“The Smithsonian is the premier cultural, scientific, art and history institution, not just in our country but in the world. It has the ability to take its mission – the increase and diffusion of knowledge – and spread that across the globe.”  
— Robert Kogod
Donor, Smithsonian Regent
“As America’s Smithsonian, we must represent the best this nation has to offer, in our treasures, in our people, in our ideas and in our knowledge. Private giving ensures we can do that.” 
— Patricia Q. Stonesifer
Donor, Smithsonian Regent emeritus
“The Smithsonian’s first century was about formation. In our second century, we built our great museums and research centers. This next century will be about expanding our educational mission.” 
— John W. McCarter, Jr.
Chair, Smithsonian Board of Regents
“The Smithsonian is a treasure for the American people. It is a center of American pride, accomplishment and achievement. It gives you a sense of the greatness of the country. You can see the things that have made America exceptional.” 
— Paul Neely
Donor, National Museum of American History board member

What is the Smithsonian Campaign?

The Smithsonian Campaign — the largest in history for a cultural institution — will transform one of the nation's greatest assets into a 21st-century catalyst for change. Through investments in people, places, programs and treasures, we will tell America’s story, spark discovery, inspire lifelong learning and use technologies to reach people everywhere. 

The Smithsonian Campaign will ensure that we have the power to change and the permanence to endure. This campaign’s benefits will continue far beyond its conclusion and make a transformational impact on the Smithsonian’s financial stability. 

What is the campaign’s timeline?

The Smithsonian Campaign’s public kickoff took place in October 2014. The campaign, begun in fiscal year 2011, will continue through 2017.

What are the Smithsonian Campaign’s priorities?


The campaign will focus on four areas to build a truly 21st-century Smithsonian:

Tell America’s Story, in all its diversity, history and possibility

Inspire Lifelong Learning in our nation’s classrooms, on the National Mall and online

Reach People Everywhere, through our programs, traveling exhibitions and online access

Spark Discovery of exploration and engagement

Campaign gifts will be invested in attracting and retaining the best minds, building spaces and exhibitions and advancing education. This includes people who create today and lead tomorrow, public places that inspire and delight, programs that excite the imagination and connect people everywhere and treasures that preserve our natural and cultural heritage and inform our research.


Why does the Smithsonian need to raise private funds? Doesn’t the federal government fund it?

Private philanthropy is essential to the Smithsonian’s ability to realize its vision and transform the institution in this generation. Only through generous contributions can the Smithsonian achieve the vision of its strategic plan, mount dynamic exhibitions, develop educational programs that excite learning and conduct and share vital research and scholarship. Federal appropriations provide the foundation of the Smithsonian’s operating budget and always will remain the core of its funding, for which the institution is deeply grateful to both Congress and the American people. Private support, though, ensures that the Smithsonian fulfills its potential and shares its learning and discovery with the nation, the world and the future.

How does the Smithsonian pay for its fundraising?

The Smithsonian applies resources including revenue from retail operations, memberships, unrestricted giving and special events to fund development. It also directs a small percentage of term gifts to advance the fundraising capacity of its museums and programs and more effectively steward gifts.

Why now?

The level of excellence expressed in the Smithsonian’s strategic plan, adopted in 2009, can be achieved only with a significant infusion of philanthropic capital. The Smithsonian Campaign is providing this, funding the strategic plan’s vision and the big ideas in it that have the potential to transform entire fields of research and inquiry. The campaign is helping reshape this American icon into the 21st-century institution envisioned by the plan.

What museums, programs and centers are included?

The Smithsonian Campaign encompasses every one of the Smithsonian’s museums, centers and programs. This website shares their aspirations and top priorities, tying them into the larger theme of the campaign.


Who are Smithsonian Campaign's leaders?

Campaign leadership is centered in the all-volunteer Campaign Steering Committee, co-chaired by Barbara Barrett, Sakurako Fisher, David Rubenstein and Alan Spoon. Its members represent all Smithsonian advisory boards. Ex-officio members are the Secretary of the Smithsonian, the Chair of the Board of Regents, the Chair of the Board of Regents Advancement Committee and the Assistant Secretary for Advancement.


The Smithsonian Campaign’s Honorary Committee assembles a remarkable group of some of the most notable living Americans. These distinguished citizens represent the campaign and the Smithsonian. They help to raise the Smithsonian’s visibility, tell its story and share its aspirations for the future.


I am interested in making a gift. How can I get in touch with the right person?

Every Smithsonian museum, center and program is participating in this campaign. Click on Make A Gift to give now, or learn more about giving to the campaign by visiting Ways To Give and other pages in this website. They will help you find those areas of most interest to you and the fundraising professionals who can answer your questions and work with you.


Will the campaign raise money for endowment?

The Smithsonian Campaign has an ambitious goal of raising $350 million for endowment. Stable, yet flexible, endowment funds are vital for the long term. The campaign offers endowment opportunities of every kind. Endowment gifts are a unique opportunity to establish a permanent legacy of support for Smithsonian people, programs, places or treasures you care deeply about.

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