Member Spotlight - Show us the Love

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, this NACRO newsletter Spotlight focuses on stewardship and how we recognize our most important partners. We sat down for a chat with Ashley Chan (Director of Corporate Engagement, Penn State University) Christine Roth (Assistant Director of Advancement, College of Business, Oregon State University), and Brandy Zamora (Executive Director, Office of Business Partnerships, Indiana University) for a discussion about stewardship and how they “show the love”.

Q: What are the TOP 10 reasons for Stewardship?

  1. Express our gratitude for their support and engagement. (all)
  2. Showcase the impact of support to retain partners. (all)
  3. Create lasting relationships with industry partners, helping to deepen relationships and diversity engagement. (all)
  4. Promote transparency and accountability. (BZ)
  5. Ensures the institution is carrying out the partner's gift intentions. (AC)
  6. Provide value for their partnership and philanthropy. (CR)
  7. Promote internal collaboration as a holistic approach to partnerships. (BZ)
  8. Makes your institution known as a great partner for companies. (AC)
  9. Keep our donors and partners deep in the institution’s ecosystem in an ever-changing and often, chaotic world.  (CR)
  10. Because stewarding industry partners can be fun for everyone! (all)

Q: Brandy, tell us about a time where you were successful in stewarding relationships with corporate partners or alumni?

Brandy Zamora: I spent years stewarding a partner that didn’t have a large budget to support the university; however, they hired a lot of our students. I worked with the partner to find opportunities for them to engage with students/faculty/staff that fit within their budget. One day they called me up and thanked me for proving to be such a good partner over the years, despite their lack of financial support. They then shared that their leadership had earmarked a significant amount of funds for the university and they could spend at their discretion. We worked together to find the right opportunities to maximize their investment. It was a great testament that if we work hard to steward and care for our partners, the funding will come. 

Q: Ashley, are there stewardship tactics you practice regularly that work really well?

Ashley Chan: Working with companies that have a big investment in Penn State's research enterprise, it is important to keep a close eye on how the contractual and project experience is going. I generate a regular report so that my corporate contacts can monitor progress of multiple, simultaneous projects. Together, we monitor snags that can be addressed internally to ensure they are seeing deliverables met by their expected timeline.

Q: Christine, can you give an example of a unique or fun way you were able to cultivate new or existing corporate relationships?

Christine Roth: We recently celebrated our donors through a night time event cruise on the Willamette River for several reasons. Traditionally we had done events in a typical university or hotel event space, but we wanted to take advantage of the unique viewpoint of sailing along the river which bisects Portland. The change of venue provided a much more intimate scene, and because it was a cruise, attendance remained stable. To add to the novelty of the location, we had the largest bridge lit up in the colors of the University. Faculty and students participated and spoke of the impact these donors have made on their life and career. We actually call the event “Impact… At Work” to create the direct connection between our donors and our students and programs. It was a beautiful clear evening and the location, timing, intimacy and authenticity of the event really created a buzz and sense with our donors that their value and impact was acutely deep and personal.