Director of Institutional Stewardship - Purdue University
About Hannah Moore
Hannah is the Director of Institutional Stewardship atPurdue University in WestLafayette, Indiana. She hasspent over 9 years in theAdvancement area in financial administration, donor relations and institutional stewardship.
During her career at Purdue, Hannah has been responsible for developing or revising many stewardship processes including donor acknowledgement and endowment reporting. Currently, she is working on a proposal to rebuild the stewardship infrastructure at the institutional level. She has also chaired several CASE conferences and has been a speaker at AFP and ADRP conferences.
The Fourth Annual Conference of the Association of Donor Relations Professionals will be held at the Omni La Mansión del Rio in San Antonio, Texas, December 4-6, 2007 (Tuesday-Thursday). Pre-conference Institutes are slated for Monday, December 3.
ADRP is the authoritative organization and advocate for the donor relations and stewardship profession. The organization supports the development community by promoting the professional status of donor relations and stewardship offices through educational, professional development and networking opportunities.
Interview by George Williams,
Communications Specialist, Planned Legacy
Planned Legacy: Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to become involved in the field of donor relations?
Hannah Moore: I’ve worked in higher education for well over 20 years. This is something I have a passion for, and using my financial background, I moved into the Advancement area more than 9 1/2 years ago. As I learned more about philanthropy in higher education, I became more interested in how the University interacts with their donors. Providing accurate and timely financial reports to donors is so critical to successful fundraising. When I was approached about taking over the donor relations area, I felt it was a good fit.
Planned Legacy: The profession of donor relations is becoming increasingly more important and formalized. Can you give us some insights into why this is occurring?
Hannah Moore: As the competition for donor dollars becomes more intense, the need for accurate and consistent communications with donors and future donors becomes more important. I’ve mentioned that my current project is shoring up the infrastructure for institutional stewardship at Purdue.
This large University is very decentralized with colleges and units often providing their donors with information and communications that are not standardized for giving levels. With this project we hope to provide our donors more consistent stewardship without losing the unique identity of each college or unit. Over the past few years, great strides have been made in this area but much remains to be accomplished.
Planned Legacy: How do donor recognition and donor relations tie together?
Hannah Moore: I believe that donor recognition is a very important part of donor relations. The relationship with the donor is taken to another level by recognizing the donor for their philanthropy. The donor recognition is an integral part of the stewardship package.
Planned Legacy: Many donors claim that they don’t want any recognition, but in your experience what is the truth in general?
Hannah Moore: I believe almost all donors want to be recognized in some way, either publicly or privately. When a donor tells you they don't want to be recognized, I think they are referring to public recognition. Recognition can take the form of a personalized thank you letter from a scholarship recipient or an impact report on how their donations are being used to further the mission of the organization. Some of the most effective stewardship is through this private recognition. A donor gives because they believe in the mission of the institution and they want to make a difference.
Planned Legacy: What are some of the most important things donor relations professional can do when working with donors?
Hannah Moore: Most often, as a donor relations professional, I would come into contact with a donor because there is a problem or issue with a communication from the University. First and foremost, I will listen to the donor and find out exactly what the issue is. At this point I will thank the donor for bringing this to my attention. If I can’t give a quick and accurate answer, I will do my research and find out how the misunderstanding occurred.
When I make contact with the donor, I will assure the donor that the problem has been, or will be, corrected; let the donor know exactly how it will be resolved; offer to send the donor a revised report if need be; apologize to the donor of any inconvenience we caused them; and again thank them for bringing it to my attention.
Obviously not all situations might warrant all of these steps but any communication must be done in a timely manner. In some ways, the issue or problem can be looked at as an opportunity to develop a relationship with the donor, as long as it’s resolved to the donor's satisfaction.
Planned Legacy: Can you provide some insights into the type of donor relations provided for different programs?
Hannah Moore: In the case of the scholarship donor, the donor might be provided with an endowment or annual financial report, personalized thank you letters from the student(s) and an event bringing donors and students together. Donors to a faculty chair might expect a financial report, a report on the faculty member’s work, and a visit to the classroom or small event with the faculty member in attendance. Each type of, and level of donation, requires its own stewardship plan.
Planned Legacy: How does the practice of donor relations differ depending on the level of giving for a particular donor?
Hannah Moore: Usually it seems that more time and money are spent on donors with the highest levels of giving. But, this is not always the case. In order to bring donors to a higher level of giving, more attention might be paid to the mid-level donor than to a major donor who has already made their legacy gift. Lifetime stewardship for this donor might be relatively inexpensive. Recruiting new donors and bringing the lower level donors up to a major gift level takes time, patience and creativity.
Planned Legacy: What are the most important things donors want from a non-profit organization?
Hannah Moore: Timely acknowledgement, assurance that the donation is used according to donor intent and assurance that the donation is being used at all are, in my experience, the most important things we can provide our donors. Accurate, readable financial and impact statements are more and more common from non-profits and are, therefore, becoming a part of a donor’s expectations.
Planned Legacy: Do you have any recommendations regarding skills and education for new and aspiring donor relations professionals?
Hannah Moore: First and foremost, the donor relations professional must like to work with the donors. This is a lot like working with the public in that each person you come into contact with is either a donor or a potential donor.
The aspiring donor relations professional should also have a good understanding of finance and accounting. In order to steward the donor, we have to be able to let that donor know how their valuable gift was used.
Another way to prepare for a career in donor relations is to volunteer in your community. Understanding how a non-profit works through the eyes of a donor helps you to see a donor’s side of the giving transaction.
It’s an exciting and rewarding profession. By following good stewardship practices with your donors, you are doing your part to further the mission of the non-profit you work for. Believing in the mission and knowing you are making a difference can give you a wonderful sense of satisfaction.
About Purdue University
Purdue University is a coeducational, state-assisted system in Indiana. Founded in 1869 and named after benefactor John Purdue, the University is one of the nation's leading research institutions with a reputation for excellent and affordable education.
Building upon historical strengths in engineering and agriculture, the West Lafayette campus currently offers 7,400 courses in more than 500 undergraduate majors and specializations in the schools/colleges of Agriculture, Consumer and Family Sciences, Education, Engineering, Health Sciences, Liberal Arts, Management, Nursing, Pharmacy and Pharmacal Sciences, Science, Technology, and Veterinary Medicine.
Programs of graduate study and research leading to advanced degrees fall under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School.