Revitalizing Your Donor Relations Program

Revitalizing Your Donor Relations Program

November 13 - 15, 2017
Orlando, FL



Learn how to revitalize your donor relations strategy to improve the effectiveness of your institution’s stewardship efforts.

Develop a comprehensive donor relations strategy for every segment of your donors to improve the effectiveness of your 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 strategy
  • 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).


One of Our Best Rated Events

This program remains one of Academic Impressions’ highest rated events. Here’s what 2016’s attendees had to say:

“An excellent overview of best practices in donor relations”
“Provided me tools and strategies I can apply immediately”
“I liked the smaller group size—the instructors were accessible”
“Actual, actionable steps to implement to make my program better”
“The energy, content, and presenters were top notch”
“So much incredible content—breadth & depth”
“I have a strong direction to get things going”

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.


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, whether you are new to the field or have worked in advancement for several years. When you register two attendees, a third registration is 50% off!


Full-Day Pre-Conference Workshop: The Foundations of Donor Relations

If you are new to donor relations, we strongly encourage you to attend this full-day workshop. You will learn the foundations for a successful donor relations program and examine the four key pillars of donor relations:

  • Stewardship and impact reporting
  • Acknowledgements
  • Donor recognition
  • Events and engagement

You will leave this pre-conference workshop equipped with best practices to leverage in your everyday work.


Monday, November 13, 2017
Pre-Conference Workshop: The Foundations of Donor Relations (breakfast and lunch included in registration fee)
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

The donor relations field has grown and evolved tremendously over the last five years. If you are new to the field, this one-day pre-conference workshop will provide you with the foundations of a sound donor relations program. Highlighting the four key pillars of donor relations, there will be sessions covering:

  • Stewardship and Impact Reporting
  • Acknowledgements
  • Donor Recognition
  • Events and Engagement

You will leave this pre-conference workshop equipped with best practices to leverage in your everyday work and the foundational knowledge to get the most out of the following two days.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Conference Registration and Continental Breakfast (included in registration fee)
8:00 - 8:30 a.m.



Opening Comments and Introductions
8:30 - 8:45 a.m.



The Four Pillars of Donor Relations
8:45 - 9:15 a.m.
Recapping the pre-conference workshop, 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
9:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

This working session will allow you to work through 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 evaluate the strengths through an audit of your current donor relations practices to assess what you are doing well and identify where you can improve. Resources:

  • Donor Relations Program Audit
  • Donor Relations Fund Audit



Lunch (included in registration fee)
12:00 - 1:00 p.m.



Writing for Donor Relations
1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

In a combination of lecture and working time, this session will give you examples of successful strategies to combat the common challenges that donor relations professionals face when writing to donors, such as:

  • Writing in someone else’s voice (president, vice president, etc.)
  • Multiple acknowledgment letters to the same donor from different people
  • Working with institutions’ communications groups



Elevating Your Reporting
2:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Executed properly, a comprehensive impact reporting strategy can increase donor retention, grow giving, and inspire future philanthropy. However, developing creative reports that deliver information out to donors beyond that traditional means is where we should be headed. This session will walk you through the latest and greatest reporting tactics that involve campus partners and better engage donors.



Afternoon Break
3:00 - 3:15 p.m.



Responding to the Unexpected
3:15 - 4:30 p.m.
Using donor case studies, our expert faculty will outline ethical dilemmas you may face when working with your donors. You will work in teams to develop response strategies that serve both your donors’ and institution’s interests.



Networking Reception (included in registration fee)
4:30 - 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Continental Breakfast Roundtable Discussions (included in registration fee)
8:30 - 9:00 a.m.



Donor Relations for Top Donors
9:00 - 11:00 a.m.

This morning will focus exclusively on donor relations strategy for your institution’s top donors. These donors represent less than 10% of your supporters, but contribute to more than 90% of your gifts. Our expert facilitators will share a framework for:

  • Engaging top donors through events
  • Communicating with these top donors
  • Developing an ongoing engagement strategy
  • Creating customized engagement plans



Donor Relations for Annual Giving
11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Building on the previous day's content, our expert faculty will outline a donor relations strategy for annual giving donors. You will learn why this group of donors can no longer be ignored and how to partner with your annual giving counterparts to ensure they are appropriately recognized. Specifically, strategies will cover appropriate recognition and engagement through events and targeted communications.



Lunch (included in registration fee)
12:15 - 1:15 p.m.



Leveraging Technology for the Four Pillars
1:15 - 2:30 p.m.
Now that you know how to develop your efforts across your donor populations, this session will guide you through using the technology and systems at your disposal to better systematize and complete your stewardship and donor relations plans.



Afternoon Break
2:30 - 2:45 p.m.



Application and Faculty Consultation
2:45 - 3:30 p.m.
Attendees will outline the donor relations strategies they will prioritize upon returning to campus. There will also be an opportunity for one-on-one faculty consultation during this time.



Final Faculty Q&A, Conference Wrap-Up, and Evaluation
3:30 - 4:00 p.m.


November 13 - 15, 2017

Orlando, FL

Conference Hotel:

Hyatt Regency Orlando
9801 International Drive
Orlando, FL 32819

Room Rate: $189 + tax
A room block has been reserved for the nights of November 12, 13, and 14, 2017. Make your reservations prior to October 19, 2017.

Please book early - rooms are limited and subject to availability.

Reserve Your Room: Click below or call 407-284-1234. Please indicate that you are with the Academic Impressions group to receive the group rate.


Angie Joens

Angela 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.

Prior to UC Davis, Joens was Vice President of Development Operations for the Mercy Medical Center Foundation. She also served as the Senior Director of Donor Relations for the Iowa State University Foundation and worked for RuffaloCODY, a for-profit company that assists the non-profits with fundraising. Her career began as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

Joens is also a non-profit consultant, an executive coach, and speaks nationally on topics related to stewardship, development and leadership. She has been featured in CASE Currents Magazine and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Joens earned her BA from the University of Iowa, her MPA from Iowa State University, and her Professional Life and Work Coach Certificate from UC Davis.

Sarah Sims

Sarah E. Sims, CFRE

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.

With more than ten years of experience in donor relations and frontline fundraising in a variety of higher education and non-profit settings, Sarah focuses on building strategic donor relationships while forwarding the mission of the organization. Her specialty areas include top donor strategy, program development, fund stewardship and major gift development.

Sarah is a non-profit consultant and active industry volunteer with positions held on the CASE IV Board of Directors and with the Association of Donor Relations Professionals. Sarah earned her Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) in 2013 and is a frequent presenter for CASE, ADRP, DRG, and Academic Impressions.

Lynne Wester

Lynne Wester

Donor Relations Guru

Lynne is a frequent conference speaker and a well-known resource for donor relations and fundraising. She has been featured in The Washington PostCURRENTS magazine, The Chronicle of Philanthropy and other industry publications. Lynne also created the website and blog where she shares her expertise, opinions, and collections of samples on a variety of topics to the greater development world and hosts a monthly webinar series.

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, and holds a master's in strategic fundraising and philanthropy with an emphasis in higher education.

Pre-Conference Workshop Only

$995 through Oct 27$1,095.00

Learn the foundations for a successful donor relations program and examine the key pillars of donor relations.

Main Conference Only

$1,395 through Oct 27$1,495.00

Learn to revitalize your donor relations strategy to improve the effectiveness of your institution’s stewardship efforts.

Can't Attend? Buy the
Conference Binder

Purchase the conference binder, which includes all presentation slides, worksheets, action plans, and additional resources.

Note: Conference attendees do not need to purchase materials separately.

Questions About the Event?

Gwen Doyle Herbert
Program Manager, Academic Impressions

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