The Birthplace of Apra
Lead Senior Researcher, University of Minnesota & Apra-MN Director of Membership Committee
1. How long have you been an Apra-MN member and what was your first Apra experience?
I have been a member since 2014 which was also my first experience with Apra-MN. I met my friend and mentor in July 2014, Lesli, and she introduced me to Apra-MN. She became my mentor that year and that one meeting at a restaurant changed my career. My first conference which I still remember like it was yesterday. Was at the Science Museum where we learned about briefings, New York real estate and had a panel discussion. It was a wonderful experience and I try to get to as many conferences I can now because of my wonderful time.
2. What do you enjoy most about Apra-MN?
There are many things I enjoy about Apra-MN but most of all it is the people. Connecting with individuals who share a similar passion for research and nonprofits is the best aspect. Apra-MN and APRA has made a great network where we can meet new people and share information with trusted colleagues.
3. What do you like most about your career?
I love my career and the industry. I have found and developed many close friends. I get to use my strongest skills every day in my career. Working on research or prospecting or meeting with Development Officers to discuss next steps on their portfolios. Being part of innovative creative team who continues to strive for excellence. There are so many reasons I love this career. I'm naturally a curious organized person and this career fits perfectly.
4. Best piece of advice you've received?
Listen and ask questions - this way you gain more understanding and knowledge of what someone is trying to convey. That can be within research or life in general.
Prospect Development Analyst, Common Spirit Health & Apra-MN Board Secretary; Apra - Editorial Advisory Committee for Connections
1. How long have you been an Apra-MN member and what was your first Apra experience?
I have been an Apra-MN member since January 2019. My first experience was a workshop hosted at a humane society. I don't remember the topic, but I remember the swag and the set-up of the room. We were in a square, facing each other. At least 25 or 30 in the room.
2. What do you enjoy most about Apra-MN?
Joining the board was a game changer for me. Taking on the voluntary commitment challenged me to actively become a "part-of; getting to know board members a little more personally, participating in committees, and attending more functions (both in-person and virtually) encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone and widen my professional circle, gaining insights and experience in the process.
In my role, I have the pleasure of meeting and developing partnerships with hospital foundations and their gift officers. Thanks to technology, there is a greater comfort level of meeting virtually, and I really like the "meeting of the minds" to brainstorm how to approach prospects, next step to widen the donor pool, or discuss what works and what doesn't, and how my department can assist with new fundraising avenues.
I had a manager once say to me "I want you to see the operation the way [he] sees it". I was very upset at this statement - I felt I was being asked to not be me. What it did, though, was open a window in my thought process. I learned to become more observant of other leaders and operations, and to become more open-minded about the fluidity of processes.
Sr. Prospect Research Officer - Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare
Apra-MN Treasurer-elect; member of the Membership and Program Committees
6 years - My first APRA experience was the fall conference in 2015. My first job in the nonprofit sector had me attend and it was pretty much my introduction to prospect research.
The Mentor - Mentee program was a great experience. My mentor, I believe had a tremendous impact on my professional development and helped me learn more about prospect research, best practices and being more confident with my work. I would advocate for anyone who hasn't, to sign up for the Mentor program, its a great way to learn from one of your peers and benefit from their experience.
I work for a children's hospital, so it's satisfying to know the work I do is supporting a really great mission. Prospect research helps support fundraising efforts, which ultimately helps support services and programs, medical research and provide funding for families in financial need.
You can say no. I tend to be the person that gets volunteered to do things or take on projects; and I have a bad habit with just going with it, and ultimately ending up with an insane work load. I enjoy being busy, but, you know, we all have limits on what we can do or take on.
Michael Van Dyke
Principal Business Consultant, Blackbaud, NEW Apra-MN Board Member!
I have been an APRA-MN member on and off since 2004 (so maybe 12ish years in total). I was introduced to the prospect research world and APRA through Fran Corcoran, who was my supervisor at St. Catherine's at the time. My first APRA experience was the International Conference in Toronto in 2004. I met so many wonderful people and learned so much. I had always wanted to be in fundraising, and the conference solidified that even though I wasn't a front line fundraiser, my role was imperative and had a big impact on overall fundraising results.
I most enjoy the comradery - the spirit of friendly good. Prospect researchers are curious & helpful by nature, which is clear with each event I attend. I find people are welcoming, try to include everyone in the conversation, are open to answering questions or helping someone find a solution to a challenge they are facing. I usually learn something new and meet someone new when I attend events.
In my role as a consultant, I work more on the data analytics and best practice side of things, instead of doing direct prospect research on a daily basis. I love digging into data to determine how to best prioritize prospects and for what purpose, to examine what a healthy portfolio looks like, to consider what information would be most helpful to officers and leadership to establish best practices in building a sustainable pipeline. I am grateful that my responsibilities still allow me to be curious, to dig into things that interest me, and to empower others to use technology and information to make better decisions.
There are two: 1. Set a time limit for when you start researching, and get as much done as you can in that time, but when the time is up, that's it -- move on. It's hard sometimes, but important. 2. Build rapport and trust with your officers - they are your eyes and ears on the ground and can be very helpful in verifying or interpreting a specific data point you find in your research.
Development Services Associate, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
APRA-MN: Programming Committee, Former Apra-MN Board Member
Q: How long have you been an Apra-MN member and what was your first Apra experience?
A. I joined Apra-MN in 2006. I can't believe it's been that long! My first Apra experience was attending the International Conference and New Researcher's Symposium in Austin, TX. I had no research experience at all, but knew from that moment I was in the exact right place. I had the best experience and met the most fantastic people, many of whom have become good friends.
Q. What do you enjoy most about Apra-MN?
A. The people are the best! I've never met a group of people who are so willing to help and share their ideas and experience. I love our networking events and can't wait for them to be live again, but until then, the Virtual Happy Hours are a great way to connect.
Q. What do you like most about your career?
A. I have the privilege of working for an organization with a life-saving mission which means a lot to me personally, so my career is rewarding on many levels. Research to me is like a puzzle and I love a challenge. There is nothing better than finding that final piece of information that gets a Gift Officer excited to make that call or take a prospect to the next level.
Q. Best piece of advice you've received?
A. Know when to stop. Sometimes there really is nothing more to find
Joe Hennen, Carleton College: Prospect Research Analyst
Member of APRA-MN since July 2018, when I joined Carleton College as a Prospect Research Analyst. My first experience was attending the APRA International conference and new researcher symposium just a few weeks after starting in this role. It was a whirlwind of learning and networking, and I had a great experience diving right in to the world of prospect development.
I enjoy having so many opportunities to learn from the diverse experiences of fellow researchers. It has been fascinating to discuss best practices with people who work in many different types of organizations and contexts, as well as to learn about how the work we do has evolved over the years.
I am a continuous learner and a researcher at heart, and so I feel fortunate to be in a role where I have the opportunity to investigate new topics, help answer important questions, and solve problems on a daily basis. I also love working in a field where I can feel confident that my efforts are supporting an important cause and an outstanding organization.
Always be willing to remain adaptable and open-minded to new work structures, research methods, and technologies. I would say that 2020 in particular showed me how important it is to focus on being adaptable and resilient.
Prospect Management AnalystMayo Clinic
Programming Committee member
Q. How long have you been an Apra-MN member and what was your first Apra experience?
A. I've been an Apra-MN member since 2018, when I joined Mayo Clinic. My first Apra experience was attending the conference in May 2019. Shortly thereafter, I joined the Mentoring Program.
A. Apra-MN has helped me make connections in the field. I really value my relationship with my past mentor through the Mentoring Program. She's given me so many ideas for how to improve my work, along with ideas for new projects I can pursue. Getting involved with the Programming Committee has helped me build a larger network of people to bounce ideas off and hear how other shops are approaching their work.
A. We're surrounded by stories of gratitude.
A. Foster your curiosity and truly listen to others. Assume everyone you meet knows something you don't.
Mentor and Programming Committee Member
A. I joined Apra-MN in 2008 when the organization I worked for was started to prepare for a feasibility study. My first experience was attending an Apra-MN conference, where I found my people and have stuck with prospect development and the awesome nerds associated with PD and research ever since!
A. The really great professional development opportunities and amazing community of prospect development professionals who support each other.
A. The best things about my career have been the people that I have met along the way! Folks in the fundraising and prospect development fields are really interesting! I also love the variety of people we get to research, the different jobs and lives I get to learn about, and the variety of organizations that I have and currently work with.
A. At my first Apra International conference, Jodi Kohrs told me that I should join the Apra-MN board - it sounded way out of my comfort zone, and it was - but I eventually did and was on the board for 4 years. I got great experience serving on a board, and it made me get out of that comfort zone and meet a lot of new people who I am still friends and colleagues with today!
Associate Director of Philanthropy Operations
The Trust for Public Land
A. Ooh boy....I think I went to my first Apra MN event in 2009, and it was a session about identifying planned giving prospects.
A. The support and camaraderie. This is a group that will share any resource, answer any question, and help with any project if you just ask.
A. I've always loved the puzzle of prospect management. You have a pool of prospects, and a group of relationship managers, and I get to figure out how to get all the right prospects into the right portfolios at the right time, keeping things balanced and equitable.
A. You have to speak up for what you need and want. You're your own best advocate.
Aimee FisherProspect Research OfficerCarleton College
A. I think sometime since 2013. I attended a Fall Conference for Apra-MN at Macalester and really loved the sense of a community in my field. I came back to my office and really pushed to do more Prospect Research. It led me to get a full time research job at Carleton.
A. I love the sense of support among peers and also being able to ask questions or learn new methods for what we do.
A. I love knowing that we are helping to fund raise for worthy causes, whether it's education or healthcare or nonprofits.
A. Be a problem solver, not a complainer! I love to tackle a project that solves a problem!