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NEDRA NEWS
 

The NEDRA News blog features topical industry-specific articles submitted by our membership; book, publication, film, and resource reviews; op-ed pieces about emerging fundraising topics and issues; and information and news specifically related to NEDRA as an organization.  We hope these selections will be of interest to you - and we encourage you to share your thoughts and comments here!


NEDRA News was previously a quarterly journal of prospect research published by the New England Development Research Association from the organization's inception in 1987 until the end of 2011. Since 2012, we have continued to offer to you, our members, the same NEDRA News content you have come to rely on - but in a blog format tailored to meet the changing needs of our members, and featuring new content on a monthly (rather than quarterly) basis.


  • Wed, April 25, 2018 3:33 PM | Laura Parshall

    It's here! #NEDRAcon2018 starts tomorrow! Some of you may already be in Newport for our Fundraising Data Science Summit or the Research Basics Bootcamp. More of you may be heading there this evening, or tomorrow morning. This year, our conference has completely sold out. We're thrilled that so many of you will be joining us for education, networking, and fun! If you're attending the conference, remember that if you have questions, you can always ask anyone wearing a "board member" ribbon--we're happy to help out--or ask the helpful folks staffing the Registration table. Don't forget to join us tomorrow evening for the Networking Reception sponsored by iWave, or #NEDRAafterdark, the karaoke event sponsored by DonorSearch! See you there!

  • Wed, April 25, 2018 3:25 PM | Laura Parshall

    Researchers are adept at finding information, but that's only a small part of the value we can add in our organizations. In this article, Anne Givens, Director of Research and Prospect Management at Gordon College, shows us how we can become strategic partners with our  front-line fundraisers.


    Connecting the Dots: From Researcher to Strategist

    by Anne Givens


    Friends, I love prospect research. I love the thrill of uncovering an important piece of data or finding a high capacity prospect hidden amongst our own constituents. When I started college as an undergrad over twenty years ago I was certain I was going to be the next Indiana Jones as I pursued a career in archaeology (bless my 18-year-old heart). Obviously my career track went in a different direction, but I still consider myself a treasure hunter.

    Frequently, as researchers, we gather data and then pass it along to a gift officer or VP to analyze, who then postulate a course of action with a prospect. But we are not limited to simply data collection. Treasure hunters don’t just make a map and hand it to someone else to find the sought after prize. By extrapolating meaning from that data and transitioning it into a course of action, we are establishing ourselves a strategists and earning a seat at the table. It’s a process my CAO, Paul Edwards, refers to as “From ‘what?’ To ‘So what?’ To ‘Therefore.’”


    The What

    This is the intuitive part for us as researchers – it’s the data. It’s the information we gather about a prospect that sets us on the path of a deeper understanding of who they are. It could be something as simple as their age or life stage, information about the types of assets they hold, or insight into the subjects they are passionate about.

    Sometimes the “What?” is found outside of our wealth screening tools. It could be in the visit notes from a gift officer or an article on the internet. Prominent people frequently reveal information in interviews that become the “what”. Perhaps an award they or their company has received is indicative. Always take time to read.


    So What?

    As it implies, “so what?” is prompting us to ask what the piece of data we just discovered means and why it’s important. Does it tell us a prospect is nearing retirement? Do they favor real estate as a means of investing their cash? Are they passionate about poverty alleviation?

    In the case of an award received by the individual or their company, this could indicate the things they value and where they invest their time, effort, and, possibly, their money. If they were given an award by the city they live in for work done to restore parks, then we can conclude that they value land conservation. If their company was awarded for having an exceptionally “green” corporate headquarters, then we can conclude that one of their values is sustainability.


    Therefore

    This is the step in the process where you decide how to relate the data and its meaning to your course of action for the prospect, applying what you’ve learned to the specifics of your own organization. It may tell you which member of the staff is most appropriate to cultivate the prospect, which asset type should be part of the formal proposal, or which funding area within your institution would be the most engaging for the prospect. The ability to think critically about this final step is what will get you invited into the conversation, to be seen not just as a data gatherer, but also an analyzer and extrapolator. A key component to excelling in this area is a broad understanding of your organization including key staff, available funding areas and those with the greatest need, and the types of assets it is set up to receive.


    Now let’s put it all together. Here are some examples, starting with some simple ones.


    What? John Smith is 65 years old.

    So What? This means that he is near retirement and will be thinking about his estate plans.

    Therefore: We should have our Director of Planned Gifts reach out to him about a bequest.


    What? Karen Jones owns numerous properties in the same town.

    So What? It’s likely that her assets are based in real estate rather than cash.

    Therefore: The member of our staff that is most knowledgeable about real estate transactions should discuss with her the donation of one of her properties to the organization.


    For the next two examples I’ll take you a little more in depth with scenarios from my own experience. About a year ago I was researching a prospect we’ll call Mr. Z, a finance executive from Asia. In the course of my research I found an online article that was an interview done with Mr. Z. During the interview he shared a deeply personal story about his struggles with anxiety as a young student under a lot of pressure. I was very surprised to see a man of his background so candidly sharing this piece of his history and being vulnerable in a very public way. At my organization, a small liberal arts college, I knew that the number of our students dealing with anxiety was on the rise and that our counseling center was struggling to meet the needs of the students. They need funding for additional staffing and resources. Mr. Z has both the capacity and passion in this area to be a donor to meet this need. Connecting the dots of the “what?” (Mr. Z struggled with anxiety as a student), to the “so what?” (He can empathize with our students and appreciates the value of emotional support systems), to the “therefore” (We should ask him for a gift in support of additional resources for the counseling center), we developed a potential plan for Mr. Z’s cultivation.


    Now let’s look at Ms. J, the CEO a large national company. She and her company have received numerous awards for being excellent employers of women and minorities for providing excellent opportunities to lead and thrive. Based on this track record, it is safe to conclude that Ms. J values equality and equal opportunity as a personal and corporate value. At my organization, we are very excited to have a growing number of our student body being domestic minorities and international students, and we’ve always had more women than men. Our challenge in these areas has been making sure that our faculty, staff, and administration reflects our increasingly diverse population. Ms. J would be an excellent resource for us to invite in and advise us on this topic. Note that this plan is about consultation not solicitation. Oftentimes powerful people like to give their opinions before they give their money, and asking for their advice establishes a connection.


    Hopefully this has been a helpful exercise in strategizing and making the most of your data. Gone are the days of researchers being relegated to a back room sifting through data. Our value goes beyond gathering and our contribution can be at every phase of the philanthropic cycle. Be Indie, draw the map, go on the adventure and find the treasure!

  • Wed, April 25, 2018 3:21 PM | Laura Parshall

    Unable to attend this year's conference, or just looking forward to what's next afterwards? Never fear: the Programming Committee has lots in store this spring and summer!


    On May 2, Dale DeLetis will be teaching a workshop on Creating a Powerful Public Presence at MIT in Cambridge. If you've ever wanted to be better at (or less afraid of) public speaking, whether as a presenter or even just in meetings, you need this workshop!


    On May 24, at Tufts University, there will be a program on affinity scores and donor engagement. Learn how to effectively measure donor engagement, and create your own score in Excel.


    On June 5, come join in the knowledge sharing at the Resource Refresh Think Tank at the UMass Medical School in Shrewsbury. This is a great opportunity to learn about new resources that can help you in your work, and share the ones you've discovered!


    See the Upcoming Programs page for more information or to register.

  • Wed, April 25, 2018 3:16 PM | Laura Parshall

    James Cheng, one of our board members, is well known for his karaoke talents at #NEDRAafterdark, but did you know he is also a talented lyrical parodist? It's true! Here, for your entertainment, is his take on Les Mis--from the prospect development perspective!


    One Day More (‘Til NEDRAcon)

    by James Cheng

     

    [Senior Researcher]

    One day more

    Another link, another charity

    This never-ending road to capacity

    Prospects who seem to own a dime

    Will surely be worth all my time

    One day more

     

    [New Researcher]

    I did not rate until today

    How do I go on rating smarter?

     

    [Senior Researcher]

    One day more

     

    [New Researcher & Gift Officer]

    Tomorrow you’ll be miles away

    In hopes to steward some gifts much larger

     

    [Senior Researcher]

    One day more

     

    [Fundraising Data Scientist]

    One more day on OLS

     

    [New Researcher & Gift Officer]

    Will they contact us again?

     

    [Fundraising Data Scientist]

    One more variance not sharing

     

    [New Researcher & Gift Officer]

    All these profiles should be used

     

    [Fundraising Data Scientist]

    What these model scores will show

     

    [New Researcher & Gift Officer]

    We’ve got donors to renew

     

    [Fundraising Data Scientist]

    New prospects are really there

     

    [Prospect Manager]

    One more ‘folio to form

     

    [New Researcher]

    Dare I ask where prospects go?

     

    [Prospect Manager]

    To the GO’s who should see them

     

    [New Researcher]

    Shall I merge these records here?

     

    [Prospect Manager]

    Call before cold prospects form

     

    [New Researcher]

    Would my GO really dare?

     

    [Prospect Manager]

    Will you rank this list with me?

     

    [All]

    The time is now, NEDRA is here!

     

    [Senior Researcher]

    One day more

     

    [Hawkish Regulatory Legislator]

    One more over regulation

    Cutting insights in the bud

    Send back data scraping new toys

    To the time before The Flood

     

    [Senior Researcher]

    One day more

     

    [Outgoing NEDRA Board Members]

    Years we’ve run amuck

    Many conference calls

    We’ve had so much luck

    It’s time to pass the ball

    New Board here’s a tip

    Laugh out loud a bunch

    Work hard but play as well

    We will miss you much!

     

    [New & Returning NEDRA Board Members for 2018-2019]

    [New:] One day to a new beginning

    [Returning:] Help raise campaign totals high

    [New:] Presentations worth presenting

    [Returning:] Presentations worth presenting

    [New:] Major prospects worth the waiting

    [Returning:] Don’t forget the planned gift ones

     

    [ALL]

    Do you karaoke sing?

     

    [New Researcher]

    #NEDRAcon’s here, I go with you

     

    [Senior Researcher]

    One day more

     

    [New Researcher & Gift Officer]

    Collaborated much today

     

    [Fundraising Data Scientist]

    One more model or make scones

     

    [New Researcher & Gift Officer]

    Why wait to get the contacts started?

     

    [Hawkish Regulatory Legislator (overlapping)]

    We will redact down to zeros

    All the websites that they go

    We will keep wealth knowledge secret

    So that no one will ever know

     

    [Senior Researcher]

    One day more

     

    [New Researcher & Gift Officer]

    Tomorrow you’ll be miles away

     

    [Fundraising Data Scientist]

    Gifts predicted will be known

     

    [New Researcher & Gift Officer]

    We’re so glad we collaborated

     

    [Hawkish Regulatory Legislator (overlapping)]

    One more over regulation

    Cutting insights in the bud

    Send back data scraping new toys

     

    [Outgoing NEDRA Board Members (overlapping)]

    Years we’ve run amuck

    Many conference calls

    We’ve had so much luck

    It’s time to pass the ball

     

    [Senior Researcher]

    But now we will have bootcamp day

    FDSS is the same day

     

    [ALL]

    Tomorrow we’ll discover

    What the NEDRA conf’rence has in store

    One more dawn

    One more day

    One day more


  • Wed, April 25, 2018 3:11 PM | Laura Parshall

    As I get ready to head out to my final NEDRA conference as a NEDRA board member, I am feeling nostalgic, and decided to feature an article that was published in the NEDRA News during the year I first joined the organization. At that time, I wasn't doing anything with prospect management in my role, but it's become a bigger part of my work over the years. In this article, Mitchell Linker talks about how to lead prospect management meetings by helping your fundraisers to focus.


    Running Prospect Management Meetings - One Researcher's Perspective

    by Mitchell Linker


    Running Prospect Management Meetings.pdf

  • Tue, April 03, 2018 3:29 PM | Laura Parshall

    Apologies for the late issue! The NEDRA Board met on Friday, March 23 at the Hotel Viking in Newport, RI. The main purpose of this meeting was to walk through the conference hotel to finalize our setup for the conference. It looks like it's going to be a wonderful space for the event, and we hope to see as many of you there as possible! We also discussed board vacancies that are opening up, and some of the candidates for those spots, as well as our upcoming programming. Read on for more information!

  • Tue, April 03, 2018 3:16 PM | Laura Parshall

    If you can't wait until the conference for educational and networking opportunities, NEDRA has you covered! On April 5, join your NEDRA colleagues for a self-sponsored NEDRA Night Out at Grafton Street in Cambridge, MA. On April 17, Rich Majerus will present on Optimizing your Data Science Workflow in R at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Brookline, MA. Don't forget that before #NEDRACon2018 itself kicks off, we will have a Research Basics Bootcamp as well as a Fundraising Data Science Summit at the conference hotel in Newport, on Wednesday, April 25. You can get more information on any of these programs or register for them on the Upcoming Programs page.

  • Tue, April 03, 2018 2:21 PM | Laura Parshall

    The tech industry has produced a lot of wealth, and naturally, the nonprofit world has taken a great interest. It would be a mistake, though, to work with them in the same way that our organizations have always worked with people in older and more traditional industries. In this article, Jenn Grasso of Bowdoin College talks about how to approach the hackers of Silicon Valley.


    Hacking the Hackers: Prospecting the Silicon Valley Way

    By Jenn Grasso 


    Silicon Valley has challenged every aspect of business and personal life, from reading the top news headlines on Twitter to earning extra income renting out our homes on Airbnb. This new tech wave, led by a sweatshirt and jeans-wearing elite, is representative of today’s changing philanthropic landscape. These new tech barons are disrupting countless industries including retail, music, transportation, publishing, and now even prospect research. How do we, as prospect research professionals, make the shift from researching prospects of a Carnegie-style old-world mindset to the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world? 


    In a 2015 manifesto in the Wall Street Journal, Napster’s co-founder, Sean Parker, points out that the one thing that all of these Silicon Valley “technologists, engineers and even geeks” have in common is that they are all "hackers." He goes on to state that “the major companies that now dominate our online social lives (Facebook, Twitter, Apple, etc.) were founded by people who had an early association with hacker culture. I still consider myself to be one of them. Once you adopt the mind-set of a hacker, it’s hard to let it go.” So, what is the mind-set of a hacker? According to Parker, hackers share the following values:


    • An antiestablishment bias;
    • A belief in radical transparency;
    • A nose for sniffing out vulnerabilities in systems;
    • A desire to “hack” complex problems using technological and social solutions; and
    • An almost religious belief in the power of data to aid in solving those problems.


    Given this set of values, non-profits now need to make a shift in the way that they identify, engage, cultivate, and solicit these hackers. Here are some tools we can use to identify hackers with major giving capacity in our databases:


    • Find hackers at successful or up-and-coming companies in your CRM by reviewing Forbes lists such as “The Best San Francisco Area Companies to Work For In 2017” or “The Next Billion-Dollar Startups 2017”;
    • Sand Hill Road: Sand Hill Road is considered the Shangri-La of Venture Capital firms (see article by Davey Alba in Wired to see why). Find out if any Venture Capital firm(s) located on Sand Hill Road invested in your prospect’s company OR if the prospect’s company leases space on this road; and
    • Research tech companies and/or hackers in Crunchbase, a database of the world’s most innovative companies. Use this site to uncover information on:
      • Funding sources and rounds (funding that goes in sequence like Series A, Series B, Series C, etc. indicates good progress; sequences like Series AA, BB, etc. indicate that a company had to start funding anew after a crunchdown or downround);
      • IPOs: See whether the company went (or is expected to go) public. If the company went public and your prospect is an insider, stock information should be available on the SEC website;
      • List of top employees/engineers, etc. (if listed on Crunchbase or as a top employee on the company’s website, chances are they were given equity stake in the company from its inception—this is especially helpful if the company is still private).

    Once you’ve uncovered these top hackers in your database, it is important to tee-up Major Gift Officers to think like hackers in order to successfully engage, cultivate, and solicit them. We are so accustomed to the "East Coast" or "Wall Street" view of philanthropy where private foundations and "safe" donations given to large institutions rule the land. It is imperative that we start thinking of ways to engage the "West Coast" philanthropists given the vast amounts of wealth being accumulated by these young hackers. The majority of these "data geeks" are not prepared for the enormous amount of wealth and responsibility they have been handed, which is where we, the traditional yet data-driven non-profits, can step in and help guide them as they come into contact with a more traditional model of philanthropy.


    Some examples of institutions that are courting hackers with success are Duke University and Babson College. Duke created "DukeOne," a pledge program in which start-up executives promise to donate 1% of their venture’s equity to the institution if it is sold or offers stock through an IPO. Babson’s "Founders Fund" works in a similar fashion as an extension of planned giving, where “donors contribute a percentage of their future equity position in their business (usually 5%) to the College. At the time of the company’s sale, initial public offering, or other liquidity event, the contribution is transferred to Babson. Depending on the size of the contribution, it may be applied to a range of current-use or endowed funds at Babson." Start-up entrepreneurs have a positive income maybe one out of five years, so the traditional mode of giving every year is not really a model that fits with them. This format mimics several pledge platforms, like Pledge 1%, Pledge 1 Boston, Patagonia’s 1% For the Planet, as well as Salesforce’s 1-1-1 model where they promise to “annually earmark 1% of a company’s equity, products, and employee time for charity." 


    Hackers are innovators who love to disrupt the norm and produce better versions of familiar and existing things. They are problem-solvers who want to be engaged on the front lines, be shown the data, and see how their gifts are making an impact. If institutions learn to speak in terms that these donors understand, we may be able to better solicit gifts in return. The question non-profits need to be asking themselves is not when are hackers going to disrupt our institutions, but how can we best work with them in this new era of innovation?

  • Tue, April 03, 2018 2:09 PM | Laura Parshall
    #NEDRACon2018 is only a few weeks away! There are only 16 spaces left, so if you haven't yet registered, don't delay. Join us in Newport for interesting and educational sessions like Estimating Private Company Value, Shadow Economics: Hidden Wealth, and What a Wonderful World: Strategies and Tactics for International Research. Get inspired by keynote speaker Michael Quevli. Network with other prospect development professionals from all over New England--and even outside it. Learn about the exciting products and services offered by our sponsors. Come away with a renewed enthusiasm for your work, as well as some tools and connections to make it easier!


    We're looking forward to seeing you in Newport!

  • Tue, April 03, 2018 10:34 AM | Laura Parshall

    Although Jane Kokernak wrote this article 20 years ago, the idea of privacy rights and the grey area of publicly available information are still hot topics today. This article provides a good framework for thinking about these issues.


    Public Records, Private Lives.pdf

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