SARAH SIMS

Executive Director, Donor Relations

University of Florida

sarah@donorrelationsguru.com

AREAS OF EXPERTISE

  • Top Donor Strategy

  • Donor Engagement

  • Program Development

  • Impact Reporting

  • Fund Auditing

  • Major Gift Development

Sarah is a leader in the donor relations field with more than 15 years’ experience. She currently leads the donor relations team at the University of Florida and spearheaded a reorganization that ensures all donors are properly thanked, recognized, and engaged. She has built and is now executing a comprehensive donor relations campaign strategy to support the organization’s $3B capital campaign. Sarah previously built donor-centered engagement, recognition, and reporting programs from the ground up at two different Big 12 universities. She has spearheaded the creation of many new initiatives and programs in the higher education and non-profit sectors aimed to not only steward past gifts, but to inspire future philanthropic giving. Her hallmark programs have generated several millions of dollars in additional contributions from donors. 

 

Drawing from her strengths in strategy and execution, Sarah is always looking for ways to turn challenges into opportunities. She believes that every team member is a fundraiser no matter their title, and every donor relations initiative should be designed to impact the bottom line. Looking towards the future of the donor relations field, Sarah focuses on the art and science of blending stewardship and cultivation.

 

Sarah has served on the CASE IV Board of Directors as well as in several volunteer roles through the Association of Donor Relations Professionals and Association of Advancement Services Professionals. Sarah earned her Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and presents regularly through conferences and on-line webinars.

PRESENTATION TOPICS

Sarah is available to present or lead conversations on the following topics: 

From 1 to 1,000; First Time Donors to Million Dollar Givers; Implementing a Donor Relations Program to Inspire the Next Gift 

From creating or managing giving societies and donor recognition programs, to implementing individual top donor engagement plans, this session will help you explore how to implement a comprehensive donor relations program that fits your institution’s unique needs. After successfully winding down a $1B+ Campaign, Sarah will share how a solid donor relations and stewardship program is laying the groundwork for the next big campaign. Join this session for candid conversation about lessons learned from program successes and even a few failures, exploration on how to partner with our frontline development officer colleagues and how to maximize your donor relations impact. 

Solutions for Bringing Customized Impact Reports to Life

Donors want to know not only how their gifts are used, but also how their gifts have helped the institution. Whether you are communicating about a one-time project or a donor's lifetime giving, Impact Reports are a low-cost, highly effective and engaging way to steward donors at all levels. Many institutions don't know where to begin or how to collaborate internally in order to obtain the necessary information needed for compelling, personalized impact reports. Join us as we explore the framework for an impact reporting program that institutions can adopt no matter their size.  

Planned Serendipity: How to Surprise and Delight the Top of your Donor Pyramid

Your acknowledgement letters bring tears to your donors' eyes, your impact reports make them swell with pride, and your events draw crowds. But what are the highly personalized ways in which you can demonstrate that you know your donors as individuals? How do you use donor relations and individual engagement plans to strategically move and deepen the relationship? "Surprise and Delight" is a term coined by development consultant Susan Washburn to describe the little, unexpected ways to engage with your donors - leading to great dividends. Join us as we explore some of the innovative and ingenious ideas being implemented across the country to bring about "planned serendipity&" with our largest and most dedicated donors.

 

Donor Relations and Capital Campaigns – How Will You Lead?

This webinar is designed as a campaign primer where we explore the preparation and strategic planning processes leading into a campaign. It is geared towards how to have a voice at the table, the things you and your DR team need to do before, during and after a campaign, and what DR programs/initiatives are key to a campaign's success. We will explore strategy documents, creative samples of program deliverables, and discuss how you can successfully lead in this space. It will be fun, fast paced, packed with samples, and cover a lot of ground. 

 

Taming the Beast: Tiering Your Endowment Reports to Slay Inefficiency

Endowment reporting can become a beast. It often becomes an all-consuming task that sucks time, resources and ROI from your team. As organizational endowments grow and the number of funds, complexity of agreements, and demand for impact reporting increase exponentially, your donor relations and stewardship teams must develop creative and efficient ways to slay to the beast. Join us as we explore how to evaluate your endowment reporting process and develop tiering mechanisms to ensure you are putting your resources where they matter….and your donor remains the knight in shining armor.

 

The ABC’s of Fund Auditing

It’s not sexy or glamorous or even fun most days. But fund stewardship is the building blocks on which all of donor relations is built. If we don’t administer, award, and steward our funds correctly, we might as well get out of the sandbox all together. The process can be overwhelming though and knowing where and how to start a comprehensive fund audit can be the toughest step. In this webinar, Lynne and Sarah will break it down and guide you through the process, sample timelines, pitfalls to avoid, and policy/governance changes to implement going forward. It may not be pretty, but fund auditing is time well spent!

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