6E | Illuminating the Why Behind Giving in Higher Education: the Student Ambassador Program

Thursday, Sept 22
1:15 - 2:15 PM

Arts, Education, Non Profit (Social/Environment/Advocacy/Religion)

Experience Level
Midlevel (2-5 years), Experienced (5+ years)

Shop Size
Suitable for any size shop

Because students are the reason many donors give to higher education, it makes sense they are incredibly effective at highlighting the impact of donor support and the difference it makes in their university experience. University Advancement at Western Washington University has employed more than 20 students to enhance the donor experience at presidential and fundraising events and provide donor relations services to the Donor Relations Office and throughout campus. The Student Ambassador Program is in its fifth year and is now a highly sought-after on-campus job. 

The Student Ambassador Program has grown to define many things at Western - it is the highlight for donors in their interactions with Western, it embodies the heart and soul of donor relations at its core, and it's proven to be an incredibly meaningful experience and growth opportunity for the students employed in the program. Both the hiring and training process are rigorous; the students who are selected for the Program are some of the brightest and best on campus. They grow to be comfortable and capable of gracefully engaging with people across a wide variety of ages and backgrounds, ensuring our donor?s interactions with Western are impeccably positive and meaningful. 

The presentation will run through why the program was created, how it has proven to be incredibly effective, the donor services the program offers, the nuts and bolts of how the program operates and the tremendous benefits realized by the Ambassadors themselves. It will serve as a road map to creating a similar program and as inspiration to creatively employ donor relations to support and empower both the organization and the donor. 


Bre Cain

Bre Cain is the Donor Relations Director at Western Washington University, a public institution nestled between the ocean and the mountains in Bellingham, Washington. She finds great joy in helping donors invest in their passions and bringing their dreams to life. Bre has spent nearly half of her nine year professional career in the development field, and is proud to be a part of a meaningful and transformative line of work. In her spare time, she enjoys fishing with her husband, Justin; attempting to grow a vegetable garden; playing with her puppy; and riding horses. Bre was born in Tucson, Arizona and raised in Skagit County, Washington.


Mark Bagley

Mark Bagley is Senior Director for the Western Washington University Foundation in Bellingham, WA. His nearly 30-year career in fundraising has spanned almost every aspect of development: major gift work, annual giving, events, alumni relations, donor relations, and communications. He created the formal donor relations position at WWU and hired its first director, and co-founded the Ambassador program in 2008. Mark was born and raised in Los Angeles and has worked at Western since 1998. In his free time, he can be found tending his yard, garden, and ever-expanding brood of hens.