Getting a Seat at the Table: Using Donor Relations to Drive Principal Gift Cultivation

Sunday, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

THE DONOR SAID YES! The gift officer is happy, and the big gift is coming. That’s usually when donor relations is brought in, but that’s way too late for effective stewardship to begin. When the cultivation plan has strategic donor relations elements woven in from the start, the donor can sense your gratitude and an authentic relationship builds more easily. And at St. Thomas, we have found that the donor says yes more often when we follow this approach.

Certainly, donor relations personnel always want to deliver high-quality and relevant stewardship to our institution’s most influential donors, but many times we lack necessary context to provide transformational stewardship. In order to do that, we need a seat at the “round table” – where cultivation strategies are formed. This presentation strives to show how the best donor relations operations mirror fundraising objectives, leverage technology and – using a strong team-approach – provide highly personal stewardship for our institution’s highest-potential donors.

Through the lens of both a donor relations professional and a seasoned fundraiser, this session will focus on ways to restructure a donor relations shop so it can support high-end, customized stewardship and help drive a cultivation strategy at the principal gift level. We’ll show examples for any budget and staff size that audience members can implement right away.


Carol Wilkie, Director of Donor Relations, University of St. Thomas

Joe Plante, Associate Vice President of Principal and Leadership Gifts, University of St. Thomas


Data-Driven Development Decision Making: A Business Intelligence Application

Monday, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Data is a powerful tool.  We hear that all the time.  But just how powerful can that data be for your organization?  What are the impacts of seeing data in a new way?  What can you accomplish and how can you grow?

In this session and using Business Intelligence, we will explore the enormous amounts of valuable data that can be produced by integrating the annual operating plans of front-line fundraisers into the donor database and how it can be applied to help make decisions for your front-line fundraisers, your managers and your leadership.  Decisions that can be vital to the strength and growth of your overall development effort.  Decisions like setting personal and unit goals; ideal portfolio size based on resources; the need for talent development; identification of staffing shortages; determining areas of the development effort that require more resources; and organizational structure and this is just the beginning.

For years we have used metrics to assess the performance of front-line fundraisers.  Now we are able to both metric performance and dig deeper into the data to start to identify trends that impact the entire development operation.

Join our panelists and learn about the results of integrating annual operating plans into the donor database, the creation of business intelligence reports to analyze the data and the impact it has had on a mid-size development program in a comprehensive campaign.


Christina Makal McCaffery, Director of Major & Planned Giving, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

Patrick Kessenich, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Major & Planned Giving, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Ike Pahm, Systems Manager, UWM Foundation, Inc., University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee


Gift Agreements from Donors’ and their Advisors’ Perspectives

Monday, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

A gift agreement is a formal document between a donor and a gift recipient.  The agreement sets out what the gift is, how it will be given and used, and how the gift purpose might be amended in the future. 

Problems for the donor or the charity can manifest themselves in any part of the agreement.  The failure to understand the basics of a gift agreement can risk loss of a gift and result in credibility issues between the charity and the donor.  A development officer needs to be familiar with each part of the gift agreement and the issues that a donor and their advisors might raise during their review in order to smoothly transact and obtain gifts for their institutions.

Participants in this session will dissect a gift agreement looking at vital parts such as gift restrictions and endowment management terms.  Working through a gift agreement, participants will learn how to address donors’ and their advisors’ concerns in order to meet donor wishes that can be administered by the charity for years to come.


Michael Degenhart, Assistant Vice President, Penn State University

David McGoron, Esq., Associate Director, Gift Planning Administration, Penn State University


Prospecting For All: Spotting and Sharing Hidden Opportunities

Tuesday, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

The donor pyramid is an enduring model of donor behavior that can also guide your effort to enhance your network and accelerate your career. Discover and drill down into relevant donor pyramid and prospect pipeline metrics. See how capacity and interest indicators are gathered – and too often, forgotten – by different departments within a fundraising team. Review why that data matters to fundraising executives, and discuss strategies for communicating these often hidden indicators to your organization's leadership. Leave ready to stand out as a facilitator of prospect identification and qualification regardless of role.


Bob Amico, Director of Advancement Services, Carthage College