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Lending a Hand: Volunteering with NEDRA

Thu, July 26, 2012 2:43 PM | Laura Parshall

So, you're a member of NEDRA, you've just renewed your membership (or you've newly become a member), you're here on the NEDRA website, and you're reading this blog. That's a great start. But what's that you say? You'd like to do more with NEDRA? Fantastic! There are many opportunities to become more deeply involved with NEDRA, for members with all levels of experience in prospect research. Volunteering with a NEDRA board committee is a great way to make connections with other researchers, to learn more about the field, and to help us offer as much as possible to our members. We recently asked the heads of the various NEDRA board committees about how members can lend a hand. Here's what some of them had to say....

Conference committee, chaired by Melissa Bank Stepno and Suzy Campos:

1. What are the responsibilities of your committee? To organize logistics and details related to the annual NEDRA Conference.


2. What volunteer roles exist on your committee? There are a number of ways to help with the conference. A small standing committee works throughout the year to recruit speakers, review session proposals, and manage logistics and communications. During the Conference, opportunities include session hosts and roundtable hosts.


3. What kind of role would you suggest for someone relatively new to prospect research? Being a session host (a.k.a.: room monitor) is an easy way for someone to participate. These volunteers get to meet their session speakers and other hosts (a great way to start networking!). A session host is assigned to each conference session. Problems rarely arise during a session but if they do, session hosts are not expected to solve the issue, just to notify someone who can. We make sure they have all the information they need should an issue come up. Another volunteer possibility is to host a lunchtime roundtable on a topic. Roundtable hosts do not need to be a leading expert on the topic, only to serve as a discussion facilitator.


4. Are there other ways besides acting as a volunteer that a NEDRA member could assist your committee? The Conference wouldn’t be possible without its speakers! Watch your email for more information on the 2013 Request for Proposals (RFP) process later this summer - we encourage anyone who is interested to submit a proposal!

Programming committee, chaired by James Cheng and Amy Begg:

1. What are the responsibilities of your committee? I dare say that there are NO responsibilities for NEDRA’s Programming committee! Fortunately, opportunities to serve within the Programming committee are plentiful! Traditionally, NEDRA Programming consists of several core active learning experiences. The Research Boot-camp allows new researchers to get a firm grasp of the fundamentals of advancement/development research. At the other end of the expertise spectrum, the Research Directors Forum gathers managers who lead at various levels with their research departments to share solutions to obstacles and best practices with other peer managers. Third, content-specific events provide research expertise on topics ranging from holistic wealth assessment of prospects to international prospect research. Finally, networking opportunities, known as RINGs (Regional Interest Networking Groups), give prospect researchers a venue to meet other local researchers with similar interests that can range from “a simple get-acquainted session over a brown bag lunch” to “a facilitated discussion on a chosen topic.”


The main opportunities for NEDRA Programming committee members involve finding passionate volunteer speakers to share insight and/or ignite discussion with research peers, as well as securing low- to no-cost space to host programming events. Programming committee members can also help create new learning experiences and networking opportunities. Finally, Programming committee members can enthuse and incite both NEDRA members and non-members alike to attend and participate in NEDRA programming!


2. What volunteer roles exist on your committee? As mentioned earlier, committee members can work behind the scenes finding volunteer speakers and securing programming space. However, this doesn’t exclude these fine folks from being volunteer speakers or volunteer hosts themselves!


3. What kind of role would you suggest for someone relatively new to prospect research? Attendance and participation in NEDRA programming would be great for someone relatively new to prospect research, both as a learning experience and as a networking opportunity.


4. Are there other ways besides acting as a volunteer that a NEDRA member could assist your committee? Other, more creative volunteer roles definite exist for the Programming committee! Event attendees/participants can offer to provide refreshments in the form baked goods and/or drinks to help keep costs to a minimum. Individuals with a more interpersonal flair can set up informal meet-ups at local food & drink establishments as a more relaxed networking venue; some of us are very keen on setting these aforementioned meet-ups at karaoke establishments! Hopefully, the case has been made that NEDRA Programming is all about opportunities rather than responsibilities!

NEDRA News committee, chaired by Laura Beaudet and Tara McMullen

1. What are the responsibilities of your committee? We're responsible for the blog you're reading now! We write content for the NEDRA News Blog, edit it, and post it here for members to read. We keep members informed about what NEDRA is doing, and provide them with articles that are interesting and helpful to members of our profession.


We also run the NEDRA Industry News Blog, which features news articles and other items of interest to the research community. Our editorial committee selects and submits these articles to share with all our members.


2. What volunteer roles exist on your committee? We're always looking for people who are willing to write articles for the NEDRA News Blog! If you have an idea for an article, or are willing to write one but need help coming up with a subject, please get in touch! You can discuss issues facing researchers in our careers, give tips on particular kinds of research, review a book that you've found helpful in your work, review an internet resource, or talk about anything else relevant to the field. This is probably our greatest and most constant need. We also need volunteers to proofread articles that others have written. You can also volunteer for the editorial committee, and submit articles and other interesting Internet items that you find in the course of your work.


3. What kind of role would you suggest for someone relatively new to prospect research? Proofreading articles is a great start. It gives you an opportunity to read them in advance, and communicating with the authors can be an easy way to start networking.


4. Are there other ways besides acting as a volunteer that a NEDRA member could assist your committee? If you have an idea for an article you'd really like to see, but don't have time yourself to write it, let us know! We can always use some suggestions for those who do have time to write, but are having trouble deciding on a subject. Let us know what kind of information you'd like to see!

Marketing Committee, chaired by Ian Wells

1. What are the responsibilities of your committee? The Marketing Committee serves as the promotional arm of NEDRA, and develops strategies for communicating with the appropriate audience(s) in a timely manner. The Marketing Committee is also responsible for NEDRA’s social media presence.

2. What volunteer roles exist on your committee? Prior to an event or other deadline, volunteers can best support NEDRA by encouraging prospective attendees to promptly submit their registration forms. After an event, volunteers provide a key service by gathering feedback and gauging participant interest to help prepare for future events. Reviewing and editing marketing materials prior to distribution is also of vital importance.

3. What kind of role would you suggest for someone relatively new to prospect research? Someone with strong creative talents and an attention to detail would be helpful in preparing marketing materials for distribution. As we may be filming some speakers in the future for promotional reasons, experience with recording or editing video may also prove to be helpful.

4. Are there other ways besides acting as a volunteer that a NEDRA member could assist your committee? We welcome suggestions for how to reach the widest relevant audience possible. If you have a recommendation you’d like to share with the NEDRA Marketing Committee, please email iwells@partners.org.

Membership Committee, chaired by Ian Wells
 1. What are the responsibilities of your committee? The Membership Committee oversees the registration of NEDRA members, works to recruit new researchers to join the organization, and ensures that NEDRA continues to provide its members with the best professional training opportunities and services possible.

2. What volunteer roles exist on your committee? Volunteers can support the Membership Committee by contacting prospective members and inviting them to join our association. They can also provide a great service by brainstorming new ideas about how to make NEDRA more enticing to researchers who are not currently members.

3. What kind of role would you suggest for someone relatively new to prospect research? People new to the field can certainly help by reaching out to other researchers and encouraging them to become active participants in NEDRA. New researchers can also often “think outside the box,” and suggest innovative ways to broaden NEDRA’s scope.

4. Are there other ways besides acting as a volunteer that a NEDRA member could assist your committee? Recommending NEDRA to other new professionals in the industry will always be helpful, and if a researcher in the area does not appear to know much about the organization, directing him or her to the website may help them become better acquainted with everything NEDRA has to offer.

And, introducing...the Volunteer Opportunity of the Month!

Maybe you'd like to volunteer to help NEDRA in some way, but you don't know if you can commit to becoming a committee member or doing other time-intensive work. There are still plenty of quick, simple ways to help! Starting this month, this blog will be posting a Volunteer Opportunity of the Month. This could be anything from a request for space to host a program, to a need for a blog article, to calling a few lapsed members. In addition, we'll be posting our thanks to those who responded with help the previous month. These can be great opportunities for those who are new to involvement with NEDRA, so be sure to read on for the first of many Volunteer Opportunities of the Month!


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