Blog / The Art of Fundraising

Posted by Tori Cohen

Photo by J Caldwell


This internship experience has surpassed my expectations. I decided apply to an internship at the Nasher Museum  because I love art (I am an Art History Major) and I wanted to get experience in the museum world, specifically in special events or development; I have a passion for planning fundraisers for breast cancer research and awareness, and I wanted to try fundraising for another cause I am passionate about. I came into this internship expecting that I might be put into an environment where I could be exposed to these departments, but I expected a lot of busy work based on my experience with my past internships. Much to my surprise, these expectations, which were high to begin with, were off. I have had a high level of responsibility placed on me since day one, I feel like my work is really valued, and I have grown so much as a result of both these things. The Nasher Museum values the contribution that students can make as part of its education mission, and my experience as an undergraduate intern is a clear example of this.   


As the Fundraising Events Intern, my main goal for the semester is to come up with an informed suggestion for the Nasher Museum about their existing fundraising event strategy. I have to determine whether we should keep the existing model, or alter it. Initially I thought I could do this easily. At first, I did not understand why my supervisor was asking me to do background research and readings before I got to the point of brainstorming, but once I started I have learned how valuable time put into research can be and how necessary it is in order to make informed choices. Research can only make your decisions stronger. Sure, I could have just decided that the Nasher Museum should plan a 5k or an additional silent auction, but without research, I would have no credible or helpful argument to back up my recommendations. One of the most valuable parts of my internship has been speaking with leaders at the Nasher Museum as part of my research, as well as Directors of Development at other museums and institutions that I have determined the Nasher Museum should benchmark itself against. Through these conversations, I have been able to gather small pieces to add on to the puzzle that I need to solve by the end of the term, and I have also have seen the value in informational interviews.


In the theme of the museum, my research has taught me that planning fundraising events is truly an art. The Art History major in me can’t help but make this metaphor. It takes a lot of thought put into the event like an artist puts into a painting. The final product can be controversial, perceived in different ways by different people. It can target a certain audience. It is a can be a risk, possibly marring the reputation of the creator if not successful. Lastly, it can carry a certain message and be a method for the creator reach a certain goal.  


Photo by J Caldwell

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