What makes Prospect Development a great career?
APRA-IL is asking local and national industry leaders what the field means to them and why and how they have pursued success in Prospect Development. Through this blog series we will explore what drives industry leaders to propel their careers and Prospect Development forward.
APRA-IL: Describe your motivations in this field and what keeps you engaged.
Dave Chase*: The clients and their missions. My first three clients were in healthcare, a community hospital … followed by two major teaching hospitals, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Joslin Diabetes Center. Over the past twenty one years, I have had the good fortune of working with local, national and international organizations who help wounded veterans, support brain tumor and CTE research, fight for animal welfare and environmental protection, and, the closest to my heart, supporting at risk youth and children in crisis throughout the world. Helping these good folks identify and engage their best prospects to land a transformational gift is, simply, awesome. Learning – and then sharing -- new ways to make this happen from the early days of wealth screening to sophisticated analytics and predictive modeling has kept me fully engaged. Mentoring colleagues entering the field, or trying to solve a tough problem, has been very rewarding.
APRA-IL: Describe your journey into your current position.
D.C.:I spent a decade-and-a-half in commercial real estate, most of that time owning my own brokerage and consulting business. My attorney, and very close friend, asked me to help the local hospital on Cape Cod identify folks who own $1M waterfront homes for an $8 million capital campaign. I developed a database of 1,500 prospects (which took many months, compared to seconds today!). The nineteenth person that I identified, gave a $2 million naming gift. 21 years later, it still gives me a very warm feeling whenever I pull into the parking lot and see the “O’Keefe Pavilion” at the hospital where I was born. After completing that assignment, I asked the chief development officer what group she belonged to. She told me it was the New England Association for Healthcare Philanthropy. I joined NEAHP, went to their annual conference, and knew this was what I wanted to do. These people were doing great things for our world and were simply the nicest and most compassionate people around. I volunteered to build a website for the group (way back in the dark ages) and the board president immediately put me on the board. I spent twelve years on the NEAHP board, resigning every year for the last six before my resignation was finally accepted. The relationships and networking within NEAHP is how I built my prospect research business.
APRA-IL: What is next for you? Is there anything you would like to accomplish or challenge?
D.C.: Making the powerful prospecting tools, that have evolved over the past twenty+ years, available and affordable to the thousands of “small shop” philanthropic organizations is a critical mission. I’ve been an informal advisor to WealthEngine on product development since 2001 and a partner for the past eleven years. I’ve advocated passionately for features and affordable options for smaller clients, as well as more sophisticated options for larger organizations. The advances in this field, particularly in past five years, have been astounding. I love being a part of the solution and sharing what I have learned along the way. In the early days, most of my time was spent doing in-depth prospect research for clients. I made a decision, about ten years ago, to bring in freelance prospect researchers and push most of this research off to them. I am very proud of what the terrific group of professionals in my Freelance Prospect Research network have accomplished. It has been an honor to be associated with this team. Pushing most of the day-to-day research off to this group has allowed me to concentrate more on solving problems for clients, advising them on strategies, developing prospect research plans, helping them find and hire prospect research professionals, and working with my partners at WealthEngine in developing and sharing powerful new tools for philanthropy. My goal over the next year is to develop ways to help the really small shops take advantage of the tools that the larger shops are using. There is a wall out there that needs to be torn down and a bridge that need to be built. I’m on it.
*Some aspects of Dave’s answers have been paraphrased.