Give - New Bedford Whaling Museum


You make the New Bedford Whaling Museum the unique community museum that it is. Thank you!


Give Today!



Emily Mead, Director of Philanthropy
(508) 997-0046 ext. 150

Every year, the New Bedford Whaling Museum relies on thousands of individual supporters like you to contribute 70% of our annual operating expenses. Your support makes it possible for the Museum to act as a touchstone to the region’s past, and a crossroads through which diverse communities intersect, conveying their rich cultures. 

The Museum is proud to report a four star rating from Charity Navigator for sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency. Charity Navigator is America’s premier independent charity evaluator.

Old Dartmouth Historical Society (New Bedford Whaling Museum) is a GuideStar Platinum Participant.

The Museum is proud to receive operating support from the Mass Cultural Council.


Museum Fund 

Every year, the NBWM community comes together to support our Museum Fund, which makes it possible for the Museum to keep its doors open throughout the year, and to be a source of pride and inspiration for the vibrant and diverse community we serve. 

The Museum continues to rely on our annual Museum Fund to remain nimble and strategic, and to ignite learning through explorations of art, history, science and culture rooted in the stories of people, the region and an international seaport. Your renewed support helps the Museum provide innovative and engaging exhibitions, programs and events – onsite and online – as well as our Apprenticeship and distance-learning programs for K-12 students and educators. Thank you for your support!


The Museum’s most generous supporters, those who give at the $1,000 level or above, are recognized with a Cupola Society Membership. In addition to enjoying top-tier membership benefits, Cupola Society Members enjoy social and intellectual engagement with each other and Museum staff as they learn and explore the Museum in depth. Members take pride in providing vital support for the Museum’s rich slate of exhibitions, public programs and events, as well as Apprenticeship and distance-learning programs for students and educators.


The Museum’s Bourne Building, with its iconic cupola visible from across New Bedford, was named for whaling magnate Jonathan Bourne, through a gift from his daughter, Emily. The Bourne Society honors donors who have followed in the Bourne’s philanthropic footsteps and named the New Bedford Whaling Museum in their wills or estates. Bourne Society Members sustain the Museum, ensuring it remains a ‘Forever Institution’.

What will your legacy be? 

There are many planned giving opportunities that combine your philanthropic interests with your financial needs and tax-planning strategies. Planned gifts help to build the Museum’s endowment and also have lifetime benefits for donors.

If you have already included the Museum in your estate plans, please let us know. While participation in the Bourne Society can be anonymous, your willingness to be recognized as a member of the Bourne Society inspires others to follow your example and help make the Museum ‘A Forever Institution’.


A bequest from either a will or living trust lets you provide a contribution to the Whaling Museum free of estate tax. You can give cash, specific property, or a percentage of your estate. Because your gift doesn’t come to the Museum until after your lifetime, you can leave a legacy without giving up assets today.

IRA Charitable Rollover Gift

If you are older than 70 ½ years, you can make charitable gifts directly from your individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Transfers of up to $100,000 per individual per year directly from a traditional or Roth IRA to qualified charities, including the Whaling Museum, are permitted. Consult with your legal and financial advisors to stay informed regarding the changing tax landscape and potential benefits of making charitable donations from an IRA.

Charitable Gift Annuity

A gift annuity is one of the most popular and simplest types of planned gifts. You donate assets that the Museum invests into its endowment. The Museum agrees to provide a fixed payment to you and/or a beneficiary for life. At the end of the agreement, the funds become available to support the Museum’s mission. A charitable deduction for a portion of the value of gift is available to the donor immediately. The income payments are also partially tax-free.

Charitable Remainder Unitrust and Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust

A Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT) and a Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust (CRAT) are arrangements where a donor places assets in a Trust that makes payments to the donor (and/or someone else chosen by the donor) at least annually. It can run for the lifetime of an individual, or for a specified number of years. After this lifetime, the assets go to the Museum. For a CRUT, the pay-out to the income beneficiary each year is a fixed percentage of the value of trust principal, revalued annually. A CRAT pays out a fixed dollar amount annually, which does not change.


By making a gift of appreciated stock, you can support to the Museum’s exhibitions and programs, while also avoiding capital gains on your stock’s appreciation, and earning an income tax deduction on the full market value of your stocks if you itemize deductions.

Museum staff members are available to support you in meeting your charitable giving objectives. Please consult with your legal and financial advisors to learn more about the tax benefits of donating stock.


The New Bedford Whaling Museum and the vibrant communities we serve are grateful to the passionate collectors and stewards of this region’s history that have passed on cherished art and artifacts to the Museum for preservation and exhibition. Our Curatorial and Development teams work closely with prospective donors to ensure that donated objects, as well as contributions to the Museum’s acquisition and conservation funds, complement the Museum’s collections and meet donors’ philanthropic objectives.


Endowment gifts offer donors a unique opportunity to leave a lasting legacy and sustain the Museum, ensuring it remains a ‘Forever Institution’. We house a number of Endowment Funds that provide critical annual support for general operations and key staff positions, as well as for acquisitions, education programs, scholarship and other areas vital to our work. Museum staff is available to support donors in meeting their charitable giving objectives.