Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Donor Relations "Super Session"

First of all, I want to begin with a conference update. I will be speaking at the AFP International Conference in Chicago, March 20-22, I hope to see some of you there!

Now, lets talk about one of the most meaningful sessions I have been a part of for a long time. I was fortunate enough to sit on a panel of wonderful colleagues and mentors at CASE District 2 in Baltimore. We led a “super session” on donor relations, almost three hours of thought leadership, burning questions, and hot topics. I was joined by Helen Adams-Keane, Vice President, Institutional Advancement, Albany Law School,Robbee Kosak, Vice President of University Advancement, Carnegie Mellon University and William McGoldrick, Pincipal, Washburn and McGoldrick. Talk about being surrounded by super-stars, this was it. I was inspired to see two vice presidents and an industry leading consultant so adamant about the importance of stewardship and donor relations and its integral role to the success of a fundraising program. I also learned about what a “catom” was and how it was a wonderful example of stewardship at Carnegie Mellon. Some of the topics we covered included mid level stewardship, stewardship of annual fund donors, how to distinguish yourself and your program from others and many more. As I sat in front of a room filled with professionals varying from vice presidents to stewardship practitioners I was filled with pride at the fervor and attention in the room. These people clearly “get it” and value the role of stewardship and donor relations in their organizations. As I went through the conference and spoke three more times, I was delighted to see these faces again and again, it was a wonderful conference for stewardship and donor relations, seeing multiple sessions on the topic, watching other practitioners showcase their programs to packed rooms, I began to wonder for us as a profession what lies ahead. It is undeniable that during the rough economy of late, those with strong stewardship and donor relations have been much more successful in fundraising. This then leads me to the next step, how do we get more VPs and industry leaders to stand at the front of the room, to attend our sessions, and to take a stand on the importance of stewardship and donor relations to their programs? I may not have that answer yet, but I believe we are way ahead of where we were even five years ago, and we may have a failing economy to thank for that. Coming soon, a guest blog on creating a culture of philanthropy within your organization…


  1. Robbee told the Catom story? That is fabulous. Noelle will be pleased to know. Did she also share that firm to whom we entrusted its keeping and mounting made the mistake of placing the prototype (one of 5 in the world) into a pressurized capsule and when they opened it, it shattered. Talk about making a grown man cry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJEMfAg5l2w

  2. I am a new stewardship coordinator at a small University with a deep tradition and alumni following. Are there any upcoming confernces you might reccommend I attend? Is there a good site to find these throughout the year? Many thanks!