Presidential Stewardship

The addition of presidential stewardship strategy in 2016 has been monumental in keeping our team connected to Regional and Principal Giving, the President’s Office, Corporate and Foundation Relations, and Special Events. Giving stewardship a seat at the table when planning for major gift cultivation and events ensures that donors have a holistic giving experience, and our President is able to better utilize his time with donors and acknowledge their generosity personally and effectively.


Leadership Stewardship Strategy

Jordan Dotson

The Presidential Fundraising Meeting occurs for Development Administration to inform the President’s Office on fiscal year fundraising updates, upcoming visits with top donors, development events, and any necessary prospect updates. The Associate Director does not attend these meetings but prepares a memo that covers the agenda. The Principal Gifts Strategy Meeting serves as an opportunity for central development leadership, principal gift officers, prospect management, and donor relations to come together and discuss current strategies for the University’s top donors and prospects.


Presidential Donor Visit Planning

Jordan Dotson

Presidential stewardship’s biggest responsibility is coordinating the stewardship experience surrounding a Development visit with the President.  The Associate Director plays a part in developing the initial proposal explaining the need for a Presidential visit, coordinating the President’s schedule, creating the briefing for the President prior to the visit, and drafting a meaningful acknowledgement letter with the Prospect Manager to follow up with the donor.   The ability for Donor Relations and Stewardship to house this process—including Presidential letters acknowledging gifts—allows our stewardship to fit the needs of the donor and his/her relationship to the University.

1. Scheduling the Visit

The process of planning a Presidential donor visit involves much coordination between Development Officers, the President’s Office, and Donor Relations and Stewardship.  The Associate Director serves as a liaison between Development and the President by collecting a list of donors to propose to the President, along with an initial purpose from each Development Officer to support that proposal. Once the President’s Office approves a visit, scheduling begins. It can take several weeks to match a date between the President’s busy schedule and the schedule of our highest level of donors.  As the date is set, the Associate Director begins the briefing process.

2. Creating the Briefing

Presidential visit briefings are in-depth and require information from the Development Officer and Research, as well as all event logistics (driving/walking directions, parking instructions, attire, and special etiquette).  The Associate Director is careful in formatting these briefings in a consistent way, keeping the purpose of the visit central to the booklet. After the Development Officer’s approval, the Associate Director sends the final briefing to the President two-days before the visit.

3. Acknowledging the Visit

The Associate Director begins coordinating the follow-up letter by the President upon the visit.  She checks-in with the Development Officer the morning of the visit to get a few general statements about the purpose before creating a template.  After the meeting, the Associate Director speaks with the Development Officer again to learn the tone and topics of the visit.  A drafted letter is sent to the President’s Office the following day to be edited, signed, and mailed.

Donor Relations schedules 10-20 presidential donor visits per year.


Presidential Event Briefings

Jordan Dotson

Presidential briefings prepare administration for events so that experiences top donors share with the university are personal and their preferences are achieved. Well-prepared administration are key to donor relations success.

Football SkySuite

Football game days are a timeless way to interact with our donors among the excitement of college athletics. The Associate Director begins working with the Sr. Executive Director and Chief of Staff to coordinate SkySuite invitation lists in April to ensure all seats in the President’s Suite are filled.  With the help of external support, short briefing templates have been created to make this hectic, weekly process during the Fall run seamlessly.  Briefings are completed, and attendee lists are updated upon RSVP’s.  The President and applicable Development Officers receive final briefings each Wednesday before a home game.  An addendum is provided on Friday if updates need to be made.

Donor Relations coordinates an average of 440 football briefings per year. Football briefings are created per couple; increases reflect post-season appearances.

Special Events

Like football game days, the Associate Director works with Research and Prospect Management to create Presidential briefings for Development-related events. These events include: Annual Peabody Awards, regional dinners and events, and donor-hosted dinners.

Donor Relations creates an average of 200 special event briefings a year.


Miscellaneous Presidential Development Letters

Jordan Dotson and Calli Choe

In addition to Presidential gift acknowledgements, Presidential Stewardship includes miscellaneous letters to donors from the President.  These letters include follow-up letters from Presidential visits and congratulatory letters for high-level appointments or major life events.  All condolence letters are handled solely by the President’s Office.

Donor Relations writes an average of 30 miscellaneous letters per year.