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People to Their Passions

January 19, 2022
two people using computers
Doug Hammond and Hailey Dungan enjoy working collectively to connect one-on-one with donors. Photo by Cassidy Biggs.

New UW Foundation donor experience officers use digital technology to connect donors with what inspires them. 

By Cassidy Biggs 

What if your job was to connect a person to his or her life passion? A new University of Wyoming Foundation program powered by technology is set up to do just that, led by Doug Hammond, Hailey Dungan and Sarah Erickson, the UW Foundation’s new donor experience officers (DXOs).

“We are consistently encountering the human stories and learning about what inspires people to give to UW,” Dungan says.

The UW Foundation Donor Experience Program, launched in July, is all about using digital-powered tools and data to build relationships with thousands of UW supporters on a personalized basis.

“Private support to UW is driven by our ability to build meaningful relationships with our donors. With extensive digital technology, we can be even more intentional with our communication and do so in a way that is more personalized for both the donor and the donor experience officer,” says Jack Tennant, director of annual giving and the new leader of the Donor Experience Program. “As a result, we have more ability to engage and connect with our most loyal and dedicated donors.”

Hammond says the purpose of the program is to get to know the person behind the donation because for them the gift isn’t just transactional: “It’s about their stories—their why—and it’s about connecting them with people for whom they can have an impact.”

“It’s digital, but it’s not disconnected from the human experience,” Dungan says. “It’s allowing us the opportunity to connect more deeply where we have not been able to before.”

The DXO team can already recall many meaningful conversations with supporters. These are only a few of them.

Hammond recalls a story from a supporter who wanted to pay it forward. As a young man working for a grocery store, he was encouraged by his manager to further his education. Thanks to his manager, he was able to find a job and a place to stay in Laramie so that he could attend UW. With the help of multiple scholarships, he graduated and eventually become a dean of a college. Years later, after contacting UW to thank the university for the financial assistance, he was told there was no record of any scholarships being awarded to him. To his surprise, he learned that it was the grocery store manager who funded his education. Today, Hammond is helping him not only connect to UW, but also to create opportunities for him to pay it forward.

Dungan remembers interacting with a man who doesn’t have children of his own but wanted nothing more than to leave a legacy. He wanted to support community college students who wanted to continue their education at a four-year institution. Today, Dungan is working closely with him to establish scholarships to do just that.

Erickson recalls a phone conversation with a longtime donor about her scholarship, established for students looking to study abroad, specifically in French-speaking countries. In response to the conversation, Erickson arranged a thank you video from a current scholarship recipient. The video message was delivered to the donor entirely in French—from Strasbourg, a beautiful city in the east of France. Today, Erickson is finding innovative ways to communicate the impact of private gifts on UW’s students.

By leveraging digital technology, the DXO Program will see a 300 percent increase in the number of supporters they are able to connect with on a one-to-one, personalized basis.

“Since we are the first three DXOs, it is important for us to build a foundation, utilizing the resources that we have to allow us to connect people to a cause that is personal to them,” Erickson says. “By establishing more intentional connections with our community, we can grow the support for the university and create bigger opportunities for the future.”

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