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Using Donor Relations to Drive Board of Trustee Engagement and Cultivation

Carol Wilkie and Joe Plante

Wednesday, September 25
10:00 – 11:00 AM

Session Description 

If you’re currently engaging your Board members only when they’re together for board meetings, then you’re missing huge opportunities! Governance responsibilities (the fiduciary role of the board) are well known, but there is so much more that can be donor to advance the relationship. We’ll examine ways to move beyond governance, including specific strategies to build relationships across your organization, engage trustees strategically in signature events, leverage their networks and drive cultivation using unique stewardship strategies. Finally, we’ll review a program for emeriti trustees that helps keep them engaged and leverages their experience through new-member mentorship programs and involvement with strategic planning initiatives. This session will be packed with specific examples we’ve implemented at St. Thomas, so you’ll walk away with concrete solutions for you own organizations – no matter what industry you serve.

About the Presenters

Carol Wilkie
Director of Donor Relations
University of St. Thomas

Carol Wilkie is director of donor relations for the University of St. Thomas. She has been at the University for 16 years and has operationalized and elevated the Donor Relations department during her tenure. Carol firmly believes that her Donor Relations team must be nimble in order to successfully support fundraising initiatives. She’ll show specific examples of how her team is supporting a holistic trustee engagement strategy. 

Joe Plante
Associate Vice President of Principal and Leadership Gifts
University of St. Thomas

Joe Plante is the associate vice president of principal and leadership gifts at the University of St. Thomas. Joe is a graduate of St. Thomas and has worked for the university for over 30 years – starting first in Alumni Relations, then Major Gifts and now Principal Gifts. An expert at both the science and the art of fundraising, Joe will present how the most successful trustee engagement strategy is best supported with a strong donor relations partnership from the start.

Session Details

Target Audience

Private College/University, Healthcare, Foundation


Mid-career (8 - 12 years), Seasoned (13 - 17 years), Experienced (18 + years)

Shop Size

Suitable for any size shop

Session Keywords

Leadership, Moving Donors Through the Pipeline, Relationship-Building, Volunteer Management, Working With Frontline Fundraisers

Learning Objectives


  1. Identify six elements of a holistic trustee engagement plan:
    1. Governance,
    2. Building relationships,
    3. Strategic university engagement,
    4. Cultivation,
    5. Stewardship
    6. Mentorship & legacy (trustee emeriti)
  2. Understand how to develop special reporting for just trustees (including collective Board accomplishments & individualized giving summaries) and how to leverage trustees on during Days-Of-Giving campaigns.
  3. Learn how to maximize trustee talent and networks to build mentoring programs, connect them with students, guide strategic planning initiatives and cultivate new prospects.