As an intern, you will have the chance to work with professionals across the Institution.

Office of Advancement: Internships

The Office of Advancement accepts applications on a rolling basis year-round, but we typically fill internships for the summer, fall semester and winter/spring semester.

All internships are unpaid. We are willing to work with your educational institution to provide academic credit, if requested. All Internships are located in or near the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall, Washington, DC.

All candidates should have an interest in fundraising and a development-oriented career with a particular interest in the area selected. The ideal candidate should be able to commit a minimum of 20 hours per week for a period of 8 weeks or more, will be someone who can take initiative and work independently, and will require limited supervision. Familiarity with Excel, Word and databases is very helpful. Specific skills are required for the Communications Internship and the Online Fundraising Internship, as listed below.

Internship Opportunities

Campaign Communications

The intern will gain practical, hands-on experience in a busy agency-like environment, coordinating and producing a wide range of projects in support of the Smithsonian’s Advancement (fundraising) communications efforts. These include:

  • Print materials, including fundraising case statements, brochures, event materials, invitations, mailings, and the Smithsonian annual report;
  • E-newsletter stories, photography, and other content preparation, and social media;
  • Presentations, remarks, and reports for Smithsonian boards and leadership;
  • Assist Communications director, writers, designer with other communications projects.

The preferred candidate will possess the following qualifications:

  • Undergraduate or graduate student in communications, nonprofit management, and/or a related field with a demonstrated interest in communications and/or fundraising activities;
  • Demonstrated research and writing skills (include 3 writing samples);
  • Strong computer skills and knowledge of Microsoft Office and Adobe; pluses are proficiency in using Powerpoint/Keynote, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign; 
  • Available 40 hours/week, Monday-Friday, business hours;
  • Strong organizational skills, attention to detail and interpersonal skills;
  • Self-starter, able to work with limited supervision; 
  • Interest in learning to work in a large organization, and assist with the management of a complex flow of documents that require collaboration and multiple approvals;
  • Ability to exercise discretion and maintain confidentiality; and
  • Interest in communications design, photography a plus.

Campaign Volunteer Management / Smithsonian National Board

The Office of Campaign Volunteer Management is responsible for providing high-level stewardship and engagement for the Smithsonian National Board (SNB).Specifically, the intern will assist with SNB meetings and communications, and gain experience planning high-level, multi-day events for the SNB and guests. This includes logistical planning, budgets/expenses, registration and briefing materials, announcements, invitations, and on-site event support. Other activities may include drafting gift acknowledgements (writing and editing), gift tracking (working with report templates), tour coordination for SNB members and guests (assist in arranging special tours across Smithsonian, drafting itineraries), and assisting with other National Board-focused stewardship activities.


Corporate & Foundation Relations

The intern will be involved with a variety of core corporate and foundation relations (CFR) research and communications related projects and will have the opportunity to engage in significant activity of the CFR department. A few of the many tasks for this internship include researching institutional prospects, helping coordinate corporate membership events, and editing corporate and foundation proposals for a variety of Smithsonian projects. Though working with the CFR team will be the intern’s primary function, the intern may also be called upon to assist with other Office of Advancement programs or projects.


The Friends of the Smithsonian program at the Institution raises over $12 million in unrestricted funding each year that isused to support a wide variety of Smithsonian research, acquisition, and educational endeavors. As part of the Office of Advancement, it also serves as a vehicle for identifying and cultivating large numbers of members, many of whom will become major and/or planned giving donors during their Smithsonian affiliation. The Friends Program is an exclusive membership program with dues ranging from $75 to $10,000 per year. Members receive benefits that include special access to the Smithsonian through tours, events and publications. 

The Friends program is a fast-paced office that incorporates business, administrative, marketing and customer service activities. There are a number of project opportunities across many departments within the membership office. In the Events Planning and Management area, projects will include developing event schedules and briefing materials; attending planning meetings; managing RSVP and attendance information; creating volunteer materials and assisting training; producing budgets, schedules, speeches, attendee and giving history reports and analyses, and other event materials. Intern will also work Events Manager on long-term plan to develop new materials for marketing and publicizing Friends and James Smithson Society events. In the Member Services area, projects will include responding to letters received from members and the general public, writing/editing print materials and letters used in Friends of the Smithsonian mailings, and assisting with other related administrative projects. Other duties may be assigned as needed. It is an excellent opportunity for someone with strong writing and communications skills that has an interest in public relations, marketing, or non-profit management to learn about the various functions in a complex, non-profit membership office.

Digital Media Philanthropy

Digital Media Philanthropy is a fast-paced, cutting-edge department responsible for raising unrestricted funds through online donations, managing the Smithsonian’s giving website, monthly newsletter and other email news releases, and creating engaging online content and activities designed to feature the Smithsonian’s work and grow the house email file. In addition, the online fundraising department manages the Friends of the Smithsonian membership program’s digital fundraising in concert with multichannel strategies, and serves as consultants to the Smithsonian’s museums, programs, and research centers, supporting and guiding their own digital fundraising efforts. Learn skills and business practices that can translate to almost any 21st century career.

Specific activities for the internship may include:

  • Research and writing of for online content including e-news;
  • Data integrity and syncing;
  • Photoshop work for e-mails and web pages;
  • Tracking and reporting of key performance metrics;
  • Producing emails; and
  • Participation in strategy and brainstorming meetings for digital philanthropy and prospect development.

The ideal candidate will possess the following qualifications:

  • Undergraduate or graduate student with a demonstrated interest in digital media production and fundraising activities;
  • Demonstrated writing skills (include 2 short writing samples);
  • Strong computer skills and knowledge of Microsoft Office, Excel, Powerpoint;
  • Available 15-30 hours/week, Monday-Friday, business hours;
  • Strong organizational skills, attention to detail and interpersonal skills;
  • Self-starter, able to work with limited supervision; 
  • Interest in learning to work in a large organization;
  • Ability to exercise discretion and maintain confidentiality; and
  • General knowledge of html, previous experience working with Dreamweaver and Adobe Photoshop, or similar design software, a plus.

Planned Giving

The Office of Planned Giving (PG) helps donors who want to make bequests or other planned gifts to the Smithsonian. PG also maintains the Smithsonian Legacy Society, a group of more than 600 member householdswho have included the Smithsonian in their estate plans.

PG has multiple opportunities for internships throughout the year for undergraduateand graduate students. Interns participate directly in fundraising projects that help the Smithsonian achieve its research, curatorial and educational mission. An emphasis is placed on individually designed short and long-term projects, such as:

  • building donor relationships, including communicating and maintaining donor records, researching donors, responding to inquiries and tracking contacts and relationships with donors;
  • developing marketing and advertising materials that promote planned giving opportunities to Smithsonian donors;
  • educating staff in Smithsonian museums, research centers and affiliated museums on planned giving opportunities with the Smithsonian;
  • organizing archival records; and
  • developing the program and organizing activities for the behind-the-scenes events at the Smithsonian Legacy Society weekend.

Programming and Stewardship

“P&S” is responsible for providing appropriate high level stewardship and engagement for the Smithsonian’s most important donors. Specific activities may include assisting with cultivation and engagement events (including logistical planning, on-site support, and follow up), gift acknowledgements (writing and editing), leadership gift stewardship reports (compiling information and photographs, working with designers, writing, and editing), annual endowment reports (working with report templates, collaboration with museum colleagues), tour coordination for VIP visitors (arranging special tours across the Smithsonian, drafting itineraries), and assisting with other stewardship and donor focused activities. 


Prospect Development

As an integral part of the Office of the Advancement, the Research department provides leadership and support in the management of individual, corporate, and foundation prospects for the fund-raising initiatives of the Smithsonian Institution by identifying, researching, qualifying and tracking prospective and established donors. 

Projects may include monitoring news sources for information on the Smithsonian’s top prospects and other relevant information and putting together a weekly advancement newsletter; researching contact information for the Washington, DC, offices of major corporations; coding relationships in prospect accounts; working with other development offices to ensure Central Files contain all key prospect information; and researching various lists to identify new prospects.

Prospect Management

The Prospect Management department is primarily responsible for providing a system of prospect coordination to support fundraising initiatives across the Smithsonian Institution. Key functions within the department include: working with each museum and science unit on managing prospect portfolios; creating and upholding policies and procedures related to prospect management; and working to maintain the Institution’s major gift fundraising pipeline. While working closely with Prospect Management staff, the intern will gain knowledge of the prospect management system at the Smithsonian and learn about donors and fundraising activities for various projects across the Smithsonian.

Projects may include:assisting with reports focused onportfolio and pipeline maintenance; preparingfor meetings with units across the Smithsonian; assisting with monthly training sessions on prospect management policies and tracking systems; and maintaining records in the donor database. 


Regional Major Gifts

The Regional Major Gifts program, situated in the Office of Individual Giving, works to grow and strengthen our philanthropic relationships across the country with the giving potential of $50,000 to $1 million in support of a wide variety of projects across the Institution. While working closely with the Regional Major Gift team, interns will gain an understanding of the depth and breadth of the Smithsonian while obtaining hands-on experience in regional fundraising practices. The Regional Major Gifts Program staff works collaboratively with other staff in the Office of Advancement and across all units of the Smithsonian.

Projects may include:

  • Conducting research on the philanthropic landscapes of 8 regions of interest (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, New York, Boston, Atlanta, Southern Florida)
  • Supporting the planning and execution of regional and local fundraising events
  • Coordinating donor mailings and other communications
  • Maintaining comprehensive calendar of the Smithsonian’s regional activities 
  • Assisting with general office support and other projects as they arise

Internship Opportunities Across Smithsonian

Advancement Internships at Smithsonian Museums, Research Centers and Programs

Visit the Smithsonian Office of Fellowships and Internships and choose the unit that interests you to find out if there are any open positions.