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, 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?
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?
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.