Revitalizing Your Donor Relations Program

Revitalizing Your Donor Relations Program

Check back soon for more dates or sign up for our newsletter to stay in the know.

Improve the effectiveness of your stewardship efforts.


Develop a comprehensive donor relations strategy for each of your donor segments to improve the effectiveness of your recognition, engagement, and cultivation efforts. This conference will allow you to explore the four pillars of a sound donor relations strategy and help you:

  • Assess strengths and weaknesses of your current program
  • Combat challenges faced when writing to donors
  • Leverage data and reports to inform stewardship activities
  • Develop a plan that is scaled to your institution

This program is facilitated by donor relations experts Angela Joens (University of California Davis), Sarah Sims (University of Florida), and Lynne Wester (Donor Relations Guru).

This event is designed for those who need to breathe new life into their donor relations programs. Come learn from our expert instructors and walk away with actionable items that can be implemented immediately.

One of AI’s Best Rated Events

“This conference provided a great balance of big picture strategy and actionable details I can take back for immediate impact.”

“Thank you, faculty! Wow! The knowledge and expertise shared and openly given is so amazing. Academic Impressions conferences are where growth and impact occur.”

“Being new in the field of Fundraising, Donor Relations, and Stewardship, I have really learned industry best practices to remain ahead of the trend.”

“This is the best conference I've been to in my years in Donor Relations. I appreciate the smaller attendee size and the more in-depth discussions. It's nice not to have to choose between two sessions because they occur at the same time. I feel fully equipped to tackle my stewardship challenges head-on. Couldn't recommend a better conference.”


Who Should Attend

Advancement professionals and teams looking to build or revamp their donor relations program cannot miss this conference. Our expert instructors will provide useful advice and industry insight, whether you are new to the field or have worked in advancement for several years. Sending a team? Check the registration row below to see details on team discounts!


Limited Attendance

In order to ensure a high-quality learning experience, we have intentionally designed this Virtual Training to have a limited number of total attendees. To ensure access from both paying participants and also from those who have an All-Inclusive membership, when the membership cap is reached, only paying participants can register after that point (while spaces are still available). If you have questions about whether this program is right for you, please contact us.


As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds nationally, it is so important to keep connecting and networking with your peers - at a “social distance” - and to keep learning and developing as higher-ed leaders and professionals. Don’t let social distancing and quarantines prevent you from setting aside time for professional development. Everything is changing so fast; more than ever, we need to be pooling our resources and knowledge and finding the best ways to develop our capacity, connect and share with each other, and move forward during a challenging time.

The Academic Impressions Virtual Conference Experience

Our virtual conferences go far beyond just replicating PowerPoint presentations online: these new programs are intentionally designed to give you the kind of robust and dynamic learning experience you’ve come to expect from Academic Impressions. As higher education strives to adapt rapidly to the shifting crisis, connecting with your peers who are experiencing similar challenges can be the best use of your professional development time.

What you will get:

  • A dynamic, interactive, and high-touch virtual learning experience designed to engage and set you up for growth
  • Seamless online face-time, networking, group work, and Q&A opportunities from the comfort of your own workspace
  • Practical takeaways and hands-on knowledge
  • Unlimited access to all recorded online sessions
  • Access to an online conference hub — one-stop shop for presentation materials, attendee introductions, worksheets, supplemental reading, videos, and other resources

See What Our Attendees are Saying

"At first, I was skeptical that a virtual conference was capable of being both engaging and informational - but Academic Impressions has mastered it! The 3-day online event was structured in a creative way that all participants had multiple opportunities to interact with each other and the presenters. No one's questions went unheard or unanswered. Thank you for this great experience, it has changed my view of virtual conferences and I look forward to attending more in the future."

- Desiree Ford, Digital Communications Manager, Binghamton University

“The virtual conference has been amazing. The presenters have all been great and the information they’ve provided is going to help us better use our social media. Even though this conference had to be virtualized due to COVID-19, the online format has been set up in a way that we can all collaborate and share ideas. I’m very eager to take what I’ve learned back to campus and start implementing new ideas.”

- Chris Forde, Coordinator of Marketing & Public Information, Lincoln Trail College


Day 1 | All Times Eastern


Technology Check
12:00- 12:15 p.m. 



Opening Comments and Introductions

12:15 – 12:45 p.m.



The Four Pillars of Donor Relations

12:45 –1:30 p.m.
This opening lecture will outline the critical components of a sound donor relations program: stewardship and impact reporting, acknowledgements, donor recognition, and events and engagement.



Assessing Your Donor Relations Operations
1:30 - 2:30 p.m.
This working session will allow you to explore and document the strengths and weaknesses of your existing stewardship strategy. Considering your relationships with your entire advancement shop and the four pillars of a sound donor relations program, you will work through an audit of your current donor relations practices to assess what you are doing well and identify where you can improve and implement change.

Resources include:

  • Donor Relations Program Audit
  • Endowed Funds Audit Glossary



2:30 – 2:45 p.m.



Breakout Discussions
2:45 – 3:15 p.m.

You will select one of these topics to discuss with colleagues and a conference expert:

  • Acknowledgements
  • Ideas for Top Donor Stewardship
  • Managing Across your Division Donor Relations



Questions and Wrap – Up
3:15 – 3:45 p.m.



Day 2


Day 2 Welcome
12:00 – 12:15 p.m.



Gift Agreement and Fund Management Best Practices
12:15 - 1:45 p.m.
This session will focus on the basic, but often overlooked, tenets of stewardship – crafting solid gift agreements, ensuring donor intent is honored, and ensuring maximum fund utilization. Our faculty will explore how we tackle this complex issue internally within your organization through identifying key partners and data needs as well as the role Donor Relations professionals play in this arena. This key topic must be addressed before future asks, compelling reporting, and targeted engagement can take place.



1:45 – 2:00 p.m.



Inclusive Donor Relations
2:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Inclusivity within donor retention and engagement is critical. We will talk through how to reimagine your giving and recognition societies, especially when working with donors who may no longer have alignment with the university, and approach donor relations work from a place of inclusivity.



Questions and Wrap Up
3:00– 3:30 p.m.



Day 3


Day 3 Welcome
12:00- 12:15 p.m.



Impact Reporting and Stewardship
12:15 - 1:45 p.m.
Reporting on scholarships and other endowed funds is an essential function to do well. Developing creative reports that deliver information to donors beyond that traditional means is where we want to head. This session will walk you through the latest and greatest reporting tactics that involve campus partners and better engage donors.



1:45 - 2:00 p.m.



Virtual Engagement
2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
While events have moved to the virtual environment, you must understand each event's purpose and develop a strategy to execute that purpose. We will talk through how these events fit into your shop’s overall goals. We will introduce a framework that you will able to apply to each of your events to ensure they are leading you down a productive path.



Keys to Success and Planning for Multiple Scenarios
3:00 - 3:45 p.m.

You are now armed with an audit of your current shop and many good ideas to implement, but now what? Whether it is building better relationships across campus (e.g., marketing, financial aid, faculty, etc.), developing buy-in, or managing up within your organization, this session will help you put together everything you have learned and develop an implementation plan for when you head back office – armed and ready for exciting growth and change!



Final Faculty Q&A, Conference Wrap-Up, and Evaluation
3:45 - 4:00 p.m.



Angie Joens

Angie Joens

Assistant Vice Chancellor of Development Outreach, University of California Davis

Angela has extensive management, development, and stewardship experience. In her current role, she supervises annual giving, donor relations, research and prospect management, proposal services, marketing and communications, and development recruitment.

Read Angie's full bio here.

Sarah Sims

Sarah Sims

Executive Director of Donor Relations, University of Florida

Sarah has been responsible for building new and innovative donor relations programs from the ground up at three different higher education institutions and now heads the donor relations team at the University of Florida as they embark on the University’s first $3B capital campaign.

Read Sarah's full bio here.


Lynne Wester

Donor Relations Guru

Using her hands-on approach, Lynne works with many organizations to help them keep their focus donor driven, technology savvy, strategic, and always with a splash of good humor. She received her undergraduate degrees from the University of South Carolina and is a loyal gamecock alumna, donor, and fan. She holds a master's in strategic fundraising and philanthropy with an emphasis in higher education.

Read Lynne's full bio here.

Questions About the Event?

Portrait of Brittany Iwaszkiw

Britt Iwaszkiw
Program Manager, Academic Impressions

*There are limited spots available for All-Inclusive Members to register for Virtual Conferences for free in 2020. Each virtual conference has a registration cap in order to ensure a high-quality learning experience, personalized attention, networking and interactivity. If the cap has been met, All-Inclusive Members can register with a $250 discount if space is available.

Please note the member discount is not applicable on conference binders or success coaching.