A non-profit for Prospect Development professionals. 

Apra-IL Blog

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 2019 Blog Series:

Profiles of Apra-IL Membership

Motivations of Leaders

Completed in 2018/2019: 

Love Letters to PD

Match Makers 2.0

Tales of Terror: The Prospect Development Edition

True Life: A Day in Prospect Development

50 Shades of Prospect Development

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  • Fri, March 01, 2019 8:48 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Match Makers Season 2: The Prospect Development Edition

    The working relationship between prospect management professionals, data analytics, researchers and gift offers can make or break a shop's morale, efficiency, and ability to reach its goals! In an ode to all the popular reality match making shows, we present to you the second season of Apra-IL's series - Match Makers Season 2: The Prospect Development Edition. Strengths and working style capabilities will be tested through random assignments, so have some fun with us as we imagine a world where we could match our perfect prospect development team whit a gift officer. 

    Host: Welcome back everyone to Match Makers Season 2: The Prospect Development Edition. This is our final week and challenge!

    On the last episode, our two teams, The Builders and The Cultivators, competed in the challenge "There is Always a Twist," and had to create lists of people based on an RFM (Recency, Frequency, and Monetary) model. But there was a twist: each person had to have a capacity rating above $50,000, could not have active steps, and could not be managed by a DO. The Cultivators won the challenge, bringing us to the finale of the competition with a tie.

    Remember that both teams consist of prospect researchers, prospect management professionals, and data analytics professionals that need to collaborate within their specific teams, and harness their skills to win different challenges in order to become one development officer’s perfect team match at Ordinary University.

    Let’s reintroduce our teams-

    Team one, The Builders: Melissa who is our Season One winner and prospect researcher, Michelle from prospect management, and Juanita from analytics.

    Team two is called, The Cultivators: let’s welcome Charles from prospect research, Shayla from prospect management, and Lauren from analytics.

    And our development officer (DO) Anthony who will be our challenge judge.

    Audience, our third and final challenge is called "I’m the Map."

    The objective of this challenge is to create a map and visualize the top 50 people from Anthony’s portfolio based on one specific code in the University’s CRM. Each team must decide their own code and why they chose this method. The challenge will ultimately help Anthony focus on a specific group in his portfolio.

    Once the visuals are in, we will hear from the teams about how they made their decision and Anthony will determine the winner of this challenge.

    Teams, you have until the end week. Good luck!

    *End of the week*

    Host: Welcome back everyone. It is time to review the lists that both teams have created for Anthony. Remember, Anthony will decide the winner based on how the teams worked together, and came to their conclusion.

    The Cultivators, please choose your spokesperson that will speak for you during this deliberation, and tell us how you built your list.

    Charles, prospect research: Hello, my name is Charles and I will be speaking for my team this week. To tackle this project, we began by deciding on a code to use to filter, and concluded that the top 50 people should have the committee member code. We thought it would be great to map out the top 50 people in Anthony’s portfolio who were members of a committee and where they were clustered in the country.

    We found that many were located in the Midwest region, and also found this to be extremely helpful for Anthony’s travel schedule and further engagement plans.

    Host: Thank you. Great work, team! The Builders, please choose your spokesperson that will speak for you during this deliberation, and tell us how you built your list.

    Melissa, prospect research: Hello, my name is Melissa and I will be speaking for The Builders this week. My team chose to pull the people in Anthony’s portfolio that were coded to have prospect research profiles. The research profiles validated the ratings and helped Anthony know his prospects’ capacity range. We chose the top 50 people, mapped them and found that many with profiles and major gift capacity ratings were closer to Ordinary University, and in the surrounding cities. This seemed like a perfect group for Anthony to email or call for visits based on proximity to the University. It would also be easy to bring these prospects to the University for special tours and meetings, for additional engagement.

    Host: Great work team!

    This is going to be hard Anthony, but what do you think of how both teams worked together, and their visuals?

    Anthony: You are right this is hard. Both teams have done a fantastic job! The Cultivators really focused on people in committees, which is very important. I did not know that so many people in my portfolio were members of a committee at the University.

    The Builders did a great job as well by focusing on people with prospect research profiles, and then mapping it out to reveal their proximity to the University.

    Host: Anthony, it is time to tell us who is your perfect team match because whoever wins this challenge wins the competition. Who is the winner?

    Anthony: Well, first I would like to thank you all for participating in this competition. You are all amazing fundraisers that are skilled in different ways that support and strengthen Ordinary University’s fundraising strategies.

    With that said, the winner and my perfect team match is The Builders! The Builders won this challenge and ultimately have the title and role of my perfect team match.

    Host: Folks this is so exciting! The Builders you are our winner!

    Thank you to The Cultivators for participating and sharing your skills, not only with Anthony, but with our audience!

    Thank you to Ordinary University for welcoming us back for Season 2!

    And most importantly thank you to you, our audience, for being a part of this experience.

    This has been Match Makers Season 2 The Prospect Development Edition.

  • Mon, February 25, 2019 7:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As love is in the air, we will share what we love about prospect development. Follow our weekly series (four entries throughout February) to discover the humor, pathos, and irony that comes from our ranks of Apra-IL members. You'll enjoy limericks, long-form poems, and odes to all aspects of Prospect Development and we cannot wait to hear your thoughts!

    Devoted to My Database

    By: Alex Mendez, Advancement Business Solutions Consultant, Wisconsin Foundation & Alumni Association and Treasurer, Apra-WI


    The greatest foundation for any loving relationship is good communication. When moving in tandem, a synchronized pair can overcome even the most treacherous scenarios.

    I’ve heard it over and over, but it wasn’t until I began working in prospect research that I came to really know the saying to be true. On my first day, I met a partner I’d soon come to rely on to get me through my most difficult challenges. I faced frustrations daily; losing hours in bottomless research. But my companion would never dwell on my mistakes. My every request was met with an instant response; I was understood. I counted on this knowing. Together, work became easier.

    Eventually I learned the shortcomings. Came to appreciate the oddities. Love the quirks that encouraged our overwhelming oneness. Our symbiotic brilliance. And for two years I nurtured the relationship. But the flaws continued to creep into focus and the deficiencies began to pile high. I’d lose time trying to explain, wanting nothing more than to cut ties and proceed on my own. Then suddenly, as if overnight, I felt my perfect partner return to me. I began to receive the responses I’d longed for. The reactions I’d wished for; improvements I imagine we both wanted.

    Again, I felt comfort and love for the coworker I needed most: my database. I'm thankful for our application developers and business intelligence teams for restoring our connection. Every newly required field, form, prompt and process improves our bond. We move as one. We research faster. Our communication is as smooth as ever. And now, again, the love and understanding feels shared.

  • Mon, February 18, 2019 7:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As love is in the air, we will share what we love about prospect development. Follow our weekly series (four entries throughout February) to discover the humor, pathos, and irony that comes from our ranks of Apra-IL members. You'll enjoy limericks, long-form poems, and odes to all aspects of Prospect Development and we cannot wait to hear your thoughts!

    Passionate for Profiles

    By: Joan Ogwumike, Founding Principal at Jstrategies and Prospect Research Analyst for Principal Gifts, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


    Dear Research Profile,

    I write to you in a feverish dismay, longing for the next time we meet. For it has been two days since we were last together and time passes as though it works against our love. A day draws as though it fills its morning, noon, and night with envy and spite.

    When shall we meet again?

    Will Monday never come? For I await our reunion and welcome it with open arms.

    Imagine, a new prospect awaits us and discoveries trickle from the tips of my fingers to your pages. I hope you reminisce on the fulfillment you gain when you learn biographical, business, philanthropic, and asset information.

    Hold on to the fond memories, as we wait. For we must painfully grapple with the reality of time and its vengeance on our love.

    But do not fear as I, dear profile, I know you long for our time together.

    “Haste Monday, swiftly,” I say to it, “there is work to be done, asks to be made, and capacity ratings to be given.”

    Our time together will be upon us once more. Slowly, but it comes as I impatiently wait.

    My dear sweet, enriching, purpose-driven profile, I wait for you.

    Sincerely,

    Your loving Researcher

  • Mon, February 18, 2019 7:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Match Makers Season 2: The Prospect Development Edition

    The working relationship between prospect management professionals, data analytics, researchers and gift offers can make or break a shop's morale, efficiency, and ability to reach its goals! In an ode to all the popular reality match making shows, we present to you the second season of Apra-IL's series - Match Makers Season 2: The Prospect Development Edition. Strengths and working style capabilities will be tested through random assignments, so have some fun with us as we imagine a world where we could match our perfect prospect development team whit a gift officer. 

    Host: Welcome back, everyone, to Match Makers Season 2: The Prospect Development Edition. It is a new week and a new challenge!

    On the last episode, our two teams, The Builders and The Cultivators, competed in the challenge To Inherit or To Not Inherit, to create lists of people that Anthony could inherit from a previous DO’s portfolio. The Builders won the challenge and set the tone for the rest of the season.

    Remember that both teams consist of prospect researchers, prospect management professionals, and data analytics professionals that need to collaborate within their specific teams, and harness their skills to win different challenges in order to become one development officer’s perfect team match at Ordinary University.

    Let’s reintroduce our teams-

    Team one, The Builders, Melissa who is our Season One winner and prospect researcher, Michelle from prospect management, and Juanita from analytics.

    Team two, The Cultivators, let’s welcome Charles from prospect research, Shayla from prospect management, and Lauren from analytics.

    And our development officer (DO) Anthony who will also be our challenge judge.

    Audience: our second challenge is called There is Always a Twist.

    The objective of this challenge is to see how each team can successfully prospect and create a list of people based on an RFM (Recency, Frequency, and Monetary) model. But there is a twist, each person must have a capacity rating above $50,000, cannot have active steps, and cannot be managed by a DO.

    Once the lists are in, we will hear from the teams about how they made their decision and Anthony will determine the winner of this challenge.

    Teams, you have until the end week. Good luck!

    *End of the week*

    Host: Welcome back. It is time to review the lists that both teams have created for Anthony. Remember, Anthony will decide the winner based on how the teams worked together and came to their conclusion.

    The Builders, please choose someone to speak for you during this deliberation, and tell us how you built your list.

    Juanita, data analytics: Juanita here and I will be speaking for The Builders during this challenge. To build this list, our researcher put together a list of people who had the capacity to give above $50,000. Our prospect manager used that list to weed out all the people who had active steps and were managed by a DO. I took this list and organized the people based on their RFM score by segmenting (or grouping) them by their last gift date, how often they have given within the last three years, and their total gift amount within the last three years. We felt that three years was a good time frame to measure these individuals. Each group was ranked from one to five.

    Host: Great work! The Cultivators, please choose your spokesperson and tell us how you built your list.

    Lauren, data analytics: Hello! I'm Lauren and I will be speaking for The Cultivators. Everyone really worked together on this project: we began by pulling a list of all the unmanaged prospects who had given in the last fiscal year. We then narrowed the list down by how often they had made a gift and then segmented the list based on their capacity rating. We then created a ranking system and segmented the list based on total giving in the last fiscal year.

    Host: Great work, team! Anthony, what do you think of how both teams worked together and built their lists?

    Anthony: Both teams did an amazing job working together to build their lists. They are making it really hard for me, because they created great lists. I believe both lists are important and most likely overlap. The Builders did a fantastic job and I liked their ranking system.

    The Cultivators also did a great job, but they produced a list I could use right away because I liked their time frame and focus on the last fiscal year.

    Host: Who is our winner, Anthony?

    Anthony: The Cultivators!

    Host: The Cultivators have won the second challenge! This Season is really heating up! Both of our teams are tied! 

    Who will be Anthony’s perfect team match!?

    Remember, these challenges are only going to get harder, and with one more challenge left, make sure to join us next time on Match Makers Season 2: The Prospect Development Edition. At the end there will only be one match.

  • Thu, February 14, 2019 7:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As love is in the air, we will share what we love about prospect development. Follow our weekly series (four entries throughout February) to discover the humor, pathos, and irony that comes from our ranks of Apra-IL members. You'll enjoy limericks, long-form poems, and odes to all aspects of Prospect Development and we cannot wait to hear your thoughts!

    Language of Love


    Roses are sometimes red,

    Violets are nearly always blue,

    Thank you, Prospect Research,

    For teaching me to never make a definitive statement about a prospective donor for fear of it coming back to me in an irate e-mail from a fundraiser.


  • Mon, February 11, 2019 8:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As love is in the air, we will share what we love about prospect development. Follow our weekly series (four entries throughout February) to discover the humor, pathos, and irony that comes from our ranks of Apra-IL members. You'll enjoy limericks, long-form poems, and odes to all aspects of Prospect Development and we cannot wait to hear your thoughts!

    Limericks of Love

    by Katie Ingrao, Manager, Prospect Research at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab


    A good gift officer is rare

    One with vigor and flair

    They are worth the wait

    Researchers wish they’d duplicate

    Will HR hear our prayer?



    Portfolio reviews happen twice a year

    Gift Officers are bench-marked with their peers

    Stress and anxiety abound

    Goal and metrics pressures compound

    At the close, all give a resounding cheer!

  • Mon, February 04, 2019 8:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As love is in the air, we will share what we love about prospect development. Follow our weekly series (four entries throughout February) to discover the humor, pathos, and irony that comes from our ranks of Apra-IL members. You'll enjoy limericks, long-form poems, and odes to all aspects of Prospect Development and we cannot wait to hear your thoughts!

    An Ode to LexisNexis

    by Kathryn Thomas, Senior Prospect Identification Analyst, the Wisconsin Foundation & Alumni Association


    LexisNexis, my most crucial tool;

    Without you, I may just sit here and drool.

    You’re always there, supplying me with data and suggestions;

    When I’m stumped, I go to you for answers to my questions.

    Yes, there are moments when your service is sketchy,

    But it’s rare enough that I don’t get too kvetchy.

    LexisNexis, we spend every day together;

    We’ve been through ups and downs, but you’ve become my bellwether.

    Whether I’m answering a request or proactively searching for a donor,

    You’re there to help me brainstorm and prevent me becoming a moaner.

    As this is the month to celebrate affections,

    I’ve taken it upon myself to say without objections,

    I’m grateful you exist; despite your imperfections.


  • Mon, February 04, 2019 8:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Match Makers Season 2: The Prospect Development Edition

    The working relationship between prospect management professionals, data analytics, researchers and gift offers can make or break a shop's morale, efficiency, and ability to reach its goals! In an ode to all the popular reality match making shows, we present to you the second season of Apra-IL's series - Match Makers Season 2: The Prospect Development Edition. Strengths and working style capabilities will be tested through random assignments, so have some fun with us as we imagine a world where we could match our perfect prospect development team whit a gift officer. 

    Host: Welcome back everyone to Match Makers Season 2: The Prospect Development Edition. We are so happy to be back with our competitors at Ordinary University! During this Season, we will watch as two teams of prospect researchers, prospect management professionals, and data analytics face off and harness their skills to win different challenges in order to become one development officer’s perfect team match. Let’s reintroduce our teams- Team one is called The Builders, let’s welcome Melissa who is our Season One winner and prospect researcher, Michelle from prospect management, and Juanita from analytics. 

    Team two is called, The Cultivators, let’s welcome Charles from prospect research, Shayla from prospect management, and Lauren from analytics.

    And our development officer (DO) Anthony who will also be our challenge judge.

    Audience, our first challenge is called To Inherit or To Not Inherit?

    The objective is to see how each team successfully transfers a previous colleague’s donors and prospects into Anthony’s portfolio. These donors and prospects consist of principal gifts, major gifts, and rated and unrated prospects/donors. It is up to the teams to determine who Anthony should inherit, and create a list.

    Once the lists are in, we will hear from the teams on how they made their decision and Anthony will determine the winner of this challenge.

    Teams, you have until the end week. Good luck!

    *End of the week*

    Host: Welcome back everyone. It is time to review the lists that both teams have created on who Anthony should inherit from a previous colleague. Remember, Anthony will decide the winner based on how the teams worked together, and choose the list of people he will inherit from the previous portfolio.

    The Builders, please choose your spokesperson that will speak for you during this deliberation, and tell us how you built your list.

    Michelle, prospect management: Hello, my name is Michelle and I will be speaking for The Builders. To build this list our researcher looked at all the interactions and ratings on each donor and prospect; I looked at how many had closed plans, were qualified, and how long they had been engaged by the previous DO; And Analytics mapped out the people who were in Anthony’s travel region. This was our process during the challenge, and it really worked out for us because out of 50 people we were able to create a list of 20 that were the best fit for Anthony. As a team, we also considered how many people Anthony currently had in his portfolio, and those who were being actively engaged. We did not give Anthony any principal gift prospects after speaking with the principal gifts program.

    Host: Thank you Team! Great work! The Cultivators, please choose your spokesperson that will speak for you during this deliberation, and tell us how you built your list.

    Shayla, prospect management: Hi, I’m Shayla and I will be speaking for The Cultivators during this challenge. We decided to focus on who the prospects and donors were, meaning their capacity ratings. We also took into consideration the current people in Anthony’s portfolio - Anthony has a lot of donors that need to be rated so we did not think he needed more. We also did not think it wise to give him any principal gift prospects based on the years of engagement by the previous DO, apprehension on having them meet someone new, and lastly Anthony’s years of experience in Development. No offense Anthony. We also decided to include some major gift donors because Anthony has brought in some major gifts all year. So, this was our process – out of the 50 people, Anthony inherited 30.

    Host: Alright team! I see there was a lot of discussions on what Anthony could and could not handle. Shayla, did you all utilize Lauren from analytics in this challenge?

    Shayla: No, we did not. We did not think it would be necessary.

    Host: Alright! Thanks Shayla, great work. Anthony, what do you think of how both teams worked together, and built their lists?

    Anthony: I thought they did a great job. I liked how The Builder utilized everyone in the team to truly build the list. They thought of ratings and interactions to mapping out locations, and strategically worked together to build a robust list of people that I could inherit.

    The Cultivators did a great job as well. However, I wish they had utilized analytics because the point of the challenge was to collaborate as a team. I’m sure Lauren could have helped. Regardless, I liked the fact that they took a more micro approach into the content of my portfolio. They really analyzed the type of people who were currently in my portfolio, and who they could not add and why.

    Host: Who is our winner Anthony?

    Anthony: The Builders win this one. I liked the way everyone played a part in building the list. Both teams brought interesting strategies to creating the list, but The Builders really made sure that each person played a role and I believe they had a slightly stronger process in how they produced the list.

    Host: The Builders! Great job on wining the first challenge!

    Host: Well folks I think we have all learned a great lesson here: this is about building a team! And how you work together as a team is being analyzed.

    So now that we have completed our first challenge, The Builders are leading and have set the bar high. I want our competitors to know that these challenges are only going to get harder. Remember to push yourselves, and think outside the box as you work together. Depend on one another’s skills! Thank you everyone!

    Join us next time on Match Makers Season 2: The Prospect Development Edition. At the end there will only be one match.

  • Mon, January 07, 2019 9:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Match Makers Season 2: The Prospect Development Edition

    The working relationship between prospect management professionals, data analytics, researchers and gift officers can make or break a shop’s morale, efficiency, and ability to reach its goals! In an ode to all the popular reality match making shows, we present to you the second season of Apra-IL’s series -Match Makers Season 2: The Prospect Development Edition. Strengths and working style capabilities will be tested through random assignments so have some fun with us as we imagine a world where we could match our perfect prospect development team with a gift officer.

    Narrator: Welcome back to Ordinary University, small town USA! Today, we are back at OU for a second season of challenges with the advancement office! Since Season One, this shop has been on the forefront of matching the skills and strengths of researchers to their development officers (Dos) in order to build new portfolios and garner new and large gifts. In this second season, we will confront a new challenge: collaborations within prospect development.

    At OU, prospect development professionals are divided into teams and only conduct their specific tasks with little collaboration. Therefore, in this season we will watch as two teams explore how prospect researchers can work with prospect management professionals and how prospect management can collaborate with data analytics. Most importantly, we will see how they can work together, within their specific teams, when faced with a project that harnesses their skills.

    In this season we will have two teams that consist of one prospect researcher, one prospect manager, and one data analyst. Both teams will face off to be matched with one development officer who will also be our challenge judge that decides which team ultimately wins Match Makers Season 2: The Prospect Development Edition.

    Let’s welcome our teams: team one is called The Builders, and consists of Melissa who is our season one winner and prospect researcher, Michelle from prospect management, and Juanita from analytics.

    Team two has named themselves, The Cultivators, and consists of Charles from prospect research, Shayla from prospect management, and Lauren from analytics.

    These two teams consist of professionals from different backgrounds, with different experiences in prospect development. They all have cultivated great relationships with their officers, and have their own process in delivering their products.

    Over the coming weeks we will be introduced to each team, and follow them on their collaboration journey. They will be tested on a series of challenges that involve, prospecting and portfolios to analyze their skills and compatibility with the DO, and their approach to producing a requested product as a team. The final result will be given to the DO to be analyzed for its usability, relevancy, and other preferred skills deemed optimal, he finds his perfect development team match.

    Now let’s switch gears and meet Anthony our DO. Anthony is an alum of OU, a small-town native, and has been working in development for two years.

    Over the course of three challenges, Anthony will decide his perfect development team, and we will be watching the entire journey. We hope you will join us next week on Match Markers Season 2: The Prospect Development Edition when Anthony meets the two teams and they begin their first challenge!

  • 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.

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