Connected \\ December 20, 2018

Spirit of giving

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.

— Edmund Burke

A donor recently sent me this quote, remarking that it was good inspiration for fundraisers, especially at this time of year. And of course, as a professional fundraiser — in the midst of appealing to donors asking for support at year’s end — I think this quote just about sums up how we all feel here at PEM right now.

Delving a bit deeper into this sentiment, I want to take a moment to talk about the impact of giving. Philanthropy in the United States matters. According to research, individual Americans gave $286.65 billion to charity in 2017.  Donations from individual Americans represented 70% of overall charitable contributions, more than bequests and more than corporate donations. Giving to Arts and Culture organizations, like PEM, increased 8.7% — meaning more and more Americans valued the role the arts plays in their lives and made the decision to give back. It all adds up. Giving a little can result in a whole lot.

And what does giving mean at PEM? Here at PEM, we share a big story. From the light of the soaring Atrium to the figureheads in East India Marine Hall, our vision extends beyond the confines of the museum building into the community and the wider world. Our collection stretches across time and the globe and our exhibitions delve deep to explore new ideas.

Yoan Capote, Immanence. © 2017 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Ken Sawyer/PEM


Daisy Yiyou Wang, co-curator of Empresses of China’s Forbidden City, at the Palace Museum last fall. Photo by Bob Packert/PEM.

We pride ourselves on our mission of transforming lives through art and seek to bring the local global, and the global local. What impact does $5 or $10 or $50,000 have on this mission to inspire? Go HERE to see impact in action.


Guest artist Maria Molteni shoots a jump shot on the finished court, a celebration of color, creativity and the rewards of collaboration. Photo by Bob Packert/PEM.

When you give to PEM, you have many choices as to how...and all are deeply meaningful. Last year, a woman who had been a Salem resident her whole life decided to creatively give to PEM. She remembered visiting the Essex Institute as a young child and then enjoyed a PEM membership for decades. When it came time to sell her car, she donated the proceeds to our Annual Fund. This story may seem familiar because it was featured in an issue of Connections, our member magazine, detailing how this person gave because she associated PEM with a lifetime of joy.

Little Voices, Big Ideas Event at PEM. © 2018 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Mel Taing/PEM


© 2018 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Bob Packert/PEM

Many of our supporters take pride in PEM’s rich history, rooted in our creative local community, while reaching around the globe. In multiple ways, we take the opportunity to tell our unique story of exploration and connection from Salem to the greater world and back again. Through a robust changing exhibition program, supported by the Annual Fund, our membership and our East India Marine Associates, PEM is able to complement its permanent collection with an ambitious global changing exhibitions program, seen by more than 270,000 visitors to PEM each year. Fun fact: PEM-organized shows have reached upwards of 750,000 people worldwide.

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Photo by Bob Packert/PEM.

A gift to the Annual Fund supports everything that PEM does. This generosity can cover art supplies for visiting school children or even purchase paint for the walls of new gallery exhibitions. Gifts to the Annual Fund help keep our doors open and gifts can be made in any amount! Pooled with other gifts, Annual Fund donations can have a big impact.

Another form of giving is membership. When you become a member or give a gift of membership, it comes with free admission and discounts in the shop and cafe, but it also helps PEM welcome the many communities for whom admission fees are waived, which includes veterans, students and Salem residents. (Some Salem residents even choose to buy a membership JUST to show their support!)

At PEM, hundreds of people strive every day to offer enriching experiences in an environment where creativity, inspiration and innovation are encouraged, and we seek to ensure that we can offer this experience to all. 

As 2018 comes to a close, please know that every little bit counts!

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