The Right Opportunity at the Right Time 

23 Aug

Last spring I participated in an internship centered on development for a regional equity theatre company. I then desired to build upon the skills I developed there and apply them on a bigger scale at a larger performing arts non-profit. My background and love of dance coupled with ABT’s wide-reach and impressive engagement with national and international audiences led to the perfect fit. Additionally, making the move from my development experience to the specificity of a major gifts office seemed like a natural step in my growth in this development space.  

This was a very exciting summer to join the major gifts department. This summer season brought ABT’s return to the Metropolitan Opera House stage for the first time since the pandemic, and what a season it was. With five weeks and countless performances, it would be dishonest to say the complimentary ballet tickets and access to interfacing with ABT members and patrons wasn’t a highlight of the summer. Working on office work during the day and getting to come to the theatre at night was a delightful compliment. I found it uniquely special to see the result of all the work the ABT administrative and artistic teams put in day after day, year round.  

More specifically though, my role consisted of data-entry and organization, working the membership table during performances at the Met, and conducting prospective major donor research. Donor research helped the majors team identify potential candidates for solicitations of major gifts, but more often the process helped identify individuals the majors and development team desired to develop a closer relationship with. This was very interesting to me and represented my favorite administrative part of the job. I got to learn more about patrons through publicly available information and often discovered their ties to other arts organizations or philanthropic endeavors. These indicators often communicate to the majors team that a prospective donor may be a good fit based on their demonstrated interests or career.  

I also appreciated seeing how memberships with patrons and donors are cultivated and maintained. This happened in a more public facing space, at the membership table. Here I observed how ABT staff answered questions, communicated membership costs and bonuses, and handled customer service situations, such as ticket issues or other complaints. I also got to take part in this important public facing role myself and found it to be quite enjoyable.  

At the end of the summer I came away with my goals accomplished. I feel the experience I gained at ABT this summer researching prospective donors built on the skills I developed in my previous non-profit arts internships. Additionally, I gained important database experience—which is applicable at numerous organizations and in countless fields. I am very grateful I was selected with this amazing cohort of summer 2022 interns. Everyone I met was kind and motivated. I can only speak highly of the program and my supervisor. I have immense gratitude for the whole ABT team, each of the speakers who took the time to teach us, and our wonderful program directors!  

Nell Adkins

Major Gifts Intern (Development)

Summer 2022


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