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Big Data Development: A Tool for Interpreting Institutional Impact

Thesis by Michelle Reichelt (2016)

The purpose of this research study is to understand how immediate and ongoing access to Big Data analytics, focused on museum visitors, influences the strategies used by development departments to communicate institutional value and impact. Through in-depth interviews, development professionals at the Dallas Museum of Art, the Grace Museum, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, provided insight on the effect of Big Data on language and metrics, donor communication, and the donor relationship. Study results suggest that Big Data is providing development staff the means to collect behavioral data and interpret the engagement of visitors. Donor cultivation efforts are using this engagement data to target visitors more than ever before, through communications that focus on developing a lasting relationship rather than focusing on donor solicitations. The following results offer the field a baseline understanding of the impacts of Big Data while providing opportunities to explore further applications and understand long-term impact.


Keywords: research, development, art museums, big data, evaluation, fundraising, impact


Reichelt, M. (2016). Big data development: A tool for interpreting institutional impact. (Order No. 10138614). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of Washington WCLP; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1804413975). Retrieved from