The Hub
May 2019 Volume 17 Issue 5

In This Issue...

ADRP Officer and Director Nominations Now Open

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We are also recruiting volunteers for the conference committees to help shape the 16th Annual ADRP International Conference in Miami! If you’re interested, check out our website to sign up!

Upcoming Webinars

Create a Program That Will Inspire Your Donors
Tuesday, June 11

View all 2019 Webinars

2019 Regional Events

5th Annual Midwest Regional Forum
Thursday, July 25
Evanston, Illinois

Online registration will open soon.

Help us plan a regional event!
Contact the ADRP Office if you'd like to help plan a Regional Event in your area in 2019 or to learn more.

ADRP Resources

Network: Take advantage of the Member Directory in the Member Center

Support ADRP: Explore Sponsorship Opportunities

Job Search: Visit the ADRP Career Center

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In Service: The Column of the ADRP President

Jen McGrath
Senior Director, Donor Relations & Stewardship
MIT Resource Development

This month, The Hub is all about endowments. Read on for an overview of how one institution implemented a new endowment reporting process; a reflection on the importance of finding the narrative story and communicating in the manner your donors want to hear from you; and (in a piece from the ADRP archives) a collection of samples/advice from the listserv about how to talk about endowments in a way that engages donors and prospects.

There is no shortage of endowment-related topics to discuss, though it wasn't until I was on the other side of my brief stint as a major gift officer and in a development communications role (with the director of stewardship and donor relations as my favorite "client") that I truly came to appreciate the complications and complexity of managing and stewarding endowed funds. That was in 2008 and my education was expedited as the U.S. was experiencing what came to be viewed as the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression of 1929.

Against that backdrop, the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA) was enacted. This update to a previous law (UMIFA) allows institutions to spend from a fund that is "underwater" (when the invested assets are less than the original amount of the gift) and sets standards that protect the original intent of donors and encourages sensible management of investments. As a result, my employer — along with many others — was able to access and apply funds when investment returns and philanthropic gifts were lower than usual. And I had a hand in trying to explain it all to our donors!

Nearly a decade later, with an ever-improving economy, the attention — particularly in higher education — has shifted (among other provisions as part of a national tax bill passed in 2017) to taxing the investment income of endowments belonging to certain institutions with large endowments, including MIT. Similarly, though ultimately much less successfully here, in Massachusetts we had a gubernatorial candidate who was suggesting an additional tax on certain nonprofit college and university endowments, aimed at generating $1 billion a year in revenue for the Commonwealth.

Some might consider these measures to identify additional sources of revenue to serve the greater public good well-intentioned. Others, arguing against them, note that the tax obligation forces institutions to divert funds from financial aid, research, and salaries, ultimately having a detrimental effect on education, jobs, and the economy.

Either way, what I think is missing from the current debate is an acknowledgement of donor intent. I often feel this same way when I read the "comments" following a news story announcing a major gift. Argh.

Case in point: this fall, MIT announced a gift and corresponding institutional commitment to create a new college of computing "to address the global opportunities and challenges presented by the prevalence of computing and the rise of artificial intelligence." Among the responses to one of the articles about the gift, I found this comment: "Yea bc we have a shortage of computer geeks...How bout fund the medical field so our nurses don't have to carry these google doctors. [sic]"

While I'm not entirely sure what this particular writer has in mind, this comment follows the same formula: supplant the donor's intention/desire for impact/free will in supporting a cause meaningful to them with something else that the writer/public official/governing body thinks is a better purpose. Sigh. (I do recognize that there are plenty of significant needs and causes worthy of additional support; we all represent so many of those organizations.)

How can we, as donor relations professionals, help? I invite your additions to this list, but here's what's top of mind for me:

  • Assure that we are well-versed in the ins and outs of endowments, including the applicable policies at our institutions that govern their spending and how that impacts the budget. For example, I know that in fiscal 2018, endowment support provided 26.8% of MIT's campus operating revenues, which is an increase from previous years thanks, in part, to particularly strong investment performance in both 2017 and 2018.
  • Assess what our donors know and don't know about endowments and try to address those gaps. This year, we added an Understanding Your Fund Report page to our financial reports with a primer on fund principal, market value, and distribution rate. (This has reduced, though not eliminated, questions from report recipients.)
  • Ensure that donors and prospects understand the need to find the delicate balance between fully capturing their use preferences while allowing our organizations the greatest flexibility to assure that these funds can continue to be used in perpetuity. While I love a good puzzle as much as anyone, I don't have particularly fond memories of working with my partners in financial aid at another institution to try to find a student who graduated from a particular high school pursuing nursing, long after that School had ceased to exist. (We did eventually update the fund restrictions.)

Finally, to the brave among us who are willing to chime in and try to educate the masses in the online "comments" section, at the neighborhood block party, or on the sidelines at your kids' soccer game — bravo!

What did I miss? Have ideas or reflections of your own to share? As always, I'd love to hear from you directly on LinkedIn and @JenNesbit. Please also engage with ADRP on Facebook, LinkedIn and @ADRPtweets.

Taming the Endowment Reporting Process at Emory

Michelle Hiskey
Associate Director of Editorial Content, Donor Relations
Emory University

Donors to Emory University’s $7 billion endowment surveyed a year ago said that the most significant improvement would be quicker delivery. Most had received their reports in April 2018, eight months after our fiscal year ended. With more than 1,200 reports due to almost 1,500 stewardees, could we shave two months off that timeline?

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Endowment Report Writing: Find the Story

Shannon Morris
Manager, Donor Communications
Cincinnati Museum Center

In donor relations, I think that all of us could claim the job title of Storyteller. From a relationship manager telling the story of a successful program to a donor, to a board member sharing their testimonial with someone in their network, to a stewardship officer crafting an annual report, we’re all constantly telling stories that inspire. Endowment reports are no different.

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From the Archives: How to Explain Endowments Well

Back in 2014, an ADRP member from the University of Central Florida Foundation sought to create an “Endowments 101” or “Endowments for Dummies” document to help explain the details of endowment funding to donors in a simple and compelling way. She reached out to the ADRP listserv and received several excellent examples. Although the samples themselves may now be outdated, the core principle is timeless: even complex informational documents can be both educational and inspiring.

Read More 

Member Spotlight

Katherine Elizabeth Armstrong professional headshot

Katherine Elizabeth Armstrong
Donor Relations Coordinator
Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

ADRP member for one year

How long have you worked in donor relations/stewardship and how did you get involved in this profession?

For many years, I was a teacher and loved my work...really making a difference in the lives of children and families. However, when I returned to my alma mater in pursuit of a second master’s degree, I was taken by the Master of Public Affairs program at Indiana University. I jumped on board and began a journey of discovery in the fields of non-profit management. I interned at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and was later hired on as part of the Advancement team.

Learn More

Pink miami skyline with ADRP 2019 conference theme Turn Up the Heat overlay

2019 ADRP International Conference

#ADRP2019 is excited to host our 16th Annual International Conference in sunny Miami, Florida, where we will Turn Up the Heat in donor relations. Join a cohort of more than 600 stewardship professionals as you attend insightful sessions, power through compelling and relevant workshops, and get your burning questions answered by experts in the profession.

Check out the official ADRP 2019 Conference website to learn more.

The Heat is On!: Why the 16th Annual ADRP International Conference is the Hottest Ticket in Miami 

Nöel Schiber & Mary Weingartner
Conference Co-Chairs

Last year, more than 600 of you, our sisters and brothers in the art and science of donor relations and stewardship, put the 15th Annual ADRP International Conference on the map. That map point, of course, was St. Louis, Missouri. And in St. Louis, with its majestic Gateway Arch on the horizon, we were inspired together to take new paths and explore fresh ideas. We truly passed through “A Gateway to Good,” and we hope that everyone departed with renewed passion for trail blazing and a heartfelt belief that our work is making the world a better place.

Read the Blog

Donor Relations is all about Relationships

Come learn, share, and celebrate at the ADRP Midwest Regional Forum!

July 25, 2019
Northwestern University

Ready to add a few more tips and tricks to your stewardship playbook? Join us for a one-day opportunity to connect with fellow donor relations professionals, learn new ideas and concepts, discuss best practices, and share what you’ve learned from your own experiences. The Forum is open to ADRP members and non-members alike. Registration for the 5th Annual Midwest Regional Forum will open soon!

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Write for The Hub: We Want to Hear from You!

The Hub is seeking article proposals for new monthly issues!

Do you have a success story you would like to share? How did you handle a particular problem or project that seemed insurmountable? Have you discovered effective tactics that help gain a seat at the table? What are your thoughts on best practices or new, emerging ideas that take a donor relations/stewardship program to the next level?

We want to encourage our members—new and experienced—to share their insights, best practices, and what works (or doesn’t work!) when planning their shop’s programming and responsibilities.

We welcome all submissions related to donor relations and stewardship, but we especially encourage ADRP members to step forward and share their expertise and experiences in the profession.

The submission form is available any time you have an article proposal to submit. We have included the webinar topics for each month, in case you would like to tie your article to a specific webinar topic.

Please submit your article proposal today! We can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

Submit an Article

The Association of Donor Relations Professionals (ADRP) is a nonprofit business league organized under the laws of the State of New Hampshire. Its goals are to offer professional development opportunities, to promote the donor relations and stewardship professions, and to foster networking. ADRP is an international organization with members from all sectors of the non-profit world: education, health care, arts, and community organizations.

Our core organizational values are:
Visionary leadership • Absolute integrity • Member empowerment and connection
Service and program excellence • Responsible philanthropy

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