Donor Relations/Customer Service: St. Edwards University - Bronze Medal

Category 3C: Advancement Services Programs – Donor Relations/Customer Service
St. Edward’s University, Activities Report

Contact: Cheri Hansen, director of advancement services, Office of University Advancement, 3001 S. Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78704, Phone: (512) 448-8512, e-mail:

Number of professionals and support staff who worked on the program:
Professional Staff: 16
Support Staff: 4

Concise description of program and impact on institution and overall advancement efforts

Program Description: An embodiment of university-wide collaboration, St. Edward’s Office of University Advancement’s Activity Reports contain meaningful financial and important anecdotal information that is gleaned from a variety of sources. The Activity Reports are an important stewardship tool that provides donors with a comprehensive understanding of how their financial support specifically and positively impacts the entire St. Edward’s University community.

While the Office of University Advancement coordinates and produces the Activity Reports, this project relies on extensive collaboration and cooperation from the St. Edward’s University community. Meetings, e-mails and phone conversations drive this process. Our Office of Marketing played an important role during the conception and design phase. The Office of Student Financial Services is a key partner, ensuring that all monies are awarded and that all scholarship recipients meet scholarship criteria. The business office provides the financial figures that we report out to donors, including corpus value, market value and spending allowances. Deans, librarians, professors and staff graciously provide written reports detailing the fiscal year activities of the funded programs and their impact on the university. And of course, student participation is critical. This year, we worked with nearly 300 students, collecting a questionnaire from each student, taking his/her picture and writing a student profile.

St. Edward’s University Institutional Goals

  • Give more students the opportunity for a St. Edward’s education
  • Achieve national recognition as one of America’s best small universities

St. Edward’s University Seven Strategic Priorities

  • Enrollment growth
  • Recruitment and retention of high-quality faculty and staff
  • Innovative curricular and co-curricular program development
  • Facility and technology development
  • Sound financial management
  • Endowment growth
  • Integrated marketing

Impact: By financially supporting the university, alumni, parents and friends of St. Edward’s demonstrate their commitment to St. Edward’s mission which is rooted in the Holy Cross tradition of informing the mind, forming the heart and transforming the world. Through the Activity Reports, donors are able to understand how their gifts impact specific individuals or programs as well as how their support helps the university achieve its institutional goals. The list below includes ways in which the Activity Reports themselves and the programs and scholarships they feature help to forward the mission of the university.

  • Endowment has increased by almost 50 percent in the last five years to just under $55 million with more than 50 percent restricted to scholarships.
  • More than 70 scholarships have either been created or had significant additions made to their principal.
  • Nearly 300 students receive scholarship support from named annual and endowed scholarships.
  • Over $1million in additional contributions has been made to existing endowments since the launch of the Activity Reports.
  • Donors now have a transparent report of their financial investment in the university.
  • About 89 percent of freshmen receive merit- or need-based financial assistance.
  • Funds from endowed programs support teaching excellence initiatives, recognize out-standing faculty members and support faculty research.
  • Funds from endowed programs are used to enhance and to develop innovative cross- curricular programs and student research opportunities.
  • Scholarships help sustain the socioeconomic and cultural mix of students that make St. Edward’s a vibrant community of learners.

A. Program Goals and Objectives

Addressed Need: In 2004, the Office of University Advancement sought a new way to provide meaningful and thorough updates to donors who support the university through endowed scholarships, annual scholarships and endowed programs. Past reporting procedures were inconsistent and lacked the transparency and scope of reporting that today’s savvy donor demands. With the success of the A Special Destiny campaign and significant contributions to and growth of the endowment, a new, more comprehensive reporting format was needed which would report critical financial information, express gratitude for the financial support and provide donors with a snapshot of the students or programs benefiting from their generous financial support.

Goals and Objectives:

  • Report on status and growth of the donor’s financial investment.
  • Communicate and demonstrate impact of the donor’s financial investment.
  • Express gratitude.
  • Create a feeling of connectedness between donors and the students who benefit from their generosity.
  • Present a case for additional support.

Target Audience: Activity Reports are sent to individuals, foundations and corporations who make annual gifts to fund scholarships or programs or who have made gifts to the endowment to establish named, endowed programs and scholarships as well as to individuals in whose honor these funds have been named.

Program Budget


Print Materials
Activity Report Folders $740.00
Activity Report Letterhead $525.00
Activity Report Envelopes $250.00
Postage $112.00
Student Incentives
Refreshments for Student Meetings $332.00
Door Prizes, Drawings and Incentives $320.00
TOTAL Project Budget $2,279.00

B. Documented Results

This is an exciting project and one that brings together nearly all members of the St. Edward’s University family – faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni, parents, and friends. In our many conversations with students throughout this process, we hear again and again the students’ surprise and gratitude that someone that they don’t even know is interested in their education. For many of these students, a St. Edward’s education would not be possible without the generosity of donors. The annual Activity Reports provide valuable information to the donors, put a human face on the financial aid packages which the students receive, and speak volumes about the health and vibrancy of the university.

The feedback from donors has been tremendous. Donors are delighted to learn about their scholarship recipients and are thrilled to be provided with an update from the university. We have also received additional financial gifts tied to the Activity Reports from donors eager to increase the corpus of their endowment and thus increase the annual spending allowance.

During fiscal year ’07, we have thus far received over $165,000 in additional gifts to annual scholarships, endowed scholarships and endowed programs that are tied directly or directly to the Activity Reports.

The Office of University Advancement’s Activity Reports recently received accolades from the wider St. Edward’s community. In February, the Activity Report project was recognized with an EDDIE Award. The EDDIE Awards, which honor Every Day Demonstrations of Ingenuity and Excellence, were developed in 2002 to recognize St. Edward’s staff and faculty teams who have completed projects that improve the
university’s service to students. The Office of University Advancement’s Activity Report project was selected from a competitive field of nominated projects and was recognized as the EDDIE Award winner in the Everything Speaks category which honors projects that make a positive impression on current and prospective students.

It is the collaboration and cooperation of all involved parties that make this project a success. It is our hope that these Activity Reports, which are rooted in collaboration and cooperation on the university level, will beget future collaboration and cooperation with donors. The feedback from donors has been overwhelmingly positive and our desired outcome is already coming to fruition. The Activity Reports are opening doors, facilitating conversations and inspiring correspondence far beyond our St. Edward’s Hilltop. Moreover, these reports have already led to additional unsolicited financial contributions toward these scholarships and programs.

The Activity Reports are a critical tool in communicating with our donors who, through their generous financial support, are partnering with us as we strive to provide the highest quality education to students who become socially conscious leaders of their generations. We have no doubt that some of today’s scholarship recipients will one day be donors themselves. Who knows? Perhaps one day, one of the students we profiled this year will fund their own endowed scholarship, and we will be reporting out to them, thus perpetuating the cycle of philanthropic giving that is the hallmark of a prestigious university. It is our lofty hope that this responsible and responsive reporting will inspire generous gifts well into the future — gifts that will be the shared success of so many.