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MARCH 22-24,2023

This event is sold out. To join us virtually, register here.


Join us for our 3-day, 4 Pillars Conference Experience and immerse yourself in comprehensive donor relations training — from fundamentals and best practices to new trends and next practices — we're bringing it all to Chicago! Our core team of industry-leading experts will be there in person to educate and inspire you, and no other conference will teach you how to create amazing donor experiences like this. 

During this 3-day event, you'll spend a full day diving into the 4 Pillars of Donor Relations and then take what you learn to the next level with another full day dedicated to the 4 Pillars of the Donor Experience. You'll also learn how to advance your fund reporting/stewardship and donor communications practices with two, half-day workshops focused on these critical topics in donor relations. 

Register today for a one-of-a-kind professional development experience that is memorable, energizing, and invaluable to your work. 


You can purchase one day, two days, or all three days of this conference:


This presentation is sold out, but you can join us in Las Vegas on April 12-13.

The first day of the conference is based on Lynne Wester's book, The Four Pillars of Donor Relations. This interactive learning experience is perfect for anyone new to donor relations or 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 each of the Four Pillars of Donor Relations—acknowledgment, stewardship, recognition, and engagement. 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.


This in-person presentation is sold out, but you can join us virtually.

Morning Session | Fund Reporting/Stewardship Workshop 

Join us for a half-day Fund Stewardship Workshop on the principles of fund stewardship, compliance, and financial utilization. As we know, getting the gift in the door is only half the battle. Once it’s on the books, our job in Donor Relations begins with the long-term process of ensuring the funds are utilized to maximum capacity in accordance with donor intent, and reported on annually to the donors. This dedicated workshop will focus on setting the stage with effective and sustainable gift agreements, fund audit and monitoring best practices, donor-centered stewardship activities (including a deep dive into fund reporting), and much more. We'll explore this complex issue while identifying key partners and data needs, as well as discuss the role of Donor Relations professionals in this arena. Whether you are new to this space, or need a refresher on the “science side of the house,” this workshop is for you!


Afternoon Session | Donor Communications Workshop

One of the most crucial keys to retaining donors is creating an effective donor communications program that resonates and engages your audience. So how do we go about creating dynamic donor communications? How do we create messages that truly resonate? How do we write for both persuasion and gratitude at the same time? How do we meet the demands for print, video, and social content that answers everyone’s needs? And where do we start?

During this donor communications workshop you'll learn:

  • How to effectively tell your story using the 4 Pillars of Donor Communications

  • How to create communications donors want to consume and share

  • When to use certain types of communications over others

  • How to advocate for change and attain buy-in with internal constituencies

  • How to eliminate communications that aren't working

  • Simple changes to transform a bad communication into a good one 

  • Tests to run on your current communications efforts to evaluate effectiveness

  • How to make the donor the hero of your work!

  • And much more!


We'll inspire you with samples of amazing communications, teach you the same proven strategies we’ve shared with clients all over the world, and equip you with the tools you need to create and implement a winning donor communications strategy at your nonprofit.


This in-person presentation is sold out, but you can join us virtually.

The Four Pillars of the Donor Experience, or the DX, is built upon the foundation of the Four Pillars of Donor Relations, but goes beyond the tactics that guide our work and instead applies to a living philosophy that guides the why behind our fundraising practices.


Put yourself in the donor’s shoes—they don’t want another lapel pin or bumper sticker. They want to know they make a difference to your institution and are valued. Donor appreciation is not expensive, but neglecting it can be. Research shows that it is 7 times more expensive to acquire a new donor than to keep the ones you already have. The solution is simple: put the donor first and consume yourself with the DX—their experience, not yours.


Day 3 of this conference begins with an evaluation of your current practice based on MECHANICS, COMMUNICATIONS, STRATEGY, and CULTURE to give you a clear idea of where to focus your resources and efforts. From there, each session is dedicated to breaking down the 4 Pillars of the DX—and teaching you how to create an extraordinary donor experience.

CFRE Eligibility: This conference has been approved for 17 points in Category 1.B – Education of the CFRE International application for initial certification and/or recertification.

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All sessions of this conference are SOLD OUT,
but there are still ways for you to join us!

Register for our Virtual Experience

Tune in for a live stream of the half-day workshops on March 23 and the 4 Pillars of the Donor Experience presentations on March 24.

Join us in Las Vegas on April 12-13!

If you're looking for the 4 Pillars of Donor Relations Conference and half-day sessions on events and DEI, join us in Las Vegas instead!



Lynne Wester

Principal and Founder

The DRG Group

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Matthew Helmer

DRG Consultant & Strategist

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Sarah Sims

DRG Consultant & Strategist

Executive Director of Donor Engagement​

University of Houston

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Angie Joens

DRG Consultant & Strategist

Assistant Vice Chancellor of Development Outreach

University of California Davis




One of the best conferences I've been to. The mix of practical advice, statistics, best practices, and humor left me eager to return to my team and begin rethinking how we do our work.


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.


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.


Thank you for a fantastic conference. Instead of leaving defeated with a list of things my organization doesn't do, I left feeling energized with a list of strategies and concepts I could brainstorm with my team.




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

9:15 AM CT | 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 CT | Break

10:45 AM CT | 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.

12:00 PM CT | Lunch Break

1:00 PM CT | 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.

2:15 PM CT | Break

2:30 PM CT | 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.

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

4:30 PM CT | One-Day Conference Ends


9:00 AM - 12:30 PM CT
Fund Reporting/Stewardship Workshop 

1:30 PM - 5:00 PM CT

Donor Communications Workshop



9:00 AM CT | Introduction: The 4 Pillars of the Donor Experience

9:15 AM CT | Pillar One: Knowledge
Knowledge is power. Knowledge of our donors, their preferences, and their experiences isn’t strange or unnerving — it’s expected and mutually beneficial. Imagine how much more could be accomplished if there was an overall understanding and mindset that encourages consistent and positive data behavior.

What you will learn: 

  • Passive and active intelligence and data to further understand your donors

  • How to identify information gaps in your donor knowledge and techniques to fill these gaps

  • Techniques for defining your strategies and priorities both in the short- and long-term​

10:30 AM CT | Break

10:45 AM CT | Pillar Two: Strategy

Strategy isn’t simply a list of tasks that need to be undertaken in order to deepen the donor relationship. Strategy is charting a thoughtful path forward with the donor. Defining and outlining this journey is essential to success. Action with no strategy maintains the status quo.

What you’ll learn:

  • Strategies to increase donor retention such as ask-to-thank ratios, reporting impact of donations at all levels, and more

  • How to reshape communications in a donor-focused mindset using actionable intelligence

  • How to identify stop/start activities (what can stay and what must go) in order to reprioritize new efforts into your workload

12:00 PM CT | Lunch: Roundtable Discussions (Lunch is included in your conference registration)

1:00 PM CT | Pillar Three: Culture

Culture focuses on empowerment, excellence, and gratitude to help define your organization’s interactions with donors. An expectation of excellence is a behavior and application of a set of standards. During this session, we’ll uncover the startling power and dynamic of gratitude-based living. Living and practicing gratitude both internally and externally can transform relationships. It’s more than just thank you notes, it’s a lifestyle.

What you’ll learn:

  • How to create a culture of gratitude at your organization that will lead to both short- and long-term success

  • Healthy power dynamics and whose role it is to demonstrate gratitude at your organization

  • Best and next practices—as well as common pitfalls in gratitude

  • How to swap out traditional donor recognition for inclusive methods of gratitude that will ultimately affect the fundraising bottom line

2:15 PM CT | Break

2:30 PM CT | Pillar Four: Emotion

Emotions are at the center of the donor experience and are behind why donors give, why they remain loyal, and why they ultimately leave. There are many emotions that inspire donors to give—joy, sadness, anger, belief, nostalgia—the list goes on. The most successful nonprofits tap in to those emotions and convert them into action.

What you’ll learn:

  • How to infuse your communications with these same emotions for maximum impact and ROI in your fundraising and relationship efforts

  • Techniques for fixing a broken donor relationship and making it fruitful again in the future

  • How to craft extraordinary donor experiences that are one of a kind and allow a donor’s generosity to shine

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

4:30 PM CT | One-Day Conference Ends




Conference Location: 

Loyola University Chicago

Beane Hall (Lewis Towers, Water Tower Campus)

111 E Pearson St, Chicago, IL 60611




Kimpton Hotel Monaco Chicago
225 N. Wabash Avenue
Chicago, IL 60601


Click here for our DRG Group Rate


4 Pillars Book 2023

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 duet 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!

Get Your Copy Today!


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


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! 

Paperback             Audiobook



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. 

Lunch Sponsor:


Printing Sponsor:

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