Our 2020 virtual Fall conference was a smashing success! 76 unique attendees – an Apra Carolinas conference record – heard from presenters across the country on four important and timely topics. Recaps of the sessions follow; if you missed any, Apra Carolinas members can check out the recordings on our new Member Resources page!
October 7th – Leadership Annual Giving Panel
Mandy Baker Queen, Associate Director of Development, NC State University
Molly Moriarty Russell, Associate Director, Annual Giving, the Oregon State University Foundation
Drew Phillips, Assistant Director for Discovery and Pipeline Development, the Oregon State University Foundation
Allison Kiglics, Prospect Development Manager, UNC Wilmington
Summary by Moderator, Emily Hinz, Apra Carolinas Treasurer, UNC Charlotte
Leadership Annual Giving (LAG) and Leadership Annual Giving Officers (LAGOs) have become increasingly important to many institutions’ donor retention and pipeline development in recent years. For its first session of the Fall 2020 conference, Apra Carolinas gathered an expert group of panelists to talk about the subject. Leadership annual giving is very different from major giving in many respects. For one thing, with a gift size in the $1,000 - $2,500 range, a pool of prospective prospects could be huge. For another thing, a LAG prospect can move through the entire portfolio cycle – from qualification to solicitation to stewardship – in a single phone call.
Despite these differences, prospecting and portfolio management is much the same as with major giving. Work with LAGOs to understand their goals and desired outcomes in order to be able to come up with the best prospects. Use data points like affinity, giving history, and event attendance to build your lists. Metrics for LAGOs are not that different from major gift officers, and looking to the dollar amount raised is always a good measurement for success.
Ultimately, when launching a leadership annual giving program at any institution, collaboration between prospect research and annual giving staff is critical. Clarifying goals, expectations, criteria, and tracking methods on both sides of the prospect development process is the best way to ensure the program’s success.
October 14th – AI & Machine Learning: The Impact on Prospect Research
Presenters: Cecelia Poplin and Sarah TeDesco, DonorSearch
Summary by Emily Glesias, Apra Carolinas NC Regional Rep, Novant Health
Our presenters, Cecelia Poplin and Sarah TeDesco from DonorSearch, couldn’t have said it better: between the pandemic, recession and unrest, 2020 has truly been a confluence of crisis. What this means for us in nonprofits is that there are new (and sometimes further exposed) pain points within our organizations. The key takeaway was that there’s a LOT of data out there in cyberspace ready to be leveraged; companies and for-profit organizations have been and continue to use this consumer data for nearly every decision they make using emerging artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Nonprofit organizations have not begun to tap into the potential of AI like the private sector but, nearly 83% of those surveyed in 2018 believe that it would improve efficiency, according to Harvard Business Review.
This is where a nonprofit-centric tool like DonorSearch comes in: the use of AI, predictive modeling and scoring, as well as machine learning and can help advance your ability to do large-batch prospect screenings, deliver rankings and key philanthropic indicators in a timely and meaningful way. A research tool that has the capability to cross-reference your organization’s unique data points to millions of other donors and non-donors within the US is only beginning to bridge the gap for nonprofit organizations to finally leverage the same vast amounts of data that the private sector already uses. To take it a step further, tools like DonorSearch that feature an application programming interface (API) can allow you to connect to any available endpoint within your data or tools to deliver profiles and key data points and summaries which can be automated or triggered to run automatically saving you and your organization time to focus in on your mission and prioritize your donor acquisition strategy. The future of data is huge – and happening now – it’s up to nonprofits to keep up with their private sector counterparts and join in on big data if they’re going to stay savvy.
October 21st - The True Final Frontier: Corporate and Foundation Research and Relationship Management
Presenter: Megan Tedeschi, Deputy Director of Prospect Intelligence, UNICEF
Summary by Mimi Slade, Apra Carolinas Treasurer, Central Carolina Community Foundation
For the third session of the Apra Carolinas fall conference, Megan Tedeschi spoke on the topic of corporate and foundation giving (or relations, CFR for short). While individual philanthropy was down 6% the first quarter of 2020 (per the Chronicle of Philanthropy), foundations are stepping up to fill in the gap, and some companies have been able to survive and thrive during this challenging time. With institutional funding on the rise, it’s worth the time to build great relationships with the gift officers who focus in this area.
How can we find these corporations that might be interested in partnering with our organization? PD professionals need to understand fundraisers and know exactly what they are looking for? Set up news alerts for top prospects or funding topics, and look into relationship mapping to be able to understand where your organization’s connections are.
To help fundraisers understand a CFR prospect, try tailoring a specific template for organizations; delivering content beyond the 990; providing a strategy recommendation; or sharing relationship mapping. An important part of Megan’s profiles is a capacity rating – check out the recording for the details of how Megan comes up with those in the CFR space!
When it comes to relationship management, keep in mind that CFR prospects are unique in some respects. You must tailor departmental metrics/KPIs specifically for CFR. Just as with major giving portfolios, regular reviews are helpful for CFR, but different metrics may need to be considered.
October 28th: What’s DEI Got To Do With It?
Presenter: Chandra Montgomery, University of Southern California
Summary by Rachael Dietrich Walker, Apra Carolinas Education Chair, Western Carolina University
The final session of the conference touched on the incredibly important and timely topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Our presenter was Chandra Montgomery, Director of Health Sciences Prospect Development and co-chair of the DEI Council at the University of Southern California, a nationally known speaker on DEI topics, and a member of Apra International’s inaugural DEI Committee. Chandra began by giving us a common vocabulary to use, providing definitions of diversity, equity, equality, and inclusion that attendees said helped to illuminate the topic for them in ways it hadn’t been before. The key lesson here, in Chandra’s impactful words: “Diverse” is an adjective. People are nouns.
With a baseline understanding of the concepts, Chandra moved into discussing how they affect our work in development: from creating awareness our biases in pipeline development and algorithms, to working to be more inclusive in everything from our language to our affinity groups, to looking beyond the usual suspects for major and principal gifts. Next, she gave some suggestions for strategizing around DEI implementation: “easy” wins like pronoun inclusivity and a DEI values statement, an implementation arc from aspiration to action to accountability, and the suggestion that an organization should “plan for DEI like you’d plan for a campaign.” Her recommendation for the entire process: “get comfortable being uncomfortable.” She finished by providing resources for both theory and practice, as well as some DEI resources in the Carolinas, including the Foundation for the Carolinas, NC Center for Nonprofits, and the Racial Equity Institute in Greensboro. Attendees came away with lots to think about and a great toolkit for turning these thoughts into practice. Chandra was an incredibly powerful speaker on this crucial topic.
October 30th: Post-Conference Coffee Chat
We wrapped up the conference with our monthly networking chat to discuss the takeaways of conference attendees from our various sessions – and to announce our Apra Carolinas Chapter Award Winners! This year’s Professional of the Year is Lauren Mullis from the University of South Carolina, and the Distinguished Service Award recipient is Merissa Lawson from Elon University, our chapter President.
After the award announcements, our feedback began with the Leadership Annual Giving Panel. The topic was very relevant and attendees enjoyed having the mix of researchers and gift officers on the panel. It was helpful to think about having goals and metrics for establishing a Major Gifts pipeline. It’s important to have someone thinking about LAG as it tends to be a gap where prospects aren’t really addressed in a dedicated way.
We then shifted to discussing the DEI webinar (Chandra Montgomery). The idea that we should be focused on why diversity is important and what it would add to a team, board, or council, rather than addressing it as a “box to be checked” was thought-provoking. Giving expectations around boards and councils can be too much of a focus when populating those roles and how that may adversely affect who is included. Attendees mentioned that they had attended other DEI sessions but our speaker “synthesized the information so well.”
Finally, we discussed lessons learned from the Corporation and Foundation Relations webinar (Megan Tedeschi). It was helpful to hear that researchers should be focusing less on information gathering and more on analysis and strategy with these prospects. One person said that they’re interested in working on capacity analysis for corporations and foundations after this session; another said that they would be developing a program to pass along grant information discovered during research to faculty members. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to discuss the AI & Machine Learning presentation.
That wraps up our 2020 Apra Carolinas Fall Conference. Thank you to everyone for your attendance and participation!