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NOVEMBER 1-3, 2023


Join us for our 3-day, 4 Pillars Conference to gain a comprehensive training in all aspects of donor relations  — from fundamentals and best practices to new trends and innovative next practices. Our core team of industry-leading experts will educate and inspire you as they bring our key concepts and proven strategies to life. No other conference will teach you how to create amazing donor experiences like this. 

During this 3-day event, you'll take a deep dive into the 4 Pillars of Donor Relations and have the chance to workshop your own acknowledgments and reports. Then, you'll learn how to create a winning communications strategy and elevate your messages to donors with the 4 Pillars of Donor Communications. On the final day, we'll show you how to take things to the next level with the 4 Pillars of the Donor Experience.

The 4 Pillars Conference is an unrivaled and invaluable professional development experience for anyone interested in enhancing their donor relations efforts. You'll leave this conference equipped with new knowledge and a clear path forward to elevate the donor experience, improve donor retention, and ultimately raise more money for your organization


Registration is available for one day, two days, or all three days of this conference.


The first half of this 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, this section of the conference will teach you the basics of donor relations as well as next practices and new industry trends.

On day 1, we'll dive into the first two pillars—acknowledgment and stewardship. Lynne and her team of experts will bring each topic to life as they share their own stories and proven strategies for success. You'll have an opportunity to workshop your own acknowledgments and reports, allowing you to immediately start putting what you learn into action.



We'll kick off day two with the final two pillars of the 4 Pillars of Donor Relations—recognition and engagement. You'll learn how donors really want to be recognized, which dated practices to leave behind, and how to create meaningful experiences that will  surprise and delight your donors! You’ll leave inspired and energized, equipped with tangible ideas that you can implement immediately with any size staff or budget.

In the afternoon, we'll shift gears and teach you how to effectively tell your organization's story through the 4 Pillars of Donor communications. You'll learn how to create communications donors want to consume, when to use certain types of communications over others, how to eliminate communications that aren't working, simple changes to transform your communications from so-so to swoon-worthy, how to advocate for these changes with your leadership and internal partners, 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.


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 dedicate yourself to 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 is pending CFRE approval. It is anticipated that this three-day event will be approved for 17 points in Category 1.B – Education of the CFRE International application for initial certification and/or recertification.



Single Day Registration
$550 per day

Full Conference Registration



Registration includes morning pastries and coffee and lunch. Please note any dietary restrictions at the time of registration. Transportation to and from the conference location is not included.




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

Associate Vice President of Donor Engagement
Texas State University

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Angie Joens

DRG Consultant & Strategist

Assistant Vice Chancellor of Development Outreach

University of California Davis




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.

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.


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.


 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.




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

9:30 AM ET | 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 yous (e.g., first-time donors), and more.

10:45 AM ET | Break

11:00 AM ET | Pillar One: Acknowledgments (cont'd)

Workshop Portion: Bring your acknowledgments and acknowledgment processes and we will work together to take them through the good, better, and best process. Participants will create personal action plans to incorporate effective acknowledgment practices in their daily interactions as well as leadership acknowledgments. This workshop will include setting goals and identifying specific steps for implementing improved acknowledgment habits.


12:15 PM ET | Lunch Break

1:15 PM ET | 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.

2:30 PM ET | Break

2:45 PM ET | Pillar Two: Stewardship and Reporting (cont'd)

Workshop Portion: Bring your Reports and report processes and we will work together to take them through the good, better, best process. Participants will create personal action plans to incorporate effective reporting practices. This workshop will include setting goals and identifying specific steps for implementing improved stewardship and reporting.

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

4:30 PM ET | Day 1 Concludes


9:00 AM ET |  Welcome and Day 1 Recap

9:30 AM ET |  Pillar Three: Recognition

Events, giving societies, public displays—there are many ways to recognize donors, including 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.

10:45 AM ET | Break

11:00 AM ET | 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.

12:15 PM ET | Lunch Break

​1:15 PM - 2:30 PM ET | Donor Communications Workshop Pt. 1 - Gratitude & Impact

Gratitude communications are a specific aspect of donor communications that focuses on expressing appreciation and thanks to donors for their support. Showing gratitude is essential for building and maintaining strong relationships with donors.  Gratitude communications should not be limited to a one-time thank-you message.

Impact involves providing feedback to donors on how their contributions have been utilized and the outcomes achieved. It includes reporting on the progress of projects, sharing success stories, and providing financial accountability. Regular and transparent impact communication demonstrates your organization's commitment to achieving results and strengthens donor trust.

2:30 PM ET | Break

2:45 PM ET | Donor Communications Workshop Pt. 2 - Persuasion and Information

Persuasion is the act of influencing someone's beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors through effective communication and reasoning. It involves presenting compelling arguments and evidence to convince others to adopt a particular point of view, take action, or make a decision. Ethical persuasion focuses on presenting honest and well-supported arguments to genuinely benefit your audience. It's important to respect the autonomy and free will of others, allowing them to make their own informed decisions based on the information and reasoning you provide.

Communicating information effectively is crucial for conveying messages clearly, ensuring understanding, and facilitating meaningful interactions. However when dealing with donors, information can often overwhelm and mask the true intent of the communication. Knowing when to implement information communications without obscuring others is crucial to communication success. 

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

4:30 PM ET | Day 2 Concludes



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

9:30 AM ET | 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 encouraged 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​

10:45 AM ET | Break

11:00 AM ET | 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

12:15 PM ET | Lunch

1:15 PM ET | 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

2:30PM ET | Break

2:45 PM ET | 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

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

4:30 PM ET | Conference Concludes



Conference Location: 

Humber College - BMO Innovation Commons

Longo Centre for Entrepreneurship

17 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Drive

Toronto, ON M8V 1K8



Hotel details and discount coming soon!


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 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 logo to learn more about the incredible work they're doing. 

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