My supervisor Jo Beggs and I in Manchester Museum

As part of my MA Arts Management, Policy and Practice, I have luckily been offered the chance to work as a development assistant for the Manchester Museums Partnership, which consists of four different venues including Manchester Museum, Manchester Art Gallery, the Whitworth Art Gallery, and the Gallery of Costume. I actually spent my 20-day placement across these four venues according to the schedule of my supervisor. I would like to share my experience of working in one of the venues, Manchester Museum in this blog post.

Being part of the University of Manchester, Manchester Museum is the largest university museum in the United Kingdom, owing a rich collection of anthropology, archaeology and natural history. It is not only a popular tourist attraction in Manchester, but also an important place for academic research and student teaching. After undergoing a major redevelopment, Manchester Museum reopened to the public in 2003. To keep its capability of presenting good quality exhibitions and achieving its mission, Manchester Museum receives funding from various supporters, including the University of Manchester, public subsidy, trusts and foundations, corporate supports and individual giving.

The main part of my work is fundraising, most of which is corporate sponsorship. I participated in the early preparation stages of a sponsorship application, including potential sponsor research and proposal writing. With help from Jo for a specific company’s proposal, I learned the key concept of corporate support, that is, reciprocity. To be specific, it means that the fundraiser’s research must focus on trying to fit the organisation into the corporate donor strategy, and in the mean time, the right corporate support should match with the image of the organisation. These words that used to lie in my textbook become more persuasive in practice. I found research for the information of the potential sponsors the most difficult part of my work and I have met the challenge of not being able to find the information I need, which I managed to overcome with a different searching method of narrowing down the target and trying different source.

From my professional practice, I now know clearly the four steps of sponsorship application, which are research, proposal writing, contract signing and cooperation relationship maintaining. Even though I did not get to be involved in the last two steps of a holistic application, I gradually built my understanding of the work for the museum development team, which is challenging and essential for the operation of the museum.

All the staff of the Museum have been very supportive to me during my placement. I really look forward to applying the skills I learned from this experience in my future work.