In the language of college advancement, "cultivation of donors" refers to building a relationship with potential donors and educating them about the possibilities of a gift to the college.  "Stewardship of donors" refers to maintaining good relations with people who have already made gifts to the college. Why should a department chair be involved in any of this when there's a whole office of the college devoted to Advancement?  Because sometimes our connections, or our interaction with someone already in conversation with the Advancement Office, is just what is needed to help initiate or clinch a gift.

Gifts to departments tend to come in three forms: endowed funds, restricted funds, and objects (such as an art collection). Gifts, especially in the form of endowed funds, can be an enormous resource, opening up enhanced opportunities for faculty and students. Gifts might fund faculty research, outside speakers, departmental colloquia, library expenditures beyond the college budget, and prizes and scholarships for majors-depending on the gift agreement. All funds must be used in accordance with the gift agreement letter. To obtain a copy of a gift agreement, contact the Office of Academic Affairs or College Advancement. .

Department chairs have played an important role in these gifts, in either the cultivation or stewardship phase, or both.


Advancement (or the President) may approach you about a potential donor. They might ask you to work with the department to write up a proposal for a donor. They might ask you to meet with the donor. Say yes.

If, instead, a potential donor has approached you, let the Advancement Office know, and they'll give you advice about what to do next. Keep up your end of communication with alumni/ae who might be potential donors. Cultivation can be a very long process, over many years. It can also happen that even a long series of pleasant contacts will come to naught-this is a normal part of the process and should not discourage you from trying with another person.


The process doesn't end with the giving of the gift. It is an important matter of courtesy to keep in touch with the donor. At a minimum, you should work with Advancement to author a letter telling the donor how the income from the fund has been used in the last year. Sometimes this letter comes from the chair, sometimes from Advancement; check with Advancement to see what the practice is for a particular fund. Even if Advancement sends out a report, the donor would very much enjoy hearing directly from the department. Copy Advancement on any correspondence to donors. A sample end-of-year letter is included in the appendix.

Stewardship is more than a matter of courtesy. Many donors, if happy with how their gift is being used, will make another gift. Or they may tell others how pleased they are, encouraging further gifts.


Have an idea about fundraising for the department-for example, an appeal to alumni/ae for support of a particular project?  Any solicitation of funds must be done in close consultation and cooperation with Advancement, as it is important to insure that faculty and Advancement are not working at cross-purposes. You'll want to talk with Advancement about issues of timing, audience, and purpose; they can also provide a list of departmental alumni/ae with current contact information. If you've got a good idea, they will help you realize it.

All checks or gifts from donors must be processed through Advancement to insure proper receipting and credit to the donor.