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  • 05/25/2022 5:15 PM | Apra Carolinas (Administrator)

    Blog post by Amy Jackson, NC Regional Representative. Amy lives in Indian Trail, NC and is assistant vice president of foundation relations and development at Wingate University. She previously worked as grants manager for the Charlotte Symphony and has 8 years of fundraising experience, primarily in the areas of grants management and grant writing, prospect research and prospect management, campaign planning, and donor relations. 

    Prospect Research plays an important role in the success of nonprofit organizations. While the bulk of philanthropic dollars received each year comes from individuals and continues to rise, we are also seeing an increase in the second largest category, giving by foundations. According to the annual report from Giving USA, giving by Foundations in 2020 was $88.5 billion, accounting for 19% of all contributions that year and increasing 17% over 2019.

    Support from foundations serves as a key source of revenue for many nonprofits as they seek to carry out their missions, and private foundations must pay out at least 5 percent of their assets each year in the form of grants and operating charitable activities. So, where do you start with foundation research and what tools are available to help in your efforts?

    Foundation Research Tools

    Candid, formerly Foundation Center and GuideStar, is a wonderful resource and it’s free to use. My favorite things to access via Candid are GuideStar and Foundation Directory Online (FDO). Candid also has some great e-newsletters delivered straight to your inbox to keep you up to date on subject-based philanthropy, links to resources, and funding alerts. GuideStar houses information about every IRS-registered nonprofit organization, including the three most recent 990s. While FDO Pro is a paid tool, many public libraries offer free access to the database. FDO Pro features 140,000+ grantmakers and 11 million+ grants, and it is updated weekly. I would recommend that you watch this free 1-hour tutorial first, and then bring a flash drive with you so you can download search results and profiles for more in-depth research once you are back at your desk. Search here for a library that has FDO Pro near you. FoundationSearch is another database option if you have the budget funds to add it to your shop. Relationship Science (RelSci) (relationship mapping to find board member connections) and iWave (one-stop-shop for prospect research and donor wealth screening), other paid tools, can support your foundation research efforts, too.

    When I’m in FDO Pro or FoundationSearch, I like to narrow my search by looking at foundations with the largest assets, a geographic scope that corresponds with where my organization is located, and a granting category that fits my type of organization. I don’t always exclude foundations that don’t accept unsolicited proposals, because you may be able to connect with those folks in another way. Perhaps you have a board member or individual donor that knows one of their board members or staff members. Another tip is to search for organizations with similar missions to yours to see which foundations are giving to them. Maybe they would be interested in giving to you as well.

    Three additional sites related to foundation research are The Grantsmanship Center, NC Network of Grantmakers, and South Carolina Grantmakers Network. The Grantsmanship Center provides training, publications, technical assistance, and consulting for nonprofits in addition to resources by state, including top giving foundations, community foundations, and corporate giving programs. NC Network of Grantmakers and South Carolina Grantmakers Network serve grantmaking organizations across their respective states. Their news pages are particularly useful for information about staff changes at foundations, grant awards, requests for proposals, and more.

    Digging into 990s

    Foundations are required to submit a Form 990 to the IRS each year. This form contains a slew of helpful information for research purposes. For foundation research, here’s what I look at:

    • Right above the Name of foundation line at the top, the form identifies the foundation’s fiscal year. This is good to know for timing of application purposes and strategy.
    • Next to the name, you can also verify that you have the correct address and grab a phone number if you don’t already have one. Foundations include this information on their website, but there are still a lot of foundations out there without a website.
    • Line I lists the fair market value of the assets. The larger the assets, the more the foundation has to give out to nonprofits each year.
    • Part 1, Line 25 will tell you how much they paid out in grants that year.
    • Skip down to Part VIII for the list of Officers, Directors, Trustees, Foundation Managers, Highly Paid Employees, and Contractors.
    • Part VX, 1 & 2 is important as well since it gives information about foundation managers and grant applications. There’s a check box that lets you know whether or not they accept unsolicited requests as well as the contact person for applications, the format in which applications should be received, submission deadlines, and any restrictions or limitations on grant awards. *Note: If the foundation has a website, there may be more specific, up to date information located there.
    • Last but not least, Part VX, 3 lists out grants and contributions paid during the year or approved for future payment (multi-year pledges). Here’s where you’ll see who they’re funding, for what purpose, and at what amount. This is key in determining what projects they might fund at your organization and the ideal ask range.

    Foundation Profiles

    You’ve done your research and now it’s time to put together a profile. I’ve found the following template to be most effective when sharing prep information with gift officers and/or senior leadership.

    • Foundation name and contact information (address, phone number, website)
    • Foundation Overview (background, mission, vision, etc.; if it’s a corporate foundation, I also include a company overview)
    • Foundation Funding Priorities (areas of focus/grant programs, eligibility guidelines, application timing, etc.)
    • Staff and Board list (with titles, brief bios, connections to your organization, and photos, if available)
    • Giving History for Your Organization
    • Financial/Grant Information (Total assets, total # and amount of grants awarded, list of grants from the most recent fiscal year)
    • Relevant action/contact reports from Advancement CRM and other related notes regarding the foundation and your organization, including most recent ask details, if applicable
    • Recent articles about the foundation or key staff/board members

    Happy foundation prospecting!

  • 04/28/2022 11:11 AM | Daniel Moody (Administrator)

    A big thank you to everyone for taking the time to complete the membership survey which was emailed out in the past couple of months! Your participation helps give us a clearer understanding of things that are being done well, things that may need some tweaking, and areas that we can focus on in the future within the chapter. This year, we received responses from just under 30% of our membership base.

    In this blog post, we’ll share some survey questions and how members responded. Please know that even though this membership survey is a great way to share your thoughts with the chapter, you are more than welcome (and encouraged) to reach out with thoughts & feedback any day of the week throughout the year.


    “What areas of Apra Carolinas provide value to you?

    Overwhelmingly, every single respondent answered ‘Webinars’ as an area which provides value to them. Point taken! The two response that shared second place, both with about three-quarters of respondents answering, were ‘Recorded webinars on Member Resources tab’ and ‘Newsletters.’ Along the same line, members said that the most valuable benefit was ‘Webinars’ at 64% with ‘Conferences’ in a well-earned 2nd place spot at 25%. ‘Recorded webinars’ were once again mentioned with just over 10% of the responses given.


    "What is something that you wish was offered by Apra Carolinas to its member base?”

    Without being able to include every open-ended response, some great feedback was provided such as:

    • “More live educational opportunities via webinar. …”
    • “While Apra International offers a Body of Knowledge feature, it would be incredibly beneficial if Apra Carolinas published a guide, whether through a webinar or blog post, on what a career trajectory in Prospect Research looks like for those who are interested in growing their expertise.” 
    • “More webinars/mentoring on data analysis, modeling, … anything data.”

    A growing interest in recent years is on data analytics, on which this response touches: “More webinars/mentoring on data analysis, modeling, okay anything data.” Data analytics were mentioned several times in the post, but nothing about specific interests. We want to deliver, so we scheduled a roundtable in April to dive in and learn more!

    Members may find it interesting that 39% of respondents indicated that they were members of Apra International and the same number indicated that they were not members. Additionally, close to one-fifth of respondents indicated that they were not currently Apra International members but previously were at one point in time.

    We also asked members how many years they’ve worked in prospect development; an impressive 43% have been working in the field for more than ten years! Following this, 32% in the 3–5-year range and 14% in the 1–3-year range.

    “How interested are you in attending virtual networking?

    Since we’ve become so accustomed to virtual networking in the last couple of years, we made sure to include several questions on the topic. Member responses showed that out of a scale of 1-5, almost 40% gave a response of 3 (mildly interested). When asked what kind of virtual networking should be offered, members overwhelmingly responded with ‘Professional topic led discussion groups’ (82%) and ‘Personal topic led discussion groups’ (46%) followed.  Members indicated that if they haven’t attended a networking event yet, it’s mostly due to scheduling or timing issues.

    On the topic of conferences (Fall conference planning underway!), we asked members if they currently prefer an in-person or virtual setting. Votes were very close with just over half of respondents indicating a current preference for virtual conferences. When asked if they’d be willing to attend if a conference was offered in-person, 61% said yes. Location and schedule conflict were the two greatest obstacles for conference attendance with each vote contributing 33% of the total.

    This year, just over two-thirds  of members indicate that they have a budget for travel and professional development in place. Although this question was not directly asked in 2020, we did receive some responses that cost was a prohibitive factor when considering conference attendance. Thankfully, Apra Carolinas offers a Professional Development Scholarship (congratulations to our 2022 winners - Kelly Kemp & Gillian Hayden!) which may provide financial assistance to those restricted due to budget. Scholarship applications will reopen on January 1st, 2023, on the Apra Carolinas website for any member interested.


    “What topics would you like to see in upcoming programming?” 


    We received numerous help and constructive thoughts in response to this question. These suggestions are taken very seriously and discussed by the board thoroughly in various stages of planning our programming. There are too many to share in this one blog post, so we created a word cloud visualization so that it can be viewed in a fun and different way, highlighting the more frequently mentioned (larger text) subjects.


    Upon wrapping up the membership survey, we wanted to know what else you, the member, wanted to share with us. Those suggestions and comments were shared with the board. We appreciate every single piece of feedback - the gracious compliments, encouraging messages, and everything in between. As mentioned previously, this survey is a good way to assess and improve Apra Carolinas, but our ears are open year-round for any feedback, big or small. The Apra Carolinas board appreciates your participation, and we can’t wait to see you all at the next webinar, networking event, or conference!

    Finally, please join us in congratulating member Michele Tanzosch of Grinnell College for winning the $50.00 Amazon gift card raffle!

  • 03/21/2022 1:22 PM | Apra Carolinas (Administrator)

    Guest blog post by former President-Elect, Allison Kiglics. Allison resides in Wilmington, NC and recently left the prospect development field to work as a Small Business Banking Underwriter for Live Oak Bank. She would love to connect on LinkedIn and is happy to discuss her experience.  

    Prospect Development was a field I fell into. We often hear that from those in the field and, like so many others, I quickly realized I had found home. In 2017 I was hired by my alma mater, the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), as a Prospect Development Analyst. I jumped in with both feet, learning the development world inside and out under current Apra Carolinas president Jennifer Vincent. My first month at UNCW was a total blur. I was learning ethics, terminology, industry norms, and getting to know the development officers and other teammates I would be working with.

    Prospect Development utilized a skill set I had been crafting for years as a wannabe super spy. I had a background in data analytics from my sociology undergraduate studies, and while I enjoyed analytics, I didn’t really want to work in data science full time. I am an introvert, after all. Prospect Development gave me the perfect balance of working alone, working with others, and working with data.

    Jennifer took the role of president-elect with Apra Carolinas, and then received an amazing offer at Blackbaud. I moved into her prospect management role at UNCW, where I oversaw prospect research. When Jennifer moved into the president role of Apra Carolinas, I signed on as the president-elect.

    Like so many others, I began wondering what my next role would be when ‘the great resignation’ hit. I was at the top of the department at UNCW and was the president-elect of Apra Carolinas. There wasn’t much opportunity for me to advance at UNCW; if I wanted growth, I would need to look elsewhere to find it. Left and right, there were remote development jobs being posted as non-profits began to see the advantages of remote employees. I was wrapping up my Master of Science in Business Analytics at UNCW, and it was great timing to start my search. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an opportunity came to me to join the Underwriting team at Live Oak Bank here in Wilmington, NC. I would still get to spy on people (I even get their tax returns!) and I would get to dive even further into my skill set of Business Analytics. I knew it would be a scary change, but the opportunity to join one of the best banks and places to work in Wilmington was one I couldn't pass by. So, I took the scary plunge into the for-profit world, and I have loved every minute of it.

    The work I’m doing at Live Oak is so meaningful. We are almost exclusively a small business banking lender working with Small Business Administration loans. For example, I worked on a loan this week for an existing funeral home owner to acquire a location a few miles away as that owner retires. We were able to finance the loan at 100% because of the SBA program. It’s somewhat parallel to my development career, except now there are loan officers instead of gift officers and a loan servicing team instead of a stewardship team. There are many skills from my prospect development career that served me well to secure the job here at Live Oak. I had a good foundation of financial and business literacy from my prospect development career, which was an asset to this new role. In Prospect Development, we’re always in the middle of different teams; from front line fundraisers, advancement services, stewardship to working with executive leadership. We need to be chameleons, fitting in wherever we go. Adapting to different styles. That skill is transferrable to any career in the private sector.

    We have this joke on the Apra Carolinas board about the “Curse of the President” which came about after several presidents left their term early due to outstanding job offers that pulled them away from the Carolinas or the profession. If you’re wondering if the curse is a myth… join the board and find out for yourself! 

  • 02/01/2022 11:00 AM | Jennifer (Administrator)

    Apra Carolinas Mugshots

    The 2022 Apra Carolinas board recently met for our annual – now virtual – board retreat where we focus on mapping out the year ahead. One area of focus for the board is around engaging with chapter members and helping to make sure you know we are here to support your professional development efforts. During this meeting, we decided to share with you all our favorite mugs and why we love them. There are some recurring themes in our favorite mugs – see if you can spot them!

    Please join us on social media by sharing your favorite mug along with #ApraCarolinasMugshot

    Check out our: Apra Carolinas Mugshots

  • 01/19/2022 7:35 PM | Jennifer (Administrator)

    In a time of great uncertainty, it’s hard to know what lies ahead – but we do know that the world is changing, and philanthropy will certainly change with it. That’s why “Generation Impact: How Next Gen Donors are Revolutionizing Giving” felt like a particularly timely selection for our Apra Carolinas book discussion group. According to the authors, the Gen X and Millennial (and soon Gen Z!) philanthropists are looking to “disrupt” the world of charitable giving.

    What does that mean, for us and for them? Well, here are some key takeaways from the book and questions to ponder moving forward:

    • These donors want to see the IMPACT of their donations (or at least indicators of progress towards a goal).

    Question: How does your organization show the impact of donor gifts? Is there a way that you can communicate that more effectively, especially if your fundraising focus is on something that is hard to quantify?

    • They want to upend philanthropic norms and “change systems, not treat symptoms.”

    Question: Is your organization addressing overarching societal issues (access to healthcare, education, clean water, etc.)? If not, can you show how your organization may help alleviate more systemic problems?

    • They want to focus on fewer organizations rather than spreading their gifts around and would prefer to work with smaller organizations where their donation can have a big impact.

    Question: If you work at a larger organization, how can you highlight specific programs where a philanthropic gift would make a significant (and/or immediate) difference?

    • They are focused on “giving while living” – they want to see their donations working now and are less interested in bequests/estate gifts.

    Question: How can you frame the impact of planned gifts beyond leaving a legacy? (An example might be suggesting that their gift could inspire others in their network to be philanthropic, or that an estate gift could make a larger impact over time than an immediate gift now.)

    • They want to use new approaches to giving beyond standard donations, like impact investing, microloans, and crowdfunding.

    Question: Does your organization offer any of these options? Would it be feasible to work with next gen donors to create fresh funding ideas that appeal to them?

    • They want to help beyond just writing a check – to contribute their time and expertise in meaningful ways and leverage their networks to help as well.

    Question: What options do you have for donor engagement beyond serving on a board or planning/hosting an event? Do you have any experiential learning opportunities or intensive volunteer activities that could allow them to use their skills?

    • They don’t see family giving as a hierarchy. They want to be a member of a multi-generational, multi-branch team that works together, and not just follow the lead of those that came before them.

    Question: How does your organization approach inherited wealth and family giving? Do you engage with children of wealth differently (and separately) from their parents? How can you cultivate and solicit the family in a way that appeals to all its members?

    That’s just some of the highlights. The real-life next gen donor interviews were particularly insightful, though (in my opinion) it would have been helpful to also hear some stories from fundraisers or even family members of different generations and how they have experienced working with these individuals. There will be a learning curve ahead but thinking strategically about these things now will give you a great head start!

    I’d highly recommend reading this book if you’re interested in finding out more. As a member benefit, we are offering copies to the first thirty members that fill out our Google Form. Please do check it out and start planning for the future of fundraising.

    -Merissa Lawson (Immediate Past President, Apra Carolinas)

  • 10/04/2021 8:21 AM | Daniel Moody (Administrator)



    With October as Cyber Security Awareness month, there’s no better time to dive into what it means to be digitally secure and to listen to feedback from experts in the tech-world.  In a constantly moving and advancing digital world, it’s more important now than ever to make sure devices are secure whether it’s for personal or business use. There have been several big-ticket instances in the past few years where malicious scammers have broken through company security forces and held software for ransom, stole sensitive client information, phished passwords from high ranking officials, and various other attacks.

    One might hastily think “were these attacks avoidable?” The answer probably isn’t as easy as just saying “yes,” but using better methods for security from the groundwork up certainly could help reduce risk. Sometimes, these deviant occurrences are unavoidable, and the user or company is targeted for no particular reason. Other times, the user may have inadvertently compromised their own device, or worse yet, their business’ whole system.  Let’s look at some tips that industry experts have offered to prevent these instances from occurring in the first place.




    1.       Xavier Mertens, Freelance Cyber Security Consultant & Owner at Xameco recommends several tips and tricks. For one, he urges users to enable 2-factor authentication if offered by the service. Using a password manager can also help to declutter an old-school notebook for trying to remember all previous passwords and is innately more secure. Xavier also believes users should keep their devices and software as up-to-date as possible. This includes not just phones and computers, but also modems, smart TVs, and any access point that is routinely used. Lastly, Xavier believes that the end user should always ask the question: why? If something might sound too good to be true when a stranger offers something, it probably is. Don’t answer or offer information if you don’t understand the request or if you don’t even know the entity asking.


    2.       Lee Munson, Senior Technical Writer at McAffee believes that the common practice of using the same password for every website and service is an “extremely risk behavior” which can be used by the attacker to have, in essence, “gained access to your entire digital world.” Lee further states that many individuals are too trusting and might click on a link found in an email even if they aren’t familiar with the sender. His advice is to not do this, ever. His last tip for cyber security is to be careful what you are downloading. Since so many downloads are freely available today, users often become a little nonchalant about where they are downloading resources from. Lee says to think twice about where you’re downloading from and to ensure that the website has a ‘padlock’ icon or a URL beginning with https://.

    3.       Kelly Jackson Higgins, the Executive Editor at Dark Reading, strongly encourages all internet users to browse using a VPN connection, or a virtual private network. She believes that this is applicable whether you are using a corporate network, Wi-Fi Network, or a public wired network. Kelly indicates that even though many corporate employers use VPNs for their users, it’s helpful for individuals to use this outside of work as well, even on mobile devices. Kelly agrees with Xavier in that it’s important for users to keep all applications up-to-date with the latest patches and even goes further to say that it can be beneficial to use less-targeted browser option. Ms. Higgins believes that a final key to web security is the creation of a strong and complex password and remembering to change them often and to never reuse them.



    These tips and tricks from industry experts might sound easy, but can just anyone learn how to become more cyber-secure? The answer is yes; not only is there plenty of advice on this topic found through legitimate sources, but there are also courses developed specifically for cyber security. For example, Clark State College offers six free Cyber Security courses offered to any individual interested in advancing their knowledge of cyber security without having to be a student. LinkedIn Learning also offers a free, 30-day trial for courses which include various Cyber Security topics including security & risk management, cloud computing, and the basic foundations of cyber security.


    In one sense, you can view cyber security training and prowess as a benefit to yourself directly, gathering knowledge that will protect your devices and your own wellbeing. However, becoming fluent in cyber security will actually benefit you, your place of employment, your future, your past, and even help to bolster your resume within this digital age where using technology is not a step of the job but a requirement. There aren’t many good reasons to not be knowledgeable about cyber security in the year 2021. Use this month’s blog post as a reminder to update your applications, change your passwords, and do not open any suspicious links!




    Zaharia, A. (2021, May 25). 50+ internet security tips & tricks from top experts. Heimdal Security Blog. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from https://heimdalsecurity.com/blog/security-experts-roundup/.
  • 09/22/2021 10:13 AM | Anonymous

    About 2021’s Professional Development Scholarship Winner: Bridgette Holley, Advancement Researcher and Advisor at HOPE International, was the 2021 Apra Carolinas Professional Development Scholarship winner. She used her scholarship dollars to purchase recorded sessions from Apra University and the PD2020 Virtual Conference.

    About HOPE International: HOPE International is a faith-based non-profit that provides underserved and impoverished individual and businesses with savings services, microloans, and small business loans to restore dignity and break the cycle of poverty in underdeveloped nations.

    About Apra Carolinas Grants & Scholarships: We strive to put professional development in reach of all Apra Carolinas Members, without the limitations of their organization’s professional development budget. The Professional Development Scholarship is a $1,500 award available annually to any Apra Carolinas member to cover professional development by Apra International or Apra Carolinas. Our 2022 Application will open 1/1/2022.

    Additionally, we offer a Road Trip Grant ($300) to cover travel expenses for an Apra Carolinas member to travel to another organization for the day to learn about procedures, a specific project, or some other Prospect Development related topic. In response to COVID, we also opened a membership scholarship; a merit-based scholarship that considers financial need. Awardees will have their annual membership dues covered by Apra Carolinas - unlocking all of the Apra Carolinas programming for the calendar year. Details about these awards can be found on our Scholarships and Grants page.

    The Interview

    Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been doing prospect development?

    Almost four years. My first advancement services role was from 2008 to 2011. I was hired as a prospect research analyst at North Carolina State University along with four other analysts. Our manager was director of prospect research at the time. Before we came on, she was a one-person shop. I was tasked primarily with helping validate the results of a database screening during the public phase of the university’s first $1 billion campaign. I also did research on individuals, corporations, and foundations. There was another division focused on prospect management, so my work was strictly research.

    I joined HOPE International in December 2020, nearly 10 years after my previous experience in prospect development. There is an advisor component to my role, so for the first time, I am involved in consulting with front-line development staff about data analytics and management in addition to research.

    What does prospect development mean to you?

    We all have God-given gifts, talents, and abilities to steward well. I would say the highest area of stewardship is relationship. I define my role in prospect development as helping people grow intentional relationships in a healthy and sustainable way that honors Jesus Christ. I love working with data, particularly making connections, like seeing how patterns in historical data can inform future decision-making.

    How did you use your professional development scholarship?

    I know the value of APRA conferences, having attended, "Envisioning the Future, Leading the Change" in Denver, CO in 2008. Nevertheless, I decided not to attend the virtual conference this year knowing that had nearly a decade of change in the industry to catch up on. I used my scholarship for on-demand learning through APRA University to get up to speed.

    Do you have a favorite on-demand learning session?

    I purchased a few standalone sessions, and a couple of bundled sessions centered around a common theme. My favorite is the 2020 Plug In to Campaigns Recordings Bundle.

    What is one thing your organization is doing really well and you felt affirmed in while viewing any of the sessions?

    There was a session in the bundle about the Importance of innovation, intentionality, and risk in virtual engagement. I felt affirmed that HOPE pivoted exceptionally well as an organization when everything went virtual in 2020. Many of the things discussed have been implemented.

    Is there anything that you’d like to implement at your organization as a direct result of experiencing APRA University?

    Creating a prospect development road map using the pattern from this presentation, basically a framework for change based on input from various stakeholders and observations. Combined with my understanding of agile principles, like the concept of a minimum viable product, it would be a living framework. So you see, some things we might dream of doing could be tried using tools we already have in our hands instead of waiting for the perfect database object.

    How would you recommend that the next recipient of the scholarship use their funding?

    Think about the roadmap of your year. Decide what type of learning is most needed for the short-term so that you can apply it immediately with the hope that its effect will have long-term benefits for you and your organization.

  • 07/14/2021 5:14 PM | Jennifer (Administrator)

    For our July blog post, we wanted to tackle the topic of Donor Advised Funds and talk about the open proposal to change the way these funds function.

    What is a DAF?

    The short answer is a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) is a money-earning holding account focused on charitable contributions that allow a donor to receive an immediate tax benefit, without immediately gifting the money to charity. A donor can contribute assets (e.g., cash, cryptocurrency, liquid assets, etc.) to the account and receive the immediate tax benefit, but the assets remain in the account and are distributed to charitable organizations over time. The donor loses direct ownership of the funds but can advise – over time – where the funds should be distributed. The over time portion is important, because these funds are allowed to grow tax-free within the DAF account. While the DAF can continue to grow, the donor only receives the tax benefits on the amount initially contributed during the tax year the assets were added to the fund.

    Leonardo Dicaprio Cheers Meme - Imgflip

    For example…

    Let’s say a donor was given stock in their company and they are retiring this year. They paid $0 for the stock, which is now worth $25,000. To avoid a capital gains tax of $3,750 they decide to put the stock into the DAF, which nets them a tax deduction of $6,000.[1] These stocks go into the DAF and they can decide when and where they would like to charitably transfer the stock in the future. Conversely, if they sold the stock and gave the proceeds to charity, they would end up being taxed the capital gains ($3,750), the non-profit would only receive $21,250, thus the donor tax deduction would be lowered to $5,100, which nets them a personal tax benefit of $1,350.

    TL;DR …

    (1)    $25,000 → keep → pay $3,750 capital gains tax
    (2)    $25,000 → DAF → receive $6,000 tax deduction
    (3)    $25,000 → sell → pay $3,750 capital gains tax → donate remainder ($21,250) to charity of choice → receive $5,100 deduction (net tax benefit: $1,350)

    DAFs also allow donors to make grants anonymously, though many continue to tie their name to the grants. The important part is that they can contribute to their DAF, receive an immediate tax benefit, and their contribution is set aside solely for charitable uses that they can select for an indefinite period of time.

    DAF grantmaking

    According to the National Philanthropic Trust’s 2020 Donor-Advised Fund Report, for the tenth consecutive year, DAFs grew in every key metric. Grants from DAFs accounted for over $25 billion in 2019, which was a 93% increase from 2015. From 2018 to 2019 the assets held in DAFs increased 16.2% to $141.95 billion. That is nearly 142 billion philanthropic dollars not in the hands of charitable organizations. The average size of a DAF account has continued to decrease since 2016, currently averaging around $162,556. The decrease in average size has been attributed, in part, to DAF accounts gaining in popularity, the emergence of employer-sponsored DAF accounts, and many organizations requiring no contribution minimums. This allows donors to open and maintain accounts at a smaller level.

    The report projects that “grantmaking from DAFs to charitable organizations will continue to grow at an extremely high rate in the next Donor-Advised Fund Report.” It points to the global pandemic response as well as racial justice and other urgent issues from 2020 as a driving force for DAF grantmaking.

    What is changing?

    Currently nothing, but there is an active proposal from the Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving (IACG) which is targeting that over time portion we discussed. The proposal is hoping to free up the money currently sitting in DAFs and close the loophole that allows them to be, in essence, mini endowments. To free up these dollars, the proposal suggests creating two different types of DAF accounts with different tax benefits – sort of like an IRA vs. Roth-IRA account structure focusing on tax benefits rather than penalties.

    1.       15-year DAF: Retains the current tax benefit structure, but the funds must be distributed within 15 years.  
    2.       Aligned Benefit Rule: Allows the funds to be distributed over a longer time frame, but the donor only receives the income tax deduction once the funds have been distributed.

    Why should you care?

    Donors who gift via their DAF have a belief in philanthropy and are likely savvy philanthropists. After all, they set aside a specific amount of money to be used toward philanthropy, and there is no tax advantage to be gained or lost by keeping money in the DAF. So – what kind of difference can they make at your organization by investing in your cause? Almost $142 billion is currently invested in DAFs – imagine the impact a portion of that could make if invested at your organization.

    Looking forward

    Whether or not the IACG proposal is accepted as law, it appears that DAF giving will continue to remain a popular choice among donors. If you do not currently have a plan in place for DAF donors, now is the time to set up and assess fundraising strategies as they pertain to DAF donors.

    Keep in mind, if you send a thank you note, it should go to the donor who advised on the grant rather than the institution holding the grant money. So, if a gift came from Fidelity Charitable from Jane Doe’s DAF, you want the thank you note to go to Jane Doe – but you must make sure to remove any reference to tax deduction. The donor is not eligible to receive another tax deduction for the grant. However, the note is a great chance to get them involved at your organization. After all, they have already told you they are interested in philanthropy (i.e., they have a DAF) and a cause (i.e., where they donated.) Now it is up to you to engage them.

    New options are becoming available to make DAF granting easier for donors. For instance, DAF Direct is a free online application you can add to your giving page that helps donors initiate a grant from their DAF to your online fundraising campaign. Additionally, many organizations target communications specifically to DAF donors, knowing there is likely much more in the account that what has been granted. All of this is dependent on making sure you have a good system in place for tracking your DAF grants and the donors who initiated them.

    How are you tracking DAF grants and donors in your database? Do you steward DAF gifts differently? Do you want to learn more from your peers? Drop us a line on social media or email us at ApraCarolinas@gmail.com to share your process or let us know if you would like to learn more.

  • 05/07/2021 9:24 AM | Jennifer (Administrator)

    “How did you get into prospect development?” is one of my favorite questions to ask anyone in our field. I have yet to meet someone who came into the profession intentionally, rather it seems that most people end up in prospect development through happenstance and pure luck.

    Personally, I wanted to work at a university so I could continue taking classes toward a graduate degree. I applied to anything and everything relevant to my degree and office management experience, but I remember putting stars on the printout of the job description for a Prospect Researcher position, intuitively knowing that prospect research was something that would be a great fit. I had never heard of the profession (or Advancement, if I am being honest), but I knew I loved the idea of solving mysteries and I believed in the power of philanthropy.

    Having worked in the field for over a decade, I have met more than my fair share of researchers. The ones that stick around always seem to have an intuitive way about them – along with a drive to dig deeper and fall into rabbit holes while searching for missing puzzle pieces. When you hire a prospect researcher, you are often hiring someone who has no idea about the profession and building them from the ground up. So, where do you start?

    Local Chapter

    My number one recommendation is to start with your local Apra chapter. If you do not have an active local chapter, be sure to check out the other chapters and join one that fits your professional development budget and goals. You are welcome to join as many chapters as you like, and the cost of the local chapters is much less than that of the larger Apra. It gives you access to local prospect researchers who can help you better understand the intricacies of researching in your area, and it’s easier to attend anything in person if it’s relatively close to where you live. If you have the professional development budget to be a member of a local chapter and the larger chapter, all the better for onboarding; however, you do not need to be a member of the larger Apra to take advantage of many benefits that are ideal for onboarding someone new to prospect development.

    Ethics and Compliance

    On their first day is a great time to introduce your new hire to the Apra Ethics and Compliance Toolkit. This is free to anyone – you do not have to be a member of Apra to access this toolkit – and is the holy grail of prospect development ethical standards. Even as a veteran in the field, you may be asked to do something unethical – this is the place to go to show that while you technically can create a fake social media profile and trick a prospect into accepting a friend request, you won’t do that, as it violates ethical codes of conduct. If you need support for your decision, Apra has your back. When you are onboarding someone new to the field, a great first place to start is with the ethical standards of the profession.

    It’s important to note that this area is not a one-and-done kind of thing; the guidelines change as technology and laws change. Take into consideration the ongoing debate over the usage of Federal Election Commission data in prospecting. Laws changed in 2018 and there is still debate regarding whether or not FEC data can be used when compiling a profile. Note: the current official stance of Apra is that FEC data should not be used in prospecting.


    This leads me to the next stop for any new researcher, which is joining the Prspct-L listservs. Run by Apra, these discussion forums provide invaluable insight into prospect development. Not only can you read what topics are currently trending in the field, but if you have a question in mind, you can also go back and search through the discussions to see if anyone has asked a similar question. Broken into different discussion groups, I like to follow them all by getting an email in the morning with a summary digest of the posts from the previous day – this way my email is not constantly dinging all day, but I’m still getting the discussions and can weigh in on anything of interest. However you prefer to follow ‘the L’, it is a great way for anyone in the field to stay in the know about new topics, services, professional development, and more. It is also an ideal place to ask a question, as you will have access to prospect development professionals from across the world, ready to help out with an answer. (No pressure.)

    Apra Education (Free or Paid)

    Still on the Apra page, be sure to bookmark the Apra Talks, Apra Podcast, and Apra Bytes – all of which are free resources to anyone and they provide insight into prospect development. These can help those new to the field understand the complexity and significance of a career in prospect development. Of course, there are plenty of other professional development opportunities through Apra, if you are with an organization that can provide membership. There is the Apra Fundamentals conference each year that is ideal for those new to the field, as well as the larger PD conference each summer. There is something powerful about joining a large group of prospect development professionals and networking yourself into a group of knowledgeable individuals who can serve as a baseline for any question or policy change you may be considering. This can also be achieved locally through your local Apra chapter, though on a smaller scale.

    Free Training

    As our field is gaining traction, there are learning opportunities popping up in unexpected places. Coursera, which offers free courses on a wide variety of topics, actually has two sections that delve into Prospect Research! These particular classes provide a general overview of the profession with development as the primary audience. These courses on prospect research are part of the larger Major and Principal gift development curriculum, which can give those new to the profession valuable insight into development. Are you looking for training on a specific topic? Try a Google search to see if you can find free training – or better yet, have your new hire do the search. Google is about to become their go-to for all questions, so they might as well get comfortable.   

    Paid Training

    For those looking for more interactive training, the Prospect Research Institute, run by Jennifer Filla, provides an exceptional mix of paid and free resources and training. If you are someone starting a prospect research department without a background in the field, this would be an ideal place to go. They offer classes that can get you up and running quickly in the field, all for a reasonable price. They also provide networking and a support system, to ensure you have all of your questions answered. If you are brand new to prospect research, you may not know that Jennifer Fila and Helen Brown literally wrote the book on Prospect Research for Fundraisers.

    Blogs and Resource Libraries

    Speaking of Helen Brown, her website offers a fantastic blog and growing library of prospect research resources and tools. If you are looking for additional free resources for prospect research, be sure to check out the Apra Carolinas blog outlining our board members favorite free resources, as well as some unexpected ways to use them.

    Service Trainings

    If that hasn’t kept your new hire busy enough during onboarding, keep in mind that most of the software that you use also has training that can be accessed for free. Services such as Foundation Directory Online/Candid, LexisNexis, ResearchPoint, etc. all have free training available within them to get your new researcher up to speed on how to use the products. Whatever services you may use, take a moment to find a link to their training modules and have your new researcher learn from the product how it should best be used. Chances are, they may learn a new trick and pass it along to you!

    Even if you are not a client of the prospect research services (e.g., iWave, DonorSearch, Blackbaud, etc.), you can utilize their webinars, white papers, blog posts, and podcasts. By submerging a new hire in prospect research, it may seem a little overwhelming at first, but these resources help show someone new to the field that this is an exceptional career they have stumbled upon.

    What did we miss? What resources are your go-to when onboarding someone new to the field? Be sure to comment on social media or send us an email to let us know!

    If you are not a member of Apra Carolinas and would like to be, we offer a Membership Scholarship for anyone in North or South Carolina who may be unable to afford the $35 to join. Once you are a member, you can apply for other scholarships to unlock additional professional development funding. Members are able to attend all virtual content for free, receive discounts on in-person conferences, and all of our past recorded webinars are freely available to members on the Member Resources tab. We hold monthly networking sessions open to anyone and strive to provide professional development content aligned with the needs of our members.

  • 03/23/2021 10:59 AM | Jennifer (Administrator)

    Did you attend the fantastic Excel Wrestling 101 webinar by Katie Stanhagen from Western Carolina University? This was our first webinar of the year and it was extremely popular! Remember members, you can catch a recorded version of it on the exclusive Members Resources tab on our website! Katie covered a LOT of material, and the entire webinar was done within Excel – even her agenda! 

    We wanted to cover a few of the tips in the blog this month – what do you want to hear more about? Reach out and let us know!

    Conditional Formatting

    Conditional formatting is one of my favorites and I never used it to find duplicates until Katie’s webinar! Personally, I am a big fan of using conditional formatting on custom scores with color scales of a classic Green-Yellow-Red of a stoplight. When development officers are looking at a list and they see custom scores with three green lights, that means they are cruising along on their way to a major gift!

    One of Katie’s tips was to use conditional formatting to highlight  your duplicates, then sort based on the formatting color. In case you didn’t know, sorting by cell color is another fantastic tip and trick in Excel!

    You can also use conditional formatting to add an icon to your values, which can be formatted in many ways. As with any of these tips and tricks, the most important factor in determining what to use is deciding what you want to show with your data. Are you trying to highlight proposals of a specific value? Are you wanting to compare one value to another? There are so many possibilities and it’s easier than you think!


    A fast and easy way to narrow down a spreadsheet is to use filters. When you apply a filter to your spreadsheet, you can select the data in any column and filter out the rest. For instance, let's say you have a giant spreadsheet of all donors and you want to filter down to only those assigned to a certain fundraiser – click filters and use your fundraiser name column to select the name of the one you are wanting to focus. Perhaps you want to find only prospects living in a specific state – you can do that by using your filters.

    Filters are a fast and easy way to break down lists – but it can lead to issues if you forget which columns are currently filtering or if you want to start copy/pasting blocks of data. If you are wanting to narrow down a list to work from, or share with development, you may want to turn your spreadsheet straight into a pivot table.

    For many projects, simply filtering the data down will give you a quick idea of what to do next. Another tip: When you apply a filter, look to the bottom left corner of the spreadsheet, and it will give you a count of how many rows of data remain on the filtered list versus how many are in the entire spreadsheet.   


    Do you have a perfect database with reporting that meets all your needs? (I’ll wait while you grab a tissue to dry your eyes from laughter or sorrow.) Don’t worry, you are in good company. If you are trying to merge data from different spreadsheets using a unique column they all have in common (e.g., ID number), VLOOKUP can help you locate data in a vertical column, HLOOKUP can help you locate data in a horizontal row, while XLOOKUP can find the value anywhere in the spreadsheet. XLOOKUP is the newer, better, search function that will allow you to search for a value anywhere in the spreadsheet.

    Anyone who has used VLOOKUP knows that it will often return an error if the data isn’t sorted in the right way or if the return value isn’t located in the right place in the spreadsheet. XLOOKUP allows you to return data that is to the right or left of your search data and will search both horizontally and vertically, essentially combining HLOOKUP and VLOOKUP and then making it even better. If you don’t know how to do any of these, just learn XLOOKUP and skip the others.

    XLOOKUP can help you create a single report when you are trying to merge several different exports of data … and/or when you need to fill in a column that gets added to a report after you’ve already formatted the first report and your boss asks you why you didn’t XYZ in your report. All you need is that common unique identifier, like their ID number, and you can use that factor to take data from one list and insert it into another.

    In one example from the webinar, Katie had a list of constituent names and IDs in one spreadsheet and a list of IDs with a ton of data in the other spreadsheet. She showed how to use XLOOKUP to match the ID numbers in the spreadsheets and bring the constituents names into the larger data spreadsheet.

    Pivot Tables

    We can spend an entire webinar on pivot tables (more on that soon!) which are my personal favorite tool. Pivot tables take your spreadsheet of data and allow you to break it down in meaningful ways. Dashboards are basically data visualizations and pivot tables and data visualizations from pivot tables. The best part is that they are EASY to do! In the webinar, Katie broke down a portfolio by the prospect capacities, which allows you to quickly visualize not only the number of prospects within each stage, but what stage each prospect is in, based on their capacity level. We were quickly able to see that there was a solicitation coming for 1 prospect with a $5m+ capacity as well as 4 prospects with $2.5m - $5m capacity who are almost at solicitation.

    With most versions of Excel, you can simply double-click a number in the pivot table and that will generate a list of the data behind those numbers. Want to see the 81 names in Late Cultivation? Simply double-click the 81 in the pivot table and a new sheet will appear showing those names. For more robust pivot capabilities - looking at you KPIs - you may want to turn on Power Pivot in Excel. To do that, simply go to File → Options → Add-ins → Select Power Pivot for Excel → OK

    While you’re activating Add-ins, I suggest you go ahead and activate the Power Map, Data Streamer, and Analysis ToolPak.

    Even without the complexity of Power Pivot, pivot tables are extremely useful for visualizing data and you can add several pivot tables to a single sheet.

    Once you have pivot tables, you can take it a step further by adding pivot charts with filters and sliders - which will quickly adjust all the pivot charts according to specific criteria.

    For instance, if you've pulled out all development portfolios with prospect status, you may want to add graphs to show how many of their prospects are within each stage to determine pipeline flow. Another graph to show open proposals. Perhaps another one that shows proposals that have closed in the past 30 days (celebrate successes!) Then you can create a slider which will allow you to select an individual development officer, which will drill all of your charts down to only their data. That way, with one report you have the option to view everything in the pipeline, then drill in to each individual development officer, or focus on development teams, all without leaving your single spreadsheet in Excel. 

    We are working toward getting another webinar on the schedule to address your pivot table questions and – as always – please reach out and let us know what you would like to learn more about. We are here to help you excel at all that you do! 

    PS: There were many instructive visuals included in the making of this blog, but the size limit to post required their removal. Thank you for reading! 

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