Smithsonian Shares Giving Stories on #GivingTuesday

National Museum of American History Receives Fidelity Charitable Trustees Grant
November 21, 2017
Graphic banner: The Philanthropy Initiative at the National Museum of American History

On #GivingTuesday, Nov. 28, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will invite audiences to share their giving stories on-site and online as part of its ongoing Philanthropy Initiative. A two-year grant from Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative will allow the museum to explore the collaborative power of giving and amplify its audience reach through programming and an expanded digital platform, which includes video content and outreach on social media channels. The Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative is a grantmaking program overseen by the trustees of Fidelity Charitable, a charity that serves more than 150,000 donors through its donor-advised fund program.

Established in 2015, the museum’s Philanthropy Initiative looks at all aspects of giving across a broad spectrum of issues and movements, including the history of American philanthropy. The project focuses not only on monetary giving but also the giving of personal time and talents. As part of this effort, the new grant will fund continued programming, including activities tailored to distinct audiences to educate, encourage and embrace civic engagement through philanthropy.

The first of that programming will happen Nov. 28, the global day of giving, with on-site events that include objects-out-of-storage to showcase new philanthropy-related objects added to the museum’s collection and the opportunity to interact with curatorial staff and to participate in a "talk-back" board activity centered on questions such as, "What inspires you to give?" Online, visitors can share their #AmericanGiving story, view philanthropy-related content and join the conversation.

"American philanthropy has evolved from telling stories of giving in letters and sermons to telling them via digital technologies," said Amanda B. Moniz, the museum’s David M. Rubenstein Curator of Philanthropy. "This gift from Fidelity Charitable Trustees will allow us to reach our 21st-century audiences where they are—on social media. Understanding the history of giving helps enhance giving today."

Future digital programs made possible by the grant will include a "Meet a Philanthropist" web series in which curators will host conversations with leaders in the philanthropic and non-profit arenas to explore the history and impact of giving in America. The website serves as a hub for videos of programs and the annual "Power of Giving" symposium that brings together scholars, experts and donors to focus on specific themes in the field of philanthropy. The goal of the grant is to help the museum offer on-site and online visitors the ability to explore their place in the story of American giving and their ability to effect change. The first video under the grant features highlights from the Nov. 6 donation ceremony of an Eliza Hamilton portrait and a costume worn by Lin-Manuel Miranda in the Hamilton musical.   

"Our mission at Fidelity Charitable is to make giving accessible, simple and effective," said Deborah Segal, vice president, Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative. "What better way to do this than to help advance the national conversation around giving and encourage reflection among all of us on how we can create an impact? We’re delighted to support the Smithsonian in its effort to engage more people in this important conversation."

The Philanthropy Initiative began in 2015 with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a gift from David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group and a member of the Smithsonian Board of Regents. In 2017, the initiative received additional support from the Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative. The funding makes possible the long-term exhibition "Giving in America," oral histories, collecting and display of artifacts related to the history of philanthropy and the endowed curatorial position. It also supports programming, including the third annual "The Power of Giving: Philanthropy’s Impact on American Life" symposium set for March 22.

In 2018, the Philanthropy Initiative will be centered on the theme of philanthropy and the arts, and the "Giving in America" exhibition will be updated with artifacts and stories reflective of how artists, patrons and ordinary people engage in and support creative endeavors.  

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. It helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. For more information, visit The museum is located on Constitution Avenue, between 12th and 14th streets N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.

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