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You Should Write a Blog About That!

As part of our goal to share industry and career-related information to colleagues in the fundraising development field, we encourage you to contact us if you would like to contribute to our blog. 

We also enjoy reading other blogs and may contact you to share a guest post. 


Current Apra-IL Blog Series

Dear Analyst

Motivations of Leaders

Completed in 2018  Tales of Terror: The Prospect Development Edition

Completed in 2018   True Life: A Day in Prospect Development

Completed in 2018  50 Shades of Prospect Development


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  • Fri, December 07, 2018 10:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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 Preeti Gill, Associate Manager of Prospect Development at Covenant House Vancouver and Founder of Sole Searcher Strategies. 

    Preeti Gill is an experienced prospect development professional in Vancouver, Canada. She has re-energized research and prospect management programs in education, the community foundation movement, health care and social services. At Covenant House Vancouver, Preeti is employing a gender lens to create a new(ish) prospect development program that supports both an ambitious capital campaign and a growing major gift fundraising team. She recently joined the group of advisors at Women’s Giving Circles International.

    Apra-IL: Preeti, you have been very vocal about advocacy and Women and People of Color in Philanthropy. Can you share with our readers what advocacy means to you? And why you focus on Women and People of Color?

    Gill: Well, just look at me… 

    Let’s be honest and real: do you think a short brown girl from a small mill town will successfully secure millions from a middle-aged white corporate dude? I knew the answer early on in my career, whether subconsciously or otherwise. Instead, I managed to find a supportive space in prospect development (PD) and make a small contribution to institutional philanthropy as an alternative.

    I don’t stop and think about advocacy as a concept. I’m just not afraid to speak up when I feel disrespected or when my work – when our work – is needlessly discredited due to uninformed opinion. I hope that you feel empowered to speak up, too.

    If you’ve heard me speak at a conference or read my blog, you’ll know that advancing female philanthropy is a personal mission, born out of stories of generous women not being adequately acknowledged, simply put. Their stories motivated me to enhance my own understanding of different donor segments and advocate for them as viable major giving prospects from my place in PD.

    Women continue to be ignored if they’re not purchasing yachts or making mega-gifts. Wealthy people of color are treated as a “new” and “emerging” group of prospects, when they’ve given back to their families, communities, mosques, temples (as well as the charities you and I support) forever.

    I choose to deliberately and intentionally focus on women and POC donors in my PD practice because they give more than we think they do; and they deserve recognition for their philanthropic efforts. Also, we can’t afford to ignore them anymore since our current donor pool is shrinking.

    Apra-IL: In hindsight, would you say that advocating for these topics has kept you motivated to continue to build your career in Prospect Development? What else has kept you going?

    Gill: Of course! Information is power.

    I’ve had many opportunities to grow and evolve in PD which I think is more diverse of a field than it’s given credit for. It’s from my place in PD that I’ve had the opportunity to build curiosity, think differently, and come up with creative strategies to advance certain donor segments, in collaboration with donor-facing colleagues.

    Learning motivates me a great deal. There are so many ways to be a better researcher with no formal or standard training; and I’ve been fortunate to take advantage of many diverse learning opportunities. In 2019, I’m planning to take courses in financial planning and board leadership and attend conferences focused on women’s rights and advancement services. How’s that for variety?

    I’ve always been motivated by the generous people I research. Following the stories of some successful people in the philanthropic sector have kept me going, especially on days when I felt like giving up and going away. Check out Hali Lee at the Asian Women’s Giving Circle. She has done ground breaking work developing a welcoming space for wealthy donors of color in philanthropy. Explore the major gifts that Neda Nobari has made her to alma mater San Francisco State University, to foster understanding of the Iranian American experience. Follow Virgil Roberts at the African American Board Leadership Institute which is connecting black professionals with non-profit boards who need their guidance and expertise.

    All their efforts keep me going and motivate me to do my part in PD.

    Apra-IL: What role has Apra played in your career?

    Gill: Joining Apra-Canada early in my career was one of the best decisions, I must say. I began volunteering just a few months after joining, so I started to work alongside different people outside my organization which truly opened up my world. As a collaborative association, Apra warms my heart and soul.

    I think Apra can do more to address diversity and inclusion issues in the future, but the board requires pressure by its membership to do so. One starting point is to simply acknowledge and appreciate our differences. For example, sometimes I get the feeling that PD professionals look down on researchers while looking up to data scientists. Our learning opportunities seem to be increasingly segregated, perhaps as a consequence. I’m not down with that. Often, it’s the stalwart researcher who draws on both technical and soft skills to communicate the results and meaning of raw data, right alongside our rock star analytics counterparts.

    Apra-IL: As professionals in Prospect Development, do you think we should have a voice in the issue of Diversity and Inclusion in Fundraising? And for those reading, inspired by you, how can they become allies on this issue or begin their advocacy journey for the field of Prospect Development or Fundraising?

    Gill: Why not? I have to ask you right back because for so long prospect research and what we now call Prospect Development was dominated (and may still be) by smart women. PD professional women are paid less than our male counterparts, as Apra’s salary survey clearly demonstrated. We need to address this inequity inside and outside of PD.

    Why leave this complex issue up to front-line fundraisers especially since that field is dominated by white women asking white men for money. (Yes, I just said that.)

    I suggest starting your own advocacy journey by assessing your own life and career goals. How are you feeling about your work, your co-workers, your organization’s mission? If you’re feeling good and optimistic about the future, keep going. If not, figure out what will make you more effective and happier. As a PD professional, you have many choices and a lot to offer the philanthropic sector, recognizing that change requires courageous confidence.

    Also, hone your own perspective. No one really cares about how much you know about other people’s money. They care about your perspective, the one you’ve honed through formal education, countless hours researching and analyzing donors and working alongside front-line staff crafting meaningful donor engagement and ask strategies.

    The best way to be an ally is to participate in philanthropy outside of your PD role. Volunteer your time for an organization you care about. Donate, no matter the amount. Join a giving circle. Learn how to set up a donor advised fund. Reach out to other fundraising professionals just to talk about the issues in your community. Participating more fully in philanthropy will make you a better researcher, but more importantly, contribute to social change which philanthropy seeks to address in the first place.

    Apra-IL: Fill in the blank with a piece of advice you wish you had received in your first Prospect Development role: When in doubt, _________.

    Gill: Don’t react. Plan and act!

    Full disclosure: I saw this on a sign; it was part of an activism exhibit at the Cultural Center in Chicago. It’s such good advice that I’ve tried to adhere to since coming across it. It makes sense for those in our field, being the prudent, resourceful and thoughtful professionals that we are in PD.

    I think it’s easier to react sometimes, whether it’s to a profile request or a feeling you get when you feel you’ve been treated a certain kind of way. May I suggest: breathe deep. Step back. Then figure out how to proceed. Your future self will be grateful, in my humble opinion.

  • Wed, October 31, 2018 9:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    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!

    This story is brought to us by Amy Tibbs, Development Research Associate at the National Audubon Society and Apra-IL Secretary. Prepare yourself for a wild ride through the unincorporated territory of a database gone feral in Dial D for Data. 

    Dial D for Data

    On a bright, crisp fall morning, as the leaves are starting to turn, Sheila walks through campus. “I got this,” she thinks. Having just started a new gig, she’s ready to prep for her first meeting with her gift officers. Sure, she doesn’t yet know everything there is to know about their portfolios. And she’s still figuring out everyone’s style. Sure, the database seems a little chaotic, but her predecessor Frederick did leave behind a manual. Well, “manual” is a strong word; pile of documents in a file drawer may be a better description … stack of scraps and post-its would be more accurate. Given Frederick’s mysterious disappearance, she’s just glad to have some guidance.

    Shaking off a chill as she passes through the graveyard next to her office, she bounds up the stairs. Waving to colleagues and bypassing the morning hellos, Sheila spends an hour testing the multitude of reports in the system and digging in to see how they were built. In minutes, she discovers that Frederick updated his reports almost daily and never deleted or re-wrote the previous versions. She realizes organizing reports could be a full-time job! As she struggles through page after page of v.1, v.10, v.59, her inbox begins filling up with gift officer notes. She reads one about a professor driving a Tesla, which results in a request for a capacity review, and starts into another that begins, “Do you think that Jenny and John Smith are part of THE Smiths? How about a full family tree…” and she quickly closes Outlook. With little time to spare, she pulls a rudimentary portfolio review and heads to the conference room.

    Sheila sits down and begins reading through the gift officer portfolio reports, but she can’t make sense of the data. Gift totals aren’t adding up, last actions are all over the place, and time in stage ranges from zero to 730 days! The last lives on a record for a couple that recently made a huge gift – everyone in town has been talking about it ever since.

    A few gift officers arrive early and Sheila takes advantage of the smaller group to ask them what the process has been like on their end. They look at her blankly. “But do you see how there’s an update to this record from last week? Who put it in? I just want to know who to ask for some insight …” Sheila trails off as the fundraisers grin and assure her that the information in the system is good, and Sheila should trust it. How are the Jones and Smith projects coming along, by the way? The meeting goes on around her, but Sheila cannot stop thinking that this is all strange. Why are people holding out on such basic information; information she needs to do her job?

    Later at the coffee machine, a newer gift officer approaches Sheila and furtively pleads with her, “You have to stop asking questions. Please! Stop! Don’t you see? I thought it was strange, too, but you have to stop asking, Sheila!”

    “What!? What do you mean? WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?!”

    “Sheila, the gift officers all input their own data. Everyone has full editing access in the database. They’re changing addresses on a whim, adjusting allocations on gifts that don’t jive with the information in finance, they change criteria in the queries that feed our reports. They are even entering their own research notes based on Google searches. I saw them record that Jenny and John Smith have seven multimillion dollar homes. They rated them $1 kajillion dollars! I know Jenny! She works at Panera! They live in ONE house!”

    Taking a breath, he quietly ends with, “I’ve said too much. I have to go.”

    “That was weird,” Sheila thinks. But when she returns to her desk, she pulls up the Smiths’ record. And indeed, the couple has a free-text capacity rating of $1 kajillion. Mumbling to herself, Sheila wonders, “Why aren’t ratings recorded in a code table? Is kajillion a real number? It can’t be, right? No – Google confirms it. It’s a slang term and not a real number!” The Smiths’ record has seven current mailing addresses. Their birthdates are seventy-three years apart and they have zero history of giving or interacting with development. Despite that, their stage is listed as “Super Cultivation” and there is a projected ask of $2million! Confoundedly, the couple’s record also has some information correct: Jenny is listed as working at Panera Bread and John’s occupation is correctly identified as paper sales.

    Her belly full of dread, Sheila knocks on the Executive Director’s door. Sitting down, she asks whether she understands correctly: that everyone in the office has full access to edit the database. The ED swivels around and stares at Sheila. As she continues to talk, she hears her voice growing frantic, “But who is vetting the information? How are you pulling information if everything is going into the database all willy-nilly?” The ED responds, “We know what’s best for our people, Sheila, and we know how to Google things just like you do. Run along now and build us some dashboards. We’re particularly interested in discovering whether prospects with male dogs are also interested in recreational sports and if so, what their super-secret-sub-stage is and where they are in the pipeline.”

    Sheila, struck dumb, stammers, “But … but … that information is not … what? That information is … it doesn’t exist in the database in any way we could report out and … nothing is managed and …”

    The ED breaks in, “Oh dear, Sheila. Don’t you get it? That is why you are here. It is yours to manage, but we’ll control the information.” With an evil chuckle, she swivels away and Sheila exits the office.

    Back at her desk, Sheila’s inbox has exploded with requests for research, record updates, relationship connections, stage changes … why doesn’t anyone talk with her face-to-face? What’s with the influx of requests? Completely overwhelmed and perplexed, Sheila heads outside for a walk. As she passes the graveyard, she notices a freshly dug grave. With great trepidation, she approaches the headstone, which reads, “Frederick Meusch – b. 1974 d. 2017 -- He just couldn’t stop saying data integrity.”

    Gasping, she turns on her heel to see the entire development team at the iron gates. Marching slowly toward her through the graveyard, they chant, “The data is good … The data is fine … Do your job or it’s your time.”

    ~Fin~


  • Tue, October 23, 2018 7:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    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!

    This story is brought to us by Katie Fanning, Senior Analyst, Prospect Research and Amelia Aldred, Lead Analyst at the University of Chicago. Walk with them through this twisting exchange that travels the globe and the bounds of your credulity. 

    The Mysterious Advancement of Jacob Harding

    Date: September 25, 2010

    To: Caitlin Mire

    From: Jacob Harding

    Subject: Quick Lookup?

    Hi Caitlin,

    I have a quick turnaround request – I just got a visit with an alum that I think has a lot of potential. Could you do some research on him? His name is Voievode Nicolae Lupei Basarab (see attached business card). I think part of the name might be a title though.

    I met his personal assistant (I think? I wasn't clear what the relationship was exactly, but he definitely works for the guy) at the alumni event in Vienna. The PA gave me the business card and said that Voievode Nicolae was sorry he couldn't attend but would like to meet with me if my travel schedule allowed. I let him know that I was going to be in Europe for another week and scheduled a visit while I'm here.

    Here are my questions:

    -He sent an assistant to meet me and from talking to the PA, it sounds like the alum lives on an estate in the country; – I'm definitely thinking family money. Is there any info on the family/wealth etc?

    -It sounds like the alum found out about the event from his network as he wasn't actually on the invite list (I didn't mention that, of course!). Can you tell me what his degree/year/affiliation is?

    -Anything else you can find: other philanthropy, etc.

    I know this is really last minute but any additional information would be appreciated!

    Thanks in advance,

    Jake

    Jacob Harding

    Director of International Advancement

    Office of Alumni Relations and Development

    Carfax University

    ---------

    Date: September 26, 2010

    To: Jacob Harding

    From: Caitlin Mire

    Subject: Re: Quick Lookup?

    Jacob,

    You’ve got a live one there!

    Although I wasn’t able to find much on Mr. Basarab personally, I suspect you’re correct about family money. The Basarab House has been prominent in Romania since the early 1300s when they established the principality of Wallachia. The family actually predates modern Romania by over 500 years.

    Voievode looks to be a hereditary title analogous to a crown prince but with a distinctly military bent. The Basarab family has had the right to it since their inception. At some point, the family split into two lines: Dănești and Drăculești. It looks like the Drăculești line lasted a lot longer. Given Mr. Basarab is still using Voievode, I would bet he’s one of their descendants.

    Although a hereditary title would be functionally useless in modern Romania (no legal standing), it’s still a good sign for social standing (and wealth!) that he’s able to use it.

    I did find some information that there’s a family estate nearish Pitești though there’s conflicting reports as to whether or not it’s even inhabitable. Apparently, the Romanian government has tried (unsuccessfully) to take possession of it on several occasions. Can you confirm the location of your meeting? If he’s in residence, I would bet Mr. Basarab still has some claim.

    As for his affiliation, that’s a little unclear. I wasn’t actually able to find a Basarab in the database but those records aren’t great for our older alumni. I ran by the library just in case and I did find a PhD thesis on Ioan de Hunedoara submitted to the history department by a Nicolae Basarab but it was from 1897. Unless Mr. Basarab has the world’s best diet, it’s not him. Probably a relative – Basarab isn’t a super common name. Could be an interesting conversation starter.

    It looks like he has some giving (amount unreported) to the ELN Foundation, which supports European leukemia research.

    I’d love to hear an update when you get back.

    Caitlin Mire

    Senior Analyst, Prospect Research

    Office of Alumni Relations and Development

    Carfax University

    ---------

    Date: September 28, 2010

    To: Caitlin Mire

    From: Jacob Harding

    Subject: Quick Lookup?

    Hi Caitlin,

    Thank you so much for the quick turnaround! You are a rock star.

    I visited Mr. Basarab at his family estate today; it is an actual castle in the Carpathian mountains, surrounded by miles of forest. The castle is beautifully furnished, all antiques including some lovely medieval weapons and tapestries hanging in the hall. I attached a photo of the great hall. Mr. Basarab is posed by the suit of armor but he just shows up as a shadow (he must have moved). I suspect that you are on the right track regarding his family history – I noticed that several of the older paintings had the name Drăculești, including one that was nearly identical to Mr. Basarab. I mentioned the likeness and he laughed.

    He seems to live very comfortably and does not appear to have a career outside managing the estate so I suspect that there is still family wealth. I tried to steer the conversation to his experience at the University and get a sense of what years he attended, but he only said that he attended “very long ago.”

    I mentioned the PhD thesis you found and asked if he knew of any ancestors who attended the University. He said that history was a family passion and we had long conversation about the history of the area, of which he was very knowledgeable.

    I tried to update Mr. Basarab on the University’s current activities but he was apathetic. He was very interested in me: he asked how long I had worked for the University, if I had family in Chicago, when they were expecting me back, etc. It was a little odd, to tell the truth.

    Mr. Basarab has invited me to stay for a few days, hopefully I will find out more about his connection to the University and get a better sense of his gift capacity and interests.

    -J

    Jacob Harding

    Director of International Advancement

    Office of Alumni Relations and Development

    Carfax University

    ---------

    Date: October 1, 2010

    From: Liz Wells 

    To: Caitlin Mire

    Subject: Fwd: Jacob Harding Announcement

    Hi Caitlin, got this announcement – forwarding it to you in case you didn't get it. I know you were the liaison for Jake. Apparently, it was really out of the blue (he emailed Johanna from Bucharest and starts his new job immediately). You can put his projects on hold for now, until we get a new International Advancement officer.

    -Liz

     ----------

    Dear Colleagues,

    It is with mixed emotions that I announce the departure of Jacob Harding. He has accepted an opportunity to direct the Basarab Family Foundation, headquartered in Romania. Jacob served at the University for five years, during which he worked tirelessly to build up our International Advancement team. We wish Jacob the best of luck on his future endeavors!

    Sincerely,

    Johanna

    Johanna Vanhelm

    Vice President of Alumni Relations and Development

    --------

    Date: June 20, 2018

    To: Mindy Murray

    From: Lucy West

    Subject: Capacity Rating for Nicolae Lupei Basarab?

    Hi Mindy,

    I was looking over the list you pulled of unengaged alumni in Europe and I wondered if you could do a cap rating for Nicolae Lupei Basarab (Entity ID: 0007846351). I see that some research was done on him several years ago and he was visited but no contact report was entered.

    I'm putting together a visit list for my upcoming Europe trip and I plan on doing some qualification visits.

    Thanks in advance,

    Lucy

    Lucy N. West

    Director of International Advancement

    Office of Alumni Relations and Development

    Carfax University


    The End.


    Scared Horror GIF

  • Wed, October 17, 2018 9:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    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."

    The End.


    The Office Rage GIF

  • Wed, October 10, 2018 7:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    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 Joan Ogwumike, Principle Gifts, Prospect Research Analyst at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Founding Principal at Jstrategies. Joan's haunting tale of disorganization and database permissions gone awry will have you looking over your shoulder all day. Enjoy!

    Wednesday

    Wednesday, as unique as her name, was not your typical Prospect Researcher. She always felt connected to her prospects while researching them and creating in-depth profiles. She felt like she knew them. And in a way she did; she knew them better than the fundraisers who met them. Wednesday also lived an organized life – everything organized by routine. She did everything the same way, every day. But on one Wednesday in October, things changed. She had come into the office feeling tired and slightly sick, despite getting her usual eight hours of sleep. Heading into the office kitchenette to make some coffee, she found her mug in pieces, clearly broken by a clumsy co-worker. Horrified, she swallowed her anger, and drank her coffee in a paper cup.

    What a morning, she thought, feeling anxious but a bit more alert.

    And what a morning it was. The weather was gloomy, overcast with dark clouds, and it was slightly chilly so you needed a scarf or knit sweater for warmth.

    Her office mates were buzzing with excitement for the coming of fall and full of the Halloween spirit, but Wednesday scoffed at them. She didn’t believe or participate in the festivities. She believed ghosts, witches, monsters, and magic were for children and fairy tales as she only believed in what she could see.

    Sitting down at her desk to being her morning routine, Wednesday received an email from an unfamiliar Fundraiser:

    Good Morning Wednesday,

    My name is Luke Knight and I am the new Regional Development Officer for the Midwest. I would like to request some updated research on Melissa King. You researched her years ago and it seems like she either owns a new foundation or is a member of one. I’m not 100 percent sure because I just became her new Prospect Manager and our first conversation consisted of her mentioning this foundation really quickly. Would you be able to get me more information on the foundation?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Wednesday, screwing her eyes shut and rubbing her temples, tried to remember Melissa King. After a few minutes, nothing came to mind so she started digging into the CRM and her old prospect profiles. Finding nothing, she began to wonder whether Luke was mistaken. Perhaps someone else had conducted the research and forgotten to include all their data in the CRM. Or maybe Luke had looked at someone else’s record.

    Good Morning Luke,

    I would love to help you but it seems like I have no record of Melissa King or a completed profile for her. There are also multiple people named Melissa or Melissa King in the CRM. Could you give me additional information? What year did she graduate? I don’t doubt you, but are you sure that I was the one that conducted research on Melissa?

    Best, Wednesday

    Email sent, Wednesday frantically searched for Melissa King. She began to perspire and grow increasingly nervous, as she still couldn’t find a “Melissa King” in the database. Something was truly wrong. When she googled “Melissa King,” she found an Edward and Melissa King Family Foundation, but it was clear Luke’s Melissa King was not associated with it as the foundation owner’s Melissa passed away many years ago.  

    How is this possible? Wednesday thought. Alarmed and needing some space to think, she headed to the office kitchen for more coffee. But the change of venue didn’t help with the onslaught of questions: who did Luke talk to if Melissa King passed away in 1999? Who is Melissa King? Why does Luke believe that I wrote this profile if I have no record of it? Who on earth is Luke Knight?!

    Trembling, Wednesday returned to her desk to find six new research requests from Fundraiser Luke Knight that he needed done by the end of the week. Wednesday sat back in her chair, numb and frozen. In all her years in her position, she’d never received requests at this volume with such a quick turnaround.  Gathering her composure, Wednesday began to look up all the people Fundraiser Luke was requesting and found them all marked deceased in the CRM. “How! Why! What is going on!?” said Wednesday out loud.

    In that moment Prospect Manager Gina walked by her office, and Wednesday got up to inquire about Luke.

    “Hi, Gina. So, Luke Knight is really building up his portfolio. How many people is he working with? I might have to sit down with him and learn more about his prospect pool and how he is trying to add to his portfolio.”

    “Wednesday, who is Luke?” said Prospect Manager Gina.

    “The new Regional Development Officer for the Midwest” said Wednesday.

    Prospect Manager Gina thought for a moment, “there was a Luke Knight who used to work here years ago, but he sadly passed away. He was so dedicated to his job that he basically lived in this building and worked here even past his retirement age. Funny enough, he actually worked in your office. Are you feeling OK? You’re shaking!”

    Wednesday replied in a slow whisper “But … I’ve been receiving emails from him. Luke Knight is the new Regional … Development Officer … for … the Midwest.”

    “No Wednesday. He’s no longer here,” Gina said. Worried and shaking her head, she walked away slowly.

    Wednesday turned around and stared blankly into her office. On her computer screen, she could see her inbox gradually filling with emails from Fundraiser Luke Knight.

    The end.


    Animated GIF

  • Thu, October 04, 2018 7:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Apra-IL introduces a spooky new series: 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 Apra-IL Director of Membership & Marketing, Kathryn Thomas. She presents to us the harrowing journey of a researcher on a Monday morning in an open office; complete with an early meeting, noisy co-workers, and a surprise ending. 

    The Opprobrious Open Office Opus

    Dear reader, our story takes place on a dark and stormy morning. The first sign it would be a challenging day came with the invitation to an eight am meeting. On a Monday. The Pernicious Planner claimed it was the only hour when all participants were available, but everyone knows only sadists schedule meetings first thing Monday morning.

    The second sign the day would not proceed smoothly came as the coffee maker slowly, but determinedly, began to bounce across the kitchenette counter. As it slid off the edge and crashed to the floor, its muffled demise echoed across the top of the hundreds of desks filling the fourteenth floor’s open-office-concept cubeless cube farm.

    As our Protagonist made their way back to their desk, the sound of gift processing’s dot matrix printer hummed in a far corner. Near the back, IT’s Typhoid Tyler coughed and hacked his way through his morning routine. In our Protagonist’s neighboring work space, Ned the Nail Clipper went to town. Ned’s fingernails seemed to grow at an inhuman pace as nearly every day, new real estate sprouted up, needing pruning. Rounding out the Open Office Opus, the marketing manager, Misty the Masticator, rhythmically opened, poured, spooned, and chewed her third snack of the day.

    Our Protagonist bravely tackled the first few hours of the day; staying awake through the meeting, performing research on prospects for Development Officers, and simultaneously completing the mandatory office safety training through their headphones. As mid-morning approached with the speed of an e-mail response from a Development Officer on the Friday before a holiday, the unthinkable happened: Chatty Charlie, head of constituent data management, approached, cellphone in hand. From several desks away, he began loudly hailing our Protagonist, “Hey! Happy Monday! I’ve got new pictures of my adorab…” Our protagonist, having lived through previous interactions with Charlie in the past, abruptly made the harrowing decision to unplug their headphones and speed walk to a nearby meeting room.

    As our Protagonist neared the doorway, they found the room occupied. Turning to the next, our Protagonist encountered a second closed door. With the blood pumping in their ears adding a strong bass beat to the Open Office Opus, our Protagonist headed towards the bathroom in a last desperate attempt to outrun Charlie. As he turned the corner, he ran directly into Plodding Pete from payroll. Pete smiled a slow hello and took the next 60 seconds to get his “good morning” out. In that time, Chatty Charlie caught up and exclaimed (over the second half of Pete’s greeting), “Whoa there, partner! Is someone having a bad case of the Mondays?”

    Our Protagonist made a fatal mistake when they took off their headphones and opened themselves up to chit chat. As such, they suffered through the torture of Chatty Charlie’s “adorable chinchilla pictures” and the slow and laborious comments provided by Pete, “How … just simply … well … I can just see … yes, indeed … can they … hmm … do you know … I’ve forgotten now …” Our Protagonist felt the walls closing in. The Open Office Opus had turned into the Wailing Workplace’s Weeping Wound with the additions of Loud Larry’s telephone call disputing his podiatry bill (on speaker phone as he’d never figured out how to send his calls to his handset), Sandy Squeaker’s flipping and flopping flip flops as she made her tenth trip to the (still out of order) coffee machine, and Muttering Manny’s mumbling about something or other.

    Above the Weeping soundtrack and Pete’s occasional nondescript throat-noises, a loud and insistent beeping began. Our Protagonist looked around, but their colleagues didn’t appear to hear the noise. As our Protagonist prepared to interrupt Charlie’s excited swiping and Pete’s incessant droning, everything went black.

    Our Protagonist opens her eyes and reaches over to quiet her alarm. It is 7:45am and she will likely be late to her Monday morning meeting.

    The end.


  • Mon, September 10, 2018 7:48 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Apra-IL presents True Life: A Day in Prospect Development. Inspired by the MTV show True Life, this series exposes the everyday experiences of Prospect Development professionals. In addition to learning from the unique perspectives of our participants, we hope that you join us by sharing pictures from your day. Use #DayinPD to contribute and follow as we dive into the lives of our colleagues over the next few weeks.

    Jillian Schuessler, Associate Director, Data Integrity & Analytics, Foundation and Corporate Relations at The University of Chicago and Apra-IL Treasurer, walks us through a day in her life. 

    True Life: I Work in Foundation & Corporate Relations


    At the Elmwood Park Metra station heading towards downtown Chicago. Once at Union Station, I rush to catch the express bus to Hyde Park and the University of Chicago!


    Our offices are located at Harper Court on 53rd St in Hyde Park. Everyone is very busy right now as we just entered the final year of our University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact. 


    Today, I’m working on updating our progress to goals dashboard and also putting together data tables for the front-line fundraisers on our team to bring to meetings. Our team provides support to faculty and administrators who are seeking grant funding from foundations or corporations. We also provide prospect lists and profiles on foundations as well as proposal materials for our campus partners.


    This is a rare scene! Our FCR fundraisers are usually on campus meeting with faculty members. I often touch base with them on the status of proposals that have been submitted to see if we should update them in our development system. Keeping data updated is half the battle for an analyst!

    Thanks for visiting our office!

  • Fri, August 24, 2018 8:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Apra-IL presents True Life: A Day in Prospect Development. Inspired by the MTV show True Life, this series exposes the everyday experiences of Prospect Development professionals. In addition to learning from the unique perspectives of our participants, we hope that you join us by sharing pictures from your day. Use #DayinPD to contribute and follow as we dive into the lives of our colleagues over the next few weeks.

    Jessica Szadziewicz, Apra-IL Board Advisor and past Vice President, shares a day in her life working as Assistant Director, Prospect Management and Research at Loyola University Chicago.

    True Life: Lu Wolf is My Sidekick


    Heading to Loyola's Water Tower campus via the CTA Red Line. Thankfully, no delays today!



    Settling into my desk, complete with our wolf mascot.



    Current Apra-IL Vice President, Peter Kotowski, hard at work in our sixteenth-floor office that looks like a basement. We are both lucky to have fancy standing desks. 



    I'm going over portfolios, gift officer metrics, and Crain's. Finishing off my day, I complete a few research requests, and then head home to walk the dog!

  • Tue, August 14, 2018 9:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Apra-IL presents True Life: A Day in Prospect Development. Inspired by the MTV show True Life, this series exposes the everyday experiences of Prospect Development professionals. In addition to learning from the unique perspectives of our participants, we hope that you join us by sharing pictures from your day. Use #DayinPD to contribute and follow as we dive into the lives of our colleagues over the next few weeks.

    Marissa Todd, Prospect Research Analyst at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, presents our third entry with a collection of her Tweets from #ApraPD2018. She is the current President of Apra Missouri/Kansas. 

    Follow her @rissatodd

    True Life: Prospect Development Goodness and Nerdy Things

    Tweeting about my #DayinPD for @APRAIllinois today. Super pumped to share a day of #ApraPD2018 fun with everyone!



    Excited about @Apra_MoKan breakfast! Great way to kick off the day. 


    Look at all these @Apra_MoKan faces! 



    Kicking off #ApraTalks2018



    When you share all the cool connections you need more marshmallows. 



    The amazing Amy Turbes imparting wisdom to us at #ApraTalks2018



    As an introvert, taking time daily to recharge and hydrate is important. Got to get prepped for speaking this afternoon!



    Time for some learning!



    Final prep for my session on managing prospects during staff transition. Come see me in 319 at 1:45!



    Ending the #DayinPD with fellow chapter leaders Caitlin, Stephanie, and @KatieIngrao! Cheers to a successful conference!


  • Thu, July 26, 2018 10:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Apra-IL presents True Life: A Day in Prospect Development. Inspired by the MTV show True Life, this series exposes the everyday experiences of Prospect Development professionals. In addition to learning from the unique perspectives of our participants, we hope that you join us by sharing pictures from your day. Use #DayinPD to contribute and follow as we dive into the lives of our colleagues over the next few weeks.

    Katie Ingrao, Associate Director of Prospect Management for the National Audubon Society, presents our second entry. She is current President of Apra-IL.

    Follow her @KatieIngrao

    True Life: I'm Not Really a Birder


    Who is better to tweet about the True Life day of a Prospect Management professional than me at the National Audubon Society?!

      

    Jumping on the Train to Chicago: heading into the office on the early train. The EL is always an adventure.

      


    Clocking in! Desk/office: fun Fact! The Audubon Great Lakes office frequently receives birds who have collided with buildings in downtown Chicago. Those birds that don’t make it are held in cold storage (our freezer! Eeek!) before they are picked up by The Field Museum for bird data collection.

    Portfolio Reviews- Building a strong foundation!

    Getting down to business! National Audubon Society is currently under a massive restructuring of our Development team and I’m helping lead the way! I’m the first Prospect Management position for Audubon and there is a lot to do to establish a cohesive moves management system. Currently I’m hard at work with fundraisers reviewing and breaking down current portfolios to the right size and composition. Not an easy task for a 100+ year old national organization!


    Refine Refine Refine- crafting policies in real time!

    After spending some time working with MGOs on their portfolios, its back to crafting essential prospect management documents. I’m currently working on a prospect assignment flowchart to explain the logic behind assignment decisions. Since we have donors who give to programs outside of their state/region, we must find a straight forward way to decide who gets who. Assign by where they live or where they give? Decisions, Decisions! Anybody else struggle with making assignments because of the live vs. give dilemma?

    Shutting down: I’m an early bird ;) so after getting into the office early, I’m heading home before the normal rush. Its been a productive day at Audubon!

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