Apra-IL presents Tales of Terror: The Prospect Development Edition. Inspired by series such as Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Goosebumps, this series will present stories that thrill, excite, and chill you to the bone ... just in time for Halloween!
The first in the series was written by Katie Ingrao, Associate Director of Prospect Management at the National Audubon Society. Katie's story follows a Researcher desperately trying to find their way out of a tangled web of data while being foiled at every turn by inefficient and malicious management practices. Turn your lights on and sit with your back to the wall for this one, folks!
Moans from Policy Purgatory
On all Hollow’s Eve, in a quiet little development office, there dwelled a dedicated prospect management professional (PM). The leaves outside her window were bursting with autumnal colors and were beginning to flutter down to carpet the ground in soft mounds. This seasonal symphony of color and tempest winds could only mean one thing. Its portfolio review time! Our PM was feeling the buzz in the air and was becoming giddy with excitement to unveil her new dashboards developed over the summer. “These dashboards are the best I’ve done yet! My Development Officers will find them so helpful and convenient for quickly accessing their metric progress!” PM exclaimed. This excitement was contagious among her team and review meetings were hastily scheduled.
On the day of the big dashboard unveiling, PM anxiously watched the seconds tick down on the clock until she could begin setting up the conference room. The tap tap tap tapping of her cubicle neighbors’ keys and the slurp slurp slurping of her coworker’s PSL grated on her nerves; tightened her shoulders, until the clock struck 10 and she sprang into action! She strode down the hall towards the conference room with confidence and vigor.
PM’s co-workers slowly filtered into the conference room as the excitement and nervous jitters began to settle into PM’s stomach. “Just take a deep breath and clearly express the advantage of these new dashboards and you’ll be fine,” PM thinks to herself as she walks to the front of the room. As the presentation begins, PM unveils the first dashboard that displays each team’s progress to goal. The reaction is hushed but PM notices a growing murmur from the audience. PM’s eyes dart around the room in an ever-increasing speed as the rise of side conversations and remarks reach a crescendo and PM’s Director exclaims, “Ok everyone! Let’s let PM finish explaining the new dashboards and why we are transitioning our perspective on reporting metrics. We developed these to directly address your repeated requests for transparency and access to data.” This interruption allows PM to exhale and get her bearings and prepare for the onslaught of Development Officer’s dissection and interrogation of her reports. “I think maybe we pause and answer some initial questions before I continue on.” PM shakily states to the room.
PM looks out into the audience and calls on the most vocal and divisive Development Officer thinking to herself “Let’s just start with the most difficult objections first”. This Development Officer, PM knew is a talented fundraiser and definitely appreciates their skill and gumption when dealing with prospects but she really found her public questioning terrifying! “How did you determine the calculation of the qualification rate? I don’t think that a prospect can be truly disqualified until I’ve spoken with them and I think it’s unrealistic to give us only 3 months to qualify” the Development Officer declares. The Leadership Annual Giving Officer next to the Development Officer vigorously nods her head in agreement and adds, “Forcing us to give up good prospects just because of an arbitrary time period has passed rushes our process and lets good people slip through the cracks!” And then the Principal Gift Officer pipes in with his own grievance “And how come we can’t hold onto important VIP prospects even if they haven’t given in the last 3 years? They are HNWI and I’m still thinking of a strategy to get in front of them.” Following this comment, the room breaks out into further buzzing of agreements and the opinions of everyone in the room “Well, I don’t want my loyal annual givers to be taken away from me because you all need prospects because of this!” “I think we need to think more strategically about how we divide up our portfolios” “Maybe we just scrap this whole thing” causing a cacophony of noise.
These dissents were causing PM’s heartbeat to jump in her chest and a prickling sweat to break out across her body. “This was supposed to be a fun and exciting presentation to show my thoughtful work based on their issues and desires for prospect management reporting. How could it have devolved into chaos so quickly?!” PM thinks to herself. To the building dissenters in the room PM states, “I understand your concerns about ensuring that you have truly disqualified someone but in order to reach our fundraising goals, we need to churn and qualify at a higher rate. That means we need to limit the time we devote to qualifying and cultivating someone so we don’t waste time on people who aren’t going to be major givers to our organization.” The pounding of her heart rate continued to resound in PM’s ear following this statement as she stared out at their blinking faces. At this point, PM’s Director stands up and attempts to regain control of the meeting “I know you all have concerns and we will try to address them. I’m going to meet with the VP of Development and reaffirm that we all agree on the shared understanding of how and when to disqualify a prospect and the agreed upon metric for qualification. Thank you all for your time.” With that final statement, the meeting concludes and PM is taken aback and thinks to herself, “That’s it? I thought we had all decided this was the new format and was approved by leadership? Why are we backing down now in the face of only the slightest of resistance?” Her Director pulls her aside and says “That didn’t really go over as well as I had hoped, I’ll need to circle back with leadership on this. We may need to reassess our plan and redo the reporting.”
PM’s vision narrows, her blood pressure skyrockets and rakes her hands down her face as a low guttural groan of frustration radiates out of her. “Okay."