The Association of Donor Relations Professionals Best Practices

In 2008, the Association of Donor Relations Professionals (ADRP) and the Association of Advancement Services Professionals (AASP) announced an ambitious joint initiative to create a single, authoritative source of best practice guidance across all areas of their respective professions of advancement support and donor relations and stewardship. 

To that end, the ADRP Board of Directors created a committee and charged it with proposing definitions, best practices, and recommendations for the ADRP membership’s consideration and comment.  The next phase of the project is to obtain the feedback of the ADRP membership that will be used to create a final document for use by members to help create effective and efficient programming.  ADRP will release a series of definitions and best practice recommendations, drafted by a committee of seasoned professionals and accompanied by examples.  Feedback on the text and samples to illustrate it will be incorporated into the final recommendations and published in a members-only, definitive guide to stewardship and donor relations.

For information about AASP’s best practices, please visit

June 2011:Gift Acceptance

Gift acceptance covers issues ranging from gift acceptance, institutional minimum requirements, and documentation policies and practices.  What did we miss or misstate?  Send your comments and samples to Daphne Powell at

July 2011: Acknowledgment

Acknowledgment is a central component of the stewardship cycle – and it is the focus of this, the second installment of the best recommendations series.  Policies and practices on topics including memorial donors and acknowledgment vehicles are covered.  As always, your comments on what we missed or misstated and your samples are welcomed.  Please send them to committee chair Julie Bostian at

August 2011: Reporting

The final installment in the donor recognition series addresses reporting.  For most of us, preparing meaningful and compelling reports for donors is a number one priority.  Read what we have identified as the minimum requirements and the features that distinguish truly exceptional reporting.  Contact Kay Coughlin at to let her know what is missing or misstated.  And, be sure to send her your samples.

October 2011: Donor Recognition

Central to any stewardship program is donor recognition.  The issues and pitfalls are plentiful – and the third installment in the best recommendation series attempts to address them all.  What do you think?  Did we miss or misstate anything?  If so, please let committee chair Paige Eubank Barrows know.  Send your comments – and samples – to her at

May 2012: Policy and Procedure Manual
A Policy and Procedure Manual can be a great tool to help you organize and define your department/office work areas and responsibilities, and helps reinforce the value of your donor relations/stewardship efforts within your institution’s development program.  This installment of the Best Practices utilizes this tool to examine these possible policies and/or procedures for your office.  Please send your comments and questions to Gina Ferreri at

Thanks to all ADRP members - your professionalism and creativity have set the standards for our field – and your input will contribute to a meaningful reference guide. The success – and ultimate utility of this endeavor – depends on your participation!

The Association of Donor Relations Professionals previously published definitions of "donor relations" and "stewardship" in November 2010

Using These Best Practices

The responsibilities assigned to a specific donor relations/stewardship professional may vary depending on the size and organizational structure of the nonprofits they serve.  Not surprisingly, donor relations/stewardship professionals in small organizations tend to be in “one stop” shops.  In larger organizations, donor relations/stewardship professionals may be part of their organizations’ operations, finance, communications, and/or major gifts departments, and their roles and responsibilities may be adjusted accordingly.

ADRP recommends that donor relations/stewardship professionals consult these best practices and recommendations for assistance in developing and refining their programs.  It is good to note, however, that application may need to be modified to specific needs, models or budgets.

Additional definitions

Gifts” may be used here to refer to any type of contribution received by an organization (including include outright gifts, pledges, pledge payments, gifts in kind, matching gifts and planned gifts) unless otherwise indicated.  Gifts may include cash, stock, in-kind and bequests.

Gifts may be unrestricted or designated for a specific purpose.  Restricted gifts may be designated for endowed funds, capital projects, and/or current use.

Planned giving may encompass estate planning, bequests, charitable giving opportunities, annuities, and tax deferred vehicles.

The Association of Donor Relations Professionals best practices document was prepared by the following donor relations and stewardship professionals.

Gift Acceptance

Chair: Daphne Powell, Director of Stewardship and Donor Relations, The University of Alabama at Birmingham

Committee members:

Tiffany Adams, Assistant Director of Stewardship and Donor Relations, The University of Alabama at Birmingham

Carole Marks, Director of Donor Relations, Children’s Health System

Sarah Sims, Associate Director of Philanthropy, The Nature Conservancy

Jessica Veitch, Stewardship Coordinator, CAMH Foundation


Chair: Julie Bostian, Assistant Director, Medical Center Stewardship, Georgetown University

Committee members:

Daniel Wilcock, Georgetown University

Gilian Brannan, University of Maryland

Kirsten Rasmussen, George Washington University

Donor Recognition

Chair: Paige Eubanks-Barrows, Associate Director of Donor Relations, Carnegie Mellon University


Chair: Kay Coughlin, Director of Stewardship, Oberlin College

Committee members:

Pam Calig, Associate Director of Donor Services, Carnegie-Mellon University

G. David England, Associate Vice President/Advancement, Lipscomb University


Lori E. Green, Asst Director of Stewardship & Donor Relations at UAB

Bonnie Weeks, Director of Stewardship, Phillips Exeter Academy