Donor Relations/Customer Service: Oakland University - Bronze Medal

Category 3C: Advancement Services Programs – Donor Relations/Customer Service
Oakland University – “The One Stop Endowment Shop”

Contact: Robert Saunders, director, development information services, John Dodge House, Rochester, MI 48309, Phone: (248) 364-6120, e-mail:

Total number of professional and support staff who worked on the program: Two professional staff from DIS, the stewardship manager and the director of development information services, developed this program to create a unified data collection and reporting tool for endowment or restricted/named funds not only for the division of university relations but also for any division with a business need for the information.

Program description and its impact on the institution and the overall advancement efforts: The program is a central data collection and easy reporting tool which houses and reports on all information associated with any endowment or restricted/named fund, including both scholarship and non-scholarship funds. The reporting tool was created to be “user-friendly” for the end-user who may not know much about creating reports or about relational databases. Over the years, different pieces of information on endowments and named funds have been scattered throughout different data collection systems in different divisions of the university, from shadow electronic systems to hard copies stored in file cabinets. This created constant nightmares when a report was needed for any given endowment or named fund. The entire university has adopted “lean” principles within which to work and DIS has adopted these principles into its mission statement (“providing the proper reporting, training and technology needed to allow Oakland University to accomplish its fundraising goals”). This program follows the university’s “lean” principles helping to create and maintain a culture of being streamlined and efficient.

Oakland is positioned to achieve distinction in what we can offer our students, community and co-workers. At a time of shrinking state support for higher education, the fulfillment of our vision depends on the partnerships we form in this decade with the individuals, corporations, foundations and other university departments which embrace our vision. To that end, every contribution, every redesigned process that maximizes efficiency and promotes cross-divisional collaboration – large or small – makes a difference at Oakland.

This program focused on all data elements related to endowments listed below:

  • Designation / Fund Number – linked to general ledger fund number
  • Full Name of Endowment/Named Fund
  • Abbreviated Name of Endowment/Named Fund
  • Division / school / college to which the fund reports
  • Department to which the fund reports
  • Summary of the fund description – to feed into the undergraduate catalog and scholarship Web site
  • Spending/selection criteria for the fund
  • Purpose for the fund
  • Miscellaneous notes about the fund for internal use
  • Establishing donor(s) of the fund – linked in fundraising system
  • Establishing donor quotes – to feed into scholarship website
  • Annual Endowment Report recipients of the fund – name, address and other biographical data linked in fundraising system
  • Annual Endowment Report “carbon copy” recipients – name, address and other biographical data linked in fundraising system
  • Endowment annual report data for the fund by fiscal year – beginning balance, gift revenue, investment revenue, distributions, ending balance (linked to general ledger module)
  • Spending fund data for the endowment fund by fiscal year – beginning balance, revenue, expenses, ending balance (linked to general ledger module)
  • Current value of endowment fund at time of report (linked to general ledger module)
  • Current available amount of the spending fund at time of report (linked to general ledger module)

This program and the reports generated will benefit a number of very important customers and areas within the university as noted below:

  • Stewardship Office – for use in efficient production of regular endowment reports to establishing donors and other endowment contacts and for fund spending accountability
  • Finance Department – for use in fund spending accountability, making sure funds are spent as donors require, both in timeliness and amount
  • Financial Aid Department – for use in verifying the spending criteria established by the donor is being followed and for use in the undergraduate catalog
  • Communications and Marketing Department – for use in scholarship and stewardship web pages
  • Development Officers – for informational purposes as development officers solicit and steward the establishing donors
  • Donors – for receiving more timely endowment reports and a greater assurance that the fund they established in being spent timely and based on agreed upon spending criteria.
  • Students – for receiving more awards as this program will enhance endowment spending accountability

Program goals and objectives: The goals and objectives of “The One Stop Endowment Shop” are to decrease the time necessary to obtain information on endowments and named funds along with housing the data centrally in order for the entire university to take advantage of this data for business purposes. It was created based on the “lean” principles as mentioned earlier, freeing up time for other responsibilities and providing data in a more streamlined fashion. The data is collected and also electronically linked to other modules of the university-wide database to retrieve not only advancement data but data from the general ledger such as fund balance, revenues and expenses by fiscal year and scholarship awardee data from financial aid. The data collected is then used to populate the undergraduate catalog with summaries of the purpose and criteria of available scholarships and also to populate the university’s scholarship website with the same including past awardees and also donor quotes such as to why the donor established the fund.

Target audience: The target audiences are the unit development officers, stewardship office, financial aid office, communications and marketing, general counsel office, unit business managers, deans and other campus staff members that have a business need for the information. The donor is a target also because this data will be used in a new “Donor Relations” Web site currently under construction.

Program budget: There were no additional expenses added to our department’s budget to create “The One Stop Endowment Shop”.

Documented results: The reports and data tables created in “The One Stop Endowment Shop” have already been used by development officers as they meet with donors. The annual endowment reports sent to donors and other fund contacts were generated much more efficiently and timelier than in prior years. Communications and marketing and the stewardship office have been meeting in order to revise the university’s scholarship Web pages creating a standardized look and the data from this program will electronically populate different fields on the web pages. The financial aid office will also use the data to electronically populate fields for the production of the undergraduate catalog. The development officers have also used the reports to show unit business managers and deans the spending history of the funds for accountability purposes.

Vision and Mission of the Development Information Services Department:
Vision Statement: Development information services (DIS) will be the most reliable source of accurate fundraising information for our constituents (donors, faculty, and staff). Our value adding role will be as the “back office” area of Oakland’s fundraising efforts and effectively addressing issues such as the development of computer systems, compliance with tax, legal, accounting regulations, and policies and procedures.

Mission Statement: Our mission is to support the objectives of Oakland University fundraising efforts. This role is three-fold consisting of:

  • Processing all charitable contributions and pledges to Oakland University and Oakland University Foundation in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Maintaining accurate constituent data in coordination with other areas of University Relations.
  • Providing the proper reporting, training and technology needed to allow Oakland University to accomplish its fundraising goals.

Using “lean” principles and developing and maintaining a “lean” culture will be a high priority. Just as important is understanding the needs of our donors, faculty, and staff and knowing that they are met, while maintaining a high level of confidentiality and security.


Main Menu for “User-Friendly” MSAccess Fundraising Reports



Choice Menu for Report(s)



Resulting Endowment Report(s)