By Joan Ogwumike, Development Coordinator, Mikva Challenge
My first APRA International Conference was hosted in Nashville from July 28th -30th. The experience was more than I could ask for because it developed my professional and personal growth in unexplainable ways. I also believe my sessions selection allowed for this exposure and impact.
My first session began Thursday morning with “So You Think You Want to Be a Director: Creating a Career Ladder in Prospect Development” presented by Briana Cons from ASU Foundation Temple, Arizona and Mandy Heath from St. Joseph’s Foundation & Barrow. This was my opportunity to learn and reflect on how I wanted to build my career ladder by reimagining and customizing it. I needed to consider how to put new actions in my everyday life for networking, setting up checklists for professional pros and cons, prioritizing, considering mobility, and more.
Next session was “The Power of Data Visualization, Prospect Management & Fundraisers” presented by Chrissy Premeaux and Trish McPeek from Oklahoma State University. The presenters from Oklahoma State University gave insight on how they set up their prospect portfolio trends, valuations, proposal trends, and used Tableau as a source for visualization. It was a great reminder on how to visualize portfolios so development officers and leadership can read and grab necessary facts.
Friday’s first session began with “Streamlining Materials with the Audience in Mind” presented by Patricia Brunson and Elise Speck from Duke University. This session revolved around knowing who your audience was, and how to deliver necessary details. Streamline, streamline, streamline! Don’t over-deliver and make things time-consuming for yourself.
Next session was “Got Interest? Improving the Utilization of Donor Interest Codes” presented by Abbey Myskza and Mallory Lass from UC Berkeley. UC Berkeley presenters gave an informative look into the use of Donor Satisfaction Surveying, and its impact on tailoring donor communication based on the donors’ interests. It was also a great reminder that prospects are always needed for new initiatives and projects. Therefore knowing your donors’ interests and having a concrete coding system helps with meeting goals.
Saturday’s early session began with “More than Just News: How a Newsletter Can Help Your Team, Measure Impact, Maximize Partnerships, and Inspire Collaboration” presented by Lindsey Royer, Amelia Aldred, and Marcus Smith from University of Chicago. It was great to see a prospect development team use a newsletter as a tool to increase their visibility, connect data to stories, measure impacts and position researchers as partners in the area of development. It was also interesting to see the layout, and how researchers were spotlighted.
My next and final session Saturday was “Prospect Research is a Cause” presented by Armando Zumaya, Consultant. This session spoke to professionals who worked in the nonprofit space, and the necessity for prospect researchers in nonprofits. It advocated for a call-to-action, (1) promote prospect researchers and (2) join nonprofit boards and discuss the work of researchers.
In all, I appreciated these sessions and I want to thank the presenters at this 2016 APRA International Conference for educating me on new and familiar subjects. This was my chance to reevaluate how prospects are presented, when to synthesize and create data, and how to bridge the gap between professionals in development. I would also like to thank the attendees I met at the conference for their advice, and additional exposure to prospect development.