Donor stewardship is fundamental to a successful fundraising program. Our advancement mission is to engage stakeholders in meaningful interactions that foster pride, advocacy and private support for the University, which requires us to build genuine, trust-based relationships with our donors. In order to foster those genuine relationships, we have implemented a formal stewardship program that ensures our donors are thanked for their gifts, understand the impact they’ve had, and feel connected to the institution.
Stewardship is not just the responsibility of one team; everyone involved in raising funds – and in operating programs and projects that benefit from funds raised – shares responsibility for donor stewardship. The resources below should help you and your unit to understand your role in stewarding your donors and provide some resources to make your stewardship efforts both efficient and effective.
Departments and faculty often have the closest and most meaningful relationships with our donors and their families. Donors especially enjoy feeling connected to whatever they’re supporting, so donor stewardship should involve activities that make them feel like “insiders.”
- Send timely acknowledgements for gifts to your department.
- EXPRESSthanks User Guide
- Access to EXPRESSthanks requires access to the Advance database and confidentiality training. Request access by completing the Alumni/Donor Database Access Form (and then complete the accompanying confidentiality course in Canvas.)
- Guidelines for Gift Acknowledgements
- Acknowledgement examples
Faculty Appointments & Scholarship Awards
- Notification of faculty appointments or student recipients of awards – let us know at CASadser@uw.edu so that we can facilitate letting donors know.
- When you award faculty appointments and scholarships or fellowships, let the recipients know that they will be expected to help steward our donors by writing letters to be shared with them.
- Include your donors in department communications like newsletters and annual updates. Donors love to hear what’s happening with your department!
- Invite your donors to join you at special events, tour labs or classrooms, or just to meet you for coffee or lunch.
- When you interact with donors, let us know! Updating your department’s fundraiser or CASadser@uw.edu ensures that we can accurately track our donors’ engagement and relationships with the College.
Managing Gifts & Donor-Supported Funds
- Make spending your department’s donor funding according to the terms of the agreement a priority. If you’re unable to fill a faculty appointment or award a scholarship in a given year, be transparent with your donors about why and your plan for the funds moving forward.
Professional Development Resources
- University of Washington makes several resources available for professional development courses. Below are a few sites our team has found to be useful!
- Weekly gift acknowledgements and monthly pledge reminders on behalf of the College
- Customized stewardship communications to donors from Dean Stacey
- Faculty appointment announcement letters for donors
- Publishing all newly appointed faculty and their official recognition titles in the College’s Perspectives Awards & Honors section
- The Faculty Stewardship Letter Process: impact reporting letters sent from faculty appointment holders to the donors that support their work
- Scholarship announcement letters to donors for those scholarships managed by the Dean’s office
- The scholarship recipient letter process: collecting letters from students in Beneficiary Portal for those scholarships managed by the Dean’s office and sharing those with the donors who support those funds
- Quarterly stewardship emails on behalf of the College to all donors who’ve supported the College in the past 18 months
- Individualized stewardship plans for major donors and prospects
- Stewardship activities for Henry Suzzallo Society members affiliated with the College
Endowments & Gift Agreements
- Management of the endowment/gift agreement and amendment process
- Facilitate notice of endowment investments and distributions
- Assistance with review of agreement purposes, restrictions and balances
Data, Systems & Reports
- Develop data and technical systems as well as reports that support strategic decision-making for the College of Arts & Sciences advancement team
UW’s central University Advancement teams play a key role in our stewardship efforts. In addition to handling the logistics of accepting gifts, they:
- Issue tax receipts to donors
- Provide university-level acknowledgements when appropriate
- Ensure university-level recognition at certain annual and lifetime giving levels
- Create and send out the annual Consolidated Endowment Fund (CEF) Report
- Develop and maintain tools and services like My UW Giving and Beneficiary Portal that help everyone meet the stewardship needs of our donors
- In My UW Giving, donors will see a "My Endowments" tab if they are noted as a CEF stewardee of an endowment in Advance, or if they have donated $5,000 or more to an endowment.
- In My UW Giving, donors will see a "My Impact" tab if they are noted as a stewardee of a student support fund in Advance, and if the department has entered student thank you letters in Beneficiary Portal.
See the UW Donor Relations page on the University Advancement intranet for more information and resources from our central colleagues.
Please contact the Advancement Services team anytime at CASadser@uw.edu with questions or for more information about how we can help your unit steward your donors. Additionally, you are welcome to reach out to one of our team members directly. See a full listing of team members and their areas of expertise on the Advancement Services Team page.