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In Service: The Column of the ADRP President - February 2024

Brie Aguila | ADRP President Asst. Vice Chancellor for External Relations
Office of Advancement 
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus



Happy Feb-YOU-ary!!

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Meet Your 2024 Conference Chairs: Kimberly and Dawn

Dear ADRP Members and Friends,

We are deeply honored to serve you and our global philanthropic community as chairs of the 2024 Association of Donor Relations Professionals International Conference, September 15 - 18, 2024, in Indianapolis, IN.

This opportunity holds deep personal significance as ADRP has played a pivotal role in shaping fulfilling careers, forging lasting connections, and grounding us in gratitude. We wouldn’t be here without so many of you. ADRP's steadfast commitment to excellence, innovation, and nurturing authentic connections has truly been transformative, and to now have the privilege of contributing to an association that has profoundly influenced our lives is both humbling and inspiring. 

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. 

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In Service: The Column of the ADRP President - January 2024

Brie Aguila | ADRP President Asst. Vice Chancellor for External Relations
Office of Advancement 
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus



Hello, and Happy New Year!

We made it through the end of the year, and it feels like 2024 is already flying by. I have just returned from Seattle, where your ADRP board met to plan for the years ahead. I continue to be impressed and honored to serve with this board. They bring passion, curiosity, fun, and so much drive to make ADRP the best it can be. We got a sneak peek into the Donor Relations Fundamentals Curriculum and the timeline for the year — get ready! We finalized our budget and started plans for the next MyADRP Live in Boston, hopefully in June! Plus, there is so much energy around regionals for the Midwest, Northeast Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast. We discussed updates from the various committees, and they have been busy! 

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Member Spotlight: Heather James

Heather James 
University of Minnesota | CFANS Development Office
Stewardship and Donor Relations Specialist 


About Heather

Can you tell us about your career trajectory? How did you come into donor relations as a career?
Unexpectedly. In 2019, just short of my 20th anniversary at my previous company in a different sector, my position was eliminated. It was scary! I’d found that job in the newspaper. (You know, that big paper thing that would show up at your door and turn your hands inky when you looked through it…) So, it had been a while since I had looked for a job. It was also in a bit of a unique position, and I wasn’t finding similar positions out there. Also, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do the same thing. There were aspects of my former position that I liked a lot, but I was often rather bored. 

I found some state career resources for dislocated workers that were helpful in not only figuring out modern job search methods but in helping me figure out a path that might suit me. I decided to take a fundraising certificate program at a local university—and I loved it. I made sure to avail myself of the revolving instructors, who all worked in some aspect of fundraising, to ask what advice they might have for my situation. The first one I spoke with quickly ascertained from what I told him that donor relations/stewardship had actually been part of the work I had been doing—I just didn’t know it or call it that. That work was some of what I had enjoyed doing at my old gig, so I looked into it and thought it seemed a good fit. 

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In Service: The Column of the ADRP President - December 2023

Brie Aguila | ADRP President Asst. Vice Chancellor for External Relations
Office of Advancement 
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Anyone else just trying to keep your head above water? While I know it’s that time of year, I continue to find myself caught off guard sometimes. Between the increase in personal commitments this month coupled with end-of-year giving and time away from the office— there aren’t enough hours in the day. And yet, it is also this time of year that I am reminded why we do this work.

In my day job, we often say, "There's a hole in people's hearts that can only be filled by generosity and service. People want to be connected to something bigger than themselves that will echo beyond their lifetimes." We see our job as assisting our benefactors in filling that hole and creating lasting change in the world through their philanthropy. 

I honestly believe that without the work you all do in donor relations and stewardship, filling that hole isn’t possible. You take the time to acknowledge and report impact. You take the time to convey the importance of their support. You take the time to surprise and delight. Without you, the connection to something bigger and the desire to change the world would fall a little flat. 

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A Year in Review - 2023

ADRP's Big Hairy Audacious Goal is to be universally recognized as the authority on donor engagement in the philanthropy profession. We are in the middle of executing a five-year strategic plan that serves as a road map and we’ve made significant strides in 2023.

As we end the year, let’s be proud of our profession and our own accomplishments as donor relations experts. If you see something that makes you smile or warms your heart, consider sending a note to a fellow ADRP member who may have led the way or share the sentiment with others via MY ADRP. If you have feedback or wish to get involved to move the needle even further, consider becoming a volunteer.

We remain grateful to all members and look forward to an equally productive 2024.


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In Service: The Column of the ADRP President - November

Brie Aguila | ADRP President Asst. Vice Chancellor for External Relations
Office of Advancement 
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

This is my favorite time of year. It is the one time of year when gratitude is front and center for everyone. Since in donor relations we wish gratitude took center stage all year round, I take the opportunity to really enjoy the season of gratitude. Did anyone count how many times I’ve used the word gratitude?!

I am grateful for every one of you. Each member strengthens our expertise, and each volunteer invests their time for the greater good of our industry and ADRP. 

I recently heard that the reason the car windshield is so big and the rearview mirror is so small is that we should always be looking forward. That resonated with me, but in my gratefulness and reflection, I can’t help but look in the rearview mirror and know we wouldn’t be where we are today without every one of you. I hope you take time this season to reflect, and explore your own gratitude, whether personally or professionally (but hopefully a little bit of both!). I encourage you to share your gratitude with someone who contributes to it. In donor relations, we see firsthand how meaningful it is to be thanked. Never underestimate the power your gratitude has to change someone’s day for the better. 

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Member Spotlight: Brie Aguila

Brie Aguila 
Asst. Vice Chancellor for External Relations
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

1. Can you tell us about your career trajectory? How did you come into donor relations as a career?
I actually started as a development assistant and had no idea that philanthropy existed in such a sophisticated fashion. I moved into frontline fundraising for a period of time and then an opening became available in stewardship. I had a legal background and loved fund agreements and compliance so it was an easy jump for me. I was a one-person shop that was barely doing acknowledgement letters and only a handful of events. Fast forward 12 years later, and we have a fully established team that I am so proud to be a part of. 

2. What influenced your interest in and passion for donor relations? 
My interest really stemmed from my legal background. I was able to be a part of showing impact for a donor’s generosity, I was hooked! Creating memorable experiences and moments for those choosing to invest in our institution is so humbling and rewarding!

3. What lessons, words of advice/inspiration would you like to pass on to other donor relations professionals?
It can be overwhelming when it feels you have so many things you aren’t doing but you want to do. Make small goals and as you meet them, look to the next. In addition, always think about your experiences with organizations, businesses, etc. If it appealed to you, how can you replicate it in your work?

4. Can you talk about a specific donor engagement or stewardship activity that makes you feel like you are providing the best experience for donors?  
We are HUGE fans of “think-its” not trinkets. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, or be free, it just needs to be thoughtful. It needs to be about the person and show you are really listening to them.  

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In Service: The Column of the ADRP President - October 2023

Brie Aguila | ADRP President 
Asst. Vice Chancellor for External Relations
Office of Advancement 
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Anyone else getting into the spooky, creepy, scary season…or maybe just the fall vibes? I left Minneapolis with all the fall vibes, but then I returned home to reflect on the amazing conference and found myself with a bad case of the “scaries.” The conference represents a wonderful time to connect, network, learn, inspire, and energize but it also represents a time of transition to the new president. EEEEKKKK… that’s me! I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little afraid to fail in this position. But then I am reminded that we often learn the most in our failures, and I am a big fan of failing forward.
Donor relations is just that…learning, failing, learning, succeeding…and so on. So, while the scary pranks may be in full force this month, let’s not be afraid to fail. I am surrounded with amazing members, volunteers, staff, and the board so I know we will succeed together. 

Speaking of fear…have you wanted to get more involved in ADRP, but you were afraid to take that step? As Debbie Meyers shared in Minneapolis, JUST DO IT. You won’t regret it. Fill out our form and our amazing Volunteer and Member Experience Committee will get in touch to see how we can get you involved. 

I look forward to a great year, including celebrating 20 years of ADRP in 2024. 

And I cannot thank this year’s conference committee enough for kicking off my year as president with a bang. 

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Member Spotlight: Robb Hoffheins, Mythos

Robb Hoffheins
Head of Product


1. Can you tell us about your career trajectory? 
I learned the ropes and got an on-the-job masters in business, marketing, and sales at America Online. I then had a few successful small business ventures of my own before meeting Jon Budington (Mythos CEO) through a former colleague. I have been working with Jon for over 10 years leading the development and marketing of the Mythos platform.

2. In simplest terms, describe how Mythos fits into the donor relations paradigm. What differentiates your company from others with the same offering?
Stewardship teams use Mythos to simplify the process of creating personalized and meaningful donor communications. Mythos harnesses the power of storytelling to help donors better understand the impact of their giving. The platform streamlines the process of beneficiary story collection, financial data reporting, and communications design and distribution—both online or in print. There is no other product that combines this breadth of services.

3. Are there any lessons, words of advice, or words of inspiration that you would like to pass on to the donor relations community from a vendor perspective? 
Donor relations is an incredibly valuable function and, I believe, is becoming more so every day. Don’t ever forget that what you do is the bridge that enables experiences and education that can’t really be quantified. Though it can be qualified and then shared with donors to cultivate more of the same.

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In Service: The Column of the ADRP President - September 2023

Cheryl Smith Lintner

Executive Director, Donor Relations

Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation 


“So Long, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!”

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Travel Safe and Tell Your Story

Let us know about your ADRP international conference experience.

  • What did you learn or appreciate most?
  • Did you meet new friends and make connections?
  • What was your favorite session?
  • Was this your first ADRP conference or one of many?

The donor relations profession embodies storytelling so share yours about this year’s conference. Ultimately, if you will be in Minneapolis next month, have the best time and travel safely! That’s the ADRP way.

Philanthropy isn’t about giving fire anymore

How do you define philanthropy?

For most, the word is synonymous with giving to a worthy cause. Yet the idea of philanthropy didn’t begin that way. A look into the word’s ever-changing meaning provides us clues into the motivations that drive philanthropy and how the practice will likely evolve.

Image Credit: Heinrich Füger (German, 1751-1818), “Prometheus Brings Fire to Mankind”/Wikimedia Commons

The concept of philanthropy first appeared in the 5th century BCE. Aeschylus’s play, Prometheus Unbound, tells the story of Prometheus—a god-like titan who took pity on humanity left freezing and starving in the dark. He steals fire from his fellow gods and gifts it to mankind. It’s a gift he knows will likely cost him dearly, but Prometheus is motivated by a universal and unconditional sense of altruism: philos anthropos, or the love of humankind.

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Let’s Connect at ADRP 2023!

In addition to the fantastic content and the occasion to explore a different city (for all the non- Minneapolitans), the conference offers the opportunity to meet, brainstorm with, and develop friendships with your peers. Our field is full of caring, resourceful, and fun professionals, so be sure to take advantage of the many chances to network.

Calling all party people! (and people who like to eat and drink)
The Purple Launch Party
Get into the Minnesota spirit and rep the state color by wearing your purple garb and accessories! This welcome reception takes place on Wednesday, October 4, (5:00–7:00 PM), with appetizers and a cash bar. Anyone who arrives early for the conference is invited. It’s a great informal time to connect and reunite with fellow ADRPers.

Networking Reception
On Thursday, October 5, (5:15–7:15 PM), we invite you to the conference’s main social event. Enjoy heavy appetizers, one drink ticket, and a cash bar while you mingle with our industry partner sponsors and vendors, and fellow donor relations folks. It’s the perfect time to chat about what you learned on the first day and take photos. 

Meet New People
Have a tough time figuring out what to talk about with someone you just met?
During both receptions, we’ll have cards with professional and personal questions/prompts to make conversations easier.
Looking for focused time to chat in a small group?
Then our Cohort Program is for you! You’ll be paired with other attendees and meet as a group before, during, and after the conference to discuss all things donor relations and fundraising. The program facilitates meaningful and purposeful networking with the chance to raise topics and questions that are important to your work. Cohorts will be a mix of experience levels and institutions. Sign Up Now
Need to address a work task or take a break?
This year’s Break Room features many of the amenities you’re used to—business center, printing, outlets for charging—and will also have snacks, goodies, and a calm space to check email or check in on yourself!
Want to spend time with fellow foodies?
One of the best ways to get a taste of a city (pun intended) is by checking out the dining scene. Dine-Arounds are an opportunity to get to know your fellow conference attendees around the dinner or lunch table. We’ve compiled a diverse list of restaurants for dinner on Thursday and Friday, and for lunch on Saturday. To check out the Minneapolis food scene, you can sign up for as many meals as you’d like. Sign Up Now

Presenter Spotlight – Tracie Jae

Increase the Volume of the Quiet Rebel in You with the 100 Voices Framework ADRP Experiential Conference Session 

Tracie Jae, aka The Quiet Rebel, doesn’t make any guarantees – with one exception. She promises that you will walk away from her 100 Voices Framework at the 2023 ADRP conference with what you need.

You define that, not her.

Tracie’s commitment to offering audiences experiences that connect us to our shared humanity and foster a space where we feel safe and seen is among the many reasons we are thrilled to feature her in this year’s conference.

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Message from the 2023 Conference Chair

Margaret Coad 
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

This year, the ADRP International Conference in Minneapolis on Oct 5-7 will feature deep-dive workshops that address leadership development at all stages as well as crash courses in the fundamentals of our profession. We are proud to present leaders in the field that address what is often the stickiest aspects of our work.

Theresa Haenn will focus on finding calm in the chaos and breaking down silos, and Kay Coughlin will guide us in tools to manage up, down and across. Nicole Wood will provide a leadership coaching session, and ADRP veterans Jen McGrath, Eliza McNulty, Mark Lanum, Debbie Meyers and Kathleen Diemer will provide a DR 101 road map if you're just joining the field or want to brush up on the latest in best practices.

The organizing committee has placed careful attention on curating game-changing connections for you through multiple networking opportunities. This year we are bringing back the option to participate in a small-group cohorts to develop close contacts that last beyond conference, a welcome party for all participants, and not one but TWO group excursions!

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In Service: The Column of the ADRP President - August 2023

Cheryl Smith Lintner

Executive Director, Donor Relations

Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation


It’s almost time for me to put on nice pants again - just a few more weeks until the ADRP 20th Annual International Conference. I’ve got Purple Rain on repeat, and I’m practicing my enunciation - there are a lot of syllables in Minneapolis!

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8 Ways ADRP Colleagues Cultivate a Culture of Care

Our recent social media contest turned up so many wonderful ways that our colleagues exemplify this year’s conference theme. Below are eight quotes from the contest, matched with a Care Bear that embodies its spirit.
Harmony Bear 
I especially love this year's theme to cultivate a culture of care. I try to cultivate a culture of care by developing relationships across my organization built on trust and empathy. - Chelsea Poch, JDRF International
True Heart Bear  
I help create a culture of care by being empathetic, giving myself and others grace, and being transparent. - Kiara Hunter, University of North Texas
Cheer Bear 
I cultivate a culture of care with the motto Be Kind! I am always available to help my colleagues and others. - Mary Kate Sandler, Roger Williams University
Always There Bear 
I work to cultivate a culture of care by letting students at my university know they can always come to me with scholarship questions. I also try to be a great team player among colleagues. -April Marciszewski, Oklahoma City University
Take Care Bear 
University of Alaska Anchorage cultivates a culture of care by putting students first in all that we do to ensure they’re set up for success once they leave our doors for the last time. We also create a culture of equity and inclusion by embracing our diversity. - Becca Brado, University of Alaska Anchorage
All My Heart Bear  
To me, a culture of care is about creating authentic relationships with colleagues, donors and other stakeholders. I cultivate a culture of care by showing up as my authentic self, listening to what’s important to others, and leaning into our foundation’s values. - Tara Schorr, Sunnybrook
Shine Bright Bear  
One of my goals this year has been to uplift my colleagues--a message reinforced over and over at the conference. - Karen Delsman, Willamette University
Proud Heart Cat  
I try my best to create a culture of care not only at work, but personally by giving at least one of the three T's (time, treasure, talent) to organizations that advocate and do good work for the people (and cats!) that I care about. -Bridget Gavaghan Everman, Saint Joseph's University

In Service: The Column of the ADRP President - July 2023

Cheryl Smith Lintner

Executive Director, Donor Relations

Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation


In the spring, I shared the board’s plan to launch My ADRP Live! - a regional networking and engagement event hosted by the board for donor relations professionals in the Toronto area in June. Well, folks, let me tell you - we had so much fun! We laughed, we commiserated, we shared great ideas and total flops. We met new faces and connected with familiar friends. 
The best part: it was relatively simple to put together! The board took the concept of My ADRP and brought it to life in a small meeting room with 20-25 attendees. We had several donor relations-specific questions, like “How do you surprise and delight donors?” and “What are creative ways to communicate impact?” We broke out into groups for a quick 5-7 minute discussion on each question, then came back together for reports. Attendees shared so many great ideas! And, to end the evening with a little levity, we debated the very, very important question, “Should pizza slices be triangular or square?” 
Want to host your own My ADRP Live! event? It’s easy! Reach out to the ADRP Office for a list of local members in your area to help you get started. Thinking bigger? We are working on a comprehensive toolkit for regional engagement events. Stay tuned!

Member Spotlight: Eileen Bastien

Name: Eileen Bastien
Institution: Seton Hall University
Position: Senior Director of Stewardship and Donor Engagement
Can you tell us about your career trajectory? How did you come into donor relations as a career?
Straight out of college, I joined the fashion industry convinced that I would be fulfilled by beautiful garments, celebrity designers and the evolution of culture through the fashion lens. After eight years, I realized that none of it fueled my spirit. I needed more. So, I left the industry and joined a small college in New York City, where I learned that there was more to life than the latest dress trends. I sincerely believe that if you are not progressing in life, you will not achieve happiness. Working in higher education keeps me in close proximity to learning, growing, and inspiring others. 
What influenced your interest in and passion for donor relations?
Throughout my career in higher education, I have been driven by a deep passion for donor relations, stewardship, and building meaningful connections. With over 20 years of experience in engagement, communications, marketing, and stewardship within the nonprofit sector, I have had the privilege of making a lasting impact in the lives of both donors and the organizations I have worked with.
From my early days as an admissions/financial aid associate to my current role as senior director for stewardship and donor engagement, my journey has been defined by a commitment to cultivating relationships and fostering a culture of philanthropy. I have been fortunate to work with diverse populations and engage with high-net-worth individuals, aligning their passions with impactful initiatives.
What lessons, words of advice/inspiration would you like to pass on to other donor relations professionals?
As I continue to learn and grow, I actively seek opportunities to stay at the forefront of industry best practices. I highly encourage other donor relations professionals to invest in your own growth by connecting with other professionals. Learn from others and watch your career blossom. 
Philanthropy has the power to shape a better world, and I am honored to play a role in facilitating those transformative connections between donors and organizations. In my journey, I have come to realize that donor relations is not just a career, but a calling. It is a privilege to build bridges, nurture relationships, and witness the remarkable outcomes that emerge when passionate individuals come together to create positive change.
Can you talk about a specific donor engagement or stewardship activity that makes you feel like you are providing the best experience for donors?
One of the most rewarding experiences of my career has been witnessing the transformative power of philanthropy through a donor’s journey of discovering where he would have the greatest transformative impact. This donor supported many areas, but never once did he consider a personal hobby a possibility. 
It’s encounters like these that have fueled my dedication to creating personalized stewardship programs that honor donors and provide them with a meaningful connection to the causes they care about.
Connection to ADRP:
When did you become an ADRP member?
I joined ADRP in the early 2000s. Prior to that, I attended the New England Stewardship Conference. 
Why is ADRP membership important to you?
Stewardship and donor relations are often misunderstood. Is it art or is it science? It is both. As a member of ADRP, I am fortunate to connect with visionary and progressive professionals who empower and support me as I grow and expand in the art and science of donor relations and stewardship.  
ADRP is universally recognized as the authority on donor engagement for the philanthropy profession. In your own words, how does ADRP serve you in the form of professional development?
There is an old African Proverb that answers this question for me: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. 
ADRP empowers you to go far.