Why Do People Become Donors?

27 Jun

I come from a country where the structure to sustain the arts is not based on philanthropic donations; so one of my priorities for my first internship in the U.S. was to gain a hands on experience in a an arts organization where I could feel inspired by what they do, and where I could understand what makes people become donors and/or members. There was no better option than American Ballet Theatre to learn about it!

By interning at the Membership Department I learned that people can join the organization starting with only $75 a year–-about 20 cents per day–and every level of donation gets specific benefits such as dress rehearsals, studios visits, letters, magazine and season information in advance. ABT offers two different categories for ballet goers:  subscription and the membership. The subscription relates only to tickets, as people get discounts for purchasing in advance a package of tickets, ensuring themselves great seating even before the general public tickets go on sale. In this category there are series of 3, 4, and 5 performances, as well as series for families and special events. The second category is Membership where people give donations in exchange for benefits. This is highly recommended for ballet lovers!

From my previous experience, people who help sustain arts organizations often look for something in exchange for their support. From my time at American Ballet Theatre, I realized that people donate and become members because they care for the mission of the organization and they trust in the high quality art form that is being represented and the belief of a shared responsibility of supporting the arts. This support is critical for all arts organizations.


The organization draws members in and keeps them interested by preparing different kind of events such as studios visits, sneak peaks, classes, and seminars. Other kinds of efforts are also coordinated with different departments to send subscriptions guides, brochures, calendars, and invites. Lastly, as part of this amazing experience, I had the chance to help with the database where all the member’s information is gathered. That allowed me to better understand how the organization classifies members, donors, and subscribers by their preferences, seats, and performances among other options.

It has been an interesting journey at ABT where I have started learning how one of the best ballet organizations in the world prepares their “behind the scenes” process. Thanks American Ballet Theatre for this amazing experience.

Angelica M. B. Nanez

Membership Intern

Spring 2014


One Response to “Why Do People Become Donors?”

  1. chelseamoskal July 27, 2014 at 2:36 am #

    Reblogged this on chelsea at sea and commented:
    Interesting thoughts on the motives behind those who support art.

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