Return to program

Leaving the Tchotchke Closet Behind

Natalie Brianas and Kellyn Caldwell

Wednesday, September 25
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Session Description 

Whether you’re starting from scratch or revamping old practices, this is the session for you. As we are in the midst of the largest comprehensive campaign in our organization’s history, we are using it as an opportunity to restructure our entire department and donor stewardship program. We don’t have all the answers, but as we audit and revamp our DRS shop, we’ve learned what that means for stakeholder management, workflow streamlining, and donor recognition. We hope that some of our ideas will resonate with your own donor relations strategy and that you will be inspired to move out of the literal and metaphorical tchotchke closet.


About the Presenters

Natalie Brianas
Director of Donor Relations and Stewardship
United States Naval Academy Alumni Association and Foundation

Natalie Brianas is the Director of Donor Relations and Stewardship at the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, a separate 501(c)(3) supporting one of the nation’s five service academies located in Annapolis, MD. She has worked in higher education development for eight years, primarily in corporate and foundation relations roles at both the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, as well as the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Natalie holds a bachelor's degree in economics and communications from UMBC and will soon graduate from Loyola University of Maryland with an MBA, concentrated in data analytics. She resides in Annapolis, MD with her husband and two cats.

Kellyn Caldwell
Assistant Director of Donor Relations and Stewardship
USNA Foundation

Kellyn Caldwell is the Assistant Director of Donor Relations and Stewardship at the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, a separate 501(c)(3) supporting one of the nation’s five service academies located in Annapolis, MD. She has 5 years of experience in donor relations and event management. Kellyn earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and History from Kenyon College and a master’s degree from Old Dominion University in International Studies with a certificate in Women’s Studies. As a lifelong competitive swimmer, Kellyn enjoys swimming in open water swim races and at masters swim meets.


Session Details

Target Audience

Public College/University, Foundation

Expertise

Newcomer (0 - 3 years), Early-career (4 - 7 years)

Shop Size

Small Shop (1-5 staff), Medium Shop (6-10 staff)

Session Keywords

Acknowledgements, Donor Experience, Foundational Elements of Donor Relations, Relationship-Building, Reporting, Strategy

Learning Objectives

Our three key takeaways include stakeholder management strategy, streamlining processes, and reporting/visualization methods.

  1. First, we will focus on the journey of educating, collaborating, and providing tools to help stakeholders properly acknowledge our donors.
  2. Next, in our experiences of revamping the office structure, we streamlined and updated our auditing processes. We experimented with new software and office structure in order to better understand our roles and systems. We will give suggestions on best practices and feedback from our journey of modernizing the donor experience.
  3. Third, we know that many offices struggle with production bottlenecks and understanding how donors and stakeholders want to receive information and experiences. We tackle the issues of overcoming the traditional donor relations roles, with a new strategy befitting of a modern audience.