Happy New Year Apra Missouri/Kansas Members!
I hope these first few weeks have been a productive start to what promises to be an eventful year. We at Apra Missouri/Kansas have some exciting news to share both about the Board and events/opportunities on the horizon for our members.
First let me introduce the newest member of our board, Teri Brickey, who was appointed our Membership Chair/Treasurer in late November. Teri joins us from the Saint Louis Art Museum, adding a much needed arts/culture perspective to our Board, and her experience in Development and Stewardship are already helping us build new and innovative plans to expand our membership. Currently our membership sits at 52 members, with a goal to expand to over 70 members, allowing more opportunities for networking and sharing knowledge with a diverse and talented group of researchers and managers. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your membership please feel free to reach out to her or myself.
When our Board was appointed in July, we knew that we wanted to continue the incredible legacy set by past Board leaders to create meaningful opportunities for our members to seek education, network, ask questions of their peers, and present opportunities where they can make their voices heard on topics affecting small and large shops alike. To do this we’ve worked hard to expand our programming starting with the following events:
Apra Missouri/Kansas Winter Social & Trivia Challenge
January 28th, 2020
Join us in St. Louis, Kansas City & Columbia at special locations that offer trivia by Geeks Who Drink. Trivia is FREE and the questions will be the same at all locations, allowing us to "compete" with each other, as well as with local participants. Find out more information here!
Apra MO/KAN & AFP Event at Wichita State University Campus & Online (Zoom):
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m
Prospecting for Gold: How to Fill Your Pipeline with the Right Prospects
Development operations come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you are a one-person shop or have a team of gift officers, figuring out which potential donors to focus time and energy on can be challenging. In this session, Marissa Todd of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and Michelle Brownlee of Children’s Mercy Hospital, both visiting presenters from the Kansas City area, will show you how to use your own database to build a prospect pipeline that leads to meaningful relationships and gifts for your organization. The presenters will also share some of their favorite research resources that they use to help provide insight into the best prospects. You will walk away eager to find those hidden gems who may be your next lifelong benefactor!
Check your emails for more information to come!
Apra Midwest Conference:
Des Moines, IA
May 7th-8th, 2020
Expanding on the great work done in 2018, we are excited to share that Apra Missouri/Kansas will be a partner of the 2nd Apra Midwest Conference in May 2020 alongside Apra Great Plains and Apra Minnesota. Get inspired by Liz Rejman as she walks us through what it takes to lead from where you stand. Fountain your leadership skills with our book club book, Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. Learn and share knowledge and experiences at each breakout session. Enjoy networking opportunities woven throughout the conference. Make new friends and see the old. Registration just opened this week and we hope to see you in Des Moines!
For more information, check out the Apra Midwest Conference site.
Beyond these events, another goal for our chapter in 2020 is to expand opportunities for our members to pursue professional development, especially in shops where budgets make this impossible. Having personally benefited from the 2017 Pat Ives Scholarship, I can attest to the power of professional development and how it helped shape me into the prospect manager I am today. I invite you to apply for the following two scholarships and submit ideas to our programming manager, Michelle Brownlee, about how we might in the future be able to better serve our members’ professional development needs.
Pat Ives Scholarship:
To celebrate our pursuit of knowledge and help as many Apra Missouri/Kansas members like you as possible evolve as professionals in our field, we are proud to offer one (1) scholarship to cover the cost of this year’s conference registration (Apra Midwest 2020). For a scholarship recipient traveling at least an hour away, we will cover travel expenses, main conference fee, and one night’s lodging at our preferred hotel; meals and other expenses are paid by attendees.
Apra Missouri Kansas Professional Development Scholarship:
To celebrate our pursuit of knowledge and continue to grow professionals in our area, we are proud to award a scholarship to one individual for 2020 so that they may pursue their professional development in prospect management and research. In return, that chosen recipient will need to write a guest blog for the Chapter detailing what they learned from this opportunity.
• You must be a current, dues-paying member of the Apra Missouri/Kansas Chapter
• You have fully completed the application
• You have added a brief, typed document stating financial need and ways you and your institution can benefit from the opportunity you have chosen
• You have submitted the materials to us by May 15, 2020.
Having benefited so greatly from all that Apra Missouri/Kansas has provided over the years, it is an honor and a privilege to serve as your President. It is the hope of myself, and all members of our Board, to make this membership meaningful to you in your career pursuits and to provide you as many opportunities to continue growing and learning as possible. These are trying times for nonprofits and corporations alike and if Apra has taught me one thing, it’s that once you’re a member you’re never alone, no matter how difficult the question, meeting, or spreadsheet. I look forward to connecting with you and making this another fantastic year for Apra Missouri/Kansas.
Greetings Apra Mo/Kan!
This is a bittersweet post as we just held elections and I am officially in my last month as your President. It has been such an honor to serve our Chapter in this role for the last two years. In that time we held our first joint conference with Apra Great Plains, expanded our membership, and started this blog. We have a very active Twitter account and have been adding more programming, focusing on virtual ways to bring us all together across our wide geography. More exciting things are in store and you will have an amazing group of dedicated volunteers leading the way. I am thrilled to announce our Apra Mo/Kan Board for 2019-2020
President: Brinkley Smith, University of Missouri St. Louis
Vice-President/Secretary: Shannon Koehn, Wichita State University Foundation
Treasurer/Membership Director: Heather Held Nelson, Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation
Communications Director: Travis Sewell, St. Louis Symphony
Conference Chair: Samantha Welsh, University of Missouri
Program Director: Michelle Brownlee, Children’s Mercy
This terrific group spans our geography and represents a diverse group of organizations. I am so proud we as a Chapter have so many engaged members who want to serve.
I am moving on to Apra International’s board where I hope to represent small shops and the Midwest with pride. Know although I will not be part of your Chapter leadership, I am still here and will be an ear for the new board if they need me.
There are two other board members who are rolling off and I cannot thank them enough for all they have done for our Chapter during their tenures. Caitlin Sturgeon has been the Communication Director for six years. In that time she has redone the Chapter website, created numerous conference logos and materials, and launched our Twitter account and blog. She has done so much to keep us organized and connected with members. Julie Craig has been the Vice-President/Secretary for several years. Julie’s experience and leadership were key in restructuring our board and creating our first budget. In addition to her formal board role, Julie has volunteered for the conference committee the last three years, playing an instrumental part in our successful conference growth and programming. It’s no wonder Apra is honoring Julie with the Margaret Fuhry Award this year, a testament to her leadership, mentorship, and volunteerism.
Being part of Apra Mo/Kan has expanded my knowledge of our profession and created new friendships and connections. I hope you continue to find our Chapter meaningful for you in these ways and many others. Thank you for letting me be a part of this amazing organization! See you in Phoenix for Prospect Development or at a future Apra Mo/Kan event!
This month marks the completion of my very first year working as a prospect researcher. Among the many things I learned from my research colleagues this year is the fact that I am not alone in the way I entered this profession – which was sort-of by accident!
One year ago, I joined a higher education fundraising team after having applied to a job announcement with a title that intrigued me, but which I had never heard of: “prospect research analyst.” Looking back now, I am happy to report that I not only understand what a prospect researcher does, but also that I have a good handle on the specific practices that produce effective prospect research. For me, this year’s learning process has looked a little something like this:
1. Mastering the basics
In the course of this year, I have come to see database maintenance, biographical profiles, and capacity screening summaries as the three essential building blocks of the support I provide to the front-line fundraisers and leaders on my team. Without a strong database – and the humans who are responsible for accurately maintaining and organizing the information held within it – no organization can effectively use its data. In addition to my organization’s donor database, constituent profiles and capacity screening summaries have become my go-to tools for communicating important donor information with front-line fundraisers. I have been using my organization’s existing templates to fulfill these requests, and I have gradually started adapting them to better fit the requirements of each request I receive.
2. Moving towards proactive research
To get a footing in prospect research, my first year in the profession was more weighted towards responding to the specific research requests I received from development officers and our university’s senior administrators. In the coming year, I hope to take a more proactive approach to research projects. So far, I have mostly relied on news sources and relevant corporate and government goings-on as my sources for uncovering information important to my organization. This year, I’d like to shift my approach and start using my organization’s wealth screening research tools in a proactive way, and to most effectively share the information I find with fundraisers.
3. Seeing the world through the lens of research
These days, I often catch myself inevitably and automatically asking research-oriented questions about any information I come across. Questions like, “where did this information come from?”, “what is this source’s track record in providing accurate information?”, or “where else could I find the information I’m seeking?” This process usually takes place when I’m off the clock, and I hear or read anything that captures my attention. A recent example of a story that sparked these questions for me was a November feature in The New York Times, “A Business With No End.” It’s partially an intriguing mystery, and partially a showcase of great visual and story design. But it is also a story that shines a spotlight on research legwork, and it reminded me of why I find our profession so fulfilling.
4. Joining a community
Above all, I can’t emphasize enough how helpful Apra and our very own Apra Mo/Kan chapter have been during each step of my introduction to the prospect research universe! In-person networking and professional development sessions allowed me to meet new colleagues and learn from their approaches to similar questions I have faced in my work. In the coming year, I hope I’ll see you too at one of these events and get the chance to hear all about everything you have learned, accomplished, and uncovered this year.
It’s that time of year when the board sends out a general appeal for our members to share their expertise and present at our conference. It is overlooked by many, perhaps no more than by those new to the profession. When I first started in the field, I remember thinking that I’d never know enough to possibly present, certainly not while I’m new. How very wrong I was. My mentor encouraged me to present with her, and it was not nearly as intimidating as my fear led me to believe. Your experiences, however brief, are just as valuable as those who have been in this field for decades. Don’t be afraid to share what you know and have learned with the group.
Your first professional presentation will undoubtedly be approached with a healthy dose of fear. Before you take those brave first steps up to the podium, you’ll probably start where I did, asking yourself, “What on earth do I even talk about? What could I possibly have to offer when I’ve been doing this for less than a year?” Spoiler, you can talk about anything! We have plenty of prospect development professionals that are new to our field attend our conferences. You can help them along by sharing your experiences. And for those of us who have been doing this awhile, sometimes you think of better ways of doing things that we would love to learn about. It’s also a nice reminder for us what challenges face new researchers.
Case studies are a great way to break into presenting. They are probably the easiest route to go because it’s just telling everyone how you went about solving a problem. It could be that the problem is a common one, but your approach was one you hadn’t read about. Or it could be a weird problem you searched for answers for but ultimately had to come up with a creative solution on your own. The problems you’re solving can be as broad (you didn’t have a system in place for tracking research requests) or specific (you had to provide capacity information on an author and had to research how royalties work) as you like – just as long as you have a story to tell about how you fixed it.
The buddy system is also a great way to present for the first time. My first presentation was with my mentor, and it made a huge difference having someone I knew up there with me. Did you develop a new approach to working one-on-one with gift officers? Bring one of them along! Did you and a fellow researcher work together to solve a problem? You both can talk about it! Maybe you and your supervisor worked on a big project together – you can tag team and each talk about the parts you worked on.
If you’ve managed to make it this far and you’re not new to the field, congratulations. We still need you. Many members of our chapter have years of experience and have never shared with us by presenting. It’s never too late to start sharing all the wealth of knowledge you’ve developed. Hopefully, some of the above information has triggered something in you and have you’ve had a lightbulb moment about a great idea on what to present. If I haven’t managed to convince how easy it can be to present, I hope at the very least we get to see you at our conference on March 21-22 in St. Louis.
Greetings Apra Mo/Kan!
It was amazing to see so many of you in Pittsburgh! Thank you for those who made it out early on Friday to have breakfast and network. Look at all these smiling faces!
What a great way to unofficially kick off our new Apra Mo/Kan year! This week several of our members in the Kansas City area are gathering to share insights from the Prospect Development conference. We’ll share some of the highlights on our Twitter for members in other areas of our territory. And don’t worry – our professional development committee has many plans in store for other cities including Wichita, Springfield, and mid-Missouri!
Our biggest event every year is always our spring conference. In 2019 we are heading back to St. Louis. Plans are still being made for date and location. If you are interested in helping plan the programming, solicit sponsorships or work on logistics, please contact me so we can get you on the 2019 Conference Committee. We’ll be having our first teleconference meeting sometime in early September, so please let me know by August 31 if you want to be in on the fun. It’s a great way to meet other Chapter members and help create some of our most meaningful programming!
I’m looking forward to seeing many of you next spring in St. Louis – and hopefully in the months in between at some of our other programs and of course on Twitter! Have an excellent end to summer!
July 1 kicked off a new board year for Apra Missouri/Kansas (Mo/Kan) and I am so excited to share some of the plans taking shape for 2018-2019!
Hopefully you joined us at our first ever joint conference with Apra Great Plains in March. We welcomed over 80 members from the Midwest for two days of networking and learning. It was an overwhelming success and based on survey responses, we will plan to do another joint conference in 2020 in the Great Plains Chapter area. Our next Chapter conference will be spring 2019 in St. Louis and more details will be coming this fall, as well as a call for presentations. If you are feeling particularly inspired after this year, please consider sharing your knowledge in St. Louis!
Your membership connects you to an amazing professional network of prospect development professionals across Missouri, Kansas and even some of our neighboring states. This year, we are ramping up the value of your membership by planning virtual educational opportunities and local networking events so you can meet more of your peers face-to-face outside of our annual conference. We also plan to communicate with you more via this blog on our website so our board and volunteers can share useful information about resources, events and opportunities to engage.
If you are going to be in Pittsburgh for Apra’s Prospect Development conference, you will have lots of fellow Apra Mo/Kan members to meet! Heidi Harmelik from University of Missouri is on the Data Analytics Symposium committee, so if you work in analytics or are just wanting to get started, consider adding this to your agenda and supporting the efforts of one of our members. I hope all of you in Pittsburgh will join me at an Apra Mo/Kan happy hour we are organizing. More details to come in a few weeks.
Increased programming takes many hands and we want YOU to be part of the fun! We need volunteers to help plan events in your local area, be a mentor to newer professionals, write for our blog and share knowledge and information through our social media. The time commitment varies but the reward of helping grow our Chapter into a more robust professional network is worth it. If you are interested in learning more or volunteering, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope to engage with each of our members this year at some point, whether at a networking event or out in the Twittersphere. And I hope you will feel free to send your comments and suggestions to me or any board member about how we can add value to your professional development through Apra Missouri/Kansas. Thank you for being a member! And if you are not already a member, consider this my personal invitation to join us!