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Knowledge standards

The foundation of nonprofit retail



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The Museum Store Association’s Knowledge Standards represent skills that are at the core of MSA learning programs and are designed to support a member’s professional development. They are a comprehensive summary of what today’s nonprofit retail professionals need to know in order to perform their work successfully and advocate for their in-house retail operation. Knowledge Standards can help a member advocate for their current role within an in-house retail operation, guide their institution’s understanding of a nonprofit retail enterprise, and serve as a road map to furthering their professional success.

Here are the eight Knowledge Standards with brief descriptions.

Merchandise Planning

Creating a plan for the purchase, development, and display of merchandise.

Visitor Relations

Visitor Relations is the development and implementation of strategies, policies, and procedures to manage how a nonprofit retail enterprise will engage with its visitors to enhance and extend the visitor experience.


Operations includes the ongoing management of the retail operation and its related sales outlets.

Financial Management

Financial Management is a comprehensive system of controlling, measuring, and maximizing fiscal performance.

Human Resources

Human Resources involves skillful management of personnel, both paid staff and volunteers.

Marketing and Communications

Marketing is the range of activities undertaken by a nonprofit retailer to promote the sale of the retail operation’s product and the awareness of the institution. Communication is the exchange of information for successful outreach to all internal and external audiences.


Technology in cultural nonprofit retail involves sourcing, implementing, and managing the appropriate technologies to support the retail operation.

Strategic Management

Strategic Management is the development and implementation of strategies that ensure the long-term success of the business.


Become an MSA member for access to the complete Knowledge Standards content. Members can access online content that earns certificate credits and utilize MSA’s online community to connect with other members on this learning journey.

If you have questions about MSA’s certificate program, please email us.