How our endowment works

Robert Friedman

April 19, 2018

When you endow your content on, it’s like paying your monthly bill for cloud storage like Dropbox for life, and beyond. Let’s say you pay the industry standard of $10/month for 1TB of data storage on some other cloud storage system, that’s about $0.01 per month, per GB. If you were to put something like $10 per GB into an investment with a reliable return each year (like a mutual fund), you’d earn what you’d need to pay that monthly bill.

But who would manage that money for you?

Who would make sure the bill gets paid?

Who’d make sure you didn’t lose everything if that cloud storage system went out of business?

We will, that’s how we work.

We invest your fee into a special, tax-free earnings investment – an endowment, only available to non-profits – to cover the projected storage costs and keep your content accessible, safe, secure and backed up in multiple places. We make certain that your data will always be converted into readable formats. We make sure future generations will be able to see and enjoy your valuable digital media.

It’s like putting the power of the Smithsonian into your hands.

Consider if you donated a collection of precious art, like a painting or a statue to a museum. An entire system needs to be put in place that will ensure your collection is now properly cared for. There must be curators to carefully clean the paintings, climate control to ensure they don’t decay, security to make sure they aren’t stolen or vandalized. There is a whole staff that is devoted to taking care of your collection. In the traditional world, this is possible because the museum has built an endowment, funded by donors and patrons, that will allow for the perpetual care of the contents placed in their trust.

We are the museum for everyone’s digital collection; we put the power of the Smithsonian in your hands.