Week 1: The Design Museum
As a requirement for my work placement at the Design Museum, I’m going to be writing some blog posts about my experiences getting thrown into the world of Development and Fundraising. Feel Free to Ignore these posts, if you’d like- I’ll still try to post about general heritage, London, and my travels around England (and Paris) and the heritage I encounter on a daily basis.
(In order to comply with the Design Museum protocol, names of prospect investors will not be mentioned- sorry for the vague details!)
I have never worked on a Development Team or in fundraising before, so when I say I was literally thrown into the deep end of the sector, I mean it with the most sincerity.
This is the start of my 3 month internship with the Design Museum’s Capital Campaign office, which is in charge of the capital fundraising campaign for the New Design Museum which will be the DM’s new location in South Kensington in 2014. The project is exciting for several reasons:
- The DM will finally be able to house its permanent collection of famously designed furniture, house wares, fashion, etc.
- It will allow for an increase to 500,000 visitors each year
- It will accommodate a new Education center to teach grade-school students about Design and its importance to contemporary society, economics, and art.
- It will revitalize an old heritage building: The Commonwealth Institute which has been vacant on Kensington High Street (until now)
There are many more reasons, but those are just a few I learned about on my first day. Branding a museum is an interesting process, and I was de-briefed on what their message is, who they want to reach out to, and particularly how they want to forge professional relationships in order to move the DM forward.
My role as an intern will have me researching prospect investors… which really suits me as I find myself incredibly interested in all facets of people’s lives. Where do they vacation? Do they like art? Do they have a connection to design? Have they been to the Museum before? I’m excited to research something relevant and interesting: The lives of Londoners and those who feel like they can contribute to the museum.
Raiser’s Edge is a program I have never used before, and I’ll be receiving some training on it soon. It is essentially the software for fundraising and non-profit organizations. It is an industry standard in the heritage sector here in England, and luckily it is widely used in the United States as well- so I am excited to learn the program and be able to use it for whatever projects come my way.
It is an exciting time for the DM, as they just opened a retrospective on famous shoe designer Christian Louboutin. I was invited to work the preview event and get a look at how fundraising and cultivating projects work. It’s hectic I tell you! It may look like a party, but it is a well orchestrated performance between the visitors, the DM, and of course Louboutin himself.
Can I say that I’ve never been to a classier party for a work event? Louboutin looked amazing, and so did his muse-of-sorts Dita von Teese. I was able to get a hands on look at how development works these events (I was greeting patrons at the door and getting them to the exhibit in a sort of relay race- with the guest being the baton). Managing the guests and making sure everyone was having a good time was also critical. When working in development you definitely have to be a great people person!
Julia and Julie were my supervisors for the night, and when they weren’t talking to important people, I was shadowing them to see how it all works. They were great, and they answered my questions: The DM hosts events like this maybe 5 times a year, but the Louboutin event was easily the largest/most important of 2012, additionally they gave me a run down of the whole operation, asked me about my schooling, and talked with me about the development field as a whole (and its strength in the recession).
I’m headed in to the office this afternoon where a de-briefing on the event will take place. Hopefully everything went really well! It sure looked like everyone was having a blast.