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.
For this month's piece, Joan Ogwumike, APRA-IL member and volunteer, interviews Marissa Todd of the University of Central Missouri.
Marissa Todd is currently the Director of Prospect Management and Research at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg. She has been working in non-profit fundraising for over a decade and has done just about every job in an advancement shop. Marissa has been dabbling in prospect development since 2008 but didn’t join APRA until June 2014 when she attended her first conference that summer. It was at that conference where she really found her passion for all things prospect development!
Marissa earned her BA and JD from the University of Missouri and an MBA from Stephens College. In her free time, Marissa loves to hang out with her husband, Michael, and their two cats, Artie and Faurot; volunteer; and watch football (Go Tigers and Chiefs!), hockey, college basketball – really almost any sport on a screen will occupy her attention.
APRA-IL: What do you feel is the impact of your work on the overall field of Prospect Development? (And could you describe who you believe your audience is for your work)
Todd: Prospect Development has a huge impact on engagement and philanthropy. The specific audience at my organization is all faculty, staff, and volunteers who engage with our constituents in order to create a meaningful relationship with our institution. That could mean anything from speaking to students or making a major gift. Through my work, I can provide insight to this audience to help them identify the right constituents for their particular need (giving, advisory board, etc.) and offer strategic direction to move these relationships forward.
APRA-IL: Describe your motivations in this field, and what keeps you engaged.
Todd: The constant learning in our field really keeps me motivated. I am always learning new process and techniques. The nature of our work - working with people and building relationships - means every day is different and offers new opportunities. I've been fortunate to work at organizations that are building out prospect development programs, which has been really amazing and a great opportunity to learn and grow.
APRA-IL: What is next for you? Is there anything you would like to accomplish or challenge?
Todd: Right now I'm in year two of building out a relationship management and research shop at the University of Central Missouri. I want to finish building this out to include a principal gifts program. We just launched a new strategic plan in July 2016, Transformation 2025, and I'm anxious to see how the prospect development shop helps shape that success.
APRA-IL: What advice would you give a new professional in the field of Prospect Development?
Todd: Join APRA. Going to that first APRA conference in 2014 was life changing for me. This community is so inviting and collaborative. You can learn so much from your colleagues so take advantage of membership and all the awesome things that come with it. Also - don't be afraid to advocate for your shop. Some managers understand the impact of prospect development; others inherit the program or just think they probably should have one, but don't really understand the value. Take every opportunity to prove your value and speak up about your impact.
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