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The Prospector

The Prospector
A Publication of Apra Metro DC
A Publication of APRA Metro DC
Discover New Ideas | Learn New Approaches | Build New Connections
Newsletter Chair & Editor January 16, 2018
Elizabeth Dickson Volume 6 Issue 1

From the President’s Desk: Reflection and Thanks
1 From the President’s Director of Prospect Management, The Humane Society of the United States
Desk With the start of a new year upon us, I often find myself in
1 The View from the reflection mode at this time of year. What keeps me engaged
in prospect development after all these years and continues to
AASP Conference motivate me in my career?
2 Showing Our Value
Streamlining processes, solving problems, and using data to
3 Mentor Program inform decisions, makes work fun for a data nerd like me.
Update Building strong relationships and identifying opportunities for
collaboration with colleagues makes work a pleasure. Having
4 Research Policies and the ability to address the big picture issues in nonprofit fundraising shops excites me.
Procedures And since prospect development is often the unsung hero of fundraising, recognizing and
celebrating my team’s impact is simply the best part of my job.
6 Stand Out in the
Conference Crowd It’s also a season for gratitude and I couldn’t be more grateful for Apra Metro DC. Our
members are leaders in the field and I leave every event and presentation with new
ideas to implement. Our board members and volunteers are elevating the chapter to
new heights with compelling events, new content, and what is shaping out to be an
incredible annual conference with expert speakers you won’t want to miss.

For the 2017-2018 programming year, our theme is “Our Programming, Our Way” and we
SAVE THE DATE! are focusing on member-driven content that celebrates the chapter’s diversity and
expertise. If you’re seeking more ways to get involved, drop me a note –
Apra Metro DC Annual – and let’s chat. Your ideas keep us moving forward, so
Conference thanks for sharing them with our community.
Hear from leading
industry experts at this
year’s Apra Metro DC The View from the AASP Conference
Annual Conference! By Pamela Lewis
Director of Research and Prospect Management, George Mason University
Date: Wednesday, April
As I reflect on my attendance at the Association of Advancement Services Professionals
25th 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 Conference, both on how I came to be there and what I learned, I am first, honored that
p.m. I was selected to receive the Apra Metro DC chapter scholarship to attend, and that I got
to experience this gathering of people that form the foundation of relational fundraising
and development. They are the techies that speak the language of advancement; the
Location: Share Our multidimensional research analysts focusing on analytics, knowledge and strategy to
Strength 1030 15th St NW make sense of it all; and the gift and bio data experts managing the information that all
of advancement needs to be successful. AASP attendees are a passionate and innovative
Register: here! group, convening to share what they know and to learn from each other, which made for
a great conference.

The View from the AASP Conference continued on page 5.
Page 2 The Prospector
Showing Our Value
By Anne Dean
Director of Research & Relationship Management, The George Washington University
We interview for our jobs every day, so we had better make ourselves indispensable by not only doing amazing work, but
also telling people in a meaningful way the value of that work. No pressure! Luckily, every interaction is an opportunity to
show our value. Here are a few tips and tricks for reminding our colleagues of our unique and important contributions.

Daily, Informally

The easiest way to eat the elephant is one bite at a time. Start small and take time to connect with your gift officers about
how things are going. Open-ended questions or questions without a question mark – preferably in person or over the phone –
will show that you are paying attention to their world and enable them to connect your work with their outcomes. I like
this option a lot; it is the least pressure with the most possible reward. You control the time and place and you can do this
frequently, without building charts.

Sample questions/statements
- How did your visits in Nevada go? (when you provided 20 names)
- Did your call to Mrs. Smith go well? (when you helped formulate the cultivation strategy)
- I read your contact report on Dr. Jones, sounds like you hit it off! (when you found Dr. Jones through prospecting)
- I heard great things about the salon event! (when you contributed to the invitation list or provided background

It is easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day and forget that it takes energy and courage to act on all of the things we
recommend to our gift officers. Set calendar reminders for yourself to check in with them – two weeks after assigning the
new prospect, two days after they return from traveling, a few days after the event. Catch them in the hall, stop by, or
hang around after a meeting.

These questions are an easy forum to remind gift officers how prospect development combines with their work to create

Less Frequent, More Formal

While presentations are more formal, even small ones provide prospect development staff with another easy platform to
showing value. A presentation can take the form of speaking up in a meeting on “what have you done for me lately.” Every
meeting, even ones where you hear about rat problems in the building or a reminder to clean the microwave after using it,
is an opportunity to show your value.

Sample questions/statements
- Super excited to have been able to provide Gift Officer Brown with 20 new prospects for her trip to Nevada, glad to see great
traction in that geo region.
- Had a solid strategy session with Gift Officer Brown prior to the call with Mrs. Smith, there’s real potential there.
- Really neat to find Dr. Jones through my prospect identification efforts – a great lead for Gift Officer Brown to be sure.
- Glad to hear all of the good outcomes from the salon event – particularly that we were able to get Ms. Davis to attend!

It can be challenging to put yourself out there, so assume no one knows what you are working on for them and take the time
to remind them! Preparing what you will say ahead of time will help take the pressure off in this group setting.

Annual Reports, Even More Formal

Creating annual reports is a pain, but you have to do it. These “greatest hits” from the year are about an investment and
belief that, if you put a report together, it will be read and used. This gets to the core of showing value by trusting that
senior management cares about prospect development and what we are doing.

Sometimes prospect development staff get stuck on wanting to connect to only the results we have a direct impact on.
However, there is nothing we have a direct impact on; with very few exceptions, none of us are talking with prospects,
donors, members, or alumni directly. Create and use visualizations that clearly connect your work with gift officer results.

Showing Our Value continued on page 3.
The Prospector Page 3

Apra Metro DC Mentorship Program Update
Year two of the Apra DC mentorship program has begun and the program is looking to expand! We currently have four
mentor and mentee pairs and are looking to double these pairs by the 2018 Apra DC conference. If you are interested in
being a mentor or looking for a mentee, please contact Thomas Turner at and Thomas will
connect you with a mentor or mentee as soon as possible.

Showing Our Value continued from page 2.

Sample visualizations/stories
- Number of prospects identified who are now under management, were qualified/disqualified, contacted, proposal
opened, strategy created, gave
- Number of actions within 30, 60, 90, and 120 days following research by subtracting research date from action date
(example above)
- One or two specific stories of significant gifts (with happy donor photo!) that closed where prospect development was
somewhere in the process: identification, research, portfolio review

Challenge yourself to create something interesting and beautiful that you are proud to have out there – use the organization’s
“official” colors and photos, try to keep it to 4 pages (how about 3?), whatever works.

The great thing about annual reports is that you and your leadership will have them to refer to in the future. These reports
show our value by providing high-level information on what we accomplished in the year, as well as a narrative and visual of
progress over several years.

Start Small and Build

Showing our value is everyone’s responsibility, regardless of our position in the organization. The annual report or a formal
presentation with fancy slide deck are often where people’s minds go when wanting to show the value of our work, but it is
easier than that. Regularly and informally speaking to gift officers and following up on work provided will help them draw
that linkage – and provides the opportunity for prospect development to hear what went well and what could be improved
next time. To be clear, showing our value does not mean being in people’s faces about how great we are. That result comes
from consistently taking the time to make connections between our work and gift officer success.
Page 4 The Prospector
Research Policies and Procedures: Establish, Document, Enforce!
By Catherine Flaatten
Manager of Prospect Research, Share Our Strength

Running a research shop, particularly as a new manager or as the sole researcher, is certainly a challenging endeavor. One of
my first projects when I assumed command of my research team was to develop and implement prescribed research policies
and procedures. My goal, strange as it may sound, was to make myself somewhat “replaceable” – that is, to create such
organization and systems within the shop that if I were to disappear, anyone could step in and continue research operations
seamlessly. I decided to focus on the processes surrounding task inflow, product outflow, and information storage.

One of the most crucial processes is the research request and delivery system. A research request form helps streamline this
process for both researchers and fundraisers. When developing this form, it is important to include:

• Prospect background information: the bare minimum data needed by the researcher to complete the request
• Purpose of request: knowing the reason for the request (qualification, cultivation, upcoming meeting or
solicitation, etc.) helps the researcher tailor the report appropriately
• Type of research: the fundraiser’s desired outputs, including level of detail for each item

The request form I designed includes three levels of research, from basic highlights to a full research profile, each with
clickable boxes for different types of information (assets, giving, biographical information, etc.). This can be a document
separated from or integrated with your CRM; mine is separate. Fundraisers can choose any level as-is, or can mix-and-match
various levels of detail for different types of information as it suits their needs. In my organization, fundraisers generally use
the set “levels” but will occasionally add more detail to certain areas; other times they will request even less information
than what is typically included in the most basic level. Customizing the report to produce exactly what the fundraiser needs
saves both of us time and effort.

Accordingly, templates for the different levels of reports should be developed. This will ensure consistency and quality of
research outputs across the entire team. I created three standard templates – one for each level of research – in which each
piece of information is accounted for. It is also important to have a few completed report examples for onboarding and
training to maintain uniformity among all staff.

In addition, one should make sure that the internal research processes are documented and disseminated to the research
team and other stakeholders, as appropriate. My arsenal of guides includes:

• Strategic plan: at the least, a list of research team activities with strategic goals/objectives and timelines
associated with each item; can increase in scope and complexity as the shop matures
• Prospect research overview: a primer on prospect research and how it functions within the organization, aimed at
onboarding new staff (particularly those unfamiliar with the industry)
• Research request policies: detailed guidelines for request submission, processing, and fulfillment; key for setting
expectations among both researchers and fundraisers
• Storing and finding research in the database: where and how research should be filed (for the researchers) and how
to access different types of information (for fundraisers)
• Other: anything else the research team does that is not covered in these documents

Lastly, once these processes and documents are in place, they must be enforced! Allowing researchers and fundraisers to
operate outside of the shop’s systems undermines the entire effort and will inevitably result in miscommunications, errors,
and diminished trust in the research team. That is not to say that flexibility and adaptation are off the table; on the
contrary, research processes and the suite of documents supporting them should be re-evaluated periodically (I recommend
at least once a year). Input from research stakeholders – including researchers, database managers, fundraisers, executives,
and other users – is crucial to ensuring that research systems are optimized for everyone involved.

Establishing research systems, processes, and documents is crucial for several reasons: setting and enforcing expectations,
transferal of knowledge, and increased flexibility and accountability. By implementing standard processes, complete with
forms, templates, and reference documents, a shop’s efficacy is exponentially improved, allowing for its growth from basic
research operations to become a strategic partner within the organization.
The Prospector Page 5
The View from the AASP Conference continued from page 1.

As a first-time attendee to an AASP conference, I didn’t know what to expect, but my approach to any conference or
presentation is that if I can take away at least one thing to apply to or enhance my work, it is a positive experience.
It is well known that prospect development is trending profoundly in the direction of data analytics for predicting,
forecasting and evaluating donor activity and behavior. When I applied for the scholarship to attend AASP, my goal for the
conference was “to increase my knowledge of the application and execution of data analytics.” With that goal in mind, I
attended the Data Analytics and Business Intelligence Pre-conference Workshop. Informative and enlightening, the workshop
began with a panel discussion featuring experts in the field. Among the key insights from the panel was an awareness that
the value of the data analytics staff/vendor outputs and business intelligence operations are exponentially enhanced when
strategy and knowledge are thoroughly aligned so that actionable insights can be discovered in the data. This information
underscored the significant role of research and prospect management. Most of us have heard about or experienced an
example of an organization contracting with a vendor for predictive models or analytics data, which then sits unused
because no strategic plan was developed or implemented to ensure action on the data. As one of the panelists said, business
intelligence can facilitate understanding about both the present situation and root cause problems, but can also provide
insight on a way forward, if there is a plan for its use that is intentional toward the goal of fundraising.

While this high level insight was a good take-away, the hardest part of data analytics, I learned, is determining and agreeing
on what variables are most useful to get at what you are trying to predict. During the session titled, Pipeline Data Points
Critical to Success, the speaker provided analytic data points for measuring prospect movement and changes, and
emphasized that analysis should be done routinely to track prospect activity. A noteworthy assertion, which could be used to
convince senior leadership of the importance of analyzing data was that, “without analytics a pipeline is just a list of
prospects and what you hope to get from them.” According to the presenter, the following pipeline data points can be
utilized, not only to evaluate a pipeline, but to assess trends and gauge capacity as aligned to goals:

§ Amount asked/expected/funded - critical for projections and analyzing close rates
§ Date Asked/expected/funded - analysis of timelines
§ Probability – only considers likelihood of 60% or more
§ Moves management stage - demonstrates prospect movement through the development cycle

Attending conferences are opportunities to meet others in the field and gain knowledge, but conference attendance can also
serve to validate your vision and current strategy. The opening AASP keynote presentation titled, The Big Data of Life,
centered on transformational growth: organizational, professional, and personal. The presenters asked, “What does it mean
to impact the changing world of philanthropy?” In recounting the major paradigm shifts and irreversible trends that have
occurred during the past ten years, they reminded the audience of the fact that we all now carry personal devices more
powerful than the computers that put men on the moon. With these shifts, they said, “tactics are not enough – problems
have to be solved holistically.” This phrase encapsulated and validated for me the logic-based rational that led to the design
of the PRIMED (Prospects – Researched, Identified, and Managed for Engaged Development) initiative, developed at Mason.
The failure of tactics identified the need to holistically approach the issues of identifying, interpreting, analyzing, and
managing prospects and information to more effectively contribute to the organization’s fundraising success. The
comprehensive PRIMED approach, of training, research, data analysis, knowledge management, and best practices when
embraced, can deliver on the potential for transformational growth in attitudes, outputs, and outcomes for the entire

Each new project undertaken and assignment successfully completed contributes to knowledge development and increased
competencies that optimistically have the potential to escalate our professional value to the organizations we serve. In the
Advancing Your Career session, the speaker was of the opinion that advancement services professionals, once the lowest
paid in fundraising, now command salaries that are on average higher than alumni affairs and on par with marketing and
communications. While the speaker was most likely referring to data and business intelligence analysts, this session
highlighted the importance of quantifying professional contributions. Highly skilled research and prospect management
analysts should continually develop their professional competencies, so that in the future higher salaries, equal to those of
the fundraisers they support, will be the norm. Referencing frontline fundraisers, one presenter said, “fundraising is a
quantitative industry – the math is ruthless – if you don’t like what the numbers are saying change your behavior.” Just as
relevant when applied to the work and reputation of research and prospect management, this statement articulates that if I
haven’t secured the respect or higher pay that I want with current efforts, I can disrupt my business as usual practices, by
modifying behaviors or outputs, with the intent of positively affecting organizational and personal outcomes.

My attendance at the AASP Conference would not have been possible without the Apra Metro DC scholarship, and it was
certainly worth the time and effort to apply. With five tracks, this conference covers all things advancement services and
provides an excellent opportunity to see what others are doing, to network, and to discover what’s trending in the field.
Page 6 The Prospector
Stand Out in the Conference Crowd: Tips & Tricks to
Apra Metro DC Conquer a Conference
P.O. Box 2741 By Andrea Beeman
Washington, DC 20013 Research & Lead Generation Coordinator,
University of Maryland University College
(202) 994-6625 Your boss just let you know that you’ll be one of your organization’s
representatives at a large conference. SCORE! You’re excited because the
E-mail: location is great and you get out of the office for a few days. But before you pack
your bags and hop on that airplane, stop and strategize using these tips and tricks.

Follow Us! Before the conference:

• Make a game plan: Create a list of your top priorities and goals for the
conference and brainstorm with your supervisor and teammates to make sure
you’re making the best use of your time. Planning ahead and being strategic
about your attendance is a good way to gain respect from your boss and the
best way to utilize your organization’s time and resources.
Visit Our Website! • Utilize the attendee list: Typically, the conference will have an app or will
send around a list of attendees. It is your job to use it! Is there someone you
need to connect with? Are there prospects that you need to follow up with or
The Apra Metro DC introduce yourself to? Write down their names, and make it a priority to
connect with them BEFORE the conference to arrange a time to meet. While
Board of Directors you’re at it, create your own version of the conference schedule so that you
don’t have the clutter of the panels and sessions you won’t be attending.
Rachel Collins | President
Lindsey Nadeau| Past President During the conference:
Catherine Flaatten | Programming Chair
Bob Lyon | Secretary • Take notes: There is a 100% chance that you will not remember every detail
Lauren Turner | Treasurer of the sessions or even what you wore during the conference. Write it down
Ana Morgenstern | Communications as soon as possible so that you’re able to accurately remember and share the
information with others.
Anne Dean| Sponsorship Chair
Elizabeth Dickson| Newsletter Chair
Andy McMahon| Membership Chair • Branch out: It’s easy to get caught up with one particular person or group
Thomas Turner | Mentor Chair during the conference. For the best return on investment, spend this time
Edward Wynne | At-Large interacting with people you wouldn’t normally meet or see otherwise. Make
Devon Villa Gessert | At-Large it a goal to diversify your networking pool and take advantage of
Leslie Cronen | Ex-Officio opportunities to meet new people.

• Take a break: This might sound counterintuitive, but if you attend every
single early morning and late night event, chances are you’ll wear yourself
Thank you to Apra out before the conference has really started. If you take some time to catch
Metro DC's Sponsors! your breath, you’ll be ready to face the next networking reception feeling
refreshed and on top of your game.
Gold Sponsor After the conference:

• Follow up: For each person you connect with, you should create a logical
next action step. It might be as simple as connecting on LinkedIn, sending an
email with an invitation to get together, or adding their name and
information to your database. Make it a priority to complete the next steps
as soon as you return to the office.

Friend of the Conference • Share with your team: Sharing the notes you took, the connections you
made, and insights you gained with your team will be a valuable resource for
you and your teammates. Remember, your team is your best resource!

Conferences can be of great value to your organization and your professional
development. Choose to stand out among the crowd and prepare yourself for a
profitable experience.