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Working at the Smithsonian


  • Private philanthropy is critical to the Smithsonian’s mission. Government appropriations keep the doors open to the public and fund infrastructure. Private donations allow us to mount exhibitions, acquire artifacts and present educational and outreach programming. The offices that do fundraising are variously called development or external affairs offices.
  • At the Smithsonian there is a development office in each museum and research center as well as a number of programmatic offices. The central Office of Advancement provides support for the unit based offices and raises funds for Institution wide projects. People in the field tend to specialize in a specific aspect of fundraising: major gifts, annual fund, membership, corporate and foundation relations, donor research or development operations.
  • Fundraisers typically have a degree and possess outstanding communications, writing and listening skills. Often fundraisers start in the annual fund or research section of a nonprofit organization. There is only one college that offers a bachelor's degree in philanthropy, however, many schools are now adding courses. Professional associations in the field also offer seminars. Fundraising is arguably one of the fastest growing professions in the nonprofit world.

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