Chelsea Gell ’18 graduated from Wellesley only four months ago, but she has already found her place in the world of outreach and development, which is essentially fundraising.
“Development is an industry word for fundraising … Essentially you are thinking about more than just getting money from people but developing prospects into donors, and donors into continuous donors. That means [a development] team doesn’t just send out mail asking for money, but make[s] personal connections with donors and potential donors, as well as enhance[s] their personal connection to the school,” she said.
Her interest in the field started when she was education intern at the Davis Museum while she was a student.
“I loved the events side of things, and I loved engaging with people and connecting them to the museum,” Gell explained.
Her work at the Davis Museum sparked an interest in museum work, so she interned at the Peabody Essex Museum as the development events intern the following summer. After this experience, she knew that development was the place for her.
“I absolutely loved the development work; connecting people with the museums, and in doing so allowing the museum to stay open and further its mission,” she said.
While she was actively looking for jobs at museums, Gell also looked for jobs in higher education development because she is grateful for “all the incredible opportunities I have had at Wellesley because of generous donors: art history field trips, financial aid, free programming in dorms and across campus, and using the Career Education Center, to name a few.”
Gell now serves as the development and annual giving coordinator at Notre Dame of Maryland University (NDMU) in Baltimore. In this position, she works with unrestricted giving, gifts to an institution where its use is not specified, with alumni, parents, students and friends of the university. Gell’s favorite part about her current job is being able to see the direct impact of her fundraising efforts.
“So much of unrestricted giving in higher education goes to financial aid. At NDMU, 96 percent of students get financial aid, so you can really see the importance of working with donors,” she said.
The biggest challenge Gell faces is keeping donors actively giving as time goes on, but she loves her job nonetheless. She credits Wellesley as helping her get to where she is today. From analyzing data, conducting research and synthesizing it, to adapting to situations and tackling challenges, she feels that her time at Wellesley has prepared her for life outside of college.
“I know that whatever comes my way, however unprepared I may think I am, I can tackle it and come out stronger for it,” she stated.
While at Wellesley, Gell worked at the Office of Admissions, was involved with Model United Nations, served on the Davis Museum Student Advisory Committee and was involved in Residential Life all four years, serving on the Bates House Council, as a Bates Residential Assistant (RA) and Bates House President. Her favorite parts of Wellesley were living in Bates and planning Davis After Dark through her work at the museum.
While working at the Office of Admissions, Gell was constantly reminded why she chose to attend Wellesley and how she knew Wellesley was the place for her. Her advice for Wellesley students is to take advantage, savor and be grateful for being here since it is “an incredibly special place.”
“Never stop thinking critically but never forget what brought you here,” she said.