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  • 11/20/2020 8:57 AM | Apra Carolinas (Administrator)

    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!

  • 09/15/2020 9:44 AM | Apra Carolinas (Administrator)

    Margaret Valyou (Assistant Director of Prospect Development, Research & Strategy at NC State University) is the recipient of the 2020 Apra Carolina’s Professional Development Scholarship. The scholarship can be applied to any professional development activity offered by Apra Carolinas or Apra International. Margaret used the funds to attend this year's virtual Apra PD Conference in August. She shared the following impressions of her experience through a Q&A session:

    Tell me a little about yourself. How long have you been in prospect development?
    I’m originally from New York State and moved to North Carolina to pursue an MPA degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. Once I realized that warm spring weather could come as early as February in the South, I was hooked and never moved back north! I’ve worked in the Office of Prospect Development at NC State University for 11 years. Prior to that, I worked at several nonprofits in various fundraising operations roles.

    What did you think of the virtual format of the conference?
    This is the first virtual conference I’ve attended. Overall, it worked out well for me. I enjoyed having options for how much live interaction I wanted in a day. There seemed to be enough flexibility to accommodate both introverts and extroverts, while providing similar networking opportunities that you would find at an in-person conference. I also appreciated the breaks that were built into the schedule. Multiple hours of virtual sessions can be tiring on your body and mind.

    Have you attended Apra PD before this year?
    Yes, several times over the years I’ve worked at NC State.

    Why did you choose this conference in particular?
    A co-worker had previously won the Apra Conference registration in a prize drawing (thank you Apra Carolinas!) but was no longer available to attend. So, I was fortunate to be able to transfer the registration and attend in her place.

    Did you have a favorite session?
    I enjoyed the keynote presentation by Frank Sesno and the parallels he drew between his work and our industry. Some meaningful takeaways for me were:

    - “The key is not necessarily the first question asked but the follow up question/s.”

    - “When you pose a question to others you create a partnership, you invite others into the dialogue, you give them a sense of ownership.”

    - His suggestions on how to structure a successful discussion

    The Corporate and Foundation Research and Relationship Management session by Megan Tedeschi was also interesting because she walked through how her shop determines capacity on organizations, which is always a great topic. It was helpful that she outlined several options and described the methodology. [Editor's Note: We're glad you enjoyed it, Margaret! Megan will be presenting that session for us as part of our Apra Carolinas fall conference, so plan to register if you missed it at PD!] 

    Did you notice any common themes throughout the sessions? The idea of how much/what kind of data to collect and then what to do with it once you have it – in terms of ethical data use, privacy regulations, and diversity/inclusion – was an overall theme referenced in most of the sessions I attended.

    Did anything unique stick out about this conference as compared to others you’ve attended?

    As you might expect, the uncertainty and urgency spawned by the pandemic and social injustice protests were at the top of most people’s minds at this conference.  

    Is there one thing that you’re committed to making happen at your organization as a direct result of attending the conference? I had already been thinking about the idea of diversity in prospect pools. How do we increase diversity within the research process of identifying suspects when we’re working on a data level and dealing with data points, not people with individual characteristics? There were a couple conference sessions that touched on this and gave me some different ways to think about it, so I’ll definitely be continuing down that road. [Editor's Note: We will also be hosting a wonderful session on DEI at our fall conference, so stay tuned for more details!] 



  • 07/28/2020 9:19 AM | Apra Carolinas (Administrator)

    Firstly, the Apra Carolinas board would like to thank each and every one of our members for participating in this membership survey. We received responses from roughly one-third of our membership at 32%. Drawing from these excellent and detailed responses, it becomes possible to be strategic and find ways to bolster the chapter both in resources provided and engaging our membership base.

    The survey responses indicate a broad spectrum of reasons as to why one became a member of Apra Carolinas in the first place, ranging from “I was encouraged by my supervisor to join” to “Professional development, networking” and more than one response of “I wanted to be informed about best practices.” Similarly, members saw the benefits of joining the chapter in “order to compare notes, trade tips, educational opportunities, and share information.” The responses to these two questions convey that our members are eager to learn & connect with others and continue to be updated with the latest relevant information.

    Following these two questions, we asked our members what they were hoping to gain from being a member of Apra Carolinas. Responses were once again thoughtful, such as “To better myself as a researcher through growth of skills” and “Education through webinars/conferences and connections to others in my area.” Subsequently, we asked what benefits had they already gained from being a member and received responses of …

    • Networking
    • Professional development
    • Webinars, Virtual Content
    • General knowledge in the field

    Our questions regarding conferences showed us that location can be an issue; cost and scheduling conflicts have also prevented some members from attending. Fortunately, we are planning a virtual fall conference in October with events spread over several dates in order to make this more feasible for conference participants. Apra Carolinas members will be able to attend this conference free-of-charge.

    Members had various expectations for conference material including learning tips & tricks, high quality content, and good speakers. These results tell us that conferences are still very much desired and from different perspectives. In regards to conferences, we asked our members where they’d like to see Apra Carolinas conferences take place once travel is possible. Suggestions included the South Carolina cities of Charleston, Greenville, and Bluffton. North Carolina areas volunteered were Charlotte, the Piedmont Triad, and the Research Triangle.

    With the pandemic in full swing, we thought it would be prudent to ask which virtual ways members would like to connect with each other, resulting in an overwhelming vote for Webinars, followed by Roundtables and Happy Hours. In line with these interests, we have a great webinar scheduled for August 12th centered around social media data and making it a meaningful resource. We have held two Happy Hours and a Coffee Break (another soon in August) and a roundtable discussion is currently being constructed to present at our virtual fall conference. Make sure not to miss these offerings!

    We also asked members for something that they wished our chapter provided that isn’t currently in place. Many of our members responded that nothing else is needed, a big compliment which we appreciate! Several responses offered suggestions of mentorships groups, micro gatherings, and a forum or listserv. These are all recommendations that we will take into consideration for the upcoming year. The next question was “What is your favorite go-to resource for prospect development?” Prospect L Listserv was the leading choice, followed by iWave PRO. We’ll be sure to pass along the compliment to iWave, one of our generous sponsors!

    Thanks to those working hard behind the scenes, the Apra Carolinas website received a facelift and has recently been updated with a fresh new look. Regarding the design, a majority of the responses showed an overall positive response to the changes. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, please visit us at https://apracarolinas.wildapricot.org/.

    In regards to our overlap with Apra International, the majority of our members are involved with both. It may help to know that Apra International will be offering discounted memberships for new members in 2021, so we’ll keep you posted with more details! We are pleased to learn that an impressive 44% of our member base have been working 10+ years in prospect development! The next largest group goes to those working for 3-5 years at 22%. This is very helpful for us to know as we plan programming for our conference sessions, webinars, and networking sessions. We’ll do our best to try and provide content that appeals to a range of experience levels.

    In the concluding section, we had asked our members if they would be willing to serve as a resource for the Road Trip grants, which is an opportunity for members to visit other members for professional development. We are happy to report that 31 members responded that yes, they would be willing to serve as a resource. Thank you for your willingness to share your time and expertise!

    We were very happy to learn more about you, the member, from our final question “What is one thing in prospect development that you would like to learn more about?” We were able to see that research, new trends, regional development programs, prospect management meetings, and many more interests are potential areas in which to grow. As always, we are constantly working to provide the best opportunities for our members so we will refer to these topics when we plan upcoming content. We are currently working on a multi-chapter collaborative conference for Spring 2021 so we appreciate all of the excellent ideas.

    Thank you once again for participating in our membership survey. The responses help us to provide more opportunities and better content, benefiting all of our members and the field as a whole!

  • 03/11/2020 2:48 PM | Apra Carolinas (Administrator)

    The latest from Apra Carolinas Blog Post Editor Ashley Smith -- an interview with Jennifer Vincent:

    As prospect researchers and managers, we have developed amazing skills in research, writing, and analysis. What would it be like to take these tools of our trade and move from our ivy towers and nonprofits into the private sector? Jennifer Vincent, formerly at UNC Wilmington (UNCW), made that transition last year when she accepted a newly created position at Blackbaud. In this interview, she shares her experiences working for a private company and offers insights to anyone who may be contemplating a move into a new industry.   

    What led you to make the switch from working in higher education to working in the private sector?

    I fell in love with prospect research and management and didn’t really intend to leave the field; however, it began to feel like I was running out of room for growth after spending almost 12 years at UNCW. Several years ago, I began seeking other challenges in the prospect development field, such as serving on the Apra Carolinas board and presenting at conferences. Last summer when I was presenting at Apra PD, I received the offer from Blackbaud to join their organization in a newly created role, Competency Solutions Engineer. I have a degree in psychology, and my position gives me the opportunity to utilize the skills I acquired in statistics and analytics. It also allows me to stay connected to the nonprofit world – especially to prospect development – and work closely with higher education organizations across the world.

    Does your current role with Blackbaud share any commonalities with your previous position at UNCW?

    Yes! The challenges of account executives are similar to challenges of front-line fundraisers. I’m lucky to work in a more consultative role, where I support the sales teams, much like I supported frontline fundraisers with managing their proposals. I work with the sales teams much like prospect management. I help them identify who the good prospects are, who might be best to contact, review their opportunities, and try to help them meet fiscal year targets and goals. All of that is very similar to what I was doing in prospect management. The main difference is that now I’m the one on the calls with the prospects as we discuss the needs and goals of their organization to best figure out what software solutions are the right fit. I’m still helping nonprofits with major gift fundraising, but through the tools Blackbaud has developed.

    What have been some challenges with the transition?

    Not only am I a relatively new employee at Blackbaud, I’m also new to the private sector. I worked at UNCW for over a decade, so I knew the people and campus community well. I was fortunate to help build the prospect development department, which allowed me to intimately know the ins and outs of the profession. If I didn’t have an answer, I had the knowledge and freedom to create one. With a well-established new employer and a new industry, there are many times where I feel like I’m playing catch up as I learn the products and the systems. Add to that, my colleagues use a lot of acronyms, and I’ve had to create a glossary to help me communicate more effectively. It can be rather confusing, but I love a good challenge.

    What have been some benefits with the transition?

    The opportunity to work remotely! I love having a flexible work schedule and work attire based almost entirely of athletic clothing and blue jeans. I also find it very satisfying to have a job that helps prospect development professionals in lots of different organizations find solutions to problems they’re encountering. I like figuring out what products to recommend to best fit their unique needs. I’ve always loved puzzles, so now I get paid to solve them. While it may seem lonely to work remotely, I am fortunate to spend my days talking about analytics and fundraising with dedicated professionals from all over. Not to mention, I get to continue my relationships with my colleagues at UNCW, while fitting into a brand-new team of fantastic teammates. And yes, the pay and benefits are a big bonus to working in the private sector.

    What do you wish you had known about the move from public to private sector before starting at Blackbaud?

    While I knew that job stability in the private sector is less secure compared to state and nonprofit jobs, I didn’t really understand how quickly things can change. I might be great at my job, but if my position doesn’t add value, it can be eliminated. Assuming I’m a good employee, I could likely find another role, but there’s not a guarantee that it would be a next step I wanted to take.

    What advice would you give to prospect analysts who may be considering a career switch from nonprofit to for-profit employment?

    If you are considering a job in the private sector, be aware that you’re probably going into a faster paced, less secure job environment. Everything happens very quickly; emails are instantly returned, chats are flying in, appointments appear on your calendar – you might start the day with nothing on your calendar and find yourself in back-to-back meetings with entire projects transformed. You might find that you work more hours during the week, which happened to me. Part of the reason for that is I work remotely, so I don’t have the office banter at the water cooler. Additionally, I feel more accountable to the company because I’m not physically going into an office. It’s not uncommon for me to pop in at night to make headway on a project, because I’m more likely to focus without the emails and chats pinging me. That said, you can look forward to the freedom of a long lunch with friends or the ability to go to your kid’s school for a class project. I feel very fortunate to work for a company that values philanthropy and volunteering. They encourage (and incentivize) employees being active in their community. Additionally, Blackbaud wants its customers to be beyond satisfied with the products and services they’re receiving, and my role is to help amplify customer delight to 11 so to speak. Focusing on helping nonprofits helps me feel the warmth I felt while working at a nonprofit, with the additional benefits of the private sector.

  • 02/21/2020 11:42 AM | Apra Carolinas (Administrator)

    We have some new additions to the Apra Carolinas Board for 2020. As we prepare for another great year, please take a moment to get to know these fantastic volunteers and be sure to give them a warm welcome when you see them at an Apra Carolinas event!


    Daniel Moody, Advancement Research Analyst at High Point University

    ·       How many years have you worked in fundraising/prospect research?: I’ve worked in the Prospect Research field for an admittedly short but strong 8 months. I’m looking forward to the 1-year mark in June!

    ·       Briefly summarize your background: Preceding my current position at High Point University, I was an adjunct professor of Sociology. During this time, I was heavily involved in academic research and worked on various projects contributing my use of statistical and theoretical knowledge.

    ·       What inspired you to join the board?: The employee that previously held my very position, McKenzie Diehm, spoke highly of Apra Carolinas which facilitated my joining the group. After attending the Fall conference at WCU, I was very impressed with the individuals and knowledge involved and knew that I could contribute to the success of the organization and field of prospect research. Becoming a Board Member, and specifically Membership chair, would help to facilitate this.

    ·       What are you most proud of in your work?: Besides finding top prospects for our Advancement officers, I’m proud of always fulfilling and going beyond what’s asked of me even if it’s outside of my comfort zone and I need to learn new subject matter to successfully complete the task. I’m also a fan of the maxim “proud but never satisfied” and I believe that I reflect this in my daily work.

    ·       Do you have favorite research tool, site, or trick you can share?: Truthfully, I think the combination of various research tools is what makes me happiest as a prospect researcher, i.e. a main screening tool, obituary databases, reverse phone/address search, geographic wealth ZIP code areas, CEO salary calculators, etc. I’m a big fan of the ReferenceUSA tool for determining estimated business revenue (from InfoGroup) that our library subscribes to. Also – Steve Grimes’ Wealth Open Data Dashboard is an excellent free tool.

    ·       What is your bucket list vacation destination and why?: I would really like to visit Greece. I’m not sure that I could pinpoint a specific reason, but there’s a wealth of culture, scenery, and history that I’d love to someday experience.


    Emily Glesias, Prospect Research Management Supervisor at Novant Health

    ·       How many years have you worked in fundraising/prospect research?: This year will be four!

    ·       Briefly summarize your background: I have been with Novant Health Foundation for four years – first as the database management specialist and now as the prospect research supervisor. My love for fundraising and nonprofit work began in college when I interned with the New England Aquarium in Boston, MA working on development and grant-writing.

    ·       What inspired you to join the board?: As a member, I really enjoyed the educational opportunities that Apra Carolinas offered and wanted to not only network with other researchers but also learn from them and gather as much wisdom as I could when I first started out. Joining the board was an exciting next step for me because I wanted to grow within the chapter and have a seat at the table (quite literally!) when deciding what the future holds for us, as well as giving input on all of the fantastic resources and educational opportunities in store!

    ·       What are you most proud of in your work?: My team is very new and we’ve spent a majority of our time and energy creating brand new processes that are both thoughtful and efficient for prospect research management. I’m so proud of how far we’ve come in the last few years from a buy-in standpoint from all of our other foundation team members, as well as the work we’ve done in implementing prospect data analytics and data management policies for our donor database. I love being able to use our work every day to showcase how remarkable our foundation team’s efforts are and the impact of what they’re accomplishing in our facilities and communities.

    ·       Do you have favorite research tool, site, or trick you can share?: Since we have six market foundations our team supports, and most of them are in NC, I use the NC State GIS site library often. It’s a quick and easy spot to find all NC county property maps without having to click through a bunch of bookmarked pages! I also use the NC Voter Search site to confirm residency, too since NC voter information is available to the public unlike some other states.

    ·       What is your bucket list vacation destination and why?: Ooh, I can’t pick just one! I’ve always been a big fan of genealogy and mapping family trees (big surprise I enjoy prospect research)! Recently, I’ve wanted to plan a heritage trip to trace my lineage back to an ancestral home or region. I have a lot of family that’s from all over Europe and the UK but, I would first love to trace back my family from Ireland and travel there. The origins of my last name are also a big family mystery – we’ve always said it’s Spanish but there’s no evidence – so, finding where it comes from would be exciting too!


    Emily Hinz, Prospect Development Analyst at UNC-Charlotte

    ·       How many years have you worked in fundraising/prospect research?: I joined the prospect research team at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in May, 2017.

    ·       Briefly summarize your background: Before coming to Charlotte, I worked as a Donor Stewardship Specialist for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in my hometown of Williamsburg, Virginia. A small portion of my time there was shared with prospect research, which peaked my interest in the field. I graduated from Christopher Newport University in 2016 with a BA in English, and got my start in non-profit work by interning with the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula’s development office.

    ·       What inspired you to join the board?: In 2018, I was the APRA Carolina’s Road Trip Scholarship winner and used the opportunity to visit The Citadel Foundation! I was inspired to join the Apra Carolinas board after connecting with several of the other members at the Apra Prospect Development 2019 conference in Phoenix, AZ. Everyone seemed so welcoming and encouraged me to explore the idea, and I am so glad that I did.

    ·       What are you most proud of in your work?: In my work, I'm most proud of the personal relationships I have cultivated with Development Officers. It helps me to feel that I make a significant contribution to the fundraising process at UNC Charlotte when a DO asks for my advice or thanks me for my research.

    ·       Do you have favorite research tool, site, or trick you can share?: My favorite research tool is definitely iWave. It is a one-stop shop for employment info & email, property value, and philanthropic/political giving. It helps me determine if I've found a good prospect "at a glance."

    ·       What is your bucket list vacation destination and why?: My bucket list vacation destination would be anywhere on the coast of the Mediterannean! Egypt, Israel, Turkey, and Greece are all countries that share the #1 spot on my travel list. I would love the gorgeous beaches and all the awesome history the area has as well!

  • 11/25/2019 11:10 AM | Apra Carolinas (Administrator)

    From Apra Carolinas Blog Post Editor Ashley Smith -- some thoughts on the new privacy laws that will be changing the way we do our work:

    Data privacy laws are having their moment as more people realize that numerous organizations are collecting their personal information without clearly disclosing what they do with it, who has access to it, and how it’s protected from unauthorized use (I’m looking at you, Facebook and Cambridge Analytica). Several countries have passed laws limiting the kinds of personal information that organizations may collect while giving their citizens greater control over their data. Some data privacy laws, like the one in Europe, have significantly changed how nonprofits do prospect research. US privacy laws, however, haven’t had much of an impact on prospect research in the states, but that is a temporary reprieve. With growing concerns over organizations’ data collection practices, lawmakers will eventually pass a privacy law, either at the state or federal level, that will force us to change some of our business practices. Now is the time to prepare.             

    In 2016 the European Union adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a law that requires organizations to be more transparent on how they’re using the personal data of EU and UK citizens. The law restricts the kinds of personal data organizations may collect and applies to nonprofit institutions in addition to for-profit companies. Charities, educational organizations, and other nonprofits may only use personal data for lawful, specific purposes, like carrying out their institution’s mission or advancing public policy. Any other uses outside of these purposes are prohibited. The GDPR affects not only companies and institutions in the UK and EU, but also organizations outside those countries that handle the personal data of British and European citizens (aka, data subjects).

    Not surprisingly, the GDPR has impacted how nonprofits collect and use personal data to fundraise. The EU treats privacy as a fundamental human right, and the GDPR gives its citizens greater control of their personal data. While the law does not explicitly ban prospect research or certain tools of our trade, like wealth screenings, it does require organizations to disclose how they use their constituents’ personal information and to give their constituents the right to choose how their data may be used. Under the GDPR, nonprofits can no longer conduct prospect research without the knowledge of their prospects, and they must now get permission from their European data subjects to do wealth screenings.

    As of November 2019, there is not a centralized law that protects the personal data of US citizens. Federal data privacy laws so far have been sector specific with Congress passing legislation that restricts how banks, health care organizations, and schools, etc. collect and disseminate US citizens’ personal information. To fill this void, states like California, Nevada, and Maine have passed their own privacy laws. When it becomes effective on January 1, 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) will be the strongest data privacy law enacted in the US, and like the GDPR, it will compel organizations that collect California residents’ personal data to disclose that practice while giving them the choice on how organizations may use their data. Unlike the GDPR, the CCPA applies only to for-profit organizations that hold the personal data of more than 50,000 California consumers and have over $25 million in revenue. While it’s unclear how the CCPA will impact nonprofit development – and prospect development in particular – third-party vendors, like edtech companies or CMS providers, that collect and process the data of California residents will have to comply with the new law.

    There is strong bipartisan support for a federal law giving US citizens greater control over their personal data, but it’s uncertain when Congress will pass a comprehensive data privacy law and whether such a law will have the same level of privacy protections as the GDPR. Until then, people who work with personal data will have to be mindful of the patchwork of federal regulations and privacy laws enacted by state legislatures. As prospect development professionals, we already know that we have a responsibility to protect our donors’ private information, but that responsibility will continue to evolve as more state privacy laws are passed and our organizations adopt policies to be in compliance with those laws.   

  • 11/21/2019 1:40 PM | Apra Carolinas (Administrator)

    Apra Carolinas Immediate Past President, Beth Inman (National Director of Prospect Development for JDRF) has shared her thoughts on seeing fundraising from a different perspective -- that of a fundraiser:

    My daughter is a sophomore at Academic Magnet High School in Charleston, SC – stick with me here, I promise this post is not about my daughter! In the fall of her freshman year, I was thrilled to learn that her (public) school had a foundation, the Academic Magnet Foundation, whose mission is to “preserve the long-term excellence of the school by supporting leading-edge academic and arts enrichment opportunities that help prepare the students to become successful and productive citizens.” Every fall, the Foundation hosts a fundraising campaign called Thanks for Giving to raise funds for the programs it supports, like Summer Scholars, a 4 day orientation before school starts to help incoming freshman with the transition from middle school to the school’s unique academic environment. As a parent who has lived (barely) through all the variations of school and sports team fundraisers like wrapping paper, cookie dough, Booster-thons, etc., I have long been a proponent of raising funds for schools annual-giving style, if possible. That is, ask the school’s families and local businesses to donate funds (all of which go to the school) instead of burdening the parents with selling crap they end up having to get payment for and then deliver (and the school only gets a small percentage of the sales). Let me back up a minute, though: I don’t think schools should have to fundraise at all, but that’s a conversation for another day!

    Fast forward to the end of my daughter’s freshman year when there was a call for volunteers for the various parent organizations, including the Foundation. I raised my hand and the next thing I know, I’m in charge of the Thanks for Giving campaign for this fall. My disclaimer to the Foundation’s Board was I am not a frontline fundraiser BUT I do know fundraising and I was willing to give it a shot. The campaign runs from the beginning of November until the end of December each year and for the past few years the total amount given has flatlined. It’s still an impressive amount but we were looking for ways to boost that. So far, we’ve been creative with ways of contacting the parents (personal email then following up with a text message instead of a phone call) and we’ve done a challenge match which was tremendously successful. As I write this, we’re halfway through the campaign and we’re 81% to our goal. This is so exciting for me partly because I know how important these funds are but also, from a professional perspective, I am seeing fundraising from a different perspective.

    At the beginning of the campaign, I had a call with a potential business partner and ended the call with a generous pledge both from the business as well as from the business owner. I asked for a gift and they said yes – what a high! In that moment, I was in the role of a frontline fundraiser and I got it. I got why they are passionate about what they do. Don’t get me wrong, I was a nervous wreck before the call but I survived and the experience of that call and other conversations about supporting the campaign has really expanded my perspective of a frontline fundraiser’s role. The chair of the Foundation’s Board and I made the call together which was really helpful. We approached it strategically and planned who was going to say what – he started the call with background on the Foundation and what we support and I followed up with details on the campaign and made the ask. It’s not easy to call and ask someone or a business for a gift; on some level, we are all afraid of rejection but the key is to have your homework prepared (which your prospect development colleagues can definitely help you with!) and to make the ask. Don’t dance around it, be direct and just ask! A former boss of mine used to say that the prospect should know they’ve been asked and that has always stuck with me.

    The bottom line is we need each other – the fundraisers need us and we need the fundraisers – the ability and willingness to see things from each other’s viewpoints is vital and can only serve to make us all more successful. I challenge my prospect development colleagues to get involved in a fundraising effort for a cause about which you are passionate and gain a new or different perspective on our field. Likewise, I also challenge my frontline fundraiser colleagues to join in while a prospect development colleague drafts a comprehensive profile in preparation for a senior leadership visit or while a portfolio is being prepared for a new development officer. It’s worth it, I promise.

  • 09/19/2019 8:45 AM | Apra Carolinas (Administrator)

    Mimi Slade is the recipient of the 2019 Apra Carolina’s Professional Development Scholarship, which can be applied to any professional development activity offered by Apra Carolinas or Apra International. A Prospect Research Assistant at the University of South Carolina, Mimi used her $1,500 scholarship to attend the Apra PD Conference in Phoenix, AZ. Blog Post Editor Ashley Smith interviewed Mimi to learn about her experience.

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

    I grew up in Columbia but left after high school to attend Clemson University. However, I knew I wanted to return to my hometown after I graduated in 2017. I’ve been doing prospect development for over two years now. I like to tell people that I graduated from college on a Friday and began my prospect research position the following Monday.

    What did you think of Phoenix? Was this your first time visiting the city?

    Phoenix was hot! Thankfully, it was a dry heat unlike the hot, humid summers we experience here. Not only was this my first time visiting Phoenix, but it was also my first trip to the western part of the U.S. I flew to Arizona a couple of days before the conference started and did some sightseeing at the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and Antelope Canyon.

    Have you attended an Apra PD conference prior to this year? 

    This was my first time going to Apra PD. Until this year, I had only attended conferences put on by our local Apra chapter.

    Why did you choose this conference?

    Apra PD offered many opportunities for me to network. I wanted to meet other people in the prospect development field and learn how other institutions run their shops.     

    Did you have a favorite session?

    I really enjoyed the sessions that focused on relationship building and collaborating with the development officers, like Empower Yourself to Improve Gift Officer Relationships and Strategic Discussion – Stepping Away from Cleanup and Focusing on Meaningful Conversations. The session on improving gift officer relationships was especially helpful because the information on relationship building and communication was drawn from psychology and personality studies. For me, it was a different approach to that topic, and the information I learned could be used for relationship building both in and outside of the prospect development profession.

    Did you notice any common themes throughout the sessions? Anything that was new to you?

    One common theme I noticed was the importance of tailoring the information I find to the specific needs of the requester. For example, knowing when to really dig into the weeds and present highly detailed information or knowing when just a summary is needed. I also liked learning about visual data tools and how presenting information in charts and graphs can really enhance what I’m trying to convey in my communications.

    Did anything unique stick out about this conference as compared to others you’ve attended?

    I was struck by the large number of people who attended Apra PD. The conference drew a diverse crowd, and it seemed like there was a session for everyone. I especially liked meeting prospect analysts from different countries and also analysts working at organizations outside of higher education.

    Would you recommend that the next recipient of the scholarship use their funding on this conference?

    Definitely! I had an incredible experience at the conference, and I’m thankful for all the opportunities I had to network with colleagues and see how other organizations are handling similar challenges. I feel the prospect development community is full of people who are generous with their time and knowledge and want to help others become better prospect researchers and analysts.

    Is there anything that you’d like to implement at your organization as a direct result of attending this conference?

    Before I left for the conference, my team was working though the logistics of organizing quarterly meetings with development officers. During the sessions, I learned how other institutions organized these meetings, which gave me many useful ideas on creating agendas, knowing who should be in the meetings, as well as what documents to send the development officers before and after each meeting. 


  • 07/19/2019 3:16 PM | Apra Carolinas (Administrator)

    Thank you to everyone who completed the 2019 membership survey. We received responses from 30% of our membership. The compiled information was reviewed and has provided some wonderful insights on how to best enhance the experience and engagement opportunities within the chapter.

    Based on the results, we see that our chapter is comprised of both newcomers to the organization and seasoned veterans. As shown below, over 50% of the chapter has been a part of Apra Carolinas for three or more years. This mix has allowed members access to high quality content and peer learning that is central to the organization.

    Almost all of our members’ responsibilities include prospect research and at least 50% include prospect management and data analytics. Additionally, the survey revealed that over 65% of the chapter is operating in small shops with less than 3 team members, of which 21% are in single team operations.

    We also asked if members have attended our conferences; an overwhelming 88% of you have, with those not in attendance citing reasons like lack of professional development funding and no staffing coverage. This information highlights that while the in-person conferences are beneficial, it will be necessary to incorporate more virtual networking and webinar opportunities into the annual programming to bridge gaps in distance, budgets, and workload.

    Suggested educational topics received from the survey will be explored for both upcoming conferences and future webinars. Topics submitted included the following:

    • Data Analytics (Development and Application)
    • Prospect Strategy and Pipeline Movement
    • Tracking Metrics and Best Practices
    • Prospect Identification Strategies/Challenges
    • Proactive Research and Prioritization
    • Influencing Change and Internal Culture Shifts

    Finally, we asked what members value most and what they’d like for us to offer – and we loved your responses! Apra Carolinas members enjoy our networking and professional development opportunities, as well as access to a larger community and the sharing of ideas and experiences. Requests came in for more frequent programming/webinars, additional networking opportunities, and certification/training. We are currently exploring ways to collaborate with other professional organizations and other chapters to offer virtual networking and interesting webinars. Stay tuned for more details!

    We are excited to better connect with members and continue to enhance the community of prospect professionals throughout the Carolinas. Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses, and we look forward to seeing you at an Apra Carolinas event soon!  

  • 06/18/2019 11:56 AM | Apra Carolinas (Administrator)

    We are so proud of our Immediate Past President and longtime Apra Carolinas member Beth Inman for her recent accolade as Apra's 2019 Distinguished Service Award recipient. Merissa Lawson, current President of Apra Carolinas, interviewed Beth to learn more about her career and the hard work that went into earning this award. 

    ML: Congratulations on receiving Apra’s 2019 Distinguished Service Award – what an honor! How did you feel when you were told you were being recognized?

    BI: Thank you! I am extremely honored and flattered, I honestly couldn’t believe it when I got the email. I kept re-reading the email to make sure it was my name in the award info! To be recognized in this way for something I have truly enjoyed is amazing and I am so grateful for the professional opportunities and Apra opportunities I’ve had so far in my career. Apra Carolinas is such a great chapter and we have so much potential to engage even more of our colleagues and that’s what has been motivating for me in being involved at the Board level. The Board members I’ve worked with are also remarkable; we do this work outside of our day jobs and still get a lot done for the chapter! I look forward to our Board calls and that says a lot!

    ML: So for any of our Apra Carolinas members that don’t know you, let’s chat about your career and what led you to this point. How did you enter the world of prospect research? We all know that it’s generally not a linear path…

    BI: My bachelor’s and master’s degrees are in art history and I went to graduate school with the goal of being a curator in an art museum. For the first part of my career, I worked as a curator for a history museum and then as the associate curator of American and decorative art at the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC. They were both great experiences and I loved my work, but life led me to Charleston, SC and continuing in the museum world wasn’t an option. I landed at The Citadel Foundation in 2007 as the new Chief Development Officer’s executive assistant. That was such a great way to learn the ins and outs of development! I scheduled donor visits for him, accompanied him to meetings with Deans, sat in on meetings with the major gift officers, etc. About a year after I started, I was promoted into the new Director of Development Services position and over the next 3+ years, I created a prospect management program there. In 2011, I moved back to Columbia, SC to be the new Senior Director of Prospect Management & Research Analysis at the University of South Carolina. South Carolina was in the quiet phase of the state’s first $1B capital campaign and didn’t have a formal prospect management program, so I had my work cut out for me!  In 2017, after almost 6 ½ years at SC, I accepted the opportunity to be JDRF’s first National Director, Prospect Management. I saw it as a great way to utilize my experience in building higher-ed prospect management programs for a national cause-based organization. My first 18 months have been a whirlwind of learning a new database (Salesforce), learning how development works in such a large organization, learning how to work remotely and it has been amazing!

    ML: What do you see as the major differences in the Research field between when you started your career and now?

    BI: I know it probably sounds cliché now, but I have seen how data and how to analyze it, how to visualize it, etc. has become more and more important. Development shops no longer can just have researchers churning out profiles when they’re requested. Don’t get me wrong, creating profiles is still very important, but in that work on the teams I’ve managed, I’ve empowered them to ask questions about the request and become a partner in that request; we aren’t just order takers. We can help prioritize all the leads we’ve identified, identify if there are connections between new leads and volunteers, and help with creating strategies. The best development leaders and fundraisers know our value and use it to make the organization more successful.

    ML: You’ve been in the profession for over a decade – what keeps you engaged in the work?

    BI: In my development career, I have had the fortune of working for 3 fantastic organizations and each one has presented me with unique challenges that keep me engaged in the work. I really enjoy figuring out ways to make the fundraiser’s jobs easier whether that means a new report to help summarize their activities, identifying new prospects, or helping them “tidy up” their portfolios so they can focus on their most important prospects.

    ML: Along the way, everyone is encouraged or inspired by a mentor or colleague. Who has helped you become successful and how?

    BI: My first boss in development, Terry Mularkey, has been a fantastic mentor and colleague. He helped me learn the ropes of development and was very supportive while I learned prospect development after I was promoted at The Citadel Foundation. Grace Vigilante, Kristin Richardson, Vicki O’Brien, and Lindsay Rogillio are colleagues from whom I have learned a tremendous amount. They have helped me learn more about our profession, how to look at things from a different perspective, and how to be a better leader.

    ML: What do you think is your biggest contribution to the profession?

    BI: This is a hard one! I had to think about this one a lot and what I came up with are more like nuggets of advice or things to ponder that I’ve learned along the way and told my teams at some point. Things like if you’re struggling with how to address something like a conflict, sleep on it. If getting older has taught me one thing, it’s to think things through before acting. (This helps me at home, too!) In our field, it is really easy to get frustrated with fundraisers or the development leaders in our orgs and most of these are likely really valid frustrations, but a wise manager at some point in my career pointed out to me that the fundraisers don’t get up every morning thinking about the same things I do. To accomplish what I needed to for prospect development, I needed to a) be mindful of all the things they do get up in the mornings thinking about and b) partner with them on how we can help with those things. Our profession is all about the proverbial 2 way street, we need each other to be successful and sometimes prospect development needs to be the driver of that partnership.

    ML: How has being a member of Apra International (and Apra Carolinas) helped enrich your career?

    BI: Apra, at both the national and chapter level, has played a significant role in my professional journey; I have learned so much about leadership, organization, delegating, conference planning, and even unexpected skills like updating our chapter’s website! I am confident Apra will help me continue to add to this list as I progress in my career!

    ML: For someone just starting out in Research, what advice would you give? Is there anything you wish you had known or would do differently?

    BI: Well, you know my first answer is to get involved with Apra at the chapter and/or the national level! Seriously, though, it really is a great way to meet colleagues and learn about our profession. Just reading the emails from PRSPCT-L makes you realize how different all of our organizations are but there is always someone out there who is facing the same challenge you are and it is likely you can learn from each other! Something I still have to be mindful of is to be confident in what I ask the fundraisers to do.  My first boss at JDRF, Patrick Reedy, called me out on how I approached something I was asking the fundraisers to do when I first started at JDRF. He said I came across like what I was asking them to do was a bother and I was almost apologetic and that wasn’t OK; the work I was doing and what I was asking the fundraisers to do was just as important as everything else they’re doing and I needed to approach as such.

    ML: What’s next for you? Do you have any big professional or personal goals you’d like to achieve moving forward?

    BI: A very near term goal is to finish the first prospect management policies and procedures document for JDRF, so check back with me at the end of the summer and see how that’s going! A long term goal is to have the opportunity to lead a team that includes prospect development, data analytics, reporting, and records (database updates, uploads, etc.). Prospect development has evolved to need all of these components to truly operate at a high level and to lead a team that incorporates all of these would be incredible.

    ML: Congratulations again, Beth! It's fantastic that you're being recognized. We'll be cheering for you at the awards ceremony in Phoenix.

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