Like many college undergraduates, Stephanie Greiner wanted to earn some extra cash. She landed the best-paying job on the University of Iowa campus: soliciting alumni for contributions through the university’s phonathon program.
“Everyone around me hated the job, but I loved it,” she says. “I raised my first million as a college student. I went on calls with fundraising staff. I asked them, ‘You get paid to do this?”
Now chief development officer at Des Moines University, Greiner recently was named one of the Des Moines Business Record’s 2019 Forty Under 40 honorees. These 40 local business leaders, who were chosen by past award winners, are under the age of 40 and have demonstrated impressive career achievements and unparalleled community involvement. Since the awards program began in 2000, 800 individuals have been selected for the honor.
“I am humbled and honored to be selected,” Greiner says. “Des Moines is a very philanthropic community. It’s exciting to be a fundraiser in a city of philanthropists.”
She began her career in 2003 as assistant director of annual giving programs at the Iowa State University Foundation. During her nine years there, she was promoted to associate director of annual giving programs, associate director of development, director of development and senior director of development. She visited hundreds of prospective donors, raised millions of dollars, led staff and strategized on priorities with deans and department chairs.
In 2012, Greiner was named chief development officer at DMU, where she has created and managed several giving programs, increased fundraising from $4 million to $17 million per year and increased the number of alumni who contribute to the University from 4 percent to 10 percent. The youngest member of DMU’s Executive Leadership Team, she was a leader in planning and implementing the largest capital campaign in the University’s history, “Purple & Proud,” which entered its public phase in December 2018. With a concluding date set for December 2020, the campaign had reached 82 percent of its $25 million goal as of Feb. 20, 2019.
“I feel very passionate about fundraising. Philanthropy bridges the gap between people’s passions and needs in our community,” she says. “In my career, I’ve worked to help donors achieve their philanthropic goals in ways that benefit students. I get to be that middle person.”
Greiner received The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 40 Under 40 Rising Young Professionals Award in 2016 and was named “A Local Leader You Should Know” by the Business Record also in 2016. But what is most meaningful to her is demonstrating to her two daughters that a woman can be “a good wife, a good mom and a successful professional.”
“That’s the best thing I can do for my children, to show them they can have different roles as females,” she says.
Greiner says she enjoys asking people about their charitable passions.
“What difference can you make? What could you do with your money that would be meaningful to you? I ask those questions of nearly every person I meet,” she says. “Everybody can make a difference.”