The Development Office manages a robust philanthropy program that creates meaningful experiences for members and donors while raising funds to sustain core museum activities including exhibitions, education initiatives, public programs, conservation projects, capital projects, and more. The office is responsible for fundraising by identifying, securing, and stewarding financial support from individuals (trustees, major donors, and members) and institutions (foundations, government agencies, and corporations).  The interns report to the Manager of Annual Giving, but will work closely with all development managers to learn different aspects of fundraising and development, while supporting the team in meeting its goals.  Interns will learn about membership, major giving and personal philanthropy, assist with gift acknowledgements, special projects, and events, and help advance the process for individual and institutional donors and prospects.

Duties may include:

  • Prospect identification, such as online research and creating in-depth donor profiles
  • Assisting with donor tours, donor meetings, membership / major gift events, Museum-wide events
  • Creating and managing invitation and mailing lists for VIP events
  • Drafting fundraising materials, such as proposals, blog posts, e-solicitations, or talking points for donor tours
  • Helping with projects related to the Smithsonian Council for American History, a membership program for donors from $1,000 - $25,000, and the Director’s Fund for Annual Giving, a program for donors from $50-$500.
  • Assisting with data processing and mailings


Intern Testimonials

Daleanice BarkinsDaleanice Barkins
Development Manager, The American Alliance of Museums
Summer 2015

My internship in the development office at the National Museum of American History provided me with substantive, hands on experience necessary to be successful in my job and in my chosen profession. I learned a great deal, and I know the interpersonal skills I've gained will continue to be a benefit to my career.


Jessica NapodanoJessica Napodano
Assistant Manager of Development Research and Strategy, New York Public Library
Spring 2015

My development internship with Smithsonian's National Museum of American History was an integral part of my graduate education, and preparation for my career in non-profit development. During my time at the Museum, I gained experience and skills that shaped the professional skill set that I now rely on daily. Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of the internship experience for me was the array of tasks and exposure. I gained invaluable experience in prospect research, event prep, and donor interaction. The experience was both challenging and exciting, and one that I would highly recommend to graduate students pursuing a career in non-profit development at a cultural institution.


Allison PagliaroAllison Pagliaro
Museum Educator, National Building Museum
Fall 2014

Although I do not currently work in development, I value the skills I gained while working there and found the experience valuable, as everyone entering a nonprofit should have a basic understanding of fundraising.  My favorite part of my development internship was writing a post for the Museum blog. With this task, I was given the opportunity to interview a donor, research an upcoming exhibition the donor supported, and publish my work on the Museum’s website. My supervisors helped me think beyond my time at the Museum: we discussed their career paths and they provided opportunities for me to talk to staff in other departments.


Danika JensenDanika Jensen
Development Coordinator, National Building Museum
Summer 2014

My internship with the development team at the Museum was an incredibly rewarding experience. I was able to cultivate relationships with donors and staff members that are passionate about the mission of the Museum, and work with them to ensure that the collections, educational programming, and exhibitions are protected for years to come. It was very fulfilling to know that my work as an intern was helping to support the operations of the institution, and this internship ultimately inspired me to pursue a career in non-profit fundraising. The relationships I formed with my direct supervisor and other staff at the Museum, as well as their professional advice and guidance, was instrumental in helping me find a job at another museum in Washington, DC. 


About the Museum

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research, and dynamic public outreach, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. The Museum cares for more than 3 million objects, offers a wide range of education initiatives and public programs, and is the most visited history museum in the world - with more than 5 million annual visitors and more than 12 million unique online visits per year.  And of course, the Museum is home to American treasures such as the Star-Spangled Banner, Julia Child’s kitchen, First Ladies gowns, Dorothy’s ruby slippers, an Alexander Graham Bell telephone, Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves, Duke Ellington’s sheet music, presidential artifacts, and much more.