next several years. This vision is summarized below, and we want to share it with our supporters.


Our Mission

The Minnehaha County Historical Society is a nonprofit membership organization that works through education and advocacy to recognize, preserve, and revitalize the historic architectural and cultural resources of Minnehaha County.


Our Values
  • The Minnehaha County Historical Society believes that preserving places of historic and cultural importance is essential, not optional. 

  • We believe that historic preservation strengthens communities, spurs economic development, protects the environment, and adds character and meaning to our surroundings. It provides continuity to our culture over time. 

  • We preserve historic places because of their invaluable connections and relationships with people. 

  • We value our shared, tangible history and believe that it must survive in order to inform and inspire future generations. 

  • We value not only the obvious landmarks but the full range of significant places that tell the story of our culture. 

  • We value the pioneering origins of Minnehaha County, and we have an enduring commitment to use these origins as a strength and resource.

Our Strategic Vision, 2016-2020 
Impact, Engagement, and Visibility
Goal 1: Instill the value of tangible history.

The built environment is integral to daily life for everyone in Minnehaha County. Yet many people don’t realize the impact of historic places on their everyday lives, or how preservation relates to broader issues including livability, sustainability, and density. 


To illuminate and instill the value of historic places throughout Minnehaha County, the Historical Society will: 

  • Encourage and support the funding of local grassroots preservation.

  • Cultivate the next generation of preservationists by developing a dedicated, high-priority youth initiative; and

  • Bring the preservation community into the fold of broader issues and public policy initiatives, such as local preservation policies;


Goal 2: Enhance our role as a local, and regional leader in historic preservation.


The Society has a well established track record locally.  We want to leverage our expertise, build capacity throughout Minnehaha County, and contribute to advancements in the field of historic preservation. 

In striving to lead by example, action, and ideas, we will:

  • Practice effective, innovative advocacy and education;

  • Identify emerging issues and develop new intellectual concepts; and

  • Foster dialogue and collaboration among a wide range of stakeholders including developers, elected officials, community members, and preservation organizations.

Goal 3: Strengthen our profile as part of the solution—a proactive voice for preservation.

Preservationists are often derided as obstructionists who oppose any change to the built environment. This is a myth: Many developers have told us that in the end, preservation made their project better than it would have been otherwise. 


To dispel this myth, the Historical Society will:

  • Highlight our role as a partner and a resource for developers to help them meet their goals in a way that respects historic places; and

  • Work to increase the understanding that preservation and development are not mutually exclusive, and that we can help projects succeed by showcasing the unique historic resources at their core.


Goal 4: Broaden our impact and the visibility of our work.

The Historical Society serves all of Minnehaha County—eight cities plus the county’s unincorporated areas. To broaden our impact across this broad region, we will:

  • Increase our efforts to foster preservation throughout the county, through initiatives like the Preservation Collective; a joint task force of other local historical society's and councils.

  • Work to unite diverse communities and amplify our voice through multi-year initiatives spanning both advocacy and education; and

  • Heighten the visibility of our work through strategic communications, learning more about our various constituencies and how best to engage them in the ongoing conversations about preserving the historic places that make greater Sioux Falls and Minnehaha unique.

Goal 5: Deepen our focus on issues of diversity to maintain relevance, more effectively engage the region’s population, and more fully reflect the region’s history.

Minnehah County is a region with small diverse populations. To more fully reflect the area’s population and history, the Society will:

  • Increase the diversity of our constituents and our programming; and

  • Help people add their own layers of history to important places, using preservation as a tool to build community.

Goal 6: Expand our base of support.
Preservation is ultimately about the connections between places and people, and we need more people involved in the effort. To this end, we will:
  • Form new strategic partnerships with allied organizations and professionals; 

  • Develop programming for new and under-served audiences; and 

  • Work to better understand our constituents. 

Goal 7: Increase membership and revenues to sustain a proactive, ambitious agenda.

The Historical Society is a strong, stable organization. Yet like other organizations, we need resources in order to advance our mission. We will work to:

  • Sustain and expand our membership;

  • Increase general operating support; and

  • Focus efforts on major gifts and planned giving, to help sustain the organization’s well-being over the long term.

Goal 8: Strengthen our organizational capacity to enable the pursuit of strategic efforts.

To make sure the Historical Society succeeds in these and other efforts, we will:

  • Update our bylaws;

  • Evaluate our signature programs;

  • Strengthen our communications capacity; and

  • Invest in the administrative functions that are increasingly critical to our mission and operations.

Strategic Plan

200 West Sith Street  Sioux Falls SD 57104             (605) 951-9200             info@minnehahahistory.org

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© 2016  by Minnehaha County Historical Society