Financial Aid Stewardship Structure and Practices

At Mid-to-Large Research Universities

Topics: Donor and Prospect Relations, Advancement, Fundraising

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This report explores strategies to engage and retain scholarship donors. It examines stewardship practices organized by both financial aid and donor relations offices, including events, materials sent to donors, student biographies, and reporting.

  • Key observations from our research:

    1. Financial aid stewardship is a shared responsibility between financial aid, donor relations, and academic units.

    2. Financial aid stewardship practices at contact institutions include sending student thank-you notes, hosting annual events to connect donors and students, and generating financial reports.

    3. Donor relations administrators recommend implementing customized stewardship practices for top scholarship donors (e.g., those who have donated one million dollars or more to student scholarships).

    4. Between one and three stewardship staff members in central donor relations offices oversee financial aid stewardship.

    5. Administrators evaluate the success of financial aid stewardship through dollars raised, gifts upgraded, and qualitative feedback from donors.

    6. Donor relations staff share that donors are generally pleased with stewardship practices and donor relations offices have not implemented any major changes to their stewardship programs based on donor feedback.