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 Jo Theodosopoulos, Manager of Prospect Development at The Minneapolis Foundation.
Jo Theodosopoulos is the Manager of Prospect Development at The Minneapolis Foundation. She launched the organization’s first prospect research program in May 2014, after successfully doing the same at Sanford Health Foundation/Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation (Sioux Falls, SD) in 2012. She works across the organization with all departments to find and help build potential relationships. Jo was elected to the board of APRA-Minnesota in January 2016. Prior to joining the prospect development field, Jo spent five years in development and donor relations at the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation. She holds a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from South Dakota State University. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and Wyatt the Rottweiler.
Apra-IL: What impact does your work, and the overall field of Prospect Development have? And could you describe who you believe your audience is?
Jo: Community foundations work to improve the lives of people in a geographic area. They bring together resources to support nonprofits in their communities. So, in a sense, my work impacts a lot of nonprofits and, therefore, the overall community by helping to find and build those resources and partnerships that support the good work that frontline organizations do. I think the same can be said for the overall field of Prospect Development. We’re all trying to help improve our organizations and communities in some form. I believe that my audience is pretty broad. I work with our Philanthropic Advisors, our executive team, our Impact Directors, and other members of the nonprofit community to further our impact.
Apra-IL: As a leader, can you tell us what motivates you in your current field? And perhaps whether your motivations have ever changed?
Jo: I’m motivated by the fact that our work at The Minneapolis Foundation helps support so many organizations that work to improve our community. I love working with our staff to strategize the best and most efficient way to make this happen. I also love collaborating with others across the Prospect Development field to share ideas and best practices. We’ve developed a great community among Prospect Development professionals. I definitely think my motivations have changed. I never realized before that I could be a leader, but now I’m happy to take on that challenge.
Apra-IL: With 3 words, describe the role of a Prospect Development professional, and why?
Jo: Strategy. I think that one of the most important jobs we have is to help inform the strategy of the organization in regard to fundraising and, in my case, grantmaking and partnerships using the data we provide.
Information. Sometimes I like to use the word “information” rather than “data”. It seems a little less daunting, but that’s my opinion. At any rate, we provide the data/information used to inform strategy (see above!).
Partnerships. Whether they are internal partnerships with other staff members or external partnerships with other prospect development professionals, our networks, grantmakers, donors, etc., we should strive to make those partnerships as strong as possible.
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