CCS partnered with NMAAHC and its leadership on a landmark campaign, which exceeded its goal by raising more than $320 million in private philanthropic support for its historic opening in Washington, DC.

Based in: Washington, DC, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast U.S., United States

Sector: Arts & Culture

Key Elements

  • A total of 143 Founding Donors ($1M+) from individuals, corporations in all major industries, and charitable foundations provided $297 million of the funding
  • Three donors of $20 million+ and five donors of $10 million+
  • The largest private fundraising campaign for a Smithsonian museum

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) needed to raise $270 million to establish the only national museum devoted to African American history. CCS partnered with the NMAAHC leadership on this landmark campaign, which exceeded its goal by raising more than $320 million in private philanthropic support for its historic opening in Washington, DC.

The Challenge

In 2003, President George W. Bush signed legislation to establish a national museum dedicated to African American history and culture. As a public-private partnership, the museum would receive half the funding from Congress and was responsible for raising the remaining $270 million through private philanthropic support. In 2006, Lonnie G. Bunch III was named founding director of the new Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. A national board of leaders – the museum’s advisory Council – was engaged. After a few years of successful fundraising, the campaign needed acceleration as the timeline moved closer to the grand opening date.    

The Solution

CCS was engaged in 2013 to help the NMAAHC Council and development staff manage this landmark campaign. CCS’s primary role was to leverage the power of the Council in fundraising, secure the campaign’s highest-level gifts, and provide strategic fundraising advice to campaign leadership. CCS provided on-site guidance to Museum staff, managed the campaign timeline, and helped create gift proposals and solicitation collateral. This approach, working in partnership with the NMAAHC team, helped engage America’s leading companies, philanthropists, and organizations to generate the significant funds needed to complete the Museum’s construction. 

The Impact

The vision for the museum became a reality through the dedication and generosity of more than 137,000 donors at all levels and constituencies. These leaders and donors helped to ensure that, through the NMAAHC, a more complete and nuanced American story is told through the lens of African American history and culture. This landmark museum is intended to be a dynamic, living 21st century institution and will have an impact on millions of onsite and online visitors of all ages annually. 

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