Michal Shaw | Growing a Women’s Giving Program

Dear great women,

Meet Michal Shaw, a fundraising executive at Oklahoma State University (OSU) Foundation in Stillwater.Michal Shaw

Michal has an impressive depth of diverse experience in higher education fundraising which includes research, prospect management, scholarship administration, gift administration and compliance. In her current role, she oversees donor relations, stewardship and special events.

A double OSU alumna, Michal also leads the University’s women’s philanthropy program, called Women for Oklahoma State University. 

(Basically, she does it ALL.)

I was first introduced to Michal through a joint learning initiative between Apra and the Association of Donor Relations Professionals (ADRP) in 2015. While still on maternity leave, Michal kindly agreed to co-present a webinar with fellow prospect researcher Jennifer Filla and me on harnessing the power of women’s philanthropy. Our collaboration highlighted statistics on women’s wealth; offered practical prospect research techniques specific to female donors; and introduced the concept of starting a women’s giving program.

You can view this webinar in its entirety here as well as read a recap blog post on the Apra website here.

Once the webinar wrapped, for some reason, I thought Michal and I would cross paths again given our mutual interest in advancing women’s philanthropy, but I didn’t think we would reconnect so soon.

A chance meeting at the Women’s Philanthropy Institute Symposium in Chicago still warms this prospect researcher’s heart. Meeting Michal in person compelled me to look closer into the Women for OSU program which is led by an advisory council of passionate donor volunteers.

The Women for OSU Council is made up of about 40 women who hold a minimum lifetime family giving history of $50,000. The council advises OSU Foundation staff on programs and events designed to engage both alumni and friends.

Each member agrees to make a $1,000 annual commitment to Women for OSU while serving on the council which meets three to four times a year.

With that background, I was fortunate to catch up with Michal Shaw recently, to ask her some additional questions about her women’s giving program.

Me: What are the major goals of your women’s giving program?

Michal: Our primary goal is to channel passions and strengthen women’s connections to the University through their relationship with our program. We also aim to increase the number of female donors to OSU as well as increase their total giving through the Women for OSU Endowed Scholarship, a prestigious award that recognizes academics, philanthropic and volunteer activities among OSU students. Funds for this endowment are generated through private donations and sponsorship from events, allowing students to become stronger leaders and educated philanthropists.

Our mission statement says that, “Women for OSU is a diverse group of visionary women who share a passion for inspiring leadership and financial support to OSU. Women for OSU envisions a culture of giving and service that acknowledges the significant impact women have here and inspires others to positively shape the future of the University through philanthropy and engagement.”

Me: I noticed that OSU has a prospect research/management team. Can you tell me about a successful collaboration with your team? If you haven’t worked with the prospect research team, how could they help you increase participation by women donors?

Michal: Our prospect research team plays a crucial role in our success. Not only does this team refer potential WOSU donors and council members to us, they also assist us with research on potential members who have been recommended by third parties. Ultimately, the goal is to find women who are looking for opportunities to engage with the University and/or are passionate about leadership.

Additionally, this team ensures we are strategic in our approach to regional events. We are in the midst of planning an event now for the Washington, DC, area and rely heavily on prospect research to provide us with women who have high interest and high giving capacity, but are not assigned to a development officer or currently engaged.

Me: Just to play devil’s advocate, do alumnae need to be deliberately pursued in a separate giving program in order to feel engaged by the university? 

Michal: No, although the more deliberate, collaborative and strategic we can be in our engagement, the better! It’s been my experience that the more we tailor engagement to a particular donor’s interests, the more likely and quickly she is to jump on board.


Thank you, Apra, ADRP and the WPI for bringing Michal and me together in conversation about building a women’s giving program as well as the critical role prospect development can play in growing our female donor bases of support.

RELATED NEWS:

“Alumnae announce new goals in women’s philanthropy,” (aim to fund 250 scholarships by 2019); Dartmouth News; May 5, 2017 – here

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