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How to Write a Donor Bio in the WiSH/Engage Portal

Stewarding Donors
| 15 minutes to read
Last Updated: 06-27-2024


WFAA development support staff will take the lead in creating and maintaining bios for WFAA funds to be displayed to students who receive scholarships awarded out of WiSH. Campus staff will create donor bios for non-WFAA funds in WiSH.

Donor bios (called profiles within WiSH) will show up to applicants after they’ve been awarded a scholarship in the Post Acceptance section. They will also show up in the Donor tab as a wall of bio tiles for applicants to view. Donor bios are separate from any donor information that is listed in the portfolio description.

Donor bios, in most cases, should be marked to be “Applicant Visible.” For cases in which the donor wants their profile to be visible to the public, we should document that preference in 4WARD/OnBase, and mark the bio as “Public.”

Donor bios provide student recipients with context about the donor who made their award possible, with the goal of helping students understand the importance of philanthropy and to assist them in writing a meaningful, personalized thank-you note.


  • Format the bio in complete sentences in the third person (rather than first person).
  • Avoid using special characters such as those with an accent mark, a circumflex, a tilde, etc. These do not display well in the respective systems, and they make it difficult to sync data between systems.
  • Fields to pay special attention to include:
    • Portfolio/Scholarship name
    • Donor Bio/Profile title, and Donor Bio/Profile text
  • Do not include the following information in any donor bio: gift amounts, scholarship criteria, donor address, donor contact information.


  • NEW For WFAA funds: WiSH donor bios are now only located in WiSH, work with your WFAA liaison to make any needed edits/additions.
  • For UW funds: Please create a donor bio in WiSH. It will not be overwritten in the data synching process.
  • Donor pictures can be added into WiSH to accompany the donor bio. Donor pictures should be high quality to display correctly (150px X 150px displays with the highest quality).
  • Make sure to respect donor anonymity and to check what degree of anonymity they prefer, such as public recognition, recipients being aware of their name (donor bio), etc. If you are unsure, please check with your WFAA liaison. Places you might find anonymity information include: Fund Description, Activity Reports, MOA, Principal Gifts.


Paragraph 1: Donor Background

Include donor names, where they live, and what degree(s) or connection(s) they have to UW–Madison. Add in any degrees and majors that the donor(s) received through UW–Madison, or if they attended the university.

How to list degrees:

  • For a quick summary of how we treat degrees:
  • For a summary of degree abbreviations, scroll down to “degrees” here:
  • In general, we don’t list the credential (the letters) for a bachelor’s degree. Why not? The rationale is lost in the mists of time. But we haven’t done so for many, many decades, and there isn’t a strong reason to change. In addition, we default to listing degrees in chronological order, which usually (but not always) means going from lowest (bachelor’s) to highest (doctorate).

In situations where the fund was created by a group, share the names/degrees of the donors and what effort motivated them to give. In cases where the fund was created in honor or memory of someone, include the names of the donors who gave the gift as well as the honorary individual’s connection(s) to UW–Madison.

Include the life accomplishments of the donor(s). For example, employment, volunteer work, etc.

When appropriate, list or share ways in which the donor has been involved with or recognized by the unit or at UW–Madison (awards, honorary degrees, committees/boards, etc.).

Paragraph 2 (optional): Donor Inspiration

Share why the donor(s) chose to create this fund (goals they want to accomplish, what they want their awardees to know about them, what motivated them to give to this area, etc.) This information can be sourced from the donor bio questionnaire or MOA (if we have them). Include any special memories the donor(s) had on campus.


Alumni Donor Example

DONOR ’63, MS’65, PhD’68 and DONOR SPOUSE reside in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin. DONORS met at the Memorial Union at the UW–Madison campus. DONOR majored in mathematics, dairy and food industry, and food science. DONOR has worked in food engineering at UW–Madison, Cornell, and Rutgers. DONOR has written more than 200 publications in scientific journals, edited five books, and coauthored one major textbook. DONOR is the former executive director of the North Central Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors. DONOR has served on the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Campaign Planning Committee.

DONORS both experienced the opportunity to attend UW–Madison. When they were in a financial position to “pay it forward,” they established student awards. With the rising cost of education, DONORS want to assist in making a quality education at UW–Madison available.

Consortium Gift/Memorial Gift Example

The Memorial Scholarship was established in 2013 by a group of UW alumni belonging to Sigma Phi fraternity to honor the memory of their fraternity brother and friend. The donors of this scholarship, DONORS, reside throughout the country and wanted to name the scholarship in memory of their great friend and classmate who “taught us lessons you won’t learn in class.”

HONOREE ’90 grew up in Apple Valley, Minnesota. He graduated with a degree from the Wisconsin School of Business and eagerly entered the business world. Not long after starting his first job, HONOREE became sick with flu-like symptoms. When the symptoms didn’t go away, doctors ran tests and discovered two malignant brain tumors. A few weeks later, while undergoing treatments for the tumors, HONOREE died. He was only 24.

Nearly 25 years later, HONOREE’S example still shapes how these donors live today.


There are three components needed for a correctly formatted donor bio: (1) donor bio title, (2) donor bio author, and (3) bio text. The donor bio title should be the name of the primary person/people on whom the bio focuses. Most often, this will be either the original donor or the person who is being memorialized through the fund. The donor bio title field is limited to 100 characters.

Names should be listed as follows:

  • First name or nickname + last name — most typically the constituent’s preferred name format
    • Jane Smith
  • For constituent couples with the same last name: First person’s first name + second person’s first name + shared last name
    • Jack and Jane Smith
  • For constituent couples with different last names: First person’s full name + second person’s full name
    • Jack Smith and Jane Nelson
  • You can include initials in the title if they are included in the fund name
    • Jack F. and Jane G. Smith
  • Follow our existing rules related to which constituent is listed first (typically alumna or alumnus is listed first; take into account donor preferences about which spouse is listed first)
  • In some cases for consortium gifts, you can name the organization, family, or class that collectively created the fund