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  • 02/13/2019 8:45 PM | Christopher Resh (Administrator)

    Liz Rejman and Jason Shim are a part of Pathways to Education, the first Canadian charity to accept Bitcoin gifts. Apra-Carolinas Blog Editor Christopher Resh recently spoke to them about their experience with cryptocurrency.

    How long have you been accepting Bitcoin? Can you share your any of your results?

    Liz Rejman, Associate Director of Fundraising Operations: For about five years. It’s still a small part of our overall efforts - five cryptocurrency donors is a successful year for us. Bitcoin hitting peak value last year presented a strong argument for giving, though, and we benefited from Bitcoin holders looking for a place to make an impact with their newfound wealth.

    Jason Shim, Director of Digital Strategy: After the initial adoption, we expanded the list to Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Zcash, and Monero, and have a form that allows donors to request the ability to donate other cryptocurrency as well.

    What drove the decision to start processing Bitcoin gifts? Was anyone at the organization particularly familiar with cryptocurrency when you began the process?

    JS: For us, the decision to accept cryptocurrency was about future-proofing our fundraising. When we entered this space, Bitcoin looked like the Internet had a couple decades prior - not widely adopted, carrying significant stigma, but clearly not going away any time soon. Even the Canadian government has explored the possibility of digital currency in recent years.

    LR: Jason was our main source of Bitcoin knowledge as we entered the adoption effort, but our organization has always been innovation-friendly. The culture was compatible with the idea.

    JS: It was also important to us that the process of adopting cryptocurrency took into consideration the possible rewards for doing so. We entered this realm relatively early in Bitcoin history and have been well-positioned to benefit from valuation increases. When Bitcoin prices were high last winter, for example, we received a donation from someone after they Googled “charities accepting Bitcoin”.

    JS: There are people in the cryptocurrency community with an interest in education, just as there are in so many other communities, so there’s certainly a broader precedent for this. Cryptocurrency startup Ripple donated $29 million to fulfill every request for classroom supplies on the website DonorsChoose.org. Another donor anonymously gave away more than $50 million in Bitcoin to various nonprofits through a campaign called the Pineapple Fund in late 2017.

    Pathways to Education focuses on helping youth, members of a stereotypically tech-savvy generation. Do you think your work with Bitcoin has helped your reputation with this community?

    JS: Yes, we’ve seen some student interest. The culture is different now! Digital payment is the new paradigm - PayPal and Venmo are near-ubiquitous, especially among the youngest generation.

    CR: PayPal has a long history of success, but it was Venmo that truly seemed to make that technology universal. Will we see the “Venmo of cryptocurrency” in the years to come?

    JS: The right ingredients are slowly coming together for a more universal transaction. There’s a technology called Metamask that allows Ethereum to be used almost seamlessly within traditional browsers, for instance, and there’s every reason to expect this type of technology to expand.

    I’ve read in the past that Pathways to Education treats Bitcoin like stock, so you had a model to work from once funds were received. Prior to that step, though, how much of a logistical challenge was it to accept cryptocurrency funds in the first place?

    JS: It depends on what you’re looking for in the workflow. Pathways to Education’s process is relatively straightforward: the payments processor we use converts Bitcoin to Canadian Dollars immediately at the time of the gift. We never have to touch the Bitcoin itself. This route compartmentalizes issues of wallet security and the more technical side of Bitcoin to the third-party processor, simplifying the adoption process.

    Bitcoin has often made the news for the volatility of its value. Has this presented any issues for you? Have you ever had to pause donations during times of extra volatility?

    JS: For reference, a volatile tech stock might fluctuate 8-10% in a day; a wild day of cryptocurrency might see change of 30-40%. With that said, this hasn’t been a material problem for us because we convert Bitcoin gifts to cash immediately. Plus, our donors are protected against rapid change by the multiple options on our invoice screen. Donors can declare their Bitcoin gifts either (1) in dollars, with the equivalent amount of Bitcoin then calculated and donated or (2) in a set amount of Bitcoin independent of the current conversion rate.

    Have any loyal donors switched their donations to Bitcoin, or are you primarily reaching new audiences?

    LR: Our Bitcoin donor base is entirely new donors and they find us because we accept Bitcoin. That said, we haven’t marketed cryptocurrency heavily to existing donors at this point - it’s not like our mailers now say, “Accepting Visa, Mastercard, and Bitcoin”.

    JS: I will add that the new donors haven’t found us because of our Bitcoin policy alone. We’ve also run some search engine optimization campaigns that have contributed to our success there.

    Have any other organizations reached out to you for your advice? Do you have a sense of whether Bitcoin gift acceptance has spread?

    JS: Absolutely. I would say someone reaches out every month or two. People are curious about the logistics of accepting Bitcoin, but also about how to pitch the idea internally and how to account for it in organizational policy. Liz’s work on our gift acceptance policy has been very useful here.

    LR: The key is to integrate Bitcoin donations into your organization’s framework - don’t isolate it. Soon, it’ll be just another donation.

    Is there anything else you want to share with organizations who are thinking about integrating Bitcoin?

    JS: Think about accepting cryptocurrency as the beginning of a new conversation. Now that Pathways to Education has been doing this for years, we’ve addressed the initial concerns. We’re now able to focus on networking with other organizations in the cryptocurrency community and continue building for the future.

    LR: Bitcoin is fascinating as a prospect development tool. Every organization wants new donors, but everyone also has similar lists of the same great philanthropists. Who hasn’t been asked a million times already? Accepting Bitcoin opens the door to a new pool of prospects that you would not have thought about, much less been able to reach, otherwise.

    Comments have been disabled on the Apra-Carolinas blog. Please visit Christopher's post on LinkedIn and share your thoughts there!

  • 02/01/2019 3:58 PM | Christopher Resh (Administrator)

    Missy Garner, Former Director of Prospect Research
    Rick Loveday, Prospect Research Analyst

    Part 4: Using the Model

    This post is the fourth in a four-part series that will outline how Clemson University’s Prospect Research Team developed a philanthropic model score.

    Over the past few months we have looked at how to develop the concept of the project, in this case the model score (Part 1). Next we looked at how to build the model (Part 2). Nothing is ever perfect out of the box, so we then detailed how our team refined and tweaked the model (Part 3). Now that the easy parts were over, the hardest challenge loomed in front of us. We had to figure out how to introduce the score to our Development Officers.

    Our Development Officers live in a world of hard assets. They are accustomed to focusing on wealth data like property values, salary, stock ownership, and in some cases personal property such as planes and boats. This model score asks our Development Officers to abandon most of that line of thinking. A full break from asset-based wealth would have been an impossible sell. That was part of our reason for keeping property ownership of $2 million or more in the model. It kept something that was familiar to the Development Officers, while still introducing some new logic.

    One of the perks we discovered while doing research in preparation for the project was the analysis that DonorSearch had done on their own philanthropic database. They found some key levels of real estate ownership and how those levels tied into philanthropy.

    • An individual that owns $750K – 1 million worth of real estate is 2 times more likely to give philanthropically than the average person.
    • An individual that owns $1-2 million worth of real estate is 4 times more likely to give philanthropically than the average person.
    • An individual that owns $2+ million worth of real estate is 17 times more likely to give philanthropically than the average person.

    *https://www.donorsearch.net/how-to-identify-a-high-quality-fundraising-prospect

    Using this information, we were able to show our Development Officers how real estate ownership is more than a wealth marker. It is also a philanthropic marker.

    We rolled out the concept at the group, or team, level. We started with the Principal Gift Committee. This served the dual purpose of introducing it to a team and to our Vice President and Associate Vice Presidents, since they were all on the Committee. Simply showing up with a list of prospects would not be enough. We had to explain what they were looking at and why they should care. We included key points such as the real estate ownership stats (listed above) and the political giving stats (from Part 2).

    We also created two cheat sheets to help make the score easily understandable. The first was a color-coding system that prioritized what we felt were the important groups. We added the minimum values for each of the scores to give a dollar range minimum for each color.


    The second cheat sheet explained the dollar value associated with each of the decimal places.


    While the Principal Gift team digested the cheat sheets, we saved the best example for last. In the course of building the model, we identified the perfect prospect to highlight the validity of using philanthropic data over asset-based data. This prospect had a history of over $700,000 in political giving. When we looked the prospect up in our database, we found the estimated wealth rating of just over $500,000. That rating labeled the prospect as a fringe Major Gift Level prospect who would likely never make it on a Development Officer’s radar. We saw shocked looks on the faces around the table as we relayed that information.

    We also developed a report that tracked the potential principal gift prospects. It showed the attempted appointments and meetings for each prospect. At the request of the Principal Gift Committee, we agreed to review this report at the future monthly meetings.

    As with any good project, our effort is never officially completed. It can always be tweaked or updated. With the success of the initial test batch screening of 5,000, we made plans to screen and apply the model to a larger group of our constituents. We recently screened an additional 25,000 people.

    If you have any questions about this project or you want to know more details about building the model, feel free to email me at rloveda@clemson.edu.

    Comments have been disabled on the Apra-Carolinas blog. Please visit Rick's post on LinkedIn and share your thoughts there!

  • 11/01/2018 10:55 PM | Christopher Resh (Administrator)

    Missy Garner, Former Director of Prospect Research
    Rick Loveday, Prospect Research Analyst

    Part 3: Refining the Model

    This post is the third in a four-part series that will outline how Clemson University’s Prospect Research Team developed a philanthropic model score.

    Part 1: How to Develop an Analytics Project: Building a Model Score

    Part 2: Building the Model

    We built our model score using a whole number scale of 0-5, with 5 being the best. As we applied this model score, we realized it did not differentiate between the different levels of giving; it merely stated whether an individual hit the minimum requirements. We had no idea if an individual gave $15,000 or $100,000 to political causes. We also could not distinguish between a person who gave a $5,000 philanthropic gift with one who gave a $500,000 gift. We quickly came to the realization that we had to develop the model further to account for the wide range of gifts. In order to solve this, we decided to incorporate a decimal-based scoring system.

    The concept behind the whole number score worked well to highlight which groups a constituent fell into. Could that same concept be used on the decimal side to highlight which giving ranges that same constituent met? We decided to use the numbers 3, 6, and 9 for our giving breakdown. The number 3 meant that the constituent gave enough to meet the minimum threshold, which was $15,000 in lifetime political giving or a $5,000 single philanthropic gift. The 6 was applied to those with over $50,000 in giving, whether in lifetime political giving or in a single philanthropic gift. The 9 represented over $100,000 in giving. Since there were two types of giving, we decided to use two decimal places. The first place would represent the philanthropic giving while the second decimal would represent political giving.

    When we applied this tweak to the score, it proved, almost immediately, to be a significant upgrade over the first model. We quickly realized some of the major deficiencies in the original model. Using the whole number score, we thought that the more categories a constituent was in, the better that person was as a prospect. The tweaked score immediately proved that to be false.

    With the whole number method, a constituent that appeared in all five categories had a score of 5. Another constituent that only met the philanthropic and political giving categories but missed the non-profit/foundation association, the real estate ownership and the SEC insider/business executive aspects had a score of 2. So, according to the whole number score, 5 is always better than 2.


    When we applied the decimal score to those same constituents, the constituent with the 5 only met the minimum giving levels and had a new score of 5.33. The constituent that had the score of 2 had a largest single philanthropic gift of $50,000 and a lifetime political giving total over $100,000. This updated that constituent’s score from a 2 to a 2.69.

    In looking at the updated scores, we could make the argument that a score of 2.69 is better than a score of 5.33. While both constituents are acting in a philanthropic manner, the constituent with the 2.69 is giving at a significantly higher level and thus is potentially a higher priority.


    As a result of this change, the decimal places became the primary focus and the whole numbers became a minor piece of extra information. We found a whole new crop of potential prospects to focus on. Our next task was figuring out how to introduce the model score to our Development Officers and explain how it would be useful. We expected this to be a more daunting challenge than actually creating the model score since our fundraisers lived in a world where hard assets, such as real estate values and salaries, were the basis for determining which constituents they would pursue. We were about to ask them to potentially ignore a constituent who is the president of a company and lives in a $4M home - but had given nothing philanthropically or politically - and instead focus on a constituent who owns a small business and lives in a $200,000 home, but who has donated a significant amount of money to various organizations.

    The next, and final, blog post will detail how we introduced our model score to our Development Officers.

    Comments have been disabled on the Apra-Carolinas blog. Please visit Rick's post on LinkedIn and share your thoughts there!


  • 10/22/2018 6:43 PM | Christopher Resh (Administrator)

    Dana Green, Prospect Researcher at Lenoir-Rhyne University, received the Apra-Carolinas Professional Development Scholarship for 2018. This $1,500 scholarship can be applied to any professional development activities offered by Apra Carolinas or Apra International. Dana used her scholarship to attend the annual Prospect Development conference hosted by Apra International.


    Christopher Resh, Apra-Carolinas Secretary and Blog Editor, spoke to Dana about her experience.


    Christopher: Hi Dana! How was Pittsburgh? Any tourist highlights stick out at you?

    Dana: I’ve been to Pittsburgh many times before - I have family there - so I’m already familiar with most of the tourist attractions. I did find an awesome taco restaurant across the street from the conference venue, though.


    CR: Have you attended Apra PD prior to this year?

    DG: No, this was my first time!


    CR: I’m glad Apra-Carolinas was able to facilitate it, then. What made you choose this conference in particular?
    DG: The fact that it’s strictly for prospect researchers. I’ve spent a lot of time on the Apra forums learning from my peers, so I knew this would be a good fit for me. I even recognized some people from the forums at the conference.



    CR: There are so many opportunities for education in our growing field - does anything unique stick out about this conference as compared to others you’ve attended?

    DG: I’ve attended a CASE conference in the past and Apra PD was a very different experience. There were some researchers there, but also many frontline fundraisers and administrators. Everyone at Apra PD, on the other hand, shared a passion for research. This made it much easier to meet and relate to other attendees - everyone was entering conversations with more of a common understanding.


    CR: Did you a have a favorite session?
    DG: I especially enjoyed a presentation on using LinkedIn for research. I was familiar with some of the more basic functions before the conference, but there is much more depth to it than I realized. Advanced search, in particular, seems very useful. There are also ways to find connections to boards and other groups for your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree connections, which is a great source of information.


    CR: Were there any “audience participation” opportunities that stuck out to you?

    DG: Yes, there was a “New Researchers Symposium” featuring an exercise in which groups of attendees would collaboratively create a research profile. I especially liked that this activity gave us a chance to talk process instead of just resources - not just where to look, but where to look first and how to move from there.  


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

    DG: The common themes I noticed were shared by my office, actually. One that stuck out was the shift from reactive to proactive research, and the benefits of taking the time to find the best prospects rather than jumping from event to event.


    CR: Do you plan to commit to any specific projects or changes in light of what you learned at the conference?

    DG: I’ll definitely stay committed to data cleanup. The importance of good data was mentioned many times at the conference. I’m also walking away committed to putting time into data analytics. It’s slower work, but finding the patterns and hidden gems in our database is rewarding.


    CR: Thanks for your time, Dana! One last question - would you recommend that the next recipient of this scholarship use their funding on this conference?
    DG: Absolutely! It was a great way to make like-minded friends and to network with researchers facing similar challenges.


    This interview has been edited for clarity.


    Comments have been disabled on the Apra-Carolinas blog. Please visit Dana's post on LinkedIn and share your thoughts there! 

  • 08/29/2018 12:07 PM | Christopher Resh (Administrator)

    Missy Garner, Former Director of Prospect Research
    Rick Loveday, Prospect Research Analyst

    Part 2: Building the Model

    This post is the second in a four-part series that will outline how Clemson University’s Prospect Research Team developed a philanthropic model score.

    We sent the data off using DonorSearch’s secure server and received our results within 24 hours. The file contained over 120 data points for us to digest. We wanted to verify our list of philanthropic indicators (see Part 1: Concept Development) fit with the data that was returned. In order to do this, we would need to pore through each and every data point.

    The dataset was made up of our principal gift level donors, along with alumni and current parents who had estimated wealth of $1 million or greater based on our ResearchPoint wealth screenings. We reviewed the DonorSearch data for just our group of known principal level donors. This was the group that had the elements we wanted to identify as key traits. We focused on the following five key traits: a one-time gift of $5,000 or more to Clemson or other philanthropic organization; board membership, trusteeship, or other association with a foundation or non-profit; lifetime political giving totaling more than $15,000; $2 million or more in real estate ownership; and listed as an SEC insider or business executive.

    Political giving quickly became the dominant trait among the principal level donors. When trying to determine who is a likely major gift prospect, looking at those who have been large political donors is one of the best places to start. Not only is political giving at high levels a knock-out indicator for wealth, but at the higher levels it is an incredibly predictive marker for philanthropy.

    When charitable and political giving were combined, those that had given over $2,500 total in lifetime political giving were responsible for over 54% of all philanthropy. An individual whose life-time FEC giving is $10,000 or larger is almost undeniably wealthy. An individual whose life-time FEC giving is $15,000 or larger has almost undeniably made a five, six, or seven figure charitable donation. Out of the principal level donors, over 50% had a lifetime political giving total over $15,000.

    As we filled out the model, we decided to assign one point to each of the above listed five key traits. That gave us a scoring system where an individual could be rated between 0 and 5, with 5 being the best. As we applied the whole number score, we realized that this model score did not differentiate between the different levels of giving – it merely stated whether an individual hit the minimum requirements. We had no idea if an individual gave $15,000 or $100,000 politically. We also could not distinguish between a person who gave a $5,000 philanthropic gift or a $500,000 gift. We quickly came to the realization that we had to further develop the model to account for the different range of gifts. In order to solve this, we needed to figure out a decimal-based scoring system.

    The next blog post will detail how we tweaked our model score using two decimal places to highlight differences in giving.

  • 07/18/2018 12:49 PM | Christopher Resh (Administrator)

    From Charlotte to Charleston: A Day at the Citadel

    Emily Hinz, Prospect Research Analyst, UNC Charlotte

    I often explain how I ended up in UNC Charlotte’s Prospect Strategy and Research (PSR) department as a “happy little accident,” as the great Bob Ross would say, and it’s true. Two years ago, I didn’t even know this field existed. I began exploring the non-profit sector in college as, having majored in an English major but feeling rather unsure of what I wanted to do post-graduation. After spending time with the Boys & Girls Clubs and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, I landed a Research Assistant position at the UNC Charlotte Foundation in May of 2017.

    We have a rather small shop here in Charlotte, but my boss set me up for success by immediately activating memberships for me in both Apra and Apra-Carolinas. That fall, I received the Apra-Carolinas Road Trip Scholarship – a very exciting endeavor for someone with only six months of experience in the field. I wanted to pick a shop similar to our own, but with enough differences for me to find some achievable new ideas and projects for my team.

    At UNC Charlotte, PSR is composed of me (the only prospect researcher on staff), my director, and a temporary employee who assists with data entry. We are in the public phase of a $200 million campaign, a figure we hope to reach by the end of fiscal year 2020. Due to our small size, I’ve been required to learn a great deal in a short amount of time, which I’ve really enjoyed. My experience, however, is still restricted to one phase of a campaign. How can PSR help reach our Foundation’s goals with so little time left for discovery work? What happens to a PSR team after a campaign closes? How does the team prepare for a new campaign? I sought to use the Road Trip Scholarship to answer these questions.

    After looking into several schools in the Carolinas, I decided that The Citadel would be the best fit for what I hoped to learn. They recently exceeded a $175 million campaign goal, closing in May of 2018 at $225 million. Wow! This put them in the perfect phase for the focus of my curiosity: post-campaign no man’s land. In addition, their PSR shop consists of only two employees and supports about 15 Gift Officers, a setup that closely mirrors UNC Charlotte. 

    After a few weeks of email correspondence, I set out in early May to meet Libby Davis and Lisa Ukuku of The Citadel’s Prospect Management and Research department. This dynamic duo was incredibly welcoming and friendly. We spent much of the day sharing stories of triumph and struggle within this business, and I took away some great advice throughout.

    One of my favorite additions that Libby and Lisa have implemented at The Citadel Foundation (TCF) is the research request form. Fields on the form include requestor, purpose of request, format, and other criteria depending on the data being sought. The form can be completed either electronically or by hard copy. I think this would be a great idea for my shop because, even though we use a spreadsheet to document research requests and their completion dates, we do not do a very good job of tracking why someone requests research. If I receive a request for research I’ve already completed, I usually rely on my archived emails – or my memory – to assess why a new profile would be needed. If it was completed before my time, however, I’m plain out of luck. I have started to keep track of requests myself in hopes that we will soon have a form like The Citadel’s.

    We also talked about several fundraising methods used at TCF. One I found particularly interesting was their utilization of fundraising challenges based on class. There is a huge emphasis on class at The Citadel; when Citadel alum run into each other, their first question is, “What’s your class and company?” To optimize this, the Foundation created “Class Campaigns.” These are mini-campaigns run each year that challenge a specific class to raise a certain amount of money during milestone reunion years – their 10th, 25th, 40th, and 50th anniversaries of graduation. TCF even has class reunion gift officers to focus on these efforts. They are currently challenging the class of 1978 to raise $1.75 million by the end of this year for their 40th reunion celebration at Homecoming 2018. When researching new prospects for discovery, I typically pull alumni based on their school and have never really worried about class. UNC Charlotte is a much younger institution and there isn’t much importance placed on class year or class reunion. I think building a sense of class camaraderie would be a great practice for our Annual Giving team to implement with our younger alumni. Libby and Lisa explained how effective researching annual donors can be, especially when heading towards the end of a big campaign.

    Annual Giving was also Lisa and Libby’s answer to my questions about how to direct research work between campaigns. Alumni who have given gifts consecutively over the years are the prospects that become major giving donors. Maintaining a healthy pool of dedicated supporters in anticipation of the launch of a new campaign can have a huge impact in the long term. TCF buckets their constituents in this pool of supporters based on giving level – annual, lead, and major giving capacity. Collaboration with the Annual Giving team and our lead gift officers will definitely be one of my main priorities for the next few years at UNC Charlotte.

    Overall, I was very impressed by the way TCF and their Prospect Management and Research team operate. When an institution has exceeded their campaign goal by $50 million, one can’t deny they must be doing something right! Not only were Libby and Lisa brilliant prospect managers and researchers, they were warm and welcoming hosts – even giving me a tour of the Citadel’s beautiful campus despite the Charleston heat. I truly enjoyed the day I spent at The Citadel Foundation, and am forever grateful to Libby and Lisa for their fantastic advice, tips, and tricks for me as I continue to grow in this field.

  • 05/24/2018 5:40 PM | Christopher Resh (Administrator)

    How to Develop an Analytics Project: Building a Model Score

    Missy Garner, Director of Prospect Research
    Rick Loveday, Prospect Research Analyst

    Part 1: Concept Development

    This post is the first in a four-part series that will outline how Clemson University’s Prospect Research Team developed a philanthropic model score.

    This project began as a way to identify key philanthropic characteristics in our constituent base.  We wanted to know what types of attributes drive people to be philanthropic. This brought us to a specific group of our constituents who had donated at the principal gift level. We wanted to see if this subset exhibited any shared characteristics beyond the standard information contained in our CRM such as event participation, board membership, demographic data, etc. No matter how strong our data is, it only provides information about a constituents’ relationship with our institution. Our data won’t tell us how our constituents are interacting with other organizations or institutions. This drove us to look for outside resources that would fill this gap in our data.

    We previewed several products and found that DonorSearch provided the largest breadth of philanthropic data. They have developed their own database to track specific philanthropic history. This allows them to identify key attributes such as donations to other organizations, political contributions, board or non-profit affiliations, and high-level business positions. While other companies such as Blackbaud and iWave track these data points as well, DonorSearch made these philanthropic indicators their main focus.

    We decided to send a test batch of constituents as a proof of concept. We also needed to determine whether the Development team would embrace the results, since our previous models for determining a prospect’s value were primarily based on hard asset screenings. This new model would focus on where a person donates their money - not on how much money they have.

    The original test group was made up of just our principal gift level donors. We wanted to work with a larger group, so we included alumni and current parents who, based on our Research Point wealth screenings, had estimated wealth of $1 million or greater. This provided us with an adequate sample size to hopefully apply some of these philanthropic indicators to our group. After signing a contract and a non-disclosure agreement, we determined what constituent information should be shared for this screening. In order to screen our group, DonorSearch, at minimum, needed constituent name and address, with the option to send other data points as we saw fit. We also included date of birth, spouse name, and employment information. Since this was our proof of concept we consciously chose not to send any specific giving information.

    We sent the data off using their secure server and received our results within 24 hours. The file contained over 120 data points for us to digest.  We wanted to verify these philanthropic indicators fit with the data that was returned. In order to do this, we would need to pore through each and every data point. 

    The next blog post will detail how we determined which data points we would use to build the model.

  • 02/06/2018 12:49 PM | Apra Carolinas (Administrator)

    Apra Carolinas: 2017 Year in Review and What’s Ahead for 2018
    Beth Inman, Immediate Past President
    February 2018

    Many of you have heard me describe Apra Carolinas as a “small but mighty chapter.” I like to describe our chapter in that way because it’s true, but also because bigger doesn’t always mean better. When I started my term as President in January of 2016, I had a goal to increase our membership to 100. I had no rationale for that goal; my thought process was probably that 100 sounded like a good number and a good goal to have. As many of us in the prospect development field know, goals are a serious business and should never be numbers you just pick out of thin air….but that is what I did. We tried some creative ways to recruit new members and they worked! We have new members! Some are new colleagues joining our field, adding to the depth and diversity of our knowledge and experience, and some are experienced colleagues who have relocated to the Carolinas. Somewhere along the way, I realized I shouldn’t be focusing on just getting to that magic number of 100 members. I, and the rest of the Chapter Board, needed to focus on providing quality programming that offered our members and non-members opportunities to learn, network, and teach.

    We are inherently a curious, analytical profession and our programming should point to that. As we move along into 2018, I challenge you to get involved with Apra. What that involvement looks like is different for everyone; you may choose to get involved at the National level, and/or you may choose to get involved with a chapter. Take advantage of what Apra offers at any level to learn more about prospect development, but also to take advantage of the opportunity to teach others. Our field is growing and, whether you are new or have been around for a while, we can learn from each other.

    The Chapter Board has compiled information for a chapter Year in Review to assist you as you consider how you want to get involved with Apra. Read on to learn more about what happened in 2017, including our programs, scholarship winners, Twitter posts, and sponsors!

    • Because Apra Regional Conference (ARC) was held in Atlanta, we didn’t host a spring conference; our 2018 President-Elect, Missy Garner, was the chair of the conference, and members Elizabeth Roma and Vicki O’Brien each presented sessions.
    • Amy Jackson, Director of Prospect Research at Wingate University, attended ARC as the recipient of our Professional Development Scholarship. Read a Q&A blog post about Amy’s experience at ARC and what she learned.
    • Our Fall conference was hosted by UNC-Wilmington. We had 40 attendees who heard presentations about ways to use Microsoft Excel, prospect management during a conversion, a different way to do contact reports, a planned giving loyalty program, and top markers that predict philanthropy.
    • Rick Loveday, Prospect Research Analyst at Clemson University, was the recipient of our Road Trip Scholarship. His blog post, Two Days in the Triangle, shares how he used the funds and what he learned.
    • We hosted 5 webinars, including one recording of a live webinar we offered, with a total of 387 registrants. Topics included donor advised funds, portfolio consultations, ranch and NYC real estate valuation, and how to find major gifts hiding in your database.
    • Our membership ranged from 70-80 depending on the time of the year.
    • Twitter – 659 tweets, 353 followers, average of 245 impressions a day.
    • Our generous sponsors: DonorSearch, iWave, Advizor Solutions, Inc., and Target Analytics.

     

    What’s in store for 2018?

    • Spring conference at Elon University on Friday, April 13
    • A ‘blogger in residence’ – stay tuned for more details!
    • Fall conference at University of South Carolina on Friday, October 19
    • Three webinars throughout the year - stay tuned for more details!

    We are a chapter of Apra International, focusing on professionals working in North and South Carolina. We are a thriving group of professionals taking this growing field to the next level. Whether you are new to the prospect development profession or moving up in your career, we have something to offer you. If you focus on prospect research, prospect management, data analytics, database management, or a mix of the above, we strive to publicize new trends and promote resources available to you. The best part is that, at just $35/year, membership to our chapter should easily fit into your professional development budget. Members get discounts on our spring and fall conferences and free registration to all of our webinars.


    Apra Carolinas: get involved to learn; get involved to teach.


    Apra's Mission

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  • 12/19/2017 11:37 AM | Apra Carolinas (Administrator)

    This month's blog comes from Elizabeth Roma. Not only is she the Assistant Director for Research with The Helen Brown Group LLC, but she is also our chapter's president beginning in 2018. 

    ICYMI: 2017 (Philanthropy) Year in Review

     Looking at my calendar and counting the number of days left in 2017, I find myself wondering where the year went! Time has flown, but so MUCH has happened, that at the same time, some days feel like they’re a week long. (What’s that expression? “The days are long, but the years are short.”) As prospect researchers, it is part of our job to keep an eye on all that’s happening and think about its impact (both immediate and potential) on our organizations. Doing that while trying to crank out profiles, run reports, and identify new prospects (not to mention process gifts, write grant proposals, and all of the other things that you might be doing if you work in a small shop) can be challenging, to say the least. If you are like me, you probably have a folder full of bookmarked articles that you saved for later reading. I know that folder can be overwhelming sometimes, so I spent some time tackling mine and pulled out some of the top themes that I’ve been observing over the last year, along with some articles that I think are worth reading and contemplating. I hope that you will have some down time over the next few weeks to read some of them and that they will help inform your work in 2018!

     

    Growth of new philanthropic vehicles and types of gifts

    Foundations and cash gifts are still around, but donors are looking more and more to non-traditional philanthropic vehicles (like DAFs and LLCs) and forms of giving (like impact investment and donations of art—or bitcoin.)

    More on this theme:

    When M&A money goes to charity: EscrowUp closes second transaction

    “More donors give bitcoin and assets other than cash to charity”

    “SharesPost and Fidelity plan to make private shares a force for charity”

    And anyone with even a passing interest in art will enjoy reading about two auctions in which significant works were (or will soon be) sold to benefit nonprofit organizations.

     

    GDPR legislation and privacy

    A new law, the general data protection regulation (GDPR), will take effect in the EU in May 2018, replacing the current Data Protection Act. This law is expected to have a major impact on nonprofits and fundraising in general, and prospect research more specifically. Our counterparts in the UK and the European Union have spent much of 2017 working to ensure that their organizations are compliant with the law, but lest you think that those of us in the US needn’t follow this too closely, you should know that the law applies to any organization that holds data about citizens of the UK or the EU. If any of your constituents live in the UK or the EU, this affects you.

     

    Philanthropy steps up where government fails to meet needs…and also grapples with its role in (democratic—small d) politics

    More and more, we are seeing organizations and institutions that have traditionally been funded largely or entirely by the government relying more heavily on private donations for funding. Although this has been the case for a while now in education and the arts, it is an issue that seemed to intensify in 2017 and to expand to other areas.

    A few examples:

    Donors pledge nearly $200 million for family planning

    Michael Bloomberg Offers $15 Million to Make Up for Washington’s Share of the Paris Accord Costs

    Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Helps East Palo Alto with water shortage, affordable housing

    Will private funding save public arts education?

    Foundations commit $5M to ensure an equitable recovery in Puerto Rico

     

    At the same time, nonprofit organizations and individual philanthropists have begun to do some real soul-searching about what role the third sector should play in a healthy democracy. For thoughts on this, see:

    Is Big Philanthropy Compatible with Democracy?

    How Trump Has Changed How We’re Giving to Charity” (This one, and the report it links to, has some great stats on giving—it’s worth a close look.)

    As Government Retrenches, Philanthropy Booms

    Trump Era Requires Surge of Grant Making to Aid Democracy

    House GOP’s Tax Plan Would Open Up Politics to Churches—And Charities

     

    Paradise Papers

    In November the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reported on a months-long investigation of a trove of leaked documents centering around the Bermuda-based law firm Appleby. The documents reveal many details of the complex offshore holdings of many of the world’s high net worth individuals (HNWI), demonstrating that the practice of holding wealth offshore is more widespread than many have realized and that the amount of assets held outside the jurisdiction of many nations is enormous. There are many, many fascinating articles on the ICIJ website, so give yourself some time to wander down the rabbit hole.

    If you prefer to listen rather than read, check out this podcast about the Paradise Papers investigation, and if you are interested in a deep dive into the world of wealth management, I highly recommend Brooke Harrington’s book “Capital Without Borders: Wealth Managers and the One Percent.”

     

    Collaboration

    In a world that seems so divided, one of the most encouraging trends I’ve observed this year has been seeing groups of donors and (smart, in my opinion) nonprofits working together to make big progress against big challenges.

    More on this theme:

    Inside a Funder Collaborative Seeking Social Justice Through Pop Culture

    Adding Pantries and Spice to New York’s Hungry Neighborhoods

     

    …and to energize you for the work that awaits in 2018, don’t miss this love letter to prospect research. We already know that the work we do is important, but it’s nice to have that knowledge confirmed by donors too!

     

    I’d love to hear about what caught your attention this year. Please share some of your favorite articles too, and happy reading in 2018!

  • 11/08/2017 12:41 PM | Vicki O'Brien

    The Impact of Thanking Annual Fund Donors

    When I was younger, my mother forced me to write thank you notes to anyone who had given me a gift for my birthday. It seemed like a chore at the time, but as an adult, I came to appreciate when I was thanked for sending a gift – and I certainly remembered those that never thanked me. Today, sometimes a simple “thank you” seems like a dying art.

    As nonprofit organizations, it’s critical that we thank our donors promptly. That $25 annual fund donor could turn out to be a $25,000 donor in the future if he or she feels appreciated right from the start. But every organization sends a thank you letter. What if you took it one step further?

    A couple of years ago, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center supercharged its annual giving program with the addition of two special gifts officers (SGO). One of the roles of the SGOs is to reach out to annual fund donors to thank them for their first-time gift or for finishing paying a pledge. They also call other donors that our prospect research/management team identifies as having potential for making larger or additional gifts but who aren’t yet major gift prospects.

    Delighting the Donor

    I love reading our SGOs’ contact reports. It is not unusual for a donor to be taken completely by surprise by our thank you calls. Unlike major donors, a thank you call is unusual for lower-level donors to receive, and they’re delighted to be recognized. This leads our SGOs to ask what motivated them to make a gift, and we’ve heard some wonderful stories from our medical school alumni who valued their time here as well as patients who were pleased with their care. When we hear, “You saved my life,” we know we found a potentially loyal donor. This opens the door for our SGOs to ask for continued giving, and I’m amazed at how many donors say, “Absolutely,” and proceed to give a credit card number over the phone or ask for a reply envelope in the mail.

    In addition to phone calls, our SGOs visit patients in the hospital. We monitor a daily list of inpatients looking for unmanaged alumni, current or former board members, recent annual fund donors, and lapsed but previously consistent donors. The SGOs stop in to say hello, bring a medical center tote bag or other swag, a handwritten get well note, and a business card. They thank the donor for being a friend to the medical center, and of course there is no solicitation at the time. It’s simply a thank you visit. These visits have gone very well, and many times we’ve seen gifts come in after the patients have been discharged.

    Uncovering Major Gift Prospects

    When SGOs are engaging these donors, they listen for clues that someone could eventually be a major or planned gift prospect. After some cultivation and at an appropriate time, the SGO may hand off these prospects to a major gift officer for further cultivation. However, there have been times when a significant gift came in before re-assignment. For instance, one of our SGOs really bonded with one of our medical school alums, who revealed that he had included the medical school in his estate plans. Teaming up with a major gift officer for a visit with the donor, the SGO was able to document this gift. This alum had barely been contacted before the SGO reached out to thank him for his loyal giving.

    By having the prospect research/management team work in conjunction with the annual funds team to identify prospects for SGOs to call or visit, the number of annual fund renewals has increased, and donors are left feeling good about supporting our organization. We’d like to think our efforts would have made Emily Post proud.

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