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Donor Relations & Stewardship

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Voices
CURRENTS Article Advice on removing a donor name from a building; and why a deck of cards helps one development pro stay focused on making the impossible possible.

How Do You Turn a Car Into a Chair?
CURRENTS Article An anonymous alumnus of the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology auctioned off his 2015 McLaren P1—one of the world's fastest cars, which can reach speeds of 200 mph—for $2.39 million, a world-record for that model.

Voices:
CURRENTS Article Advice on handling an advancement colleague's inappropriate relationship with a donor; Colorado State's lessons on making a recipe video; and how to avoid errors in your database's list of deceased alumni.

5 Ways Board Members Can Support Fundraising
CURRENTS Article "I'm happy to do anything, except ask for money." Work in educational advancement long enough, and you'll probably hear those words from a foundation or governing board member. For some volunteers, asking for financial gifts produces anxiety—and most people are already dealing with pressure in their life. The last thing they need is more stress from a volunteer job. Discomfort with asking can be a major stumbling block for fundraising success. But the ask is only one step in a larger creative process that's intentionally managed to attract donor investment. Reluctant board members can still help our cause, even if they're not making an ask. Here's how to play to their strengths.

Talking Shop: We’re All Ducks
CURRENTS Article Vu Le is the brains and comedic voice behind the Nonprofit with Balls blog. As an executive director of a nonprofit, Le often writes from the perspective of a grantee, producing no-nonsense articles such as “9 annoying nonprofit trends that need to die.” His Seattle-based organization, Rainier Valley Corps, trains people of color for nonprofit leadership positions, so he has lots to say about improving diversity.

Grand Gold Rush
CURRENTS Article Inspired design, storytelling, ingenuity, humor, and brevity were hallmarks of this year's CASE Circle of Excellence Awards Grand Gold winners, the highest prize bestowed by the program. Whether attracting international applicants with an ambitious contest, sharing advice through campus fun facts and pride points, demonstrating that campus quirks will garner attention and gifts, or redesigning a magazine in a way that makes class notes inviting and (gasp!) readable, institutions relied on research, knowledge, and creative skill to push boundaries and deliver inspired work—much of it produced in-house.

10 Reasons Why People Give (and 5 Reasons They Don't)
CURRENTS Article Generosity lights up the same part of your brain that responds to food and sex: Neuroscientists at the National Institutes of Health demonstrated this in a study using functional magnetic resonance imaging. When study participants acted equitably, they activated their brain's orbitofrontal cortex, which assesses rewards. Giving not only makes us feel good; it also makes us look good—and we're all concerned with what people think about us. Giving back can make you seem more responsible. Read on for additional reasons people give and to learn how research on generosity and behavioral economics can provide insights on how donors think.

Crazy, Super, Cool
CURRENTS Article With 2016 coming to a close, Currents wanted to reflect on this year’s amazing innovations at universities around the world. Our favorites include a pizza ATM, software to help you pronounce names, innovative helmets, windows made with wood, and microchips engraved with donor names sent into space.

Voices
CURRENTS Article Advice on endowment terms and a collection of tweets, quotations, advice, and more from the CASE Summit.

Thanking Donors
CURRENTS Article Are You Still Mailing Form Letters? Seven smart ways to say thank you.

The World's Best Stewardship Ideas
CURRENTS Article There are only so many ways to say thank you, right? Wrong! Currents has collected innovative and creative ideas from around the world for thanking and recognizing donors, reporting the impact of their support, and cultivating them for future giving.

Recognizing Donors
CURRENTS Article Consultant Lynne Wester shows institutions new ways to engage their most influential donors.

Cultivating New Gifts
CURRENTS Article There are so many ways to give.

Reporting Impact
CURRENTS Article There's more than one way to tell a story. Here's how four institutions report to donors on how their gifts make a difference.

Outlook: Tackling Touchy Topics
CURRENTS Article For fundraisers, discussing touchy subjects is like mentioning politics at a family gathering: We are not there to debate but to foster positive feelings. We are told that when a donor raises a touchy topic we should not be drawn in—much less offer our own opinion—but listen respectfully and find a way to move on. But should "listen but don't engage" always be our default position? Should we not strive to understand what donors think, even if their worldview makes us uncomfortable? By inviting donors to clarify their views—and by responding with how we see the issue, through the ideals of our institution—we can deepen our awareness of each other's values and arrive at a common goal.

Outlook: Stop "Thasking"
CURRENTS Article Another institution's tactic isn't necessarily a best practice or even a good fit for your organization's needs. Yet bad stewardship ideas continue to resurface. Donors' needs are changing, and donor relations needs to evolve if we want to maximize stewardship to help boost fundraising, transform donor relations, and give donors what they truly want. We must take risks, challenge old assumptions, and use data to determine best and next practices.

Breaking Up with a Prospect
CURRENTS Article Dating tips can help fundraisers learn why, when, and how to break up with a hot prospect who has turned into a cold fish. Here are some practical steps for managing the relationship, from the infatuation stage to "where is this going?" based on my 30-plus years of fundraising and 15-plus years of dating experience.

The Loyal Treatment
CURRENTS Article Higher education can learn important lessons from corporate loyalty programs. So what are their secrets? And how can you cash in on them?

How I Closed the Biggest Gift of My Career
CURRENTS Article Five fundraisers share the dramatic inside stories of large gifts along with key insights from their experiences, from being creative to collaborating with colleagues.

A Creative Assist
CURRENTS Article When working with donors, it's important to connect with the heart and the mind.

Twists and TurnsToward a Gift
CURRENTS Article Alumnus Michael Lang wanted to give to an overlooked area that fit his passion.

Stewardship and the Second Gift
CURRENTS Article Barbara Samper would drive through Salinas Valley and see migrant workers in the field and think, "How can I help their children obtain a college education?"

A Friend to the End
CURRENTS Article In 2014, Foxcroft, an all-girls boarding/day school serving 157 students in grades 9-12, received a transformative gift of $40 million from Ruth Bedford, class of 1932.

Outlook: Retention Is the New Acquisition
CURRENTS Article At most educational institutions more than 90 percent of all fundraising revenue comes from just under 10 percent of their donors. Many fundraisers mistakenly accept this as the new normal. Raising more money from fewer donors is not a sign of efficiency. It is a sign of poor donor stewardship. When institutions do not keep the donors they acquire, they sacrifice the future income those donors may have provided.

Outlook: Thank You Isn’t Good Enough
CURRENTS Article Educational fundraisers should steward annual giving donors, showing exactly where the gifts go, like they do major donors.

Art Appreciation
CURRENTS Article The donor wall recognizing St. Martin's Episcopal School's recent capital campaign reflects its brand and visual identity system. In addition to featuring colors and shapes used in the independent school's communications, marketing, and fundraising materials, the donor wall also doubles as a piece of art that blends in with the building.

Outlook: A Matter of Trust
CURRENTS Article Stewardship is the entirety of what we do to demonstrate that our institutions are worthy of a donor's trust, a trust in our ability to make a difference in a life and society.

Demonstrating the Difference
CURRENTS Article Stewardship and donor relations officers, as well as other advancement professionals, must increasingly be able to answer one big question: How do we know that what we're doing is working? Underlying this question is a desire, sparked by an evolution in the thinking of donors, to help donors understand the effects of their gifts.

Seeing Both Sides
CURRENTS Article Development officers who give to their employers or favorite charity see first-hand how well those nonprofits treat donors, and they learn from those experiences.

Dead Serious Campaign
CURRENTS Article Famous U.K. crime writers are involved in a series of fundraisers and publicity events for the University of Dundee's "Million for a Morgue" campaign.

Upward Bound
CURRENTS Article With the economy slowly mending, a number of colleges, universities, and independent schools are launching their biggest, longest-lasting, or first-ever campaigns. Campaigns that have recently launched are part of an evolution in which campaigns have become more donor-centric.

Out of Focus
CURRENTS Article For years, development officers have cultivated prospective donors by listening to their deepest desires. Now, development officers' work increasingly involves devising a strategy for aligning the donor's desires with the mission, goals, and needs of their institution.

Name That Office
CURRENTS Article DePaul University's music faculty have the opportunity to name an office in their new building.

Outlook: The Gift Grid
CURRENTS Article Henry E. Riggs, president emeritus of Harvey Mudd College and Keck Graduate Institute, argues that gifts exist along a utility continuum, from gifts of high utility, or great benefit, to gifts of negative utility.

The Naming Game
CURRENTS Article The practice of naming gifts is commonplace at most educational institutions today, but naming opportunities and policies vary considerably from institution to institution. This article examines the ins and outs of naming gifts, including how development professionals can determine price points and what elements a naming agreement should include.

A Lot of Creativity
CURRENTS Article To help potential donors visualize a new building, the Tuality/Oregon Health & Science Center had a blueprint drawn on the parking lot where the building was to go up. Standing signs labeled the rooms that already had benefactors, and "Your Name Here" signs informed the crowd about opportunities to make significant gifts.

A Piece of History
CURRENTS Article One college crafts donor recognition gifts from wood salvaged from a historic building.

Incremente sus relaciones
CURRENTS Article El procurador de fondos debe estar enfocado en ver la manera de mejorar e incrementar las relación con sus donantes.

Office Space: Growing Your Relationships
CURRENTS Article Instead of focusing on the bottom line, fundraisers should really be looking at how their relationships have grown.

Advance Work: Bagged Another One
CURRENTS Article Northeastern University is transforming used vinyl banners into thank-you gifts for donors in the form of tote and messenger bags.

Steering Through Stewardship
CURRENTS Article Stewardship should not be an afterthought in a healthy advancement operation. This article describes how stewardship can be an organizing principle, directing the essential activities of trust building, relationship management, and message delivery.

True Friends
CURRENTS Article Today's donors want deep connections with institutions that matter to them and share their values. If an institution engages constituents just to ask for money, it may miss out on true friendship with donors who want to be more involved.

Advancement Achievers
CURRENTS Article Profiles of selected 2002 Circle of Excellence winners

Advance Work: A New Level of the Name Game
CURRENTS Article When Tri-State University in Indiana wanted to change its name, it honored the Trine family in doing so. The institution is now Trine University.

Advance Work: Feeling Flush
CURRENTS Article When the ATLAS Institute opened at the University of Colorado at Boulder campus, there were plenty of naming opportunities available. One local venture capitalist had a slightly unorthodox venue in mind for his name.

A Battle of Wills
CURRENTS Article When donors--particularly big donors--come forward with a gift, it's in everyone's best interest to document the terms that come along with it. Recent high-profile donor-intent legal battles are prompting some college and university officials to reexamine their policies and procedures.

Advance Work: Repeat Performance
CURRENTS Article The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reestablishes the Bell Ringers Society to honor donors.

Away They Go?
CURRENTS Article Donor fatigue is real, even if your institution hasn't experienced it yet. Development officers talk about how they define the issue and keep it from becoming a problem.

Ethics Case Study: The Beneficent Bigot
CURRENTS Article This is part of CURRENTS yearlong series of ethics case studies that present scenarios that raise ethical questions and responses from advancement professionals who offer their insights and opinion. This case study features a conflict about whether an institution should keep money from a longtime major donor whose views on race have cast the campus in a negative light.

A Question of Ethics
CURRENTS Article As part of its year of ethics, CASE supports and promotes ethical standards for the advancement profession. This article presents a typical fundraising scenario, followed by responses from several members of the CASE Commission on Philanthropy.

Protecting Donor Anonymity
CURRENTS Article When donors make anonymous gifts, they often wish to protect more than their name. They want to protect their privacy. But sometimes a donor's right to privacy is in conflict with state public disclosure laws. In this article for major gift officers and other development professionals, an attorney and director of planned giving tells how to work with professional advisors and donors' counsel to ensure anonymity and save the gift from being withdrawn because of privacy concerns.

In Plain Sight
CURRENTS Article Accountability involves many policies and procedures. The development professionals in this article talk about what accountability means in their institutions and what they do to ensure it through acknowledgment, stewardship, and other approaches.

The Pluto Principles
CURRENTS Article The quest for the planet Pluto teaches the need for persistence, research, strategic planning, and thinking out of the box--and why it's smart to sweat the small stuff. Astronomers discovered Pluto's existence by noticing wobbles in nearby planets. So if something in your development programs appears a bit off, it bears looking into. The discovery will be donors who want to make larger and more meaningful gifts.

AdvanceWork: With This Gift, I Thee Wed
CURRENTS Article Maryville College developed the Calvin Duncan Society, named for one of its loyal donors who attended when the college reopened after the Civil War, to encourage class gifts and annual giving. Society members receive silver bookmarks and other gifts when they reach certain milestones, such as five years of continuous participation.

Cream of the Crop
CURRENTS Article This article profiles a few of CASE's 2005 Circle of Excellence award winners in the fields of fund-rasing, special events, campaigns, marketing, alumni programs, stewardship, and advancement services operations.

AdvanceWork: How Do You Spell Relief?
CURRENTS Article Philanthropist Michael Zinman had a dream, albeit a quirky one: He wanted to fund a restroom renovation. When University of Pennsylvania officials decided to renovate the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, the library’s director of development and external affairs suspected Zinman, a former Penn donor, might be willing to support it. This article describes Zinman’s unusual gift to the project and his efforts to promote it. It also should remind development officers that, when it comes to soliciting gifts, it pays to keep an open mind (and a sense of humor).

All Hands on Deck
CURRENTS Article Turnover can create havoc in an advancement office, leading to holes in the institutional memory and breaking fragile links between donors and the institution. The advancement staff at the University of Massachusetts Lowell has reinvented its operations to create a team approach that strengthens long-term relationships and focuses staff members on securing cash gifts, especially major gifts. Using a structure of four interdisciplinary teams, advancement officers focus on offering relevant alumni programs and services, meeting face-to-face with donors, involving all staff members in gift cultivation, and maintaining an attitude of mutual respect across advancement.

Diamonds in the Rough
CURRENTS Article The practice of honoring donors for their support of an institution is a widely embraced tradition, although the manner in which such recognition occurs varies considerably. Today’s donors, the author writes, want something that is different, visually stunning, inspirational, and sophisticated. This article profiles some of the more unique types of on-site donor recognition installations available today, including Rockhurst High School, which hired VisionMark to build a donor recognition kiosk for the main lobby; Delaware County Community College, which commissioned ceramics sculptor Karen Singer to line a campus rotunda with custom-painted ceramic tiles honoring donors; Oregon State University, which worked with Presentation Design Group to develop suspended glass “donor blades” for the library; and the Solomon Schechter K-8 school system, which used Honorcraft to build a mixed-media wall sculpture of Noah’s Ark.

Name Dropping
CURRENTS Article Naming opportunities can create problems under many circumstances: when the donor becomes infamous, the donor can't fulfill the pledge, or the named structure is renovated or torn down. To deal with naming concerns, campuses develop un-naming policies, consider short-term naming opportunities, or handle the issues on a case-by-case basis. This article is of interest to fund raisers and advancement services professionals who handle major gifts, campaigns, and gift policies.

AdvanceWork: Feelin' HOT! HOT! HOT!
CURRENTS Article New Mexico State hopes its pepper varieties will fetch a nice price.

AdvanceWork: What's in a Name?
CURRENTS Article The intricacies of introducing a new top gift club

Outgrowing the Annual Fund
CURRENTS Article Top-level annual donors deserve special attention to maintain their commitment. It’s often best to manage these donors within the annual fund office, but with special cultivation and stewardship methods such as in-person solicitation visits, personal letters, special events, gift clubs, and volunteer opportunities on campus boards or committees. Strategies such as challenge gifts can encourage them to increase their annual donations, and some of them will eventually make major gifts.

Charting a Course for Donor Stewardship
CURRENTS Article To develop consistency in gift stewardship among its many divisions, Virginia Tech created a stewardship manual outlining practices, policies, and expectations for the entire institution. Development officers conducted an internal audit and performed external benchmarking, then set goals and developed strategies to meet them. The resulting manual includes a mission statement, gift acknowledgement standards, donor recognition standards, and reporting standards.

The Rationale for Donor Relations
CURRENTS Article It’s the job of the donor relations professional to assure donors that their gifts will be used as they intend, and to do so in a way that motivates donors to give more. Institutions that realize that donor relations equals donor cultivation invest time and resources in this task. Barden describes the strategic use of the three main tools of donor relations: acknowledgement, recognition, and reporting.

AdvanceWork: Thanks, but New Thanks
CURRENTS Article Problem/Solution

Eternal Gratitude
CURRENTS Article Effective planned-gift recognition and stewardship can prevent donors from changing revocable gifts and help cultivate future planned and outright gifts. An initial problem is identifying planned-gift donors, who sometimes do not wish to make their plans known. Once you do identify them, you can thank them with personal visits, letters, or phone calls; by maintaining personal contact; by developing a planned-gift recognition society; by offering token thank-you gifts; by conducting special events for planned-gift donors; and by naming them in publications. For donors of life-income gifts, mail checks with a personal cover letter and conduct periodic "customer satisfaction" surveys. Endowment givers should receive annual letters from the beneficiaries of their gifts and be invited to annual endowment appreciation events.

Up Where They Belong
CURRENTS Article Donor recognition societies, also called gift clubs, are a time-honored technique for encouraging regular giving, but they require careful administration. To ensure that gift clubs are effective, officials need to determine where to best set club levels, how and when to count gifts, and how to reward donors within legal parameters set by the IRS. The answers to these questions depend on the specific goals the institution is trying to achieve with its club system. A sidebar discusses how to choose gift club names.

Their Names in Lights
CURRENTS Article When designing web sites to recognize donors, remember these tips from University of Pennsylvania pros: 1) keep the design simple, such as using a photograph of a donor with a few simple words; 2) feature volunteers as the subjects of your first recognition pages; 3) remember to get permission to use any copyighted materials before posting the information on your site; and 4) seek advice from donors about why gifts are made.

SampleCollection_Naming

The Library maintains a collection of sample naming policies and naming opportunities.

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CASE Communities

Connect with peers on CASE Communities.

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Naming

The Library has compiled a collection of resources about naming.

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Gift Fees

The Library has compiled a collection of resources about gift fees.

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