In Service: The Column of the ADRP President

Cheryl Smith Lintner
Executive Director, Donor Relations
Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation


Hi there [imagine me giving a little wave and an awkward smile],

Last week I had to wear pants. And nice shoes. For three days in a row!

It was a pretty momentous occasion—both for my wardrobe, and for ADRP—as we gathered together again after a long, pandemic-induced hiatus at the ADRP 19th Annual International Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Can I just say how AWESOME everything turned out? Kudos to conference chair, Ryan Steele, and chair-elect, Margaret Coad, and the entire committee! I came back inspired, excited, exhausted—and 100% ready to take on anything and everything—including serving as ADRP’s next President.

You can read all about me in the profile below. Suffice it to say that with me, what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG for you html geeks). I like to joke. I like to laugh. I talk a lot about my kid (he’s a giant) and my dog (she’s the goodest girl). Sometimes I talk to myself. I am very charming, after all. 

But in all seriousness, when our great-and-wise now past President, Angela Altamore, passed the ADRP leadership baton to me last week, I couldn't have been more excited. ADRP has been a part of my donor relations career for more than 12 years. And over those years new peers became close friends, mentors encouraged me upward, webinar speakers sparked new ideas, board discussions challenged me, conference presentations led to job offers (yes, really!), and so much more.

I am honored to give back to the organization that has given me so much. Thank you for allowing me to serve you. I am looking forward to an amazing year!



Acknowledging our Donors — A Semi-centralized Perspective

Heather James
Stewardship and Donor Relations Specialist
University of Minnesota | CFANS

thank you card

To acknowledge or not to acknowledge—that is never the question. Legal requirements aside, we want our donors to feel seen and loved for the difference they make. They are critical to our mission, and acknowledging their gifts is the right thing to do—and the smart thing to do, no matter how busy we get. 

I’m a donor relations party of one on a small but mighty development team at a college in a large, decentralized university. It feels like my to-do list is never to-done, but acknowledgments reign supreme. Fortunately, I don’t have to go it alone thanks to Ack 2.0, which sounds like an adorable robot but is actually a semi-centralized system that makes prioritizing acknowledgments manageable. In short, our foundation sends receipts, thank you emails, and thank you cards to donors across the university. Sounds generic and not very personalized? But wait—there’s more!  

Ack 2.0 is far from a one-size fits all approach. At its heart is a hierarchy of rules in which each college/unit determines how they want their donors treated based on things like donation amount, fund specifics, etc.  

For my team, gifts under $5k are handled automatically by our foundation. I don’t typically see these come in—though I provide all the content that the donors receive:

  • One of eight emails is sent based on the gift’s high-level purpose; first-time donors get a welcome email.
  • One of 21 printed cards gets mailed depending on the giving area (academic department, college-level, alumni relations, etc.). Each card has a similar design with different photos and messaging and is signed by the dean or other relevant person.
  • Because Ack 2.0 is very clever, we also have a different card for donors who gave recently so they don’t get the same card within six months.

Gifts over $5k get routed through a database dashboard, where each is cared for personally by yours truly. I typically write a personalized email from the dean, which comes from his real email account—but the choice is mine and the message depends on the donor.  

Everything I just told you is true—except when it isn’t. If the rules say otherwise, for example, gifts for which all donors are deceased or gifts from organizations, they also go to my dashboard. Some specific funds even have a lower threshold for dashboard treatment. Ack 2.0 is wonderfully adjustable!  

Soooo... do any of you have donors who are a little, hmm, fussy—or is that just us? Donors with particular expectations or sensitivities, who might phone up the president or newspaper if dissatisfied, can be put in a special group that trumps all our rules—ensuring they always get sent to the dashboard for individualization. 

This is my first gig in donor relations (and I’m loving it!), so I can’t compare, but I think it’s a great system. It helps us consistently honor our smaller donors with thoughtful content while allowing us to personalize the experience for all—a beautiful thing, indeed!


DEI at ADRP Gets a Boost: Collective Action for Collective Good

Kimberly Karol
Deputy Director of Development
The Nature Conservancy (TNC)

Vanessa Harmon
Director of Donor Stewardship
The Nature Conservancy (TNC)

“Blacks are not philanthropic.”

“Sure, we want to diversify our board, but we cannot compromise our fundraising performance.”

“We need a white gift officer to engage this (white) community.”

“We cannot find people from underrepresented communities with the experience to fill senior roles.”

“While we would like to diversify our volunteers, we need people who know what they are doing.”

“A donor made a pass at me. I don’t feel safe but feel pressured to keep him in my portfolio to meet my goals.”

Do any of these statements sound familiar?

Despite the heightened awareness of biases and discrimination in the workplace and the proliferation of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) value statements and programs, these harmful statements — and the sentiments behind them — continue to erode our development efforts, impeding our ability to inclusively engage our beneficiaries, volunteers, donors, colleagues, and community. 

In addition to diluting the impact of an organization’s mission by limiting the pool of supporters and failing to encourage employment opportunities that yield a diverse workforce, these statements and corresponding behaviors perpetuate an unsafe work environment and contribute to inequalities in the fundraising profession.

To further its commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and its development leadership team, led by our Chief Development Officer Tom Neises, is proud to support ADRP in promoting DEI practices in philanthropy. TNC understands that fulfilling our mission of conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends requires committing to DEI across all facets of our work. We also recognize that the nonprofit fundraising community can create more substantive and lasting change by sharing resources and acting together.

Recently, TNC made a financial commitment to kickstart ADRP’s DEI educational programming and provide scholarships to help diversify our membership base. TNC’s contribution enabled the ADRP DEI Committee to bring in an expert to facilitate its session on unconscious bias at the 2022 international conference in Albuquerque.

And this transformative partnership is only the beginning.

We encourage ADRP members and your organizations to join TNC in financially supporting ADRP’s efforts to cultivate a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable fundraising environment, leading to more significant philanthropic outcomes for all.

Consider the benefits and privileges that may exist within your institution. If your organization has committed to increasing equity, reckoning with systems of injustice, and working towards a more inclusive workplace that values and cultivates diversity, then consider an ADRP DEI sponsorship. It is a collective opportunity to care for one another, share opportunities with less-resourced organizations doing important work, elevate the field of donor relations, and deepen the impact of our work to make the world a better place.

We embrace a more equitable and just approach to professional development, job opportunities, and skills evaluations. We are ready and energized to work together to build our resources and increase knowledge as development professionals and bring more voices to the table. If you’re interested in joining us in support of ADRP’s DEI sponsorship or would like more information please reach out to either one of us via the member portal or contact ADRP’s Executive Director Louise Miller at [email protected].

Member Spotlight: Meet Our New President, Cheryl Smith Lintner

Cheryl Smith Lintner
Executive Director, Donor Relations
Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation

Background Info: 

1. Can you tell us about your career trajectory? How did you come into donor relations as a career?

Once upon a time, I was an archaeologist. I had a blast digging in the dirt, and studying all things forgotten. But after a while, I decided to hang up my trowel and do something a bit more “practical” with my life. I worked as a legal assistant, and then as a clerk for a federal judge. I almost went to law school. Almost. I had what I now like to think of as a quarter-life crisis—and abruptly quit that path. I took some time to read all the great books on finding your purpose, like “What Color is Your Parachute?” and “Who Moved My Cheese?” I had a lot of friends in nonprofit organizations, and they seemed happy. So, enter career #3. It was kind of dumb luck that I landed a job as a development assistant at a tiny five-person nonprofit in Los Angeles. I was processing gifts, writing thank you letters, and reporting on finances, and I LOVED it. 

Then, life got in the way: I found myself moving from West to East—adding a then tiny, now giant, addition to my family—and when I rejoined the workforce, I knew donor relations was where I wanted to be. I joined the donor relations team at Rutgers University Foundation, focusing on gift agreements and reporting. I learned all the ins and outs of a comprehensive donor relations program, which set me up very well for success in building a new program at RWJ University Hospital Foundation. I’m still in healthcare donor relations, now with Hackensack Meridian Health. I am privileged to lead an amazing team that makes me laugh every day (and tolerates way too many dog stories and kid photos).

2. What influenced your interest in and passion for donor relations? 

It took me some time to find my passion. I know now that I had to take those steps to get me here, and I use those skills from my previous experiences pretty much every day: writing, communication, research, analysis, storytelling, diplomacy, all of it. So why did donor relations stick? Because there is no better feeling than making someone else feel good about what they’ve done - and I get to do that every single day. 

3. What lessons, words of advice/inspiration would you like to pass on to other donor relations professionals?

The best piece of advice I ever received was from a former manager. She told me about the “you idiot” test. If you’re writing an email response to someone, and at the end, the tone is such that you could easily write, “you idiot,” it’s time to step back, pause, and take a breath. Revisit the text, and re-craft a more diplomatic, calm response. Everyone gets upset with coworkers from time to time. The “you idiot” test forces you to take that moment and not type something you might later regret.

4. Can you talk about a specific donor engagement or stewardship activity that makes you feel like you are providing the best experience for donors and/or aid recipients?

The story that comes to mind involves a very philanthropic couple who lost their adult son to a drug overdose. They made an incredible gift in support of behavioral health and substance abuse, and the gift officer wanted to do something to really recognize them in a thoughtful, meaningful way. We learned their son was an avid surfer, and our health system has an oceanic theme in all the hospital names. I found myself on the phone with a surf shop in California known for making custom California redwood surfboard art. When I explained what we hoped to do, the shop owner became emotional, and later told me this was one of the most meaningful projects he’s ever done. A few months later, we invited the donors to unveil their recognition at the hospital. We pulled back the curtain to reveal a hand-carved redwood surfboard with a tribute to their son inscribed across the surface. It detailed his life and his love of surfing, and that his parents hoped their gift would honor his memory and help other families avoid such a tragedy. It was pretty amazing to witness the donors’ reactions, and those of all in attendance; it was a perfect moment, and I’m honored to have played a part in it. 

Connection to ADRP: 

1. When did you become an ADRP member? 


2. Why is ADRP membership important to you? 

It’s the community. There are so many wonderful people in this field and ADRP brings us all together to learn and laugh. I have gained so much knowledge and experience from ADRP resources and from colleagues. 

3. ADRP is universally recognized as the authority on donor engagement for the philanthropy profession. In your own words, how does ADRP serve you in the form of professional development?

When I first joined ADRP, I was still very green in the field. I attended my first ADRP conference in either 2010 or 2011, and I came away with SO much. And I keep coming back, as an attendee and a presenter. While I tend to gravitate towards “live” experiences, I also get a lot out of MyADRP. It’s fascinating to see the connections we can make across disciplines. We can learn a lot from each other, and that exchange is the piece of ADRP professional development I value most.

Message from the Chair

Message from the Chair

H. Ryan Steele

Our entire conference committee is eager to welcome those of you joining us in Albuquerque, New Mexico for the Association of Donor Relations Professionals 19th International Conference. After two successful years of virtual conferences, we joyfully and safely convene again in-person to meet new people, learn from fellow professionals and Soar to New Heights. 

As we began developing this year’s conference, we knew we had an opportunity to elevate. One area where we added a new conference element was with content delivery. We were inspired by the success and learnings of ADRP’s education committee with their newly created virtual workshops. Attendees shared rave reviews about their experiences across various topics. We recognized the opportunity to recreate this in-person, so this year, we are introducing workshop to the conference lineup.

You may be wondering, what’s the difference between a session and a workshop? Most notably is the duration of each, but beyond that is the type of interaction with which we hope you’ll experience. As we curated this experience, we wanted attendees to go beyond only hearing content and give them an opportunity to dive in and take an active approach to the learning.

Workshop presenters will not only share content, but then provide and facilitate opportunities for you to apply your newfound learning to your everyday work. Taking what you’ve learned, and while at the conference, begin practically applying that knowledge for the benefit of your work and the missions you serve.

We’re thrilled to bring you workshops ranging in topics from storytelling and career growth/planning to leadership and digital engagement. No matter the workshop you choose, you’re bound to come away with ideas and a plan to use them too!

Whether you’re excited about the new workshops, one of the other areas of the conference we’ve elevated or a tried a true conference tradition, we can’t wait to see you in Albuquerque!

President's Message, August 2022

In Service: The Column of the ADRP President

Angela Altamore | ADRP President 
Associate Vice President
Stewardship and Donor Engagement
Kansas State University Foundation




Hello reader:

Well… the end is near. This is my last column as your President. The year has flown by!  Being able to serve you in this capacity has been the highlight of my professional career. Many days I pinch myself to be sure I’m not dreaming. When I stumbled into this profession back in 2008, I had no idea I’d find a new career, much less a new family. I say this often, but my ADRP peeps are some of my nearest and dearest. There is something therapeutic in surrounding yourself with 1,800 peers dealing with similar work and challenges. I am continuously motivated, inspired and driven by each of you.   

Words can’t fully convey my gratitude, but I’ll give it a go:
  • To our volunteers: you are the backbone of ADRP. Your devotion to our field is the foundation of our organization.
  •  To our board members: it has been an honor to serve alongside you. Thank you for your time and dedication to our members.  I never fail to learn something from each of you when we gather.
  • To my exec committee: Cheryl – thrilled to be passing the baton to you…we are in good hands!  Brie – thank you for your diligence on all things finance and conference related! And Keri – I was humbled to follow in your footsteps. Ladies – it has been my honor to serve alongside each of you.
  • To my K-State team: you’ve been supportive and encouraging as I have balanced my work life with my ADRP life and I am grateful for your patience along the journey. 
  • To Louise, Stacey and the SBI office staff: you keep our work progressing and ensure we never lose sight of our strategic vision.
  • To you… my fellow ADRP members: my wish for each of you is that your time with ADRP is as valuable for you as has been for me. I would not be where I am today without the peers I have met through ADRP.
And now I look forward to continued volunteerism with ADRP in the coming years. If you have not done so, I highly encourage it. You won’t be sorry! I hope to volunteer with you in some capacity in the very near future. My time as President is coming to an end, but I’m an ADRP peep for life! 

With gratitude,

Your Conference Experience

Make the Most of Your Conference Experience

Join us for the ADRP 2022 Annual International Conference and “Soar to New Heights” in your career. Attend our networking events, design a session schedule that best fits your professional goals, and hear from industry leaders and pioneers.

The many new additions this year will elevate your experience and expand your personal and professional networks. You can take advantage of both planned and informal networking as you enjoy being back in person for this always-enlightening conference.

The launch party on Tuesday evening and the formal networking reception on Wednesday will offer a chance to meet new friends and reconnect with ‘old’ ones in a celebratory atmosphere. The ADRP Connections Lounge in the foyer will be the perfect place for informal networking and an ideal meeting location throughout the conference. Conversation starter questions in various conference locations will provide a great icebreaker to get the ball rolling. There will also be lots of time for impromptu networking. 

The conference mobile app will provide additional networking and communication functions to optimize the conference sessions, help you learn more about your fellow attendees, and allow you to reach out to them to continue the dialogue. You will be able to post comments, answer questions, and join discussions with other attendees in the conference discussion board.

This year, ADRP is presenting an exciting new initiative, the 2022 ADRP International Conference Cohorts Program Pilot. The program will be focused on meaningful and purposeful facilitated networking between conference attendees, allowing participants to connect on a meaningful level before, during, and after the conference. Cohorts will be created with random assignments to allow people from different types of organizations, different experience levels, and different locations to come together and exchange ideas and questions. If you would like to participate in the cohorts program, please fill out this form by August 26.

This year’s service project will help support women in the Albuquerque community. We’re partnering with the local chapter of Dress for Success, which provides professional clothing and accessories to women who have scheduled a job interview or are entering the workforce. They also offer workshops and participate in local career fairs. Look for the Dress for Success table to pick up a blank notecard and write a note of encouragement. You can also make a monetary gift on their website.

We are thrilled to also offer dine-arounds to our attendees to enhance your conference experience. Savor an extra networking opportunity so you can get to know one another outside of a conference setting while you enjoy delicious food. Dine-arounds will be available on Wednesday, September 21, and Thursday, September 22. Visit our website for more information, and view an interactive map of the area.
Whatever your interest and bandwidth for professional development and connections are, you will find it at the ADRP Conference. Please register if you haven’t yet. Registration closes on September 7 at 7 a.m. PT. For more conference information, our conference website

We look forward to seeing you in New Mexico!

LinkedIn Live with ADRP

LinkedIn Live with our Keynote and Conference Chairs

Join We Are For Good for a LinkedIn Live with Ryan Steele, ADRP Conference Chair, and Margaret Coad, ADRP Conference Chair-Elect. The conversation will explore donor relations 2.0, evolved tools and strategies, myths we need to release, and the upcoming ADRP conference where We Are For Good will feature as one of our keynote presenters. Come prepared with your questions for the group!

Wednesday, August 24
12 p.m. CST

Nine Networking Tips

Nine Networking Tips

Rachel Humphrey
Director - Fund Stewardship
UC Berkeley
Stand out at the conference and make connections using a few of the strategies below…
  1. Wear something worth commenting on. This is an easy-in for someone to start a conversation with you. Time to get out that cupcake print scarf or those dangly neon earrings. I have a porcupine necklace that is a great conversation starter. Also, if you are admiring someone else’s garb, say it out loud!
  2. Set your sights. Look at the conference roster. Decide who you want to meet. Join their table if you see them at breakfast or lunch. Ask which sessions they’re attending, or already attended. Make a connection!
  3. Prepare questions. What’s keeping you busy these days? What do you like to do for fun? At my team meetings we often ask “What are you procrastinating on right now?” as a warm-up. We love it. It feels so human.
  4. Pretend to be someone else. But not exactly. You should be you, and wear your own name tag, but if you are on the shy side, imagine you are someone else, like your super confident friend, or a famous person of your choice. Channel confidence.
  5. Get someone to introduce you. If you see someone you know talking to someone you don’t know whom you would like to know, ask them to introduce you. This is easy and another great strategy for shy folks. If this just isn’t happening for you, find me. I will introduce you to anyone whether I know them or not.
  6. Say their name. When you’re introduced to someone new, be sure to repeat their name back to them and use it as much as possible during your conversation. It demonstrates that you’re paying attention and it makes the conversation feel more personal. Plus, it might help you remember it next time you see them. 
  7. Shut up. Let the other person talk. Ask them questions. Take it all in. “When you talk, you are only repeating what you know. When you listen, you may learn something new.” — The Dalai Lama
  8. Treat yourself. Making new friends is great, but can zap your energy. Go have some dessert in your hotel room, alone. In Miami, one of my colleagues “made it rain” business cards because he had collected over 50. Celebrate!
  9. Volunteer with ADRP! Honestly, the best way to make connections. Sign up now!

Member Spotlight: Antonio Chavez-Askew

Member Spotlight: Antonio Chavez-Askew

Name: Antonio Chavez-Askew
Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Position: Stewardship Communications Coordinator
New ADRP Member!
Can you tell us about your educational and career trajectory? What led you to take a position in donor relations?
As a recent graduate, I purposefully applied to my current position as a Stewardship Communications Coordinator because I had an interest in public service and promoting inclusivity at my alma mater and now employer, UC Berkeley. My role in donor relations has been very rewarding, and I plan to stay in the field for the foreseeable future. Once I am more comfortable in my position, I hope to pursue a graduate degree: a master's in public administration or possibly a Ph.D. (primarily due to my undergraduate experience focused on qualitative research and my passion for international politics). 

This is your first ADRP conference! Are there any sessions you’re particularly looking forward to?

I signed up for an abundance of sessions for this year’s ADRP conference. I am thrilled to be attending my first conference, and I’m looking forward to two sessions in particular. As someone who will be managing a small team of student assistants as part of my new role, I’m excited  for Taking the Lead: A Skills, Strategies, and Best Practices Workshop for Team Leaders. In this new remote/hybrid work model, I am dedicated to creating an environment for my team that is simultaneously productive and positive – for both the assistants as well as the Fund Stewardship & Compliance team. Additionally, I hope to gain more knowledge on handling team conflict, especially given the barriers present in an online setting and the lack of face-to-face interaction. I also look forward to attending Stewardship Writing – The Five W's and an H. As someone relatively new to the stewardship field, I seek to improve my writing skills in a way that truly resonates with donors and learn how I can gain inspiration from the subject matter. 

What are you hoping to gain from attending the conference this year?

I hope to use this conference as a way to gain knowledge from others. I hope to meet a diverse cohort of ADRP members who can tell me more about how they landed in their current roles, and hear what advice they have for people just starting out in the field. I’m also looking forward to meeting others in similar roles to mine, and gaining insight on how to thrive in my current role, develop my skills, and grow my career.

Defining Nostalgia: Disease or Emotion?

Defining Nostalgia: Disease or Emotion?

The following is an excerpt from a blog post by the CEO of our conference platinum sponsor, Mythos.
John Budington
CEO, Mythos
On August 25, 1768, a ship named Endeavour carrying 94 Royal Navy sailors left Plymouth, England with 18 months of provisions. Unbeknownst to the crew, the captain possessed a secret set of orders that would take his ship on a journey that would last over a thousand days and not only add new territories to the English Empire—but also add the word nostalgia to the popular lexicon. But the origin of the word nostalgia lies in a much earlier voyage and was a medical diagnosis. Most of us today don’t think of nostalgia as a disease. So how did the definition evolve from a medical diagnosis to an emotional state? Why the transformation from a condition caused by a distant place to a longing for a past period of time? To answer that question, we must recognize the changes that occurred during the period of the Endeavour expedition.