Workshop Helps Campus Partners Connect with Donors

Maj Fischer knew that encouraging philanthropy and building relationships with givers are important concepts. She discovered more of the “hows” and “whys” at a University of Wisconsin Foundation stewardship workshop on January 5.

Fischer is managing director of the International Internships Program, housed within the Division of International Studies. The new program is funded through the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates and started when Fischer joined the Division 10 months ago.

“We have the challenge of starting a new program, finding internship opportunities for students that are paid – there are a lot of unpaid opportunities out there – and/or identifying sponsors who would donate travel grants and sponsorships for students who want to take internships,” she said as the workshop ended. “The discussion was useful in learning how to develop those funds for scholarships, and some of the stewardship concepts would work very well in developing relationships with some Wisconsin companies who could actually offer internships.”

The workshops focus on how building relationships can mean the difference between getting a one-time gift and establishing a long-term connection that leads to bigger things for both the organization and its donors. The audience consists of campus program directors, department heads and those who work with donors and gift funds.

Presenters include UW Foundation development directors, financial officers and information technology professionals, as well as the highlight guests: donors themselves.

In the January 5 session, the participating donors were Andrew Seaborg (’95 BA Sociology and Japanese, ’99 MS BUS) and husband-and-wife Sharon Stark (’66 BS L&S) and Peter Livingston.

Stark said she draws energy from her connections with campus and that she was happy to share her perspectives with such an engaged and attentive audience. “I am glad to do things like this that help the University,” she said.

Fischer said she was especially drawn to Stark’s support and passion for student internships in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “I was aware of what the Foundation does,” she said. “I had been on campus from 1996 to 2003, so I knew about the UW Foundation from my earlier experience as associate director of International Academic Programs, the Division’s study abroad office, where we certainly benefited from study abroad scholarship fundraising. I don’t think it was as big as it is now, though, and my new position requires me to have a better understanding of the Foundation’s work.

“The whole stewardship role is something new to me in this position,” Fischer said, “and I know what I learned today will be useful.”