From employee to donor: Why Sally McGuffey supports Conner Prairie

Sally McGuffey standing next to the Prairietown entrance sign

Unlike many donors, Sally McGuffey’s journey to becoming a Conner Prairie donor didn’t start with a school field trip—in fact, it began when she accepted a position on the fundraising team. Sally recalls her interview and first tour of the grounds:

 “It was a grey day early in 2018, and we stopped for a moment in front of the Conner House. The natural beauty of the landscape immediately brought a feeling of calm, even serenity. They say that being in nature lowers your blood pressure. On that day, I became a believer.

In the years she worked at Conner Prairie, Sally developed a deep appreciation for the museum, learning something new every day. “Conner Prairie opens people up to learning because the organization and the staff can meet people where they are: answering their questions, engaging them, and giving them hands-on experiences. This is the essence of ‘teaching in a way books cannot,’ as founder Eli Lilly and Conner Prairie staff like to say.”

Sally shares that Conner Prairie even made her aware of the history that had been missed in her own education, such as details around the events around the Civil War, African American history, women’s suffrage, and our country’s relationships with Native Americans.

“At Conner Prairie, these sometimes-difficult topics are dealt with not as a public relations strategy,” Sally shares, “but explored factually with genuine openness, curiosity, and good discussion. The training I received from Conner Prairie in DEAI (Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion) was extremely beneficial and is something I continue to draw upon.”

Museums like Conner Prairie are ranked among the most trustworthy institutions in the U.S. according to the general public. (Read more about this in our 2022 Annual Report.)  Hearing Sally speak about her support of Conner Prairie sheds light on the importance of this trust:  

“I firmly believe that history is not something we agree or disagree with, but something we learn from. And that comes down to the most basic reason I support Conner Prairie: hope. I believe that the better we understand the history that shapes us as people, as a community, and as a nation, the better we can navigate the challenges of the present day and create a better future. And so, with hope for the future, I happily give to Conner Prairie.”

Sally retired from Conner Prairie in 2023 and her philanthropic support of the museum continues in her Conner Society membership and gifts to the Prairie Pathways Campaign.

Learn more about how you too can support Conner Prairie’s mission through our Mission Impact Fund, which makes possible the many activities, exhibits, and educational experiences that take place at Conner Prairie.