Written by Kathryn Thomas
Director of Membership and Marketing, Apra-IL
Prospect Identification Analyst, Wisconsin Foundation & Alumni Association
Hello, colleagues! For those of you who couldn’t make it to the Apra-IL Fall Networking Conference, you were missed! Those of us who could attend enjoyed several hours of structured (and not-so-structured) conversation about how our shops define analytics and utilize them to aid us in our work, how we write and organize biographical information, how to wrangle gift officer portfolios, and more.
The Prospect Research tables had rousing conversations that veered away from our structured topic list to issues immediately effecting them. During round three, I learned the various attitudes toward and time allotted for proactive verses reactive research. Most shops allotted some time every month, but wished they had the ability to explore new proactive research projects. A few shops are able to devote considerable amounts of time to proactive research and have been experimenting with the best areas to focus on and improve over time.
The management of portfolios and portfolio reviews were the primary topics of conversation for the Prospect Management table. The conversation confirmed what we’ve all struggled with: what makes a healthy portfolio and does it change depending on a fundraiser’s level of experience or focus area? Development metrics was also touched on during round one. A participant noted that "[she loved] the round table format because the composition of each group really directs the conversation, and it’s a great forum for brain-picking and brainstorming with our peers on those hard-to-answer questions we all come across in our line of work, at every level."
Over at the analytics table, the round two conversation began with a definition of analytics at each of our shops. From there, discussion centered on projects various shops are undertaking – from using analytics to understand changing trends in corporate giving to parsing out the most beneficial annual giving segments. One attendee noted that she learned some new strategies for encouraging more contact data updates in their CRM. She also noted that she liked having the ability to, "discuss the overall philosophy of different shops on our day-to-day processes and documents" at the event.
Afterward, we paraded to the World of Beer for tasty snacks (including a truly massive pretzel), delicious drinks, and further conversation.
When asked what they thought of the day, one attendee noted, "It was a great opportunity to connect with my fellow chapter members and discuss our work and current challenges. This is the one time a year that I can connect with other similar organizations and compare notes. Taking the time to do that has greatly benefited my work and ongoing projects for my team. I’m looking forward to next year!" One new Apra-IL member noted that is was wonderful to have an understanding space in which to share interpersonal issues she's worked through with co-workers and to receive advice and support in that area from a new group of colleagues and soon-to-be friends.
For anyone who'd like to give the Apra-IL Board some feedback as we begin planning our fall event, please fill out this very short survey.
Thank you! And I look forward to receiving your feedback and meeting you at the next Apra-IL event in the spring!