Team Stewardship

In 2015, Donor Relations and Stewardship initiated meaningful conversations that uncovered challenges and opportunities within UGA’s centralized and decentralized development structure. This audit inspired solutions to address inconsistencies across our complex division of Development and Alumni Relations.  After identifying “Stewies” in 20+ departments through a survey and in-person meetings, Team Stewardship began meeting quarterly to discuss best practices, highlight successes across campus, and create a communication pipeline essential to collaboration. Today, Team Stewardship consists of colleagues who write acknowledgements, host donor events, or assist in donor relations and stewardship work across our campus community.

Departmental Liaisons

Laura Ashley LesterAnnual
Kimberly Parks FutrellBotanical
VacantAgricultural & Environmental Sciences
Jennifer MesserEnvironment &
Lynnsey LafayettePublic
Mallory MoyeVeterinary
Abby BryantVeterinary
Michelle VersfeldFoundation
Elizabeth WillimonResearch & Business
Kate LovinParent
Kate LantzStrategic
VacantAdvancement Services
Kethia GatesAlumni
VacantFamily & Consumer Sciences
Mary Alston KillenArts &
Anna ConradGeorgia Museum of
Michele TurnerGeorgia Museum of
VacantPerforming Arts Center
Megan PowellGift & Estate
Shirley AllenPublic Service &
Joey LynnPublic Service &
VacantPublic & International Affairs
Kimberly WhittenStudent
Katie SnipesForestry & Natural
Rachel McDanielGraduate


Melissa Lee

Quarterly meetings create our sense of community by bringing together those who are involved in donor relations efforts as a part of their daily work. We believe that donor-centered fundraising is powered by an holistic understanding of our donors’ overall needs and relationship with the university. True, donor-centered fundraising occurs when stewardship by the central office and individual schools and programs is not treated as an either/or proposition; instead, we can support each other in telling the bigger picture and highlighting the unique culture of each department. When the central office does things well, units can devote their resources to specializing stewardship for their current and prospective donors. Team Stewardship meetings offer leadership and support while creating opportunities for everyone to learn from each other.  We offer campus-wide updates and donor relations best practices, highlight successes within our units, and support this group through open discussion, creative ideas, and professional development.

“Team Stewardship meetings are some of the most valuable and productive I have ever attended. With each meeting, you refine my grasp of what we do and all that it can accomplish, broaden my knowledge of the many facets of stewardship at UGA, and provide tools and fresh insights to help us take our work to higher levels. I woke up looking forward to today’s meeting and left feeling inspired and energized—thank you!” -Nancy

“I truly cannot thank you and your hard-working team enough for taking the time to develop and implement Team Stewardship.  I walked away with ideas that have made my working life easier (hooray!), improved my organizational techniques, and overall improved our stewardship plan… In addition to my professional growth, it was amazing to be surrounded by a group of people who can relate to my work woes and success stories. I walked away… feeling like I have allies on campus that I can call on when I have a question, and I cannot thank you enough for that.” -Michelle

The Stew

Caitlin Lacey

Donor Relations and Stewardship sends monthly newsletters to our Team Stewardship community as an enhanced version of “meeting minutes” and as a way to inform Stewies of new stewardship occurring centrally and departmentally. Produced in-house, The Stew provides an overview of our discussions, links to supplemental materials, a calendar of upcoming events, and other news specific to stewardship.  With a professional and uplifting voice, The Stew spotlights the great work of our Stewies and elevates our behind-the-scenes role in fundraising to other colleagues across the division.

Stewardship Surveys

Melissa Lee

To better understand the challenges our units face, Donor Relations and Stewardship has administered two internal surveys and one donor survey since Team Stewardship began. This research does not aim to highlight weaknesses or undermine positions. Our surveys aim to identify areas that need more support so that we can propose necessary changes to administration.

2019 Donor Experience and Legacy Giving Survey

In Summer 2019, Donor Relations and Stewardship partnered with Gift and Estate Planning to survey over 80,000 donors to track reasons for giving, donor expectation alignment, and the potential for donors to give again. Survey results were reviewed by a graduate assistant from the Department of Psychology, and the official report was released in fall of 2019. In addition to our research, Development used this information to identify new prospects.

2017 Scholarship Stewardship Survey

Over 20 units completed a checklist identifying funds that are systematically stewarded through a student thank you note. Units also received a questionnaire to more fully explain annual strategy for receiving thank you notes and coordinating scholarship events. The Survey results were released in November of 2017.

2016 Comprehensive Stewardship Survey

The Comprehensive Stewardship Survey was materialized in October 2015.  For three-months, 23 schools and colleges were surveyed in their places of work. This collection of stewardship activities allowed Development and Alumni Relations to better support our units.  Through meaningful discussions, this survey inspired ideas, encouraged collaboration, and provided a baseline for the future of donor relations.  Since its release in the spring of 2016, this survey has fostered a more cohesive campus stewardship community.