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Adopt-an-Object: Reaching Donors through Personalized Fundraising

Thesis by Stefanie Terasaki (2017)

The purpose of this research study was to understand museums’ use of adopt-an-object (AO) fundraising and their effects on donor base. The study focused on the rationale for implementing the campaign, the nature of the campaign, the museum’s perceived impacts of this campaign on donor base growth and the change in the museum-donor relationship. Using a case study design, data were collected from 4 institutions through a questionnaire and interviews. Findings suggest that museums implemented their campaigns to meet the funding needs of collection object’s conservation and artifact acquisition, and to create a connection between the public and museum objects. While some museums experienced an increase in donors through AO others have used it to work closer with already established museum supporters. Advantages of AO include reaching new donors, providing tangible items in exchange for funds, and creating a more personal museum-donor relationship. These results offer the field an understanding of AO as a more personalized form of fundraising and highlight other opportunities to understand the long-term impact of its use.

Keywords: Class of 2017, museum, museum studies, museology, research, case study, collections, development, fundraising


Terasaki, S., & Luke, Jessica J. (2017). Adopt-an-object : Reaching donors through personalized fundraising. [University of Washington Libraries].