The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation (TGKVF) is a philanthropic leader that helps donors, nonprofits, and other collaborative partners strengthen our community so all of the people and places we serve have the opportunity to thrive. TGKVF adopted this mission in 2022 at the end of our new strategic planning process. The board of directors and operations team felt that it was necessary to include “donors” in the mission because without them, we would not have the resources to invest in community partnerships and in students pursuing post-secondary education.
Our updated strategic plan includes priorities and strategies for our discretionary grantmaking, scholarship program, grantee strengthening, financial operations, and internal organizational development. The addition of donor-focused team members is one of the strategies identified in the internal organizational development area. As fate would have it, a donor partner desiring to support our growth offered to invest in our development.
Consequently, in May 2023, Johanna Miesner joined the team as our first Donor Relations Officer. According to the Association of Donor Relations Professionals, donor relations is the comprehensive effort of any nonprofit that seeks philanthropic support to ensure that donors experience high-quality interactions with the organization that foster long-term engagement and investment. This effort is commonly thought to have four elements: gift acceptance and management, acknowledgment, donor recognition, and reporting.
Aspects of these elements are currently being performed by other team members. Johanna will fill the gaps and strengthen our efforts. Her duties include the following:
Manage a portfolio of fundholders, including donor-advised, agency, and other funds.
- Deliver donor services consistent with Council on Foundations’ National Standards.
- Together with the Donor Relations Team (CEO, CFO, Controller, Communications Director), develop and execute fundholder stewardship plans and processes that lead to deeper ties with donors to grow fundholder investment and better serve our audience.
- Proactively manage relationships with donors and fundholders.
- Utilize metrics and measurement tools to gauge progress and report to Foundation stakeholders and leadership.
- Identify opportunities to connect donors’ philanthropic goals with the Foundation’s strategic priorities for serving the community.
- Work with the Donor Relations Team to maintain an effective and continuously improving approach to stewardship that increases fundholder engagement and grows assets based on organizational goals.
- Work with the Donor Relations Team and others at the Foundation to plan and execute fundholder events that elevate the work and relationships with fundholders.
- Work with Foundation leadership to formalize the engagement and stewardship process for professional advisors.
- Identify and implement trends and best practices in donor engagement, stewardship, and management.
- Lead creative development and execution of stewardship initiatives related to special campaigns and projects for which TGKVF solicits external support.
- Educate donors on philanthropic sector developments.
Enhancing donor relations is in keeping with my call for a community philanthropy movement. We have been a leader in this movement for 61 years and are committed to making West Virginia an even better place to live, work, play, pray, and raise a family. We are culturally aware of the region we serve, understand community needs and have the ability to respond to them quickly. Assisting donors in finding impactful grantees is at our core.
Our operations team and board of trustees look forward to growing The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation’s capacity to meet the needs of West Virginians with the assistance of our donors.