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One of our core values at DRG is investing in the donor relations profession, and that includes the current and next generation of leadership. Our industry needs leaders poised to embrace change and take on the challenges of tomorrow — trailblazers who inspire an expectation of excellence among their teams.

 

At the DRG Group, we have decades of experience leading successful teams and working alongside leaders of all kinds. We know what works and what doesn't, the impact extraordinary leadership can have on an organization, and the skills and characteristics that are common among the best and most inspiring supervisors. That's why we created The Leadership Experience (LX) — our exclusive professional development program designed to help you become the leader you are meant to be.

The LX program is made up of two distinct cohorts — Distinguished Leaders and Rising Stars. Learn more about the structure, application process, and investment for each program below. Are you ready to join the Leadership Experience?

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The Leadership Experience

The Keys to Becoming an Extraordinary Leader

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The Distinguished Leaders

The Distinguished Leaders program is designed to help experienced donor relations professionals who are in management positions become extraordinary leaders through high-level thought work and training.

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The Rising Stars

The Rising Stars program is for donor relations professionals with a minimum of three years of experience in the field looking to grow their skillset and develop professionally as they prepare to take on leadership roles. 

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Distinguished Leaders Program

Created for professionals who are committed to strategic donor relations, the Distinguished Leaders cohort is for those who know how to do the work and want to take the next step and elevate their leadership skills. 


Every member of the Distinguished Leaders cohort will go through an application process — they will be screened and selected by the cohort facilitators. Only 20 applicants will be selected for this cohort and it will run from August 1, 2023 until June 30, 2024. 

Each member will be paired with a DRG Consultant and Strategist to allow for small group coaching and personalized interaction (groups will be curated by type of organization and area of focus). 


Here is what you will receive as a member of the Distinguished Leaders Cohort:

 

  • 10 hours of virtual, focused learning, including thought-leadership, conversations, and breakout sessions with the DRG Group in the following areas*: 

    • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

    • Talent Management and Retention

    • Strategic Decision Making 

    • State/Future of the Industry

    • Crowd-Sourced Problem Solving

  • The 10 hours are structured as follows:

    • 1 one-hour Get to Know Your Cohort introduction

    • 3 three-hour intensive virtual meetings  (1.5 hours as a cohort, 1.5 hours in breakout conversations according to industry, shop size/specialty, leadership area, and the 4 Pillars) 

    • This cohort does not include formal presentations—sessions will be made up of cultivated content through conversation. 

  • A weekend-long in-person meeting in a location TBD (cost of the program includes the in-person experience but does not include travel/lodging costs)

  • Earn 9 CFRE continuing education points focused on the donor relations discipline 

This program also includes: 

  • A recording from each session that will be documented and shared with members of the cohort

  • A digital DRG Distinguished Leader Certification Badge to share on LinkedIn or other professional profiles

  • Exclusive discounts on all DRG products and services, including digital products, consulting, and conferences

*This is a tentative outline for conversations included in this cohort. Final topics and discussions will be informed by the members of the cohort and will be finalized based on member feedback.

Leaders

Your Investment

A year-long membership in the Distinguished Leaders program is $2,000. It's truly one of the best investments you can make in your future — both personally, and for your organization. At just $200 per hour, you'll receive 10 hours of personalized leadership training and 12 months of support from our team of innovative leaders, and an amazing in-person experience with the DRG Group and other members of your cohort. Plus, you’ll build a strong network of peers committed to strategic donor relations. 

Four scholarships are available to members who are willing to document their experience and create a write-up to share with the entire cohort. This includes comprehensive note taking during all sessions. Applicants who are interested in scholarship support will be able to express their need within the scholarship application by answering two questions.

How to Apply

All cohort members must meet the following requirements:

  • Currently occupy a Director level or above position, or have 7+ years of experience in donor relations

  • Complete the Distinguished Leaders application by May 31, 2023

  • Agree to contribute materials to the cohort (examples of policies, procedures, communications pieces, hosted talk, etc.)

  • Have a firm understanding of the 4 Pillars of Donor Relations framework

  • Scholarship recipients (we will choose 4) must agree to document their entire cohort experience to share with all members

Application Process:

  • Applications will be accepted from May 1, 2023—May 31, 2023. Click here to view a sample application.

  • The cohort facilitators will select 20 participants —including 4 scholarship recipients—and inform all applicants of their decision by June 30, 2023. The cohort will begin on August 1, 2023 and continue through June 30, 2024. 

Applications are now closed for the 2023-2024 program. 

Meet Your Facilitators

Headshot of Matthew Helmer, DRG Consultant and Strategist

Matthew Helmer

Consultant & Strategist

Headshot of Angela Joens, DRG Consultant and Strategist

Angela Joens

Consultant & Strategist

Headshot of Sarah Sims, CFRE and DRG Consultant and Strategist

Sarah Sims, CFRE

Consultant & Strategist

Headshot of Lynne Wester, DRG Founder and Principal

Lynne Wester

Founder & Principal

Rave Reviews

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Screenshot of leadership experience testimonial from Leah Montano
Screenshot of social media post from leadership experience graduate Stacey Halphen
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Rising Stars Program

The Rising Stars program is designed for professionals with a minimum of three years of experience in the field who are looking to take on their first leadership opportunity. This program provides discipline-focused leadership training that will prepare you for the next step in your career. 

 

The program begins in August 2023 and will conclude in May of 2024. This 10-month cohort learning program will provide participants with the opportunity to:

 

  • Work with industry leaders to advance your skill set and grow professionally with a cohort of talented peers

  • Earn 10 CFRE continuing education points focused on the donor relations discipline 

  • Build your network of donor relations professionals across North America

  • Tackle challenges and obstacles with a team-centered approach, giving your organization valuable industry insights and benchmarking solutions

  • Gain the skills to assess the state of your donor relations program as well as your own professional toolbox to grow not only your organization's program, but also your career!

  • Actively participate in 10 monthly meetings (held via Zoom) as well as asynchronous discussion boards and independent reading (via Basecamp).  Participants should come prepared to engage in active, respectful discussion at each meeting and complete every asynchronous assignment. Meeting and discussion topics will include: 

    • Transitioning from donor relations professional to donor relations leader​

    • Identifying strengths and creating your own style of leadership

    • Management of the Four Pillars of Donor Relations

    • Inclusive Leadership

    • Donor Relations Strategy

    • Data Driven Decision Making in Donor Relations

    • Having tough conversations

    • Building your career in donor relations

    • Leading up, Sideways, and All Around

    • Emerging trends and practices in donor relations

This program also includes: 

  • A recording from each session that will be documented and shared with members of the cohort

  • A digital DRG Rising Stars Certification Badge to share on LinkedIn or other professional profiles

  • Exclusive discounts on all DRG products and services, including digital products, consulting, and conferences

Stars

Your Investment

Tuition for the Rising Stars program is $2,000 per participant. A small number of full-tuition scholarships will be available. Applicants who are interested in scholarship support will be able to express their need within the scholarship application by answering two questions. This investment provides you with 10 hours of leadership training, 9 months of support from our team of mentors, and a network of others in the field with shared experience. BONUS: You'll be ready to absolutely rock that leadership opportunity you've been waiting for.

How to Apply

All cohort members must meet the following requirements:

  • Currently have 3+ years of experience in donor relations

  • Complete the Rising Stars application by May 31

  • Agree to contribute materials to the cohort (examples of policies, procedures, communications pieces, hosted talk, etc.)

  • Have a firm understanding of the 4 Pillars of Donor Relations framework

  • Scholarship recipients must agree to document their entire cohort experience to share with all members

  • We recommend all applicants discuss their desire to participate with supervisors and leadership to ensure budgetary support for the program. Need help pitching this opportunity to leadership? We have you covered! Here's a letter you can share with them.

Application Process:

  • Applications will be accepted from May 1, 2023—May 31, 2023. Click here to view a sample application. 

  • To ensure an engaging, personalized experience, not all applicants will be accepted in this inaugural cohort.

  • All applicants will be notified of admission status by Friday, June 30.

  • The cohort will begin on August 1, 2023 and conclude in May 2024. 

Additional questions?  Email colton@donorrelations.com.

Applications are now closed for the 2023-2024 program. 

Meet Your Facilitators

Headshot of Avery G. Howard, DRG Associate and LX Facilitator

Avery G. Howard

Associate
Donor Relations Group

Director of Stewardship

 University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Headshot of Angela Joens, DRG Consultant and Strategist and LX Facilitator

Angela Joens

Consultant & Strategist

Donor Relations Group

Assistant Vice Chancellor of Development Outreach

University of California Davis

Headshot of Holly Kizer, DRG Associate and LX Facilitator

Holly Kizer

Associate
Donor Relations Group


 

Headshot of Christine McGuire, DRG Associate and LX Facilitator

Christine McGuire

Associate
Donor Relations Group

Senior Director of University Donor Programs at UC Davis
 

Headshot of Colton Withers, DRG Director of Operations and LX Facilitator

Colton Withers

Director of Operations

Donor Relations Group



 

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