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June 16, 2015

Featured Organization: University of Alaska

Featured Organization: University of Alaska


In 2014, the University of Alaska (UA) Foundation celebrated a total of $233 million in foundation assets, the highest amount in the foundation’s history. This incredible milestone can be attributed to generous donors who continue to make contributions that impact and improve the lives of students, faculty and staff, and the surrounding communities. The UA Foundation spans the entire UA System and works with its 16 campuses to offer the best educational experience for its students.


Contributions given for scholarships, internships, and fellowships give students the ability to focus on their education, without worrying about the financial burden many students face. Academic programs and student aid provide exciting opportunities for students to enhance their education in and outside of the classroom.


The Partnership

With robust annual and corporate giving programs already in place, the UA Foundation engaged Advancement Resources to shift focus toward securing major gifts from individuals. The UA Foundation wants to give development professionals a foundation in the theory and knowledge surrounding major gifts, and to build specific skill sets for donor development. Creating an education plan that addressed all of these needs was imperative in creating a robust and sustainable major gifts program at the University of Alaska.


Customized Plan

The UA Foundation has implemented the Professional Education Series, a three-part, multi-day series centered on donor development for development professionals at all levels. The series targets competencies UA Foundation and Advancement Resources have identified for building and strengthening successful development professionals.


Targeted workshops and competencies include:

  • Donor-Centered Philanthropy
    • Adapting to donor personality profiles
    • Process for Locating Philanthropic PassionTM
    • Donor meeting tactics

  • Building Donor Commitment and Making the Ask
    • Building donor commitment
    • Making the ask
    • Securing financial commitments
    • Return on philanthropic investments

  • Implementing Strategies for Donor Development
    • Creating donor development strategies
    • Nine navigation points
    • Engagement plans
    • Building working relationships with internal partners 

"I’ve been exposed to many major gift trainings in my 20-year fundraising career and what I appreciate most about Advancement Resources is that they work with each institution to tailor their training to our specific needs. I’ve worked with them at three institutions over the past decade and they continue to evolve their offerings to stay current and meet the needs of the advancement community.”

—Megan Riebe
Executive Director of the UA Foundation
Associate Vice President for Development
for the UA System



UA Foundation’s individualized professional education curriculum provides insights into donor motivation, development best practices, and practical application tools for helping donors make significant contributions to the institution. Creating action plans between each workshop provides accountability and peer-to-peer coaching for participants, while also creating momentum and continuity throughout the education plan.


Megan Riebe, Executive Director of the UA Foundation and Associate Vice President for Development for the UA System, says “Advancement Resources' curriculum is powerful — it is research-based, donor-focused and easy for major gift officers to implement. I’ve been exposed to many major gift trainings in my 20-year fundraising career and what I appreciate most about Advancement Resources is that they work with each institution to tailor their training to our specific needs. I’ve worked with them at three institutions over the past decade and they continue to evolve their offerings to stay current and meet the needs of the advancement community.”


Next Steps

The initial workshop in March brought members from all campuses together in one location, while subsequent workshops create a shared experience in multiple locations to overcome geographic challenges. While the series will conclude this summer, the partnership between the UA Foundation and Advancement Resources will be ongoing as UA continues their shift toward individual major gifts and creating a strong culture of philanthropy throughout the UA system.





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