Member Spotlight: Andrew Graves

Andrew Graves
Donor Retention and Stewardship Manager
University of Technology Sydney

ADRP Member for 4 Years

How long have you worked in donor relations/stewardship and how did you get involved in this profession?
It’s actually been about 13 years now (how time flies!), the last six at University of Technology Sydney (UTS). It all started when an aptitude was spotted by a former boss who asked me to go back to work at his organisation. He was proposing a role I had not thought of as “for me,” but it turned out that he was right.   

Could you tell us something about the organization you work for?
The University of Technology Sydney is a fairly young but ambitious university, proudly prominent in the Central Business District, surrounded by other creative and innovative organisations. We have around 40,000 students over all study levels and a wonderfully diverse body of staff and students across eight Faculties. Social justice and equal opportunity to pursue an excellent university experience are the cornerstones of our organisational culture.

What do you like most about being a member of ADRP?
Knowing that I am not alone! Being part of a global community that delights in sharing experience and knowledge is very comforting!  

What is your greatest donor relations/stewardship achievement?  
Every time a donor gives again is a satisfying moment, but when a donor decides for themselves that a project you have introduced them to is the “next big thing” for them, that is the best part. Getting to know the individual well enough to match interest, expectations, capacity, opportunity, and timing is the most rewarding achievement. 

What is the most important professional goal you are currently pursuing, i.e., attaining a degree, preparing to give a presentation, launching an initiative at work or in your community, etc.?
Right now, as we continue ever more-so to build a culture of philanthropy in the university, I am working hard on being a better public speaker – something that is not my natural inclination (!), but is increasingly necessary.

How big a role does the use of social media play in your work?
The nature of most of what I do is personal, so social media is not a tool I use greatly. However, I do think this will change over time.

Is there a resource, i.e., book, blog, website, etc., that you would recommend to other ADRP members?
This is really skewed towards the education industry, but I find the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) reporting rules is a document I refer to time and time again.

What is the best piece of professional advice you have ever received?
Try to remember that everybody will see things through their own lens, which points to empathy as being key. 

Are there any particular stories, insights, etc., from your experiences in donor relations and stewardship that you would like to share with our colleagues?
Good old good manners and customer service make all the difference. A complaint is an opportunity. Go to meet as many people as you can. 

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