NOVEMBER 14-16 2022





Join us for our 3-day, 4 Pillars Conference Experience and immerse yourself in comprehensive donor relations training—from fundamentals and best practices to new trends and next practices! We're bringing it all to New York—along with our core team of industry-leading experts to educate and inspire you. No other conference will teach you how to create amazing donor experiences like we will. 

During this 3-day event, you'll spend a full day diving into the 4 Pillars of Donor Relations and then take what you learn to the next level with another full day dedicated to the 4 Pillars of the Donor Experience. You'll also have the opportunity to choose from four half-day workshops focused on special topics in donor relations—fund reporting/stewardship, DEI in donor relations, behavior-based donor relations, and events. 


You can purchase one day, two days, or all three days of this conference:


The first day of the conference is based on Lynne Wester's book, The Four Pillars of Donor Relations. This interactive learning experience is perfect for anyone new to donor relations or the experienced professional. Filled with fresh content and real-life examples, day one of this conference will teach you the basics of donor relations as well as next practices and new industry trends.

We'll dive into each of the Four Pillars of Donor Relations—acknowledgment, stewardship, recognition, and engagement. Lynne and her team of experts will bring each topic to life as they share personal stories of tragedies, triumph, ridicule, and redemption. You’ll leave inspired and energized, equipped with tangible ideas that you can implement immediately with any size staff or budget.


We're presenting four half-day workshops on Day 2—two in the morning and two in the afternoon. Full conference registrations (all 3 days) include both the morning and afternoon workshops. Individual purchases can also be made to attend one or both sessions. 


Fund Reporting/Stewardship Workshop

Join us for a half-day Fund Stewardship Workshop on the principles of fund stewardship, compliance, and financial utilization. As we know, getting the gift in the door is only half the battle. Once it’s on the books, our jobs in Donor Relations begin with the long-term process of ensuring the funds are spent to maximum capacity in accordance with donor intent, and reported on annually to the donors. This dedicated workshop will focus on setting the stage with effective and sustainable gift agreements, fund audit and monitoring best practices, donor-centered stewardship activities (including a deep dive into fund reporting), and much more. We'll explore this complex issue while identifying key partners and data needs, as well as discuss the role of Donor Relations professionals in this arena. Whether you are new to this space, or need a refresher on the “science side of the house,” this workshop is for you!


DEI Workshop | Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and the Donor and Recipient Experience

For the past few years we’ve all been learning about how we can do better in light of DEI issues. Join us for this workshop where we take a deep and sometimes uncomfortable dive into how this affects the fundraising profession. We'll cover balancing a donor’s need for recognition and our need to walk the walk when it comes to inclusion. In addition, we'll spend quality time discussing the student or beneficiary experience of a donor’s generosity. We'll dive into what is best practice, what needs to change and how we build consensus around these needed changes. From greetings and salutations in our database to building inclusive communications, let’s discuss what matters most and how we can venture to always do better for all involved.


Events Workshop

Our events now and in the future have been forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. After a year and a half or more without in-person gatherings, our fundamental way of gathering has changed—for your organization and for your donors. Today's meaningful experiences are designed with purpose and donor interests in mind, not just gathering wealthy donors in a room without a thread of connectedness beyond the organization. We'll look at the stories our events are telling—to both attendees and non-attendees—and explore current societal norms around events, reflective of the times.

Behavior-Based Donor Relations Workshop

Let’s face it - the way we’ve always done it is fading into the background as new practices emerge. But some shops are still stuck in traditional thanking methods based on gift amount to define their communication and recognition efforts. We have finite resources, both in staff and budgets, and we must strategize ways to engage many donors with different interests and needs. By developing a program based on donor behaviors—not arbitrary giving amounts—we can ensure we are communicating gratitude and impact to donors at all levels of giving.


The Four Pillars of the Donor Experience, or the DX, is built upon the foundation of the Four Pillars of Donor Relations, but goes beyond the tactics that guide our work and instead applies to a living philosophy that guides the why behind our fundraising practices.


Put yourself in the donor’s shoes—they don’t want another lapel pin or bumper sticker. They want to know they make a difference to your institution and are valued. Donor appreciation is not expensive, but neglecting it can be. Research shows that it is 7 times more expensive to acquire a new donor than to keep the ones you already have. The solution is simple: put the donor first and consume yourself with the DX—their experience, not yours.


Day 3 of this conference begins with an evaluation of your current practice based on MECHANICS, COMMUNICATIONS, STRATEGY, and CULTURE to give you a clear idea of where to focus your resources and efforts. From there, each session is dedicated to breaking down the 4 Pillars of the DX—and teaching you how to create an extraordinary donor experience.

This conference has been approved for 18.75 CFRE points. 



Member Pricing



Á LA CARTE Pricing
Day 1: $525

Day 2: $275 for one session; $525 for both half-day sessions

Day 3: $525

Lunch is included with any full conference or full day purchase.

If you only purchase one half-day workshop on Day 2, a box lunch can be added to your purchase for an additional $25.


Non-Member Pricing






Day 1: $550

Day 2: $300 for one session; $550 for both half-day sessions

Day 3: $550

Lunch is included with any full conference or full day purchase.

If you only purchase one half-day workshop on Day 2, a box lunch can be added to your purchase for an additional $25.

3 Scholarships of $550 will be awarded for each day. Apply here




Lynne Wester

Principal and Founder

Donor Relations Guru

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Matthew Helmer

DRG Consultant & Strategist

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Sarah Sims

DRG Consultant & Strategist

Executive Director of Donor Engagement​

University of Houston

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Angie Joens

DRG Consultant & Strategist

Assistant Vice Chancellor of Development Outreach

University of California Davis




One of the best conferences I've been to. The mix of practical advice, statistics, best practices, and humor left me eager to return to my team and begin rethinking how we do our work.


The DRG team packed so much content into one day and really challenged participants to take a hard look not just at the practices themselves, but at the motivations behind them. I would recommend this conference for even the most experienced DR professional. You're certain to walk away with at LEAST one new concept or strategy to explore. 5 stars.


Best conference I've ever attended. This was my second time and I learned even more! I brought my leadership team this year and it has opened the door for a culture change in donor relations! We are blown away!


Thank you for a fantastic conference. Instead of leaving defeated with a list of things my organization doesn't do, I left feeling energized with a list of strategies and concepts I could brainstorm with my team.




9:00 AM | Introduction: Roadmap to the 4 Pillars

9:15 AM | Pillar One: Acknowledgments

A good acknowledgment is about more than just saying, "thank you." In this session, we'll teach you how to craft expressions of gratitude that will surprise and delight your donors. We'll discuss gift acceptance and receipts, thank you letters, pledge reminders, behavior-based thank you's (e.g., first-time donors), and more.

10:30 AM | Break

10:45 AM | Pillar Two: Stewardship and Reporting
Discover unique ways to show donors the true impact of their generosity. Demonstrating transparency and remaining donor-focused are key. We'll discuss broad-based and individual impact reports, how to prioritize your work based on audience and resources, and the components that go into an effective report.

12:00 PM | Lunch Break

1:00 PM | Pillar Three: Recognition
Events, giving societies, public displays—there are many ways to recognize donors (and a few you should avoid). We'll discuss how to create meaningful experiences that will make lasting impressions and leave donors wanting more.

2:15 PM | Break

2:30 PM | Pillar Four: Engagement

A donor is engaged once they are emotionally invested and committed to an organization. In this session, we'll show you what it takes to get them there. We'll share examples and ideas that you can implement at your organization to connect donors to your mission and turn them into loyal supporters.

3:45 PM | Wrap-Up & Q&A

4:30 PM | One-Day Conference Ends


8:30 AM - 12:00 PM (Choose One)
Fund Reporting/Stewardship Workshop OR 
DEI Workshop: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and the Donor and Recipient Experience

1:00 PM - 4:30 PM (Choose One)

Events Workshop OR Behavior-Based Donor Relations Workshop



9:00 AM | Introduction: The 4 Pillars of the Donor Experience

9:15 AM | Pillar One: Knowledge
Knowledge is power. Knowledge of our donors, their preferences, and their experiences isn’t strange or unnerving — it’s expected and mutually beneficial. Imagine how much more could be accomplished if there was an overall understanding and mindset that encourages consistent and positive data behavior.

What you will learn: 

  • Passive and active intelligence and data to further understand your donors

  • How to identify information gaps in your donor knowledge and techniques to fill these gaps

  • Techniques for defining your strategies and priorities both in the short- and long-term​

10:30 AM | Break

10:45 AM | Pillar Two: Strategy

Strategy isn’t simply a list of tasks that need to be undertaken in order to deepen the donor relationship. Strategy is charting a thoughtful path forward with the donor. Defining and outlining this journey is essential to success. Action with no strategy maintains the status quo.

What you’ll learn:

  • Strategies to increase donor retention such as ask-to-thank ratios, reporting impact of donations at all levels, and more

  • How to reshape communications in a donor-focused mindset using actionable intelligence

  • How to identify stop/start activities (what can stay and what must go) in order to reprioritize new efforts into your workload

12:00 PM | Lunch: Roundtable Discussions (Lunch is included in your conference registration)

1:00 PM | Pillar Three: Culture

Culture focuses on empowerment, excellence, and gratitude to help define your organization’s interactions with donors. An expectation of excellence is a behavior and application of a set of standards. During this session, we’ll uncover the startling power and dynamic of gratitude-based living. Living and practicing gratitude both internally and externally can transform relationships. It’s more than just thank you notes, it’s a lifestyle.

What you’ll learn:

  • How to create a culture of gratitude at your organization that will lead to both short- and long-term success

  • Healthy power dynamics and whose role it is to demonstrate gratitude at your organization

  • Best and next practices—as well as common pitfalls in gratitude

  • How to swap out traditional donor recognition for inclusive methods of gratitude that will ultimately affect the fundraising bottom line

2:15 PM | Break

2:30 PM | Pillar Four: Emotion

Emotions are at the center of the donor experience and are behind why donors give, why they remain loyal, and why they ultimately leave. There are many emotions that inspire donors to give—joy, sadness, anger, belief, nostalgia—the list goes on. The most successful nonprofits tap in to those emotions and convert them into action.

What you’ll learn:

  • How to infuse your communications with these same emotions for maximum impact and ROI in your fundraising and relationship efforts

  • Techniques for fixing a broken donor relationship and making it fruitful again in the future

  • How to craft extraordinary donor experiences that are one of a kind and allow a donor’s generosity to shine

3:45 PM | Wrap-Up & Q&A

4:30 PM | One-Day Conference Ends



Our sponsors allow us to keep our prices low while still providing you with the best experience possible. Thank you to our friends who partner with us to make these conferences and workshops possible. We couldn't do it without you! Click on their logos to learn more about the incredible work they're doing. 

Lunch Sponsor:


Printing Sponsor:

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Conference Location: 

ILR Conference Center

570 Lexington Ave, 12th Floor
Cornell University
New York NY 10022



The Westin New York Grand Central
212 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017

Click here for rates starting at $269/night