The Birthplace of Apra

2023 Apra-MN Conference

Conference Details

WHEN: Monday, October 2, 2023 from 8:30am to 4:00pm Central Time

WHERE: The Bakken Museum, 3537 Zenith Avenue S, Minneapolis, MN 55418

PARKING: Free street parking is available on Zenith Avenue South (west side of the street) and both sides of nearby West 36th Street. There is also free parking available in The Bakken's surface lot off Zenith Avenue South; space is limited, but the museum will be closed to the public which should mitigate any parking issues.

TRANSPORTATION: For more information on how to access The Bakken by bike or public transportation, please click hereIf you are interested in organizing a carpool, please reach out to

REGISTRATION PROCESS: Registration is now open. Please register here! More information on our registration, modification, and cancellation policies is available below.

REGISTRATION OPTIONS: Registration is $50 for Apra-MN members and $100 for non-members. Cost includes refreshments and boxed lunches. Non-member registration types include a year membership to Apra-MN. All registrations must be received by Monday, September 25, 2023.

CONFERENCE SCHOLARSHIPS: Conference scholarships are now closed.

Keynote Speaker: Sharise Harrison

DEI and Data Science: Perfect Together

Sharise Harrison will discuss the complementary aspects of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Data Science in philanthropy. Participants will learn how a shift in perspective can create more diverse, inclusive, and equitable fundraising programs.

About Sharise

Sharise Harrison is the Director of Prospect Management and Research at Loyola University of Chicago. Prior to this, Sharise spent nearly four years as Senior Director, Prospect Management & Analytics at Santa Clara University. At Santa Clara University, she served as the inaugural chair of the University Relations Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce, creating DEI recommendations for the university's philanthropic arm. She instituted data-centered DEI prospect development programing which was profiled in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Sharise has served on the Apra board since 2022 and held leadership roles in governance, data science, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. In her writing and speaking on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in non-profit organizations, Sharise promotes the use of data to aid in creating more inclusive equitable systems for constituents and staff.  Sharise holds an MA from Georgetown University, BA from LaSalle University and Fundraising Operations Certificate from Rice University.


Thank you to our sponsors!

Platinum Sponsor: Virtuous

Gold Sponsor: DAFinitive

Gold Sponsor: Insightful

Conference Schedule

*Conference schedule is subject to change. All sessions are listed in Central Time.

Breakout Sessions

Session 1A: Due Diligence at Any Size

Due diligence is now a big part of the work of prospect development professionals. This session will help all researchers understand the best practices around due diligence at all types of organizations from a 1 person shop all the way up to a 20+ person team.


Sarah Price is the managing director of research services at BWF and has over twenty years of experience working in fundraising. She leads a team of researchers working on projects including prospect verification and identification, prospect research, and training for new and established prospect development teams. Before joining BWF, Sarah worked in prospect research at various higher education, social services, and arts organizations around the Twin Cities. Sarah is a former board member of Apra-MN, and has presented at Apra International, NEDRA, Apra-MN, and AFP Minnesota conferences. Sarah earned a BA in anthropology and environmental studies from the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Session 1B: Wealth and Philanthropy Across Social Generational Cohorts

What is the difference between being rich and being wealthy? The simple answer: having sustainable assets. Having sustainable and attainable wealth varies among generations, affecting our understanding of capacity for each generation.This presentation will discuss the relatability of feeling rich, the economic difference among generational cohorts, and the creation of a sustainable pipeline. This is not a presentation about generational wealth, but rather an exploration of how a sociological understanding of wealth will inform our wealth indicators now and in the future.


  • The relatability of feeling rich: Why are there donors who, even though they have wealth, feel
  • financially and/or socially poor?
  • Is real estate really the strongest indicator of wealth amongst generations?
  • Is our capacity approach between different generations sustainable?
  • Preparing for the future: Should there be a relationship between annual giving and prospect
  • research?


Maria Jose Herrera is the Director of Prospect and Portfolio Management at the College of Saint Benedict. Maria Jose’s professional and academic research has focused on understanding wealth and its social effects. She has six years of experience in the Minnesota development sector, with three of them within the prospect research realm. While training in philanthropic research, she wrote her thesis titled “Building A Donor Pipeline by Engaging Gen-Z” for her M.A. in Organizational Leadership & Policy Development from the University of Minnesota. Her unique life experience led her to write an undergraduate thesis titled “The Immigration of The Privileged Mexicans” as part of her B.A. in Human Sciences (applied sociology), from the University of Dallas. Outside of work and studies, Maria Jose spends her hours in the happy company of her rambunctious toddler and loving husband.

Platinum Sponsor Remarks: The Responsive Mindset: How To Build Resilient Teams & Drive Growth With Confidence Amidst Uncertainty

Hyper-connectivity, micro-consumption, fractured attention, and fierce competition are namesakes in our connected economy. This is now compounded due to the upheaval 2020 — from the pandemic and social justice to climate — left behind with no clear end in sight.

Today, the demand for your donors’ attention is fierce. She lives in a world full of distractions continuously competing for micro-moments of attention. This influx of messages is overwhelming. It forces her to pick a few that are most relevant and ignore the rest. She may even opt out completely and retreat to personal feeds or friend recommendations when determining which brands or causes to connect with.

Most nonprofits' responses are to do more, send more, buy more. Each an attempt to steal bits of her attention in hopes she’ll respond. This is timely, org-centered, and wasteful. Additionally, it tosses your hat into a ring crowded with big brands, cat videos, 24/7 news, Netflix series, Apple releases, and hundreds of other worthwhile causes running the same playbook.

Is there a better way? Can any nonprofit stand above the noise? Absolutely.

Amidst uncertainty and shifting donor expectations, how should you design and lead your fundraising teams? How does this impact your ability to collaborate to deliver a responsive supporter experience?

We'll address these challenges head-on, share how supporter preferences have evolved, and what that requires now of you and your team.


Erik Tomalis is a proven fundraising professional and has always been forward thinking, donor and people driven, but most of all results oriented. With 20+ years of professional fundraising experience, Erik made over 4,000 face-to-face donor solicitations where he has raised millions of dollars for many non-profit organizations, including areas of: healthcare, education, human services, Greek, university athletics and youth-based organizations. He served as a front-line fundraiser, as well as an executive in some transformative organizations focused on generosity, such as St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the Boy Scouts of America and the Allegheny Health Network.

Today, at Virtuous, Erik is committed to helping nonprofits grow global generosity. He believes that charitable giving is about personal connections, not transactions. Generosity is driven by our passions and relationships – and givers want to feel like they are part of a movement bigger than themselves.

Through his experience, Erik understands fully the ways to be successful in your non-profit organization and career. Erik lives in Pittsburgh, PA and is a graduate of Duquesne University and the Lilly School of Philanthropy. He is an Eagle Scout and active in the community as he is an active board member or volunteer for the following organizations: AFP Western PA Chapter, AFP Global,, Verland, Boy Scouts of America, the Giving Institute, and many more.

Session 2A: Maximize your Prospect Development Impact

As a prospect development professional it's common to question the impact you're really making: "Are fundraisers using my research? Is it helping them? Why is it so hard to get people to enter things in the database? Why do they grumble every time the prospect management meeting comes around?"

When I began managing and cultivating a small portfolio of donors I had a lot of "Aha!" moments that changed how I think about prospect development -- what's really valuable, what's not, and ways prospect development professionals can truly maximize the impact of their work.

In this session I will share those insights, along with practical steps that prospect development professionals -- from ALL types of fundraising shops -- can take to immediately increase the value they add to their major gifts fundraising program.


Mark Egge is the founder and principal of Itasca Partners LLC, a consulting outfit dedicated to helping nonprofits know more so they can raise more. He has extensive expertise and experience in all facets of prospect development, having led, managed, built, overhauled, and improved prospect research, prospect management, and fundraising analytics programs at a range of nonprofits. Mark is a frequent presenter on myriad topics: if you've consumed any of the Apra Fundamentals online modules, you've likely heard his recording on Estimating Capacity Ratings; people still talk about his 2012 presentation on SEC filings; if you've attended prior Apra-MN conferences, you might be getting a little tired of seeing him. Mark nerds out on all things prospect development, so if you're looking for someone to talk shop with, you've found him!

Session 2B: R-Cubed: Residential Real Estate Review

Real estate data is typically the easiest asset for a Researcher to identify. However, the value of a property alone isn't always a good indicator of wealth. Understanding the context behind a "value" is crucial to understanding how a property should, or should not, be viewed as a capacity indicator. Focusing on US residential real estate, this session will review today's market and provide tips and tools to help Researchers best interpret real estate data.


Melissa Bank Stepno currently serves as Managing Director of DAFinitive® and Vice President of Data Insights for The Helen Brown Group. She is also serving in her final year on the Apra International Board, have let the organization as President from 2021-2022.

Based in New Hampshire, Melissa has worked in the fundraising and development fields for more than two decades, spending the majority of her time consulting with non-profit organizations on using wealth screenings, predictive modeling and other analytics to drive prospecting efforts and strategic decision making. As a frequent speaker at industry events and contributor to white papers and articles, Melissa’s areas of interest include the effective use of data and analytics to drive fundraising growth, the impact of high-net-worth philanthropy on major giving programs, and developing best practices for prospect research and prospect management.

Prior to her current position, she worked for Blackbaud, Boston University and Boston Ballet. Melissa has also served on the boards of NEDRA, AFP NNE, and the Brandeis University Alumni Association.

About The Bakken

"The Bakken Museum inspires a passion for innovation by exploring the potential for science, technology, and the humanities to make the world a better place. Located on the West shore of Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis, the museum features interactive exhibits for all ages and exceptional STEM education programs. Make movies in the Spark exhibit, meet the mother of science fiction in Mary & Her Monster, and test out some of Ben Franklin's favorite experiments in the Electricity Party Room."

Attendees will have a special opportunity to explore The Bakken Museum throughout the day, as Apra-MN will have exclusive access to the museum the day of the conference. Free admission is included as part of your registration!

To learn more about The Bakken Museum and its exhibits, please visit their website. For more information on parking and logistics, please click here.

Join us after the conference for Happy Hour at The Bakken! Grab a drink and a friend and explore the museum's exhibits, stroll through the garden, or enjoy a beautiful fall afternoon on the patio! Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages will be available, and conference attendees will receive a complimentary drink.

Registration Policies

In-Person Registration Deadline

All registrations for in-person attendance must be received by Monday, September 25th, 2023.

Individual Cancellation & Modification

  • Cancellation: Should you need to cancel your registration, an email must be sent to the Apra-MN registration inbox at This email must be received on or before 12PM CT on October 1st, 2023. Telephone cancellations are not accepted.
  • Process: If you need to cancel your registration and provide notice by the dates specified above, Apra-MN will credit your registration cost to your account, which may be used for an Apra-MN membership and future programming (such as Lunch & Learns, BUZZ Sessions, networking events, and more).

Event Cancellation & Modification

If for any reason beyond Apra-MN’s control it determines that the conference must be canceled, best efforts will be made to reschedule the event or to offer a virtual alternative before the end of the calendar year. Participants agree and understand that their registration will be honored for the rescheduled date and that any difference in price between an in-person and virtual event will be credited to their membership account. For those who are unable to attend a rescheduled event, refunds will be issued.

Terms & Conditions 

Apra-MN 2023 Conference Full Terms & Conditions


If you have any questions, concerns, or issues regarding the registration process or the conference, please email Thank you!

Health & Safety Policies

We recognize that the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact our jobs, families and plans. We will continue to monitor and update safety precautions as needed and reserve the right to modify this plan at any given time given the ongoing changing nature of current or new public health emergencies.


We strongly encourage all in-person attendees to administer a Covid-19 PCR or antigen self-test between September 30th and 12PM CT on October 1st, and then to isolate themselves to the extent possible between that test and the event to minimize the possibility of exposure. Please take appropriate precautions depending on the results to help protect yourself and others. If you test positive, please stay home and email by 12PM CT on October 1st to cancel your registration.

At the Event

  • Masks: While masks are not required at The Bakken Museum and will not be required within the conference space, we encourage guests to use their best judgment based on infection levels at the time of the event and their own personal health risks.
  • If you feel ill: All attendees agree that they will not attend any Apra-MN events if they feel ill at any time during the event. Attendees that feel ill with any flu-like symptoms agree that they will self-isolate and contact a local health provider for assistance.

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