As Joslyn’s Corporate & Foundation Giving Manager, my main responsibility is to secure funding for the Museum’s exhibitions and education/outreach programs. A self-declared nerd, I love spending time online researching potential donors. And while most people cringe at the thought of writing a proposal, I actually enjoy it.
Each month, I submit anywhere from 5-10 proposals to corporations, foundations, small businesses, and perhaps a government agency. It is my job to find new and diversified funding opportunities, working with different departments within the Museum to identify our greatest needs. While some foundations are required by law to give away a portion of their money each year, it is still a very competitive process. We must prove that we are using the contribution for the greatest good and are being fiscally responsible.
Not all of my time is spent behind the computer. I feel that it is important for Joslyn to have ambassadors out and about to demonstrate that staff is accessible and committed to the community. Armed with my nametag, a pocketful of business cards, and a smile, my goal is to attend at least two events per month. It is a great chance to meet new people, develop potential leads, and share what is happening at the Museum. Now that Joslyn recently transitioned to free admission, I seriously have had people lining up to talk to me. Even before then, there was never a shortage of information to share. Whether it is an exhibition opening, the Draw-a-thon lock-in for high school students, Stroller Tours, or a Sunday afternoon lecture, I truly believe there is something for everyone at Joslyn.
The most rewarding part of my job is directly observing the impact of funds raised. Last year I was fortunate to attend a dedication of the Joslyn Hallway at Beveridge Magnet School in Omaha. Framed reproductions of works from Joslyn’s permanent collection lined the hallway (Beveridge teachers earned them for participating in our Museum to the Classroom program) and the entrance was adorned with a graffiti art piece made by Beveridge students. Administrators, teachers, and students were so appreciative of our partnership with their school. That afternoon I received many handshakes and hugs for my involvement, which seemed very small after I witnessed the good work they were doing there. I just wrote a grant, these people were changing lives. It made me realize, “This is what it’s all about.”
I’m not an art history major, I can’t draw or paint, but I do completely appreciate the significance of the many masterworks we house (my favorite is Degas’ Little Dancer, Fourteen Years Old) and the programs we offer (my daughter has attended several art camps over the past few years). I encourage you to walk through the galleries, attend an event, or have a picnic in the sculpture garden. I’m sure you will find something you love!
Alyssa Kohler, Corporate & Foundation Giving Manager