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Copy of 4 Pillars of the Donor Experience Conference & Behavior-Based Donor Relations Work

APRIL 11-12, 2022​


University of Houston 

TDECU Stadium
3875 Holman Street
Houston, TX 77004


DRG's brand new conference—The 4 Pillars of the Donor Experience—is your roadmap to next-level donor relations

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 us in how we do 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.


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.

Day two dives into behavior-based donor relations—a next practice in donor relations that allows us to provide more meaningful, donor-centered programming based on behaviors rather than giving amounts. ​

DAY 1: MONDAY, APRIL 11, 2022

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

9:15 AM | Pillar One: Knowing

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 | Break

10:45 AM | 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 | Lunch: Roundtable Discussions (Lunch is included in your conference registration)

1:00 PM | 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 | Break

2:30 PM | Pillar Four: Emotion

Emotions—they 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 | Wrap-Up

DAY 2: TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2022

9:00 AM - 12:30 PM - Behavior-Based Donor Relations Half-Day Workshop

Let’s face it - the way we’ve always done it is fading into the background as new efforts emerge. But some shops are still stuck in traditional thanking methods based on gift amount to define their communication and recognition efforts. We have finite resources, both in staff and budgets, and we must strategize ways to satiate many donors with different interests and needs. By developing a program based on donor behaviors, in lieu of arbitrary giving amounts, we can ensure we are communicating gratitude and impact to donors at all levels of giving.

What you will learn:

  • How to identify priority donor behaviors you need to reinforce

  • How to craft personal communications for these groups

  • Strategy development to increase donor retention

Pursuing your CFRE? This conference has been approved for 8.75 CFRE continuing education credits. 


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Member Pricing

Day 1: $300

Day 2: $200

Full Conference: $450

*Member pricing is for DRG VIP Subscription holders. Use your VIP code at checkout to receive member pricing.

Regular Pricing

Day 1: $350

Day 2: $250

Full Conference: $550

Conference Registration includes:

Day 1 - 6 hours of instruction, breakfast, lunch, and refreshments

Day 2 - 3 hours of instruction, breakfast, and refreshments


Conference Location:

University of Houston 

TDECU Stadium - Club Level
3875 Holman Street
Houston, TX 77004


Hotel Information:

Magnolia Hotel Houston, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel

1100 Texas Avenue
Houston, Texas 77002

COVID-19 Precautions

As we return to in-person events, our team is actively monitoring the situation involving COVID-19. Our top priority is your health and safety at our conferences. As of right now, all of our conferences are scheduled as planned. We will continue to monitor the situation and update all registered attendees should that change. We have taken the following steps to keep you safe during our conference: 

  1. We continue to monitor announcements and updates from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Centers for Disease Control and will take our guidance from them and other key agencies.

  2. At the 4 Pillars conference, we will institute the following policies and procedures:​

    • All attendees must where a mask except when actively eating or drinking

    • Attendees will be socially distanced as much as possible 

    • We will be providing disinfectant wipes and recommending hand washing as much as possible

    • We are encouraging participants to make it a “handshake-free” meeting

    • We will update these policies as needed and notify all attendees of any changes

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Lynne Wester

Principal and Founder

Donor Relations Guru

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Angie Joens

DRG Consultant

Assistant Vice Chancellor of Development Outreach

University of California Davis

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Sarah Sims

DRG Consultant

Executive Director of Donor Engagement​

University of Houston


Ready to start learning more about the 4 Pillars of the Donor Experience right now? Grab a copy of Lynne's latest book today! The perfect pairing to your conference experience, The 4 Pillars of the Donor Experience book 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. Take notes, bring your questions, and together we'll help you to create unforgettable experiences for your donors! 

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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:

    This conference has been approved for 8.75 CFRE continuing education points. 

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