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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. 

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Current Apra-IL Blog Series

Dear Analyst

Motivations of Leaders

New in 2018 - 50 Shades of Prospect Development

  • Thu, August 25, 2016 11:07 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 piece in the series, Joan Ogwumike, Development Coordinator at Mikva Challenge and APRA-IL member and volunteer, interviews Jessica Balsam of Washington University.

    Jessica Balsam is an exciting leader for us to profile in our series. Beyond her work at the University of Washington, she is the former president and membership director of APRA NW. Currently; she serves as a member on both the APRA Advocacy Committee and APRA Chapters Committee. In recognition of her work in the APRA community and in Prospect Development, she was awarded the APRA Distinguished Service Award at the 2016 Prospect Development Conference in Nashville, TN. We are grateful to Jessica for taking the time to be a part of our blog series and are inspired by her level of dedication to the field of prospect development.

    Some of Ms. Balsam's answers have been paraphrased.

    APRA- IL: Can you share a piece of advice with the readers, on what you have gained or learned during your professional development?

    Jessica Balsam: From my experience being a part of APRA Northwest, I was able to pick up tremendous wisdom from the board, and my fellow chapter members. I would advise readers to network with their local APRA chapter members because they will provide amazing tips and help you reflect on your role within your organization. I would also encourage you to give presentations at your chapter conferences and gatherings – it’s so valuable to get feedback on your work. 

    APRA-IL: Describe your motivations in Prospect Development, and what keeps you engaged.

    Jessica Balsam: Getting managers and donors comfortable using data, finding new insights within the data, helping fundraisers to direct their focus on the best prospects and become more efficient- all motivate me to stay in the field. It is gratifying to help. 

    And thanks to APRA, I have been able to build a network and community that has kept me going in Prospect Development. Right now I am working on my first big comprehensive campaign-- new opportunities like this keep me motivated after tenyears in this field. 

    APRA-IL: Describe your journey into your current position.

    Jessica Balsam: I began as a Development generalist at a small museum, but I got to the point that I really wanted to focus in one area. It also seemed like the perfect time for a change when I learned of a job in Prospect Development, and I took it. I didn't really know much about APRA either at that time, but it seemed like an opportunity to be more focused, and develop my skills. 

    By joining my local APRA chapter I received great professional development and support, they increased my motivation to do great work, and now I'm in my current position, which is also thanks to the network I created through APRA. 

    Do you know a leader you want us to profile? Let us know! Email us at info@apraillinois.org

  • Mon, August 15, 2016 9:16 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Joan Ogwumike, Development Coordinator, Mikva Challenge

    My first APRA International Conference was hosted in Nashville from July 28th -30th. The experience was more than I could ask for because it developed my professional and personal growth in unexplainable ways. I also believe my sessions selection allowed for this exposure and impact.

    My first session began Thursday morning with “So You Think You Want to Be a Director: Creating a Career Ladder in Prospect Development” presented by Briana Cons from ASU Foundation Temple, Arizona and Mandy Heath from St. Joseph’s Foundation & Barrow. This was my opportunity to learn and reflect on how I wanted to build my career ladder by reimagining and customizing it.  I needed to consider how to put new actions in my everyday life for networking, setting up checklists for professional pros and cons, prioritizing, considering mobility, and more.

    Next session was “The Power of Data Visualization, Prospect Management & Fundraisers” presented by Chrissy Premeaux and Trish McPeek from Oklahoma State University. The presenters from Oklahoma State University gave insight on how they set up their prospect portfolio trends, valuations, proposal trends, and used Tableau as a source for visualization. It was a great reminder on how to visualize portfolios so development officers and leadership can read and grab necessary facts.

    Friday’s first session began with “Streamlining Materials with the Audience in Mind” presented by Patricia Brunson and Elise Speck from Duke University. This session revolved around knowing who your audience was, and how to deliver necessary details. Streamline, streamline, streamline! Don’t over-deliver and make things time-consuming for yourself.

    Next session was “Got Interest? Improving the Utilization of Donor Interest Codes” presented by Abbey Myskza and Mallory Lass from UC Berkeley. UC Berkeley presenters gave an informative look into the use of Donor Satisfaction Surveying, and its impact on tailoring donor communication based on the donors’ interests. It was also a great reminder that prospects are always needed for new initiatives and projects.  Therefore knowing your donors’ interests and having a concrete coding system helps with meeting goals.

    Saturday’s early session began with “More than Just News: How a Newsletter Can Help Your Team, Measure Impact, Maximize Partnerships, and Inspire Collaboration” presented by Lindsey Royer, Amelia Aldred, and Marcus Smith from University of Chicago. It was great to see a prospect development team use a newsletter as a tool to increase their visibility, connect data to stories, measure impacts and position researchers as partners in the area of development. It was also interesting to see the layout, and how researchers were spotlighted.

    My next and final session Saturday was “Prospect Research is a Cause” presented by Armando Zumaya, Consultant. This session spoke to professionals who worked in the nonprofit space, and the necessity for prospect researchers in nonprofits. It advocated for a call-to-action, (1) promote prospect researchers and (2) join nonprofit boards and discuss the work of researchers.

    In all, I appreciated these sessions and I want to thank the presenters at this 2016 APRA International Conference for educating me on new and familiar subjects. This was my chance to reevaluate how prospects are presented, when to synthesize and create data, and how to bridge the gap between professionals in development. I would also like to thank the attendees I met at the conference for their advice, and additional exposure to prospect development.

  • Mon, August 08, 2016 8:41 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    By Jessica Szadziewicz, Prospect Information Analyst,  Northwestern University

    This year’s Big Ten Development Conference was held at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana from July 26th through July 28th, overlapping with APRA International. Although much smaller than International, the Big Ten conference offered some valuable sessions for prospect research and management.

    The conference itself is not solely focused on prospect research and management, but on development as a whole. Sessions also targeted major gifts, campaigns, annual giving, donor relations, talent management, and marketing and communications. As someone who only works in research, it was a nice change getting to network and speak with other development professionals. It was also very helpful getting an outside perspective on research, and how research departments are viewed in wider development. Research was definitely respected in most institutions, and those outside the department understood what we do every day.


    If someone from a Big Ten school is considering going to this conference in the future, I would encourage it for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it offered fantastic networking opportunities. Even though the institutions represented are large, the conference itself is small with under 300 registrants. This provided me with an excellent opportunity to speak with executive directors and those in charge of research. Furthermore, it was great speaking with and learning from other research professionals in large shops. Being part of a prospect research and management team consisting of 16 people, it was educational and interesting to see presentations from other large teams. Purdue for instance has a team of 15 that is very similar to Northwestern’s. A major difference was that they have a data analyst on the team, while Data Analytics is separate at NU. They also use the vendor EverTrue, a donor management software that was described in-depth.


    Finally, I would encourage attending for the Roundtable Sessions. Being a smaller conference, the schedule included two roundtable sessions where all attendees discuss a topic. The roundtable “Tracking ROI: Making the Case for Research” was very informative and interactive. Questions were presented, but the discussion was allowed to flow as the participants saw fit.


    In 2017, the Big Ten Development Conference will be held at Michigan State in East Lansing, Michigan. Hope to see you there!

  • Tue, July 19, 2016 8:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Elisa Shoenberger, Benchmarking Product Analyst, Grenzebach Glier and Associates

    APRA International is coming up next week! We have several members of APRA-IL who will be presenting at this year’s conference. Here are a few sessions for you to check out by local members and development professionals in Illinois:

    Industry Corner II: Venture Capital and Private Equity

    Thursday, July 28, 2016 (10:30 AM - 12:00 PM)

    Amelia Aldred and John McBride (University of Chicago) will present a classic, “How the heck to rate these people” session on venture capital and private equity.  What’s not so classic?  Amelia and John actually interviewed professionals in the field to get their perspective on philanthropy, industry trends, and how to best approach VC and PE pros!  This session is appropriate for both new researchers   needing a crash course on rating VC and PE prospects as well as veteran researchers who want to get some insider info on the industries.

    More than Just News:  How a Newsletter Can Help Your Team Measure Impact, Maximize Partnerships, and Inspire Collaboration

    Saturday, Jul 30, 2016 (08:30 AM - 10:00 AM)

    Yes, yes, yes, we know that researchers need to measure our impact, build relationships, and communicate at our organizations.  But how does that translate into specific actions?  One prospect research team found that they could do all three things via a quarterly newsletter.  Lindsey Royer, Marcus Smith, and Amelia Aldred (University of Chicago) will focus on how they connected impact, relationship-building, and communication to the process of building and distributing a newsletter.   The session is appropriate for shops of all sizes.

     Other sessions by researchers, prospect managers, and analysts in Illinois include:

    prspct.py - Python Programming for Prospect Researchers

    Thursday, Jul 28, 2016 (10:30 AM - 12:00 PM)

    John Connelly, Northwestern University

    Leveraging Campaign Volunteers to Maximize Outcomes

    Thursday, Jul 28, 2016 (2:05 PM - 2:45PM)

    by Katie Nowak, Northwestern University

    Go check out these amazing sessions at APRA International 2016!

  • Mon, June 27, 2016 8:54 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.






    APRA-IL: Describe your motivations in this field and what keeps you engaged.

    Dave Chase*: The clients and their missions. My first three clients were in healthcare, a community hospital … followed by two major teaching hospitals, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Joslin Diabetes Center. Over the past twenty one years, I have had the good fortune of working with local, national and international organizations who help wounded veterans, support brain tumor and CTE research, fight for animal welfare and environmental protection, and, the closest to my heart, supporting at risk youth and children in crisis throughout the world. Helping these good folks identify and engage their best prospects to land a transformational gift is, simply, awesome. Learning – and then sharing -- new ways to make this happen from the early days of wealth screening to sophisticated analytics and predictive modeling has kept me fully engaged. Mentoring colleagues entering the field, or trying to solve a tough problem, has been very rewarding.



    APRA-IL: Describe your journey into your current position. 

    D.C.:I spent a decade-and-a-half in commercial real estate, most of that time owning my own brokerage and consulting business. My attorney, and very close friend, asked me to help the local hospital on Cape Cod identify folks who own $1M waterfront homes for an $8 million capital campaign. I developed a database of 1,500 prospects (which took many months, compared to seconds today!). The nineteenth person that I identified, gave a $2 million naming gift. 21 years later, it still gives me a very warm feeling whenever I pull into the parking lot and see the “O’Keefe Pavilion” at the hospital where I was born. After completing that assignment, I asked the chief development officer what group she belonged to. She told me it was the New England Association for Healthcare Philanthropy. I joined NEAHP, went to their annual conference, and knew this was what I wanted to do. These people were doing great things for our world and were simply the nicest and most compassionate people around. I volunteered to build a website for the group (way back in the dark ages) and the board president immediately put me on the board. I spent twelve years on the NEAHP board, resigning every year for the last six before my resignation was finally accepted. The relationships and networking within NEAHP is how I built my prospect research business. 


    APRA-IL: What is next for you? Is there anything you would like to accomplish or challenge?

    D.C.: Making the powerful prospecting tools, that have evolved over the past twenty+ years, available and affordable to the thousands of “small shop” philanthropic organizations is a critical mission. I’ve been an informal advisor to WealthEngine on product development since 2001 and a partner for the past eleven years. I’ve advocated passionately for features and affordable options for smaller clients, as well as more sophisticated options for larger organizations. The advances in this field, particularly in past five years, have been astounding. I love being a part of the solution and sharing what I have learned along the way. In the early days, most of my time was spent doing in-depth prospect research for clients. I made a decision, about ten years ago, to bring in freelance prospect researchers and push most of this research off to them. I am very proud of what the terrific group of professionals in my Freelance Prospect Research network have accomplished. It has been an honor to be associated with this team. Pushing most of the day-to-day research off to this group has allowed me to concentrate more on solving problems for clients, advising them on strategies, developing prospect research plans, helping them find and hire prospect research professionals, and working with my partners at WealthEngine in developing and sharing powerful new tools for philanthropy. My goal over the next year is to develop ways to help the really small shops take advantage of the tools that the larger shops are using. There is a wall out there that needs to be torn down and a bridge that need to be built. I’m on it.



    *Some aspects of Dave’s answers have been paraphrased. 

  • Mon, June 20, 2016 8:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Elisa Shoenberger, Benchmarking Analyst, Grenzebach Glier and Associates

    Dear Analyst,

    I went to APRA ARC and had a blast. I learned so much from my colleagues in the field. It’s amazing to see what people are doing! I’m thinking about next year’s conferences. I’d love to present what I have done in my research shop but I’m not sure if I should. What do you recommend? What did you do to get ready for the conferences you’ve spoken at?


    Potential Speaker?

    Dear Potential,

    That’s wonderful! I’m so pleased to hear that you had a great time at ARC. I’m even happier to hear that you are thinking about speaking next year at ARC or another conference. I think that is great. I’ve spoken at several conferences and I’ve enjoyed every single one of them. It’s always fun to share what you have learned and to continue discovering new things from other people.

    I know that speaking at a conference can seem very scary. When I first thought about it, I was not sure what I would say. What could I talk about? Or more importantly: What was I qualified to talk about? The answer was simple: my job. What did I do every day? What had I learned as a researcher and/or prospect manager? What processes did we build at my job? Because once you start going to conferences and talking to people in the field, you realize that everyone does things differently. So there’s your starting point. What do you do that is different? My first conference talk was a panel on planned giving, which is a really tricky part of fundraising for me. But I had spent years learning about it and spent a lot of time figuring out to translate my knowledge of planned giving (with lots of help from my boss and others in my organization) into conducting better research and management for my organization. And the presentation went well!

    Another idea is to look at an area that you find so fascinating within the field. Maybe you know something about it but you want to learn more. That’s totally a legitimate thing to talk about! I’m personally fascinated by corporations and foundations and decided to focus on this area for the past three talks. Now, it’s okay not to know all the answers. You can learn more about the topic in order to present. It’s more than likely that you’ll want to do some more research for your presentation. I spent time interviewing people and reviewing aspects about foundations that I did not know a lot about. And it’s half the fun of presenting!

    There’s also the possibility of co-presenting. I know several colleagues who present with other researchers in their offices. Sometimes they even present with gift officers and other non-researchers at their organization. Or you can present on a panel. As I mentioned before, my first presentation was a panel on planned giving where my co-presenters were from all over the US. A panel can be a great way to start presenting. You have fellow presenters to help you out (particularly with questions) and you learn new things from what they are doing.

    Okay, so you’ve gotten your speech figured out and you’ve been accepted by a conference, the next step is putting together the presentation. You do not want to put too much information on any slide. Too much information can overwhelm the viewer and make it hard to read the talking points. You can put the highlights to help people later on when they review the slides. I view my presentation slides as a guide in my presentation.

    One of the trickiest parts of presenting is the Q&A at the end. You’ve spent a lot of time preparing your speech but the questions can be about anything! (Well, hopefully about your speech and related topics). It’s okay not to know the answer. You may have questions that you really won’t be able to answer. Take it as an opportunity for new research and new learning. The questions may help to clarify a point about your work. Try to see the Q&A as a continuation of the learning process. That’s what conferences are all about.

    Finally, remember to bring lots of business cards. People will likely want to follow up with you or even send you documents about how they do their work on the topic to help you in your own work. As mentioned in previous Dear Analyst posts, conferences are a place to meet people and learn about new techniques, strategies in our field.

    So go forth and submit your presentation ideas! It’s well worth it!

     Jennifer Filla at APRA IL Fall Conference 2015

  • Mon, June 13, 2016 8:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Katherine Ingrao, Assistant Director of Prospect Management at Rush University Medical Center

    It was a true honor to be the first host and chair of APRA International’s first ARC Conference. The conference kicked off on Monday June 6th at the Marriott Chicago O’Hare and was a great success. The purpose of this event was to create a conference that would cultivate and support networks of prospect development professionals on a regional level who could then continue to collaborate and learn from each other all year round. The choice of Chicago as the first location for ARC was symbolic of APRA International’s history, having been founded in the region almost 30 years ago. The conference will be moved each year to a new region and hopes to grow in its attendance, programming, and impact.  

    When planning this conference, we wanted to think outside of the box and create more dynamic programming and opportunities for networking for professionals within the host region. We targeted those within the Midwest region because we thought that it was a more affordable conference and close for people to drive to. Surprisingly, APRA members flocked to Chicago from all across the US and Canada! When speaking with attendees, they mentioned that the whole experience of the conference was great because of the smaller format, manageable session options, and higher probability of repeat networking opportunities with attendees From my experiences at PD conferences, I would agree that ARC allowed people to really get to know someone sitting next to them in a session because you’ll probably run into them again at lunch. These connections were my main goal when organizing this conference. While I had thought initially I would be helping to cultivate regional connections and collaborations, it was actually on a much larger scale.

    In addition to meeting people from across the country, attendees were treated to a new session format called Open Space Conversations led by Claudia St. John. Claudia helps to facilitates large conference groups such as ours to hold unstructured audience generated discussions. It was a new idea chosen by the ARC planning committee to shake up the conference offerings and allow attendees to choose the topics that they were most interested in. It was an interesting concept and worked fairly well. In the future, I can see this being used in a more structured way since out profession can be very broad in job responsibility and interest.

    The real highlight for the conference came on Tuesday from our keynote speaker Andrew Means. Andrew is the co-founder of The Impact Lab and is a local data analytics expert to the Chicago area. He has previously held leadership positions at The University of Chicago’s Center for Data Science & Public Policy, Groupon, and the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago. Andrew focused his keynote on the importance of how an organization uses and promotes its data to tell their story, purpose, and mission. He noted that these stories are often unintentionally misleading and that there needs to be more transparency and collaboration with other nonprofits to efficiently use data for the social good. His speech really resonated with attendees and spurred great conversation regarding our own internal reporting and transparency within offices in addition to our donor relations.

    The overall experience of ARC for me was significant. I was able to do so much more than host a conference for my colleagues. I was able to form great connections with the wonderful prospect development professionals that call the Midwest home.

    Special thank yous go out to my entire ARC planning committee:

    Karla Davis- IL

    Michael Pawlus- MI

    Katie Linder- MI

    Marissa Todd- MO

    Henry Lau-MI

    Kathryn Thomas-WI

    Susan Hunt-PA

    Jessica Szadziewicz- IL

    This group has been amazing and I hope to work with you all again!

  • Tue, May 24, 2016 10:42 AM | Deleted user

    There's still time to register for ARC!

    Take a look at these talks by local presenters:

    Sarah Brandywine Johnson, Research Analyst at the University of Chicago will be talking on “Shoperations: Research Shop Administration for Researchers” on June 7 at 3:30pm – 4:45pm.


    Shoperations: Research Shop Administration for Researchers is an overview of organizational and administrative tips and tricks for running the "office" side of a Prospect Research office: budget, information and project management, cat-herding, and communication for shops big and small, presented by a current research analyst and former project manager. Attendees will learn how to organize and manage office operations, come to understand the unsung value of post-it notes, and explore various software applications to assist in tracking tasks, communicating with fellow researchers, and storing information that just does not quite fit in a database.

    Klara Mueggenburg, PhD, Business Systems Analyst at Northwestern University, will be giving her presentation entitled: "Exploring the Relationship between Engagement and Giving" on June 8th from 9am to 10:15am.


    Engagement leads to giving. This statement makes intuitive sense to most alumni relations and development professionals. Yet when asked to quantitatively show the relationship, we struggle initially with even defining engagement. Should it just include events and volunteering activity, or should it also include alumni club membership and online alumni community activity? This session will provide steps for examining engagement and its relationship to giving. It will discuss how to define and measure engagement, how to improve data quality to support reporting, how to use graphs to explore trends in data, how to construct an engagement or affinity score, and finally, how to effectively present this information. Understanding how engagement and giving relate to each other can empower organizations to evaluate event and volunteering programs, and can strengthen the collaboration between the alumni relations and fundraising team.


    Elisa Shoenberger, Benchmarking Analyst at Grenzenbach Glier and Associates, will be presenting “Everything You Wanted to Know about Foundations but Were Too Afraid to Ask” on June 7 at 2:00pm to 3:15pm.


    Ever wanted to understand the difference between a family foundation and a private operating foundation? Confused when reading 990 forms? This session is all foundations, all the time. We’ll look at how foundations are formed and important considerations for new foundations. We’ll explore the different foundation types. We’ll explore the wonders of the 990 forms and talk about research products that I’d developed and used in my role as Senior Prospect Management and Research analyst in the past. We’ll also talk about interviews made with people who work and run small foundations about their work and their views on the grand world of foundations.


    Stay tuned for more sessions from APRA-IL members and legacy members and click here for more information from APRA International about ARC!

  • Wed, May 18, 2016 8:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Elisa Shoenberger, Benchmarking Analyst, Grenzebach Glier and Associates, and Katie Ingrao, Assistant Director of Prospect Management, Rush University Medical Center

    Dear Analyst,

    APRA ARC and APRA International are coming up. I’m not sure if I should go to either. I’ve been told professional development is important but I don’t know what I’ll really get out of sitting in a conference room all day. What’s the value in going to these conferences and things like them?


    Professionally Questioning


    Dear Questioning,

    Professional development is really essential in our line of work. There are so many developments in fundraising and data happening every day! Conferences and other events are a few ways to keep prospect researchers and prospect managers up to date about new trends and processes in our field. At conferences and events, you get to learn what other people in other shops have struggled with and the solutions that they have created. You’d be surprised at the amount of times you’ll find a shop facing similar issues as your organization! Their approach to the same problem can bring new perspective or a cautionary tale but either way its great information to have. You also can learn about new resources, new models of research and management, or even new strategies to deal with thorny issues in our field. You can take these ideas and apply them your organization. Or you can tell your boss and other people about things that worked and didn’t work. Even managers and directors can benefit from conferences; there can be tracks to help them strategize with moving the department forward or better manage their employees.

    But even more important than the conference sessions themselves, you have the opportunity to network with people in the field. At these events, you’ll meet people from all over the country and even the world who are there to learn and share. You can learn a lot from one another. Your tenure in the profession doesn’t matter. I went to my first conference only three months on the job and I was able to share things I had learned and thought about with other people. I learned a lot too. These connections are really important for the future as well. You’ll meet people who you can talk to later on if you are having issues and need outside support. I once called colleagues I met through APRA International and APRA IL to ask them about their programs to see how they compared to ours. You can ask them about their fundraising databases, vendors they’ve used or rejected, and so much more. Plus, they can be potential points of contact in the advancement of your career. You can also learn about new products and services from the various vendors.

    Conferences are largely what you make of them. If you are willing to learn a lot and share, they are a great way to enhance your skillset and network. Going to conferences were one of the best things I’ve done as a researcher. So if your work place permits it, I definitely recommend checking out a conference.

    Have a burning question for Dear Analyst? Send your questions and queries to APRAIL@gmail.com.

     APRA IL Fall Conference 2014

  • Wed, May 11, 2016 7:13 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Joan Ogwumike, Development Coordinator, Mikva Challenge


    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.

    Is our commitment to the field because of the impact we can have on the world

    through our  work? Is it the fact that for many of us, Prospect Development careers

    are a “perfect fit” with our skill sets? There are countless reasons to build a career in

    Prospect Development: through  this blog series we will explore what drives

    industry leaders to propel their careers and  Prospect Development forward.

    Our first interview in this blog series features APRA-IL president, Katie Ingrao 

    speaking on why she does this work.

    Stay tuned for upcoming feature profiles in this series each month!

    C:\Users\rdo392\Pictures\APRA-Illinois\Katie Interview Template.png

    APRA-IL: Describe your motivations to build your career in Prospect Development, and what keeps you engaged.

    Katie Ingrao*: I, like many people, fell into Prospect Development, and there are several reasons that keep me in it. One of the more prevalent reasons is that I feel this field truly utilizes and values my natural talents and skills. My background is in education and library and information science, and I consistently rely on that experience in my work with database trainings, data management, and general research. This [experience] allows me to feel more versatile in my work and not restricted in the future opportunities available to me. I know that I can continue working in prospect management or branch off into data analytics and still be within the same field and maybe even the same organization.  

    The people that I meet in Prospect Development have kept me engaged in the field. I have always enjoyed connecting with the different people who make up the fundraising industry. They all have different experiences, educational backgrounds, and skills. It’s really rewarding to me to hear how and why they got into fundraising because it shows how truly diverse our industry is. This diversity, I think, makes my work experiences so great.

    APRA-IL: Can you share a piece of advice with the readers, on what 

    you've gained by professional development?

    K.I.: I have gained quite a bit from professional development through APRA-IL. Most importantly, I’ve been able to build my skills of networking and understanding the importance of connecting with professionals beyond my office and even beyond my specific field. I started out in a single-person shop and it was very intimidating as a new Prospect Development professional to be completely independent with no structured support. Joining APRA-IL and attending conferences has forced me to be more engaged and confident. My involvement has taught me confidence and how to be more assertive in my daily interactions with colleagues and being a better advocate for my work.

    APRA-IL: What is next for you? Is there anything you would like to

    accomplish or challenge?

    K.I.: I’m not entirely sure what’s next for me professionally. I think a great aspect of Prospect Development is that there are lots of options and always new opportunities to consider. Going forward, I hope to learn more about data modeling and implementing those data analytics skills to prepare for my organization’s next campaign. I have never prepared for or gone through a campaign so that’s an exciting upcoming endeavor. As for new things at APRA-IL, I hope to increase volunteer engagement among our members. I have found the experience extremely rewarding and want to encourage more chapter members to participate.

    *Some aspects of Katie’s answers have been paraphrased. 

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