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MARCH 20-22, 2024

Join the Donor Relations Group in Chicago
For a Brand New Conference Experience!

Join us for a brand new 4 Pillars Conference Experience and immerse yourself in DRG's comprehensive donor relations training. From foundational principles to cutting-edge trends, our team of industry leaders will educate and inspire you as they bring our key concepts and proven strategies to life! This conference offers unparalleled insights into creating exceptional donor experiences.  


During this two and a half day event, you'll take a deep dive into Lynne Wester's 4 Pillars of Donor Relations and have the opportunity to workshop your own acknowledgments and reports with expert guidance. Then, you'll learn proven techniques and strategies to retain more donors and grow revenue with the groundbreaking 4 Pillars of Donor Retention!

Our 4 Pillars Conferences are unrivaled professional development experiences for anyone interested in enhancing their donor relations efforts and improving donor retention. You'll leave this conference equipped with new knowledge and a clear path forward to elevate donor experiences, improve donor retention, and amplify your fundraising success!

Register today and get ready to join the retention revolution!

Conference Overview

You can purchase the 4 Pillars of Donor Relations, the 4 Pillars of Donor Retention, or both! 


Day 1: The 4 Pillars of Donor Relations

Pillars 1 and 2: Acknowledgment and Stewardship

The first day of the conference is based on the first half of Lynne Wester's book, The Four Pillars of Donor Relations. This interactive learning experience is perfect for anyone new to donor relations or even the experienced professional. Filled with fresh content and real-life examples, day one of this conference will teach you the basics of donor relations as well as next practices and new industry trends.

We'll dive into the first two, must-have pillars of The Four Pillars of Donor Relationsacknowledgment and stewardship—to help you assess your current program and identify where and how you can advance your efforts. We'll also provide you with time to workshop your own acknowledgments and impact reports.


Lynne and her team of experts will bring each topic to life as they share personal stories of tragedies, triumph, ridicule, and redemption. You’ll leave inspired and energized, equipped with tangible ideas that you can implement immediately with any size staff or budget.

Day 2: The 4 Pillars of Donor Relations + The 4 Pillars of Donor Retention

Morning Session | The 4 Pillars of Donor Relations - Pillars 3 and 4: Recognition & Engagement

We'll kick off the second day with the final two pillars of the Four Pillars of Donor Relationsrecognition and engagement. You'll learn why and how nonprofits are moving from dollar-based to behavior-based recognition programs, the importance of crucial conversations around gift agreement policies and procedures, and see examples of ways donors really want to be recognized and engage with your organization. (Hint: It's not a giant check or a rubber chicken dinner in a ballroom.) You'll return to your organization ready to create amazing experiences that will surprise and delight your donors. All participants who complete the comprehensive training on the 4 Pillars of Donor Relations will be awarded a digital certificate and badge.

Afternoon Session | The 4 Pillars of Donor Retention - Pillars 1 and 2: Identification & Operationalization

Nonprofit revenues are reaching historical lows. Prioritizing donor loyalty is no longer a choice, but an absolute necessity for the sustainability of your organization. You’ve heard us say retention is the #1 measure of any successful fundraising operation. Now we bring to you the how, why, and what of donor retention in a full-day intensive conference as we launch our new book, the Four Pillars of Donor Retention: Techniques and Strategies to Retain Donors and Grow Revenue—coming soon! Focusing on donor acquisition is actually costing you money. Discover how to increase the value of your operational dollars up to 7x instead. Join the retention revolution today! We'll wrap up Day 2 by diving into the first two pillars of donor retention—Identification and Operationalization


Day 3: The 4 Pillars of Donor Retention

The 4 Pillars of Donor Retention - Pillars 3 and 4: Connection & Renewal

Now that you've done the internal preparation (thanks to Identification and Operationalization), it’s time to shift your efforts externally. We'll wrap up the conference with your introduction to the final two pillars of donor retention—Connection and Renewal. You'll learn how to personalize the donor experience, effectively convey impact, and craft the perfect renewal journey. When organizations properly balance donor relations and solicitation, they elevate the giving experience from transactional to relational. This is the retention revolution!

CFRE Eligibility: This conference is pending  CFRE approval. We anticipate approval for 14 CFRE points in Category 1.B – Education of the CFRE International application for initial certification and/or recertification. The 4 Pillars of Donor Relations is approved for 8.5 points, and the 4 Pillars of Donor Retention is approved for 5.5 points.




March 20-21, 2024

The 4 Pillars of Donor Relations

$625 USD

March 20: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM

March 21: 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM


Lunch is included on Day 1 only


March 21-22, 2024

The 4 Pillars of Donor Retention

$625 USD

March 21: 1:00 PM - 4:30 PM

March 22: 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM


Lunch is not included


March 20-22, 2024

The 4 Pillars of Donor Relations & The 4 Pillars of Donor Retention 

$1,200 USD

March 20: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM

March 21: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM

March 22: 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM


Lunch is included on Days 1 & 2

Full 3-Day Conference Experience

March 20-22, 2024

$1,200 USD

Bring your team!

Save 10% on 3 or more full conference registrations with the code TEAM10.

Lunch is included on Day 1. Lunch is only included on Day 2 for those who are registered for both conference sessions. There will be no lunch provided on Day 3.

A light breakfast will be served each morning. 

Please note any dietary restrictions at the time of registration. 


Meet Your Speakers


Lynne Wester

Founder & Principal


Matthew Helmer

Consultant & Strategist


Angela Joens

Consultant & Strategist

Colton Withers

Director of Operations


Rave Reviews


This is an extremely valuable, fun, interesting and interactive conference experience filled with lots of relatable information, ideas and perspectives, energy and humour. One of my fave conferences ever attended!

Taking Meeting Notes

The Four Pillars Conference was a phenomenal experience. It was one of the most rewarding investments in my career, and I hope to share how my organization benefits in the near future. This is a must for all Donor Relations professionals.


 I was grateful to dive deeper into industry trends, changes and challenges, and gain real-life suggestions and applications of how to push forward and navigate changes successfully... If you're looking for a stuffy presentation, this is not for you. If you're looking to escape survival-mode and jump start revival-mode with your teams, DRG are your people.


This conference didn't feel like a conference---it was an experience! The DRG Group clearly applied what they know about donor relations to every piece of the conference. It was personal, memorable and valuable. Thank you to the entire team for a great three days.


Conference Schedule

Day 1: Wednesday, March 20

The 4 Pillars of Donor Relations

9:00 AM | Introduction: Roadmap to the 4 Pillars

9:15 AM | Pillar One: Acknowledgments

A good acknowledgment is about more than just saying, "thank you." In this session, we'll teach you how to craft expressions of gratitude that will surprise and delight your donors. We'll discuss gift acceptance and receipts, thank you letters, pledge reminders, behavior-based thank you's (e.g., first-time donors), and more.

10:30 AM | Break

10:45 AM | Pillar One: Acknowledgments (cont'd)

12:00 PM | Lunch Break

1:00 PM | Pillar Two: Stewardship and Reporting
Discover unique ways to show donors the true impact of their generosity. Demonstrating transparency and remaining donor-focused are key. We'll discuss broad-based and individual impact reports, how to prioritize your work based on audience and resources, and the components that go into an effective report.

2:15 PM | Break

2:30 PM | Pillar Two: Stewardship and Reporting (cont'd)

3:45 PM | Wrap-Up & Q&A

4:30 PM | Day 1 Ends

Day 2: Thursday, March 21

4 Pillars of Donor Relations (Part 2) and The 4 Pillars of Donor Retention (Part 1)

9:00 AM |  Pillar Three: Recognition

Events, giving societies, public displays—there are many ways to recognize donors (even some you should avoid). We'll discuss what to keep, what to leave behind, and how to create meaningful experiences that will make lasting impressions, and leave donors wanting more.

10:15 AM | Break

10:30 AM | Pillar Four: Engagement

A donor is engaged once they are emotionally invested and committed to an organization. In this session, we'll show you what it takes to get them there. We'll share examples and ideas that you can implement at your organization to connect donors to your mission and turn them into loyal supporters.

11:45 AM | 4 Pillars of Donor Relations Wrap Up/Q&A

12:00 PM | Lunch Break (For 4 Pillars of Donor Relations Attendees only)

1:00 PM | The 4 Pillars of Donor Retention Introduction

1:15 PM | Pillar One: Identification

Stop wasting resources on donors who are unlikely to stay. Identify those with the highest propensity for consistent, lifelong giving. 

Dive into:

  • Donor psychology insights: Uncover the motivations steering consistent giving behaviors. 

  • Segmentation mastery: Strategically target high-value segments to maximize your ROI.

2:30 PM | Break

2:45 | Pillar Two: Operationalization

Unlock your potential for sustainable success by optimizing internal operations.  We’ll give you the tools and techniques to cultivate a donor retention mindset that permeates throughout your organization.

You’ll discover:

  • Strategic solutions: Identify and overcome common obstacles like system inefficiencies and poor data hygiene.

  • Real-world case studies: Unearth operationalization success stories.

4:00 PM | Wrap-Up & Q&A

4:30 PM | Day 2 Ends

Day 3: Friday, March 22

The 4 Pillars of Donor Retention (Part 2)

9:00 AM | Pillar Three: Connection

Now that you have done the internal preparation (thanks to Identification and Operationalization), it’s time to shift your efforts externally. 

Donors are loyal when they are happy with the organization. And happy donors are well-engaged with the organization. 

Together, we’ll walk through:

  • Personalizing the donor experience: Deepen donors’ connection to your cause by swapping out one-size-fits-all content for multi-channel communications tailored to each donor’s unique preferences.

  • Conveying impact: Learn the most effective strategies to convey to your donors that they are appreciated by your organization and are making a significant difference in this world.

10:15 AM | Break

10:30 AM | Pillar Four: Renewal

Don’t be the fair-weather friend who only reaches out when seeking money. 

Donor engagement goes beyond simply asking donors to open their wallets. Instead, show your donors they're appreciated by offering value when you contact them. We’ll reveal the strategies behind:

  • Crafting the perfect renewal solicitation journey: Find the best ask-to-thank ratio and what makes donors decide NOT to renew their support.

  • Reducing friction: Position your ask in a donor-friendly way that considers their past support and eases the renewal process.

11:45 AM | Wrap Up & Q&A

12:00 PM | Conference Ends



Special thanks to our hosts at the Illinois Institute of Technology!



Illinois Institute of Technology

Conviser Law Center

565 West Adams Street
Chicago, Illinois 60661-3061


Kimpton Gray Chicago

122 W Monroe St.

Chicago, IL 60603

Book through the link below for a special DRG rate! 


Can't wait to dive into the content?

Grab your copy of the book that started it all—The 4 Pillars of Donor Relations—and discover why Lynne's 4 Pillars framework is the guide that every donor relations shop needs. A brilliant partner to the 4 Pillars Conference, this book contains a dozen examples of creative communications with donors from real institutions and 60 pages of appendices offering specific advice on everything from what to include in a gift acceptance policy to donor event management. Learn the framework during the conference, and keep the book as a reference for everyone at your organization for years to come!

4 Pillars Book 2023

Ready to take your donor relations to the next level? The 4 Pillars of the Donor Experience—knowledge, strategy, culture, and emotion—builds upon the foundation of the 4 Pillars of Donor Relations, and lets us understand the fundamental truths behind why donors continue to respond to our work, continue to give, and deepen their relationships with our organizations. 


In the The 4 Pillars of The Donor Experience, Lynne breaks down the philosophy of donor engagement while providing concrete strategies, tangible examples, and a whole slew of images and samples from organizations across the nation doing great work. Now available in print or as an audiobook!


Our Sponsors

Our sponsors allow us to keep our prices low while still providing you with the best experience possible. Thank you to our friends who partner with us to make these conferences and workshops possible. We couldn't do it without you! Click on their logos to learn more about the incredible work they're doing. 

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