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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. 

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

New! True Life: A Day in Prospect Development

Completed in 2018 - 50 Shades of Prospect Development


  • Fri, February 26, 2016 9:07 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Elisa Shoenberger, Senior Prospect Management and Research Analyst, Loyola University Chicago

    The issue of social media is paramount in our field. Pew Research Studies reported that 74% of online adults use social networking. People use social media for both professional and social purposes. Online people reveal so much about their lives, their preferences, and sometimes even their philanthropic inclination. Social media provides prospect researchers with new opportunities and new challenges! In 2013, I had the opportunity to attend a lecture on LinkedIn at APRA International in Baltimore, MD. The session was really critical in talking about the ethics of using LinkedIn in a professional capacity and also to understand how other shops were using the tool. The issue arose again back in May 2015 over the ethics of using LinkedIn for prospect research on PROSPECT_L – a listhost for prospect research, management and analytics--and resulted in APRA International issuing a formal statement on LinkedIn. Read about APRA’s LinkedIn guidelines here: http://www.aprahome.org/d/do/3217  Last summer, one of our vendors offered social media as a new option for research with our prospects.

    Earlier this month I was asked to review Jennifer Filla and Sarah Bernstein’s Prospect Research Perspectives on Social Media and I have found it be essential reading about social media and the prospect research/management field. The book explores how do prospect researchers and managers handle the wealth of information and deal with the ethics of using that information. Aimed at prospect researchers, prospect managers, and data analysts (and maybe even gift officers), this publication provides thoughtful and sometimes provocative analysis about social media in our field. It tackles social media from a lot of diverse angles from an effective Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis for using social media in fundraising and research to analyzing the ALS Ice Bucket challenge.

    The publication helped me think about social media in a broad sense from the ethics of using social media to how to use the information as a researcher. The publication includes a series of articles by Filla and Bernstein who have interviewed several people throughout the field. Their articles contain information from people at three Milwaukee based charities and Justin Ware, Vice President of Digital Fundraising Strategy at ScaleFunder. I really appreciated the article of the three Wisconsin based charities that explored how these three charities with different structures and missions each used social media to aid in their fundraising.  For instance, Lawrence University “Lawrence has been tracking every social media comment for several years now, tallying the comments by fiscal year in their database (Banner). As Ziegler describes it, Lawrence was then able to “use this existing data to identify volunteers, and send them a private Facebook message with a link to the social media toolkit for Giving Day” (p18). Justin Ware of ScaleFunder pointed out, “enthusiastic online advocates often include at least a few of your major donors” (p11).

    One of the surprising suggestions was for prospect researchers to look for social media influencers. In our field, the focus has long been major gift prospects. And there’s definitely potential with social media to aid in that mission. Jen Filla and Sarah Bernstein talk about how social media can help researchers understand the interests and affinity of major gift prospects…or even find new major gift donors, like young tech millionaires, that traditional wealth screenings don’t find. But they added this idea of identifying folks who are influencers. They can help champion your organization’s message, maybe even with a gift attached! They write: “Social media influencers offer us this same opportunity. If we can identify who among our large group of annual appeal donors has influence, we can ask them to give more of their influence to our organization and its mission” (p33). This is something I’ve never thought about doing. I’m already dreaming up schemes to capture that information! But in addition to this incredible insight, there’s some really important suggestions to how to make use of it, like the data collection and other partnerships needed to be able to affectively accomplish this. I also valued their comments about the importance of data tracking and possibilities with analytics.

    I also appreciated that their publication talked about how we can use social media in the advancement of our careers as well.  One provocative thought was the idea of mastering one or two social networks. How many social networks have you looked at today? How many do you actively use? Filla also states the importance of being active and not overexerting yourself. Work it into your daily routine.

    So I highly recommend this publication for those of you who contemplate the ramifications of this plethora of social media in the prospect research and prospect management field.  

    Picture credit- Jason Howe

    Photo link: Jason Howe. http://tinyurl.com/jaa3n2z

  • Fri, February 19, 2016 9:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Joan Ogwumike, Development Coordinator, Mikva Challenge

    We had the First Salon of the year and it was amazing! As a new member of APRA-IL, I joined for the exposure, networking opportunities, and the plethora of knowledge. And at this event, I was not disappointed!

    The setting was in a lounge area adjacent Café Cito, and seated on a long L-shaped couch was our three Corporate and Foundation relations panelists- Lindsey Rogers, University of Chicago, Kara Moore, Northwestern University, and Meredith Dorneker,Northwestern University.

    It was an informal Q&A with stimulating questions from the panelists to the attendants; we all wanted to learn from each other! Conversations stemmed from sponsorship relations with corporations, marking-up a prospect strategy for engagement, systems for prioritizing prospects, ratings for corporate and foundations, giving strategies in terms of ratings, the variety of databases used, and more.

    From the event, I noticed the designated presence of prospect researchers within higher education institutions, and the necessary position of research in other areas within the public sector. Another takeaway was the reliance on different search engines, and the ways in which each one could lead to different outcomes.

    This event was a glimpse of prospect research as an independent profession, and the different backgrounds that can lead one into becoming a researcher. I believe there needs to be continuous dialogue within every organization regarding research and its presence. Knowing its presence means a reliance on new funding possibilities. 

    Panel by K. Ingrao Other salon participants by K. Ingrao

  • Fri, February 12, 2016 11:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    By Elisa Shoenberger, Senior Prospect Management and Research Analyst, Loyola University Chicago

    Happy Valentine’s Day from APRA-IL!

    This is the perfect season to introduce you all to our new blog series that we are calling “Dear Analyst”. This series of blogs is to pay homage to our secular sister “Dear Abby” but also will be an advocate, therapist, and coach to our prospect development members. We want you to write in with your issues and questions regarding prospect development work and we will post our thoughts and suggestions but we also will encourage members to provide their own perspective and ideas. This is meant to generate dialogue and collaboration among our members and also just a fun way to expand the topics and content of our blog, so enjoy!

    Dear Analyst,

    I’m a shiny new prospect researcher at my organization. I’ve been asked to find new prospects for the organization but I don’t know where to turn. Could you please help me?

    Thanks,

    Lost in Prospect Land

    Dear Lost,

    Finding new prospects is a vital part of the job for prospect research! There’s a lot of different ways of going about it, which makes it great but also scary. Don’t worry. Remember that prospects come from a lot of new places. I’m going to talk about a few places but there are many more.

    One place that I like to start is the people who already have given to my organization. Are there people who have given a lot but haven’t been contacted and/or researched? Those might be gems for your organization. It might be a good practice to review all incoming gifts each week to pick up on those larger gifts like $1,000 gifts and up.

    With cooperation from your senior staff, your organization could talk to board members about possible prospects that might be inclined towards your organization. It’s great to use these networks. Maybe they’ll offer to introduce us to the prospect.

    Another option is to conduct a wealth screening with a company like Blackbaud or Wealth Engine. These can be pricey so it’s a big step but you can find lots of new people this way. These screenings can help you identify people with a lot of assets who may be major gift prospects.

    Another place to look might be your own constituency. If your organization is a school, a hospital or a museum, you might have people who have an affinity to your organization already like alumni, grateful patients or members! You can look at business titles of people if you have the information or use news sources to look for your school. Google Alerts can be set up for keywords like “College University” that can help identify alumni who have moved jobs in press releases. Also, you can look at SEC documents too for your alumni.

    If you don’t fall under one of those categories, don’t fret! You can buy a mailing list from several organizations that can give you information on people who might be interested in your area of expertise, like the environment or poverty issues.

    Are you looking for new foundation or corporate leads? You can use Foundation Center and Foundation Search and look by keywords or even by grants. Both are paid subscriptions but public libraries may have licenses to both of them for your use! Also, it can also try looking at news articles about donations to organizations similar to yours!

    These are just a few places to find new prospects. I hope it helps!

    The best,

    Have a question about prospect relationships, research or anything else in the prospect realm? Feel free to email Dear Analyst at aprail@gmail.comwith the subject line Dear Analyst

    Julie, httptinyurl.comhflqauu

  • Fri, January 15, 2016 9:01 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Jessica Szadziewicz, Prospect Information Analyst at Northwestern University

    Are you a corporate or foundation researcher? Or are you interested in learning more about corporate and foundation research? Then come to the first APRA-IL Salon of 2016! Our topic is all things corporate and foundation research. We will have special attendees from the C&F teams at both Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. They will be discussing how their organizations operate and manage its C&F research, in addition to answering any questions you may have. 

    The reading materials for this salon are a little different. Instead of traditional articles, participants are encouraged to review Elisa Shoenberger’s Corporate and Foundation Relations Survey, which appeared as a post on the APRA-IL blog in August 2015. In it, she asks shops from across the country a series of questions concerning corporate and foundation relations. We hope to ask corporate and foundation researchers some of these questions at the salon, and gain a better understanding of how different organizations operate.

    We hope to see you at 6:00pm on Wednesday, February 10th at Café Cito at 26 E Congress Parkway in Chicago.

  • Tue, January 12, 2016 1:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Katie Ingrao, APRA-IL President and Associate Director of Prospect Management at Rush University Medical Center

    New Year, new APRA-IL! 

    This year is all about revamping and refreshing our chapter and your career. We have an exciting year ahead of us with new events, a regional conference, and expanding partnerships in Chicago and beyond.

    This will be my second year as President and the last year in my term. From the beginning, I’ve been committed to engaging a larger segment of our membership in volunteering on our committees and expanding the variety of programming we provide. This coming year, I believe the hard work invested by the Board of Directors and current volunteers will pay off big. In an effort to find ways to increase the accessibility of our programming beyond the Chicagoland area, we have acquired software in a partnership with APRA-MN to host and record webinars.  This is an exciting development for us and will allow members to participate in events both in person and online. In addition to increasing accessibility to our members, the webinars will allow us to collaborate with professionals from other chapters and professions. Our first collaboration will be a webinar on competitive intelligence that we will run with APRA-MN and the Chicago Area Law Librarians during APRA International’s Share the Knowledge Week in February.

    We are also thrilled to host the first ARC (APRA Regional Conference) this June in Chicago. This event will allow our members access to a multi-day conference that will not break the professional development budget. The call for speakers has been extended until the 18th and I encourage you to consider submitting a presentation. We at APRA-IL have impressive members and institutions and this is a perfect platform to showcase that. 

    As we revamp our programming we also are preparing for a refresh of our website and social media accounts. If you don’t follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, be sure to do that so you won’t miss the roll out. We will be updating our website content, improving the resources available to members, providing a more streamlined schedule of messaging to our members, and finally increasing our presence on social media to keep our members up to date on the latest events and news.

    I am very proud of our chapter and its members and I hope to meet you at our next event. The calendar for the year is now available on our website. The first event of the year is a field trip to The Adler Planetarium for their January “Adler After Dark” series. More information can be found on the event page. Tickets should be purchased through the planetarium, but be sure to RSVP through our site so we have a head count. I am looking forward to the changes coming in 2016 and I hope you are too! 

    Best Wishes and a Happy New Year,

    Katie Ingrao

    APRA-IL President

    By JFXie, Flickr

  • Thu, December 03, 2015 10:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Catherine Cefalu, Lead Prospect Research Analyst at The University of Chicago

    Hi Nerds!

    As some of you may know, I am currently pursuing a master’s degree at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. I mention this partly to explain why I didn’t run for re-election as APRA-IL vice president, but also to enthuse about the field of philanthropic studies.

    My friends, there is a whole other world of research out there, and it is amazing.

    I did not have any classes this semester, so I took the opportunity to attend some conferences. In addition to the fantastic APRA-IL Fall Conference, I also attended the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s Annual Symposium in Indianapolis and the Association of Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action’s Annual Conference in Chicago. Some things were the same as any APRA conference I’ve attended (swag and tote bags FTW); the main difference was the emphasis on theory over practice. The majority of attendees and presenters were academics who conducted research and studies on the field of philanthropy. Each session consisted of three speakers who each spent 10-15 minutes discussing their work (usually on a related topic), followed by questions and discussion with the audience. It’s a fascinating format, and it might be cool to try out at APRA.

    Photo Jonathon Cohen, Doorways

    I learned about some incredible work that is currently going on. While it’s too much to go into extensively, I did notice some common trends under discussion at both conferences:

    • Women and Philanthropy: The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is also home to the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, which recently released its 2015 “WomenGive” study. I found it a fascinating counterpart to Jennifer Filla and Preeti Gill’s presentation at the APRA-IL Fall Conference. Much of the current academic research being done on gender and philanthropy is now focusing on inter-family dynamics: how do married couples negotiate household giving? Does education or income disparity influence who makes philanthropic decisions? How does the presence of children impact the giving preferences of mothers and/or fathers (and are there different effects for single-parent households)?
    • International Philanthropy: One of the aspects of academic philanthropic studies that I would love to see more of in APRA is the inclusion of more international perspectives. I don’t mean Americans talking about research in other countries, I mean people who are actually living and working in those countries. ARNOVA’s membership is incredibly diverse, with researchers attending from every part of the world (except Antarctica, but I suspect it’s only a matter of time…). I had a great discussion with some Dutch researchers at ARNOVA about our countries’ different attitudes toward naming gifts. I attended a session where the presenter, from Israel, talked about the ways in which mass media discusses philanthropy; in Israel, elite philanthropists are often framed as agents of one side or another in social issue conflicts, which seems worlds away from the way that American media talks about its high-profile philanthropists.
    • Corporate Giving and Transparency: Corporate giving, particularly outside the United States, varies widely in terms of the level of transparency provided by the organizations. One study by researchers from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the University of Maryland, looked at what factors impact the level of public disclosure by foundations in China, where transparency laws are largely absent or unenforced. Another study by a researcher at Centro de Investigación y Estudios sobre Sociedad Civil examined the state of corporate philanthropy in Mexico and how it aligned with a company’s corporate social responsibility practices; in many ways, the corporate foundations in Mexico seemed to be much more closely tied to the company’s private activities than corporate foundations in the U.S.
    • Giving Days and Other Non-Traditional Fundraising: At the Lilly Family Symposium, I attended a session that included a presentation by Barbara Newhouse, executive director of the ALS Association, who discussed the impact of the Ice Bucket Challenge on the Association’s policies and practices; she particularly stressed the need to share donor data within the different chapters of the ALS Association. Una Osili (director of research at the Lilly Family School and the 2014 keynote speaker at APRA International!) gave a presentation on her team’s research on Giving Tuesday and other giving days; one fascinating result from the study was that donations made on Giving Tuesday did not reduce a donor’s other gifts to the organization that year: if they made a gift on Giving Tuesday, they would likely also make their usual year-end gift, and at a similar amount as previous years.
    • Putting Research Into Practice: As I said at the beginning of this post, the field of philanthropic studies is largely academic and includes very few practitioners. A major focus of both conferences was how to bridge that gap between theory and practice. I think prospect research is uniquely positioned to be one of those possible bridges, given our love of knowledge and love of sharing it with others. 

    Other highlights:

    • They mentioned prospect research!
    • Beth Breeze from the University of Kent is conducting research on the social characteristics of fundraisers. What makes a good fundraiser? One interesting tidbit from her presentation: of the UK gift officers surveyed, she found that 10% of them sing in a choir, compared to 1% of the general population!
    • Elizabeth Dale at Seattle University is conducting some fascinating research on the philanthropic practices of LGBT individuals and households. (She is also a former Chicagoan—she was director of development at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center before pursuing her PhD in Philanthropic Studies).
    • Russell James from Texas Tech University is working on motivations for planned giving (you can look at the slides from his presentation for the Lilly Family Symposium here). Unlike many of the other studies on donor motivation I encountered, Dr. James is coming at it from a different direction: he’s putting people in fMRI machines, asking them questions about death and bequests, and seeing what parts of the brain light up. I really encourage you to take a look at the paper for this research if you can:

    James, R. N., III & O’Boyle, M. W. (2014). Charitable estate planning as visualized autobiography: An fMRI study of its neural correlates. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 43(2), 355- 373. (A previous version of the paper can be found on the Social Science Research Network here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2000345)

    • Recaps of the sessions at the Lilly Family Symposium can be found here. You can also see video of the keynote here (featuring Hasbro chairman Alan Hassenfeld) and the luncheon address on “Breaking 2%” by Schwab Charitable executive director Kim Laughton here.

    If you want to hear more or want to nerd out about philanthropic studies, find me on Twitter or send me an e-mail!

     Kelley, fMRI One

  • Fri, November 06, 2015 8:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Preeti Gill, A Few Good Women: https://diversitydrivendata.wordpress.com/

    Her poise and sophistication aligns closely with the backdrop of our meeting place on a crisp, sunny Sunday morning in the City of Big Shoulders. She is Christina Pulawski, a prospect research leader, who has kindly offered to tour me through the Art Institute of Chicago’s latest exhibit of Indian art, Gates of the Lord: The Tradition of Krishna Paintings.

    How did we get here? Well, I’ve admired Christina’s career from afar for a while now. Read her impressive biography here as I can’t do her varied accomplishments justice in this restrictive space. She led the prospect research team at Northwestern University – when they earned a “top research shop” distinction – and went on to lead Loyola University-Chicago’s Advancement Services before embarking on a successful consulting career that she continues to juggle, alongside developing a multi-team-led prospect development strategy at the AIC.

    A trained lawyer and highly-rated speaker, Christina is also known for her volunteer leadership of both APRA-Illinois and big APRA. She served as chapter president for two years and earned APRA’s distinguished service award in 2005. She is also a co-founder of AASP.

    Born and raised in Chicago, Christina told me about her early memories visiting the AIC. Her mother would show her a few paintings she liked and share what she knew about them, interspersed with other, more unusual, holdings of the museum, such as its miniature rooms or arms and armor. Their visits were short, yet rich learning experiences, much like the time she and I spent walking through Krishna paintings and textiles, and gawking at the ornate Renaissance pendant jewels of the Alsdorf Collection. (I did most of the gawking, really).

    Later, we climbed an airy staircase over to Modern Art and sat down for a thoughtful discussion about hiring high-performers; learning to lead; and why prospect research continues to fascinate and captivate her. I sent her a few questions in advance so she had a chance to think them through and noticed that she had written down many of her thoughts before meeting me that morning. She took issue (tactfully) with some of my questions.


    What Makes Researchers Great and Great Researchers?

    Christina has hired and developed research teams for a number of organizations, both in-house and in a consulting capacity, so I asked her what traits or characteristics she hires for:

    “It depends on where you are [kind of organization], she said. “At Northwestern, we deliberately hired for no previous experience to help train them for our specific needs. Someone who is curious; who writes well; and is well-spoken. “

    She stressed curiosity, tenacity and “an interest in a lot of different things.”

    “At AIC, we just hired an analyst a few weeks ago who has experience since we cannot spend as much time training and overseeing. When hiring experienced researchers, we look at how they prioritize their work.”

    Since many researchers don’t operate solo shops, I asked her about a winning formula for a dynamic and high-performing team:

    “In my opinion, when everyone knows what the group's goal is and understands her or his role within it. We have shared professional values like accuracy, thoroughness, timeliness, empathy towards others who use our work.”

    Christina plans annual retreats for her staff where often they start with: “What are our values? What's the manifestation of those values? Values conflict sometimes like urgent requests. We work it out through scenarios before having to actually deal with issues.”

    “We all need to know where we're going.”

    Learning to Lead

    We talked extensively about leading and mentoring and how we need mentors throughout the courses of our respective careers.

    “I had a couple of bosses – not in research – who modelled excellent behavior. They were cool, calm, collected - perfectly unflappable. They were empathetic.”

    Christina spoke eloquently about being an effective leader.

    “In times of change, over-communicate and over-prepare. Stick with what you said." She's honest with people on her team. She micro-manages new staff initially until they’re fine on their own.

    "Help grow people in their career. Where do they want to go? Find opportunities for them to grow and publicly given them credit for succeeding at those opportunities. Encourage staff to mentor people at other organizations. Present at conferences. Connect them with other people. Nurture people who want to grow. And then do the same for yourself."

    "It’s my duty to help them [staff] get to where they want to be."

    Christina says that leadership and management require a slew of different skills and abilities, separate and apart from research – i.e. technical – proficiencies. She says, “Intentionally develop both.”

    Not being the same as leadership skills, technical skills manifest differently in every profession.  “For example, most of us have seen brilliant fundraisers who do not transition to being as brilliant in managing other fundraisers.”

    “We love to research 'cuz it's cool!” she said with a large grin. “But sometimes leading means doing less of what you love to do.”

    So, how to develop soft skills, I recall asking her?

    “Reading a lot, coaching, in-house management training that offers good common-sense advice like how to run a meeting and working with other people,” she listed.

    Research is Cool. Consulting? Even Cooler

    “With research, you get to be an expert in a little bit of everything. I know what it feels like to be a venture capitalist because I've researched 17,000 of them,” she said with a smile.

    “Consulting is awesome. Taking fundamental principles and applying them in different permutations in different places to get the same result, meeting financial goals.

    “Consulting is more about structure and resourcing. Should you hire a full-time researcher? [As a consultant], your focus is on different types of giving and fundraising. What's your goal? Staff experience and size, campaign focus and timing, all need to be taken into account and affect research.

    “It’s not about re-creating what you've already done,” stressed Christina.

    To wrap up, I also asked her a few cheeky questions for which she had smart responses:

    Every prospect researcher should bookmark this site: ­­­­______


    She took this question literally and calls her answer “snarky.”

    “Dreaming of sending the link in answer to some questions researchers get, check out lmgtfy.com.

    It's a stress release! And kitten/puppy video sources.” 

    Given her native Chicagoan status, I also asked Christina: If I have just one day in this great city, what is an absolute must-see that they don’t share in tourism guides?

    “The guide books are pretty great for general info. For things that everybody might like. I'd have to know what someone's into to guide them to things that the guide books don't.”

    (Classic researcher response = evaluating the information tool!)

    “Get into the neighbourhoods. Use a Divvy bike [to get around]. It's the best $10 you'll spend in 24 hours” she said.

    Do you want to learn more about what Christina Pulawski had to say about women leaders and the way data analytics is changing the way we view donors? Check out the second part of my interview with this prospect research leader at A Few Great Women here


  • Fri, August 28, 2015 4:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Jennifer Filla, President of Aspire Research Group LLC and CEO of Prospect Research Institute

    Preeti Gill and I are excited about visiting Chicago to speak about wealthy and philanthropic women. A topic dear to our hearts and to our gender, I thought I’d do a little digging around to find some perspective on Chicago and Illinois.

    Instead of writing about it, I thought I'd show you in this short video. I hope you enjoy it!

    And sign up for the conference, why don’t you? Click to register!

    http://sproutvideo.com/videos/e89bdcb11c18e5c960

  • Tue, August 18, 2015 3:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Elisa Shoenberger, Senior Prospect Management and Research Analyst, Loyola University Chicago

    Several months ago, I was trying to figure out how to structure prospect management with our Corporate and Foundation Relations (CFR) team. There was not a whole lot of literature out there so I reached out to two local institutions to find out how they handle CFR. It turned out that both institutions handled their CFR research and prospect management in completely different ways.

    Then I decided to broaden my sample pool and conduct a survey of organizations across the US so I could gain a better picture of C&F teams nationally. My new survey contained a 10 question survey about research and prospect management in regards to C&F activity. I posted it on Prospect_L, a great resource for researchers and prospect managers, and got about 92 responses. It’s not a scientific survey but I think it gave me a little bit more insight into the topic. Most questions had several answers marked “Other” where the responses didn’t fit the question. They were excluded at this time. Click the links to see charts of the data.

    1.       Do you have gift officers who manage only corporations and other officers who manage foundations only? Or do they manage both corporations and foundations together?

    Over 65% of organizations have their gift officers manage both corporations and foundations together. Almost 30% have separate teams to handle corporations and another to handle foundations. 

    q1.GIF

    2.       Do gift officers manage organizations and individuals at your organization?

    Over 45% respondents reported that their gift officers manage both individual and organization prospects. About 42% reported that some gift officers managed individuals and others supported individuals only. 

    Q2.GIF

    3.   What is the average portfolio size for CFR officers?

    About 33% of respondents reported that the average portfolio size was between 50 to 100. About 27% said they had between 25 and 49 prospects. Over 15% reported that their gift officers had over 100 prospects while over 5% reported less than 25. Over 15% had more complicated situations such as gift officers who see both organizations and individuals or no dedicated gift officers.

    Q3.GIF

    4.  Does your institution use ratings for its Foundations and Corporations?

    This was the most surprising of them all. The vast majority (over 70%) do not have ratings. We use ratings at Loyola so i was not expecting this result!

    q4.GIF 

    5. Of the 20 who responded yes, we asked: If you have ratings, how do you determine a rating?  

    People explained that they used market value, past gift amounts, and had a formula. Other organizations look at the linkage, ability, and interest. Others use one rating for maximum grant and some rely on gift officer rating. Others use past gifts or a four point ranking system.

    6.  Are there stages for organizations? Common terms for stages are: suspect, cultivation, stewardship.

    This question also surprised me especially after the rating question. Over 80% reported that they had stages for their corporations. Only about 15% did not! 

    q6.GIF

    7.  Does your CFR office have a dedicated researcher?

    Almost 60% of respondents reported that they did not while over 30% said that they did. 

    Q7.GIF

    8. How many researchers exist at your organization?

    Almost 60% have only 0-2 researchers while about 30% have only 2-5 researchers. Less than 5% had over 10.

    q8.GIF

    9  How many gift officers exist at your organization? 

    Over 50% reported that they had 3 to 10 gift officers while over 20% reported 31 to 50!

    q9.GIF

    10.    What type of organization are you?

    Almost 70% of participants came from higher education. The next largest group at about 8% came from Health- Focused organizations. It would be interesting to see how the information would differ if we excluded higher education!

    q10.GIF

    I’m hoping that this serves to instigate more discussion about prospect management and research for Corporate and Foundations teams. This survey is a start. Please share your ideas! Share your techniques! I think there’s a lot of room for discussion. I can’t wait to hear from you all.


  • Tue, August 11, 2015 2:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Elisa Shoenberger, Senior Prospect Management and Research Analyst, Loyola University Chicago

    What an APRA International for the record books! Over four days, researchers, prospect managers, analysts came from all over the US and the world to New Orleans to learn, converse, and network. APRA IL Chapter had a particularly strong showing. We had fifteen members present at the conference this year from topics including dynamic portfolios, international research, corporate and foundation research and prospect management, and much more!

    Below are a few of my takeaways from this year’s conference.

    The regular conference started off with a Keynote Speech from the incredible Dan Pollatta. His talk focused on the problematic ways society thinks about philanthropy. He talked about the problem with compensation for nonprofits. We are okay with CEOs of for-profits getting paid a lot of money, but there are investigative reporters going undercover to reveal the salaries of nonprofit CEOs. US society is just not comfortable with paying a lot of money in salary for nonprofits. However, if you want to attract the best and brightest and retain them, this perception is hurting nonprofits and their work.

    There’s a similar discomfort with marketing and advertising. Corporations can spend millions of dollars but charities that spend a lot of money talking about their cause are perceived as wasteful. Overall, the obsession with overhead costs only hurts charities and their causes. Instead of looking at how much a charity spends on operating costs, organizations and people should look at what the charity is doing and how many people it is helping.  That’s just a small part of his speech. Check out his TED talk here: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pallotta_the_way_we_think_about_charity_is_dead_wrong?language=en

    I attended “All the Right Prospects: Dynamic Portfolio Reviews” given by David B. Nacol, Executive Director, Schools and Programs, and Rebekah D. O’Brien, Assistant Director, at Northwestern University. What an incredible talk! The room was bursting with people! The speakers talked about the case of Northwestern’s portfolio review process, a part of their larger Prospect Management system. At Northwestern, they have mostly transitioned to smaller portfolios, generally 25 to 35 prospects in solicitation or cultivation. Typically, gift officers only manage prospects that they have personally qualified. When gift officers join Northwestern’s central fundraising teams, they start with zero people in their portfolio and gradually add people as they get to know prospects. That’s just a tiny nugget of information from their talk.

    I also attended “Corporate and Foundation Relations: Creating Impact” given by Michelle Heyn, University of Minnesota Foundation. Her talk focused on Corporate and Foundation Principal Prospects, rather than Corporations and Foundations as a whole. She talked about the various products that they create to help advance those relationships. One thing that blew my mind was that they use the Risk Factors section in a company’s 10k and orient their strategy to help the company meet those challenges. What a brilliant idea.

    At the CASE Conference for Corporate and Foundation Gift Officers that I attended in June, a representative of a tech company advised that universities and colleges should understand what problems a corporation is trying to solve when they approach them. This will help deepen the relationship. When asked how to find this information, the representative suggested talking to C-level individuals. This new idea of looking at “Risk Factors” is another way of tackling it. While not all companies have this information available, namely private companies, it’s an important resource if we have it.

    There was another round of APRA Talks, styled like TED talks. Presenters had about 5 minutes for their talk. The first was Greg Lambousy of the Louisiana State Museum talking about Hurricane Katrina. He explained that it took two years after the Hurricane to rehabilitate the buildings and collections damaged in the storm. They were fortunate since they already had a year’s worth of operating budget in the bank; not all nonprofits did and many had to shut down. Nonprofits with connections with federal government or branches in other cities fared better than those that did not.

    Jennifer McCormack, Associate Director of Advancement Analytics at University of Washington, talked about innovation and analytics. She explained that the greatest challenge to change was experience. Moreover, people make the mistake of forgetting that change is emotional. Will this hurt or help me? She explained that communication was key. Speaking their language is a must to get people onboard. She also explained that better storytelling of successes will help to get other onboard and eager to participate.

    The final speaker was David Robertson, Director of Operations Research at Syracuse University, who sang us two songs! Here is “Prospect Gold” for your viewing pleasure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=5urx104-PkA&app=desktop

    He talked about how we have to be creative experts and look beyond our industry. He suggested looking at how the for-profit sector is doing in terms of forecasting, etc. Great advice!

    We had a lovely time at the APRA IL breakfast at the Ruby Slipper. Grits, hash, and gravy were had by all! That’s just a taste of APRA International 2015. I can’t wait for APRA International 2016 in Nashville!

    Photo by K. Ingrao 

    Photo by K. Ingrao


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