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Donor Relations Events Aimed at Exceeding Expectations

Guests’ needs come first when planning events
From Staff Reports | Oct 21, 2012

Event planning is more than keeping a calendar or making sure there are enough seats, said Director of Donor Relations Jacquelin Weber. “Event planning is the art of taking something from conception to reality,” she said.

Weber’s office plans events for Ohio University’s Division of Advancement that engage current and prospective donors by including them in the life of the University. She travels back and forth across the brick-paved streets, bags filled with parking permits, apparel, and the like hanging from her arms, and works closely with other offices on campus to plan each element of upcoming events.

For an event to go smoothly, all effort goes into the details. In Weber’s office there are many handwritten checklists taped to her door, pinned to the wall, or stacked on the desk – checklists that lengthen as the event date gets closer.

Weber says her office is streamlining its efforts by meeting weekly with an event-focused team to evaluate new event submissions logged into University Advancement’s comprehensive database. The database lets Weber’s team track data efficiently—data that will come in handy when planning future events.

“We think about opportunities for collaboration and attempt to make sure there is no major conflict between departments,” she said, adding that the event calendar is also a functional part of the database.  

Weber thinks through the event from its beginning, starting when the guests receive the invitation. She thinks about the impression the invitation makes, whether it should be an electronic invitation or printed and mailed, how guests will be traveling, and parking availability.

“My personal approach to event planning is to see it from the guest’s perspective,” Weber said. “Everything you do makes an impression. I feel like these are my personal guests. I want to exceed their expectations,” she said with a smile.

Athletics events in 2011-2012 alone kept Weber busy. With the OHIO football team winning their the first bowl game at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and the men’s basketball team winning the MAC Championship title and continuing onto the NCAA Sweet Sixteen, Weber had her hands full – literally – as she carted pom-poms, gifts, and foodstuffs to each occasion. And more OHIO athletic donor-related events are planned for this year, Weber said.

“We’ve seen the strongest response, since I’ve been involved, for the President’s Box,” Weber said of the venue at Peden Stadium. Campaign leaders, alumni, donors, prospective donors and others are invited to watch an OHIO football game with President and First Lady McDavis in this space. Last season’s six home games hosted around 360 guests, Weber said, with roughly another 120 hosted in the Athletic Director’s Box. 

“The success of these athletic events has absolutely offered us the opportunity to engage with donors and prospective donors in a unique environment,” she said. Weber noted that these guests are interested in giving to a wide range of University programs.  

A new academic-centered event is also on the top Weber’s “to-do” list. Weber travels to New York City this December to host the first Scholars Forum, a unique donor and prospective donor engagement experience created to connect guests with the University by broadening their own intellectual base. This event, the first in a series, will be hosted by an alumni couple that wanted to offer a unique programming opportunity. The event features a presentation by alumnus Rudolph Rousseau (AB ’68), who led the CIA’s response to the 9/11 tragedy. Future Forums also could include faculty speakers as well, Weber said.

Weber recently added another person to her staff, providing the team with two more hands to help manage the innumerable details that go into Donor Relations Events, and one more person to help exceed the expectations of future alumni and friends of Ohio University.