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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

  • Mon, September 26, 2016 8:51 AM | Anonymous member

    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 Thomas Turner of the International Justice Mission.

    Thomas Turner is the Director, Research and Prospect Management at International Justice Mission (IJM), an international human rights organization focused on ending slavery and everyday violence. Prior to launching prospect research at IJM in 2012, Turner was a Compliance Manager at KPMG, where he worked on SEC independence and compliance issues.

    Mr. Turner is a member of APRA International and serves on the APRA DC board. He has presented previously at APRA DC, APRA Maryland, MARC and APRA International.

    Some of Mr. Turner's answers have been paraphrased.

    APRA-IL: What impact does your work, and the overall field of Prospect Development have? (And could you describe who you believe your audience is?)

    Turner: My audience would be a general APRA audience. Research, Data Analytics, Advancement Services and Relationship Management. 

    I like to describe Prospect Development as the nucleus of a department. Prospect development can serve as a centralized resource that helps the disparate units that make up advancement run effectively when it is set up well for success by leadership and given the opportunity to work with the many teams of the advancement division., This happens through excellent research, pragmatic and data-driven relationship management, and, increasingly, data analytics that tests, validates, and implements successful insights into your business. In my own work, I try to follow a personal motto that, when confronted with a problem, it is an opportunity to be “just another thing we can make better.” I think that a few prospect development shops have made to move into a consulting role is definitely the right call. It gives the prospect development shop the level of appreciation it deserves.

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

    Turner: I am always motivated by success stories. For me, my success is directly tied to success for my colleagues in the field and the clients we serve. As much as I love to solve puzzles --- and really, Prospect Development is a game when you think of it --- and finding that needle in a haystack, that is a motivation that can get me from task to task. My motivation is give 100% to my work, and to remember that when I can do as much as possible to grow my organization’s donor base- literal lives are being changed- widows who will have their property given back to them, children removed from abusive situations, people like you and me freed from modern day slavery.

    The people in the Prospect Development industry keep me engaged.  When I transitioned from the corporate world to the non-profit world, I was astonished by the lack of competition in the research industry. The comradery and helpfulness of professionals in prospect development is unparalleled. I would not have had opportunities to speak, to grow, to build my shop at IJM if I was not part of a prospect development community that is so willing to share best practices. It is an honor to be part of the community and it motivates me to give back, since so much was given to me.

    APRA-IL: What advice would give a new professional in the field of Prospect Development?

    Turner: I think the best thing you can do is join your local APRA chapter. You will join a community of people that will help you grow and who will respond to questions you have. It is an invaluable source to have colleagues in the industry you can reach out to when you are stuck or have a question or need advice on your career growth. 

    I really encourage analysts to know their primary sources. When you land your first research or relationship management job, you are handed a subset of data and a few proprietary tools that filter external data and match it with your subset. Learn how your entire database is constructed so that you know how to interact with it beyond what you have been instructed to do in your new position. Along those same lines, I think it is really important to know what is behind your proprietary tools. Knowing how to read a 10-K, a form 990, a FEC filing, a real estate deed, and a business registration will build your critical thinking skills far faster than just taking the summary or snapshot a tool gives you. When I started in prospect development, my skepticism and critical thinking advanced because I learned the weak spots in the tools we had. I figured out how to discern the quality of information since certain primary sources can be poorly interpreted by those tools. Go learn how to use EDGAR and the FEC database. It will be fun and help you grow!

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

  • Tue, September 06, 2016 8:44 AM | Anonymous member
    By Katherine Ingrao, Assistant Director of Prospect Management, Rush University Medical Center, and APRA-IL Chapter President

    Are you ever curious how a peer institution handles their portfolio reviews? What about their metrics? How do they manage research requests and how in-depth do they go? These questions are natural and one of the main drivers of people to attend large professional conferences and connect with their colleagues. APRA-IL wants to help you connect with your institutional peers and answer your burning questions!!  

    On September 30, 2016, APRA-IL is celebrating our 20th anniversary during our fall conference on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. The concept of our conference this year is collaboration, building networks, and partnerships with your fellow APRA-IL members. As a Board, we wanted to provide a different kind of program that challenged our members to build support systems beyond their organizations. I know some of us get institutional tunnel vision and forget that we have colleagues beyond our office and those can be some of the most helpful and beneficial colleagues to ask for ideas, opinions, and inspiration. I also know that our members are some of the most innovative, generous, and experienced prospect development professionals.

    At each APRA International conference I attend, I’m continually impressed and proud at the contributions that our chapter members provide to our profession and that they are our best representation of who and what APRA-IL stands for. While I’m lucky enough to be a witness to this collaboration at the International level, I feel that we lack that dedicated space, time, and network on the chapter level. Not every member of APRA-IL can attend and benefit from an annual large conference and so it is our goal this year to dedicate our fall conference to creating that same sense of community and collaboration time for our chapter.  

    The program itself will start at 1 p.m. and will be split in three tracks, Prospect Research, Prospect Management, and Data Analytics. Each track will be facilitated by an APRA-IL Board member or volunteer, who will help curate the conversation. We are asking that attendees submit topics, questions, and suggestions on what they would like to discuss with their peers. We want these conversations to be directly beneficial to your current work and allow you the opportunity to share or inquire about the work of your institutional peers within APRA-IL. In order to be prepared for the day, please email your topics, questions, and suggestions to apraillinois@gmail.com. We will include these in your respective tracks and build them into the round table discussions. In addition to submitting your questions, we also ask that you bring materials that you’d like to share i.e. (reports, profiles, charts, etc.). This will increase the depth and quality of our conversations.  

    Since the conference is in a different format this year, we have reduced it to a half day but we have added a celebratory happy hour following, compliments of the APRA-IL Board. Come, collaborate, and then celebrate!
  • Mon, August 29, 2016 9:07 AM | Anonymous member


    By Elisa Shoenberger
    Benchmarking Product Analyst, Grenzebach Glier and Associates

    Dear An

    There are a couple of people at work who keep relying on me to help them with data. Some gift officers keep asking me to make data requests for them. They keep telling me that I do such a good job getting the data they want for their trips, mailings, and more. But it causes a lot of back and forth between our data team and the gift officers. I hate being the middlewoman! And then there are the folks who constantly ask me to add proposals and contact reports into the system. That’s really frustrating since it’s not my data. What do I do?

    Tricky Data Situation

    Dear Tricky Data,

    That is a difficult situation. As prospect researchers, prospect managers, and analysts, we are positioned uniquely in our departments. We analyze data on a daily basis and we work with gift officers to help them be successful in their work.  We may not know the data as well as the Information Systems folks, but we do understand how gift officers will want to use it. We are a bridge between departments.  We also can help the gift officers figure out what data they need if they are lost. We probably know how to fix data points, like proposals, in the system. We speak data and reports.

    But with great power comes great responsibility. The downside is that gift officers may start to rely on us as their sole translator of data as you experienced. We end up getting asked to do data requests for them. Sometimes they start to lean on us instead of learning or figuring it out how to do it themselves. Or they stop talking to the department actually doing the work. They may even ask us to help them add data to the system, specifically proposals and contact reports?

    So how do we combat this? How do we walk that tightrope of being a resource but not doing their work for them? It takes a combination of finesse, assertiveness, and manager buy-in. I would gently encourage them to submit their own data requests. If they ask for assistance, be open to them. Meet with them. But at the end of the day, they need to be the one to submit the data. This makes the gift officer take ownership of the request. You get cut out as the middlewoman. They may still go to you for questions even after they get their data but they should be receiving the data from the data team.  Now, there are some gift officers, notably at the vice president level, where you probably will have to facilitate the data requests at a more granular level but those are special situations.

    With respect to data entry for proposals, it’s even trickier situation. Proposals are critical to an organization; it helps forecast revenue to your organizations. But there are so many aspects to proposals where data can be entered wrong. We may know how to enter a proposal correctly but the data is not ours. It’s the gift officer’s. We don’t know the donors; we don’t know how much we will ask them for money and for what. So we need to put the ball in the gift officer’s court.

    There are a couple ways to help gift officers learn how to fix the data. You can offer to retrain them (and their admins) about proposal entry as often as they need. When people started at my organization, I would do a Prospect Management and Research 101 and then did a follow up one or two months later that focused on proposals. It helped to break up the training like that because new hires may be inundated in the first few weeks with data. Having documentation is also critical to this process! You could suggest an “Office Hours” where gift officers could come and ask questions about proposals. When we did it at my organization, it was helpful to have many gift officers (and their admins) in the room to answer questions that everyone was wondering. It really shows that you are a resource to them.  These are not surefire ways to get perfect proposal entry but it helps remind gift officers that these are their responsibilities. It also helps to have a manager or director who buys into the notion that gift officers are responsible for their own data. They can be a resource to gently remind gift officers to handle their own data.

    Like anything in fundraising, there’s no hard and fast rule. These are some strategies to help but it’s going to be a case by case situation.

    Best of luck to you!

  • Thu, August 25, 2016 11:07 AM | Anonymous member

    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

    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
    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

    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


    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

    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

    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!

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