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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.

  • Thu, March 01, 2018 11:17 AM | Laura Parshall

    The NEDRA Board had an in-person meeting on February 8. We heard updates from the scholarship committees and the board nominations committee about applications they had received. We also discussed the upcoming conference and the extensive slate of programs that are in the works, thanks to our programming committee. Read on for more news from NEDRA!

  • Thu, March 01, 2018 9:55 AM | Laura Parshall

    In this article, NEDRA board member Ginny Santamaria talks about all the different ways to get involved with NEDRA as a volunteer, and shares her own experiences that led her to the board.

    Getting Involved and Giving Back: Volunteering with NEDRA

    by Ginny Santamaria

    Have you wanted to get more involved in NEDRA, but weren't sure how? NEDRA has many volunteer opportunities available that may be just what you have been looking for.

    A great place to start as a NEDRA volunteer is at the conference. Throughout the two days, there are a variety of volunteer roles that need to be filled, including registration help, photographers, and session hosts. At registration each morning, there is help needed to distribute packages and name tags, and to help answer general questions. Photographers are needed to document the activities throughout the two days, including the networking reception and NEDRA After Dark. Most of the photos are candid shots during sessions, lunches, and networking, with a few posed pictures of our scholarship and award winners. Maybe the most important of the volunteer roles--but a very easy one!--is session host. The role of the session host is to check in with the speaker(s) of the assigned session, make sure they have what they need, offer to keep time for them and let them know when they are getting to the end of their session, and of course thank them at the end of the session. If you feel comfortable doing so, you can offer to introduce them at the beginning of the session (In my experience, though, most presenters want to introduce themselves.) If you think you would like to volunteer at the conference, please see the Conference Volunteers page.

    Outside of the conference, there are other volunteer roles available throughout the year. Multiple NEDRA committees rely on groups of volunteers to accomplish their work throughout the year. These include, but are not limited to: membership, programming, sponsorship, and both of our scholarship committees.   As we begin the new fiscal year for NEDRA in June, these committees will be looking for volunteers for the upcoming year. There are descriptions of the various committees on the NEDRA website, and the chairs of the committees would be happy to answer any specific questions you might have.

    Additional one-off volunteer opportunities also exist, such as being a speaker at a NEDRA educational program. As I am sure you have noticed, the programming committee this year is bringing many different programs to the NEDRA community. They are always looking to expand their offerings, especially outside the Boston area. Not comfortable being a presenter? There are times when a program has a speaker lined up, but needs a host facility. Does your organization have a conference room that could be used? Think Tanks are another great programming volunteer opportunity. You can host others in your area for discussions on any topic. As host, you just need to kick off the conversation, and everyone will participate in a round table discussion. It is a great way to informally share ideas and to brainstorm on any topic relevant to our industry.

    Do you like to write? Please consider writing an article for the NEDRA News. The News blog is available to all members, and is published once a month. Educational articles on any relevant subject are welcome.

    I hope that I’ve given you some ideas for how to get more involved with NEDRA. As a volunteer organization, we rely on our many members to make everything happen. Speaking for myself, getting involved with NEDRA has been a wonderful experience. When I first entered the profession, I had no experience in prospect research. I began doing foundation research, and worked very closely with the Institutional Fundraiser to learn the ins and outs of what she needed so I could identify foundation prospects. As I moved into doing major gifts research, I was so lucky to be connected with the late Heather Reisz, who loved working with new researchers and researchers who did not have the budget for research tools. The Heather Reisz Memorial Scholarship that NEDRA gives honors Heather's memory.  I’m happy to be able to support this scholarship, and now to be on the board of directors of NEDRA, which approves the scholarship recipients.

    Because of my interactions with Heather, I started to go to the NEDRA conferences. My organization did not have the funds to be able to send me, but I knew it was worth my own money to become more proficient in my new profession. I learned so much that I wanted to be able to give back. I began by volunteering as a session host at the conference. After doing this for a few years, I volunteered to be on a committee, and was chosen to be one of the first non-board members on the Membership Committee. I served for one year on the committee, and then went back to volunteering just at the conference. I later joined the Membership Committee once again, and was then lucky enough to serve for one year on the Conference Committee, coordinating conference volunteers. Because of this experience, I know well how important conference volunteers are to the success of the conference. I am now privileged to serve on the NEDRA Board, and to chair the Membership Committee. I have met so many great colleagues through the years, and thoroughly enjoy giving back to a community that has taught me so much.

    The success of NEDRA depends on its members and their volunteer efforts. Please consider becoming more involved, and volunteer to assist in whatever way interests you the most. Volunteers are needed in such a variety of ways, as I hope I’ve been able to demonstrate, and in every state in New England. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions on you have on any of the committees, if I don’t have the answers I will put you in touch with someone you can help you.

  • Thu, March 01, 2018 9:44 AM | Laura Parshall

    The conference is less than two months away! Don't forget to register, as we hope to see as many of you there as we can. If you haven't booked your hotel room, we encourage you to do so now! The conference hotel is likely sold out at this point in time, but if so, NEDRA suggests the Inns on Bellevue as an alternative. You can find out more about these properties on the Annual Conference website.

    With four tracks of great programming and what's sure to be an amazing keynote from Michael Quevli, this is a conference not to be missed! For those of you new to prospect development, join us a day early for the pre-conference Research Basics Bootcamp. Interested in data? Don't miss the Fundraising Data Science Summit happening before the conference! On Thursday night, unwind and get to know your fellow NEDRA members at the networking reception sponsored by iWave, and at NEDRA After Dark, our big karaoke bash sponsored by DonorSearch. We're looking forward to seeing you there!

  • Thu, March 01, 2018 9:26 AM | Laura Parshall
    The end of winter and the coming spring are already packed with programming! Tomorrow at the Peabody Essex Museum, join us for a presentation on prospect research in East Asia. On March 9th, Richard Horne will present at Yale University on donors from private equity, venture capital, hedge funds, and family offices. (This is a reprise of the presentation that took place on February 23.) On March 14, the Governor's Academy will host a Think Tank on small shop research. On the 16th at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, a panel of three hiring managers and three people who have recently started new jobs will talk about Two Sides of the Coin: Hiring and Being Hired. On March 28th, Joel Rogers will present on all the information you can find using a home address, at MIT. On the 30th, you can learn how to build a major gift model using Excel at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. April will have even more programming to keep you busy and learning, up to the annual conference! To register for any of these programs or for more information, see the Upcoming Programs page.
  • Thu, March 01, 2018 9:22 AM | Laura Parshall

    I wrote this article for the May 2014 NEDRA News Blog (boy, it doesn't seem that long ago), and as I was preparing for a presentation on prospect research in Asia, it came back to me. I hope those of you who do research on international prospects will find it useful!

    Foreign Companies on American Exchanges: Demystifying ADSs

    by Laura Parshall

    To the international prospect researcher, finding that a prospect who needs rating is a shareholder at a publicly listed company is not unlike finding a back-roads route from your office to your home that avoids traffic and cuts your evening commute in half: it gets you to where you want to be a lot faster, and with less frustration. It's a Holy Grail. Finding out that the company in question is listed on American stock exchanges seems like an additional bonus: it's easy to look up the share price, and there's no need to convert currencies, right? Well…it isn't exactly that simple.  The units being traded on American exchanges aren't exactly the same thing as the company's common stock.

    For U.S. investors, buying shares of common stock in a foreign company would generally entail currency conversion issues, as well as various kinds of administrative red tape that would understandably make some people disinclined to make those investments. To make life easier for U.S. investors--and, by doing so, to gain a wider investor base for themselves--foreign companies can list something called American Depositary Shares on U.S. exchanges.

    Investopedia.com defines American Depositary Shares (or ADSs) as "A U.S. dollar-denominated equity share of a foreign-based company available for purchase on an American stock exchange. [They] are issued by depository banks in the U.S. under agreement with the issuing foreign company; the entire issuance is called an American Depositary Receipt (ADR) and the individual shares are referred to as ADSs." A U.S.-based investor who buys 500 shares of, say, Hong Kong company Soufun Holdings on the NYSE is actually buying 500 ADSs; the share price listed in such places as Yahoo! Finance or Marketwatch is actually the price per ADS.

    So, they're called something different. Not such a big deal, right? So let's take a look at our prospect's holdings, and find out how much they're worth. As a random case study, let's say we're looking at Quan Zhou, a board member at Soufun Holdings. He's a partner at the Beijing office of a venture firm, but for the sake of this exercise, let's ignore that and pretend he holds all those shares directly, and none belong to the firm. To find out how many shares he holds, we look at the annual SEC filing of the company, Form 20-F. Soufun filed one most recently on March 28, 2014. In that filing, it states that Quan Zhou holds 2,544,357 Class A ordinary shares. OK, so now we just take a look at the company's share price on our favorite site, and multiply, right?


    At the time of this writing, the most recent closing price listed for Soufun is US$13.36. If we simply multiplied that price by the number of shares listed next to Zhou's name in the filing, it would look like his holdings were worth roughly $34M. It’s a nice number, sure, but it's not the right one.

    See, common shares and ADSs are not always created equal. There's a set ratio that states how many common shares equal one ADS. What's the ratio? Have no fear, Form 20-F will tell you! Near the top of the form, you should see a note that gives the equivalence ratio for ADSs, usually right underneath the contact information for the company. In this most recent 20-F for Soufun, it says that five American Depositary Shares are equal to one Class A ordinary share. Got that? FIVE to ONE. That means that our friend Zhou's 2,544,357 Class A ordinary shares are equal to 12,721,785 ADSs. At the price we used before, this means that his holdings would be worth almost US$170M. That's quite a difference!

    In Zhou's case, using the correct ratio of ADSs to ordinary shares resulted in a higher value than just assuming a one-to-one ratio. This isn't always the case, though. That's why it's so important to check the Form 20-F for the correct ratio. Sometimes, as with Indian company Wipro Ltd., it IS one-to-one. Sometimes, as with Korean company POSCO, one ADS is LESS than one common share.  It takes four of POSCO's common shares to make one ADS. If you were researching a shareholder there and didn't take this fact into account, you could end up overestimating the value of their holdings by four times!

    So, if an international prospect who's a major shareholder in a publicly traded company is something of a Holy Grail, the existence of ADSs makes it a bit like a Holy Grail manufactured by IKEA: some assembly is required. Just make sure you know when you're looking at ADSs (or ADS price), and when you're looking at common or ordinary shares, and remember to check the ratio between the two. With over US$2.5T in ADSs traded in 2013 (according to BNY Mellon), it's definitely worth the while of any international prospect researcher to know how to work with them.

  • Thu, February 01, 2018 4:16 PM | Laura Parshall

    The NEDRA Board had its monthly operations call on January 11. Among the subjects discussed were our very exciting upcoming conference, and a late winter programming schedule chock full of great opportunities to learn and network. Read on for more information!

  • Thu, February 01, 2018 4:11 PM | Laura Parshall

    Registration for #NEDRACon2018 is now open! We have a really exciting slate of educational sessions lined up for this year's conference, which you can see on the 2018 Conference Schedule At-A-Glance. You can find more detailed information about the sessions on the 2018 Conference Presentation Descriptions page. Plus, this year, we have the added attractions of Michael Quevli as our keynote speaker, and of course the karaoke extravaganza that is #NEDRAAfterDark. Register today!

  • Thu, February 01, 2018 4:04 PM | Laura Parshall

    What does it really feel like for a billionaire to make a million-dollar gift? It's hard for those of us outside the less-than-1% to really relate. In this post, Bill Gotfredson, Associate Director of Prospect Research at Boston Children's Hospital Trust, examines an article that helps us to wrap our heads around these figures.

    Through the Donor’s Lens: Gaining Perspective of Great Wealth

    By Bill Gotfredson

    One of the challenges any fundraisers--research, frontline, or otherwise-- face when working in the business of big philanthropy is first understanding and conceptualizing significant wealth from a donor’s perspective. What does it feel like to give away millions or even tens of millions of dollars? What is the relative value of those millions to someone with billions of dollars? What does it mean for a billionaire to have a “bad year”? 

    I recently came across an article in Money magazine that I think is quite illuminating to all fundraisers and can help us all better understand great wealth.  The article is titled, “Here’s What a Billionaire’s Budget Looks Like Compared to the Average American” (full citation below).

    The focus of the article is to create perspective of great wealth by creating a creating a relative unit of measurement that the average American can understand. The article’s author, Andrew Hwang, creates a unit of measurement called the “Joe Buck” (J$). A single Joe Buck(J$) is equal to the average annual salary of a Forbes billionaire member divided against the average salary of a US worker.

    In other words:

    • Forbes Billionaire has greater than $2 billion
    • Money estimates 10% of $2 billion represents an average annual salary = $200 million
    • Average annual salary of US worker: $50,000
    • 1 Joe Buck = $200,000,000 divided by $50,000
    • 1 Joe Buck = $4,000

    Now that they have determined a unit of measurement proportional to an average US worker’s salary, Hwang’s theory is that you can then gain relative perspective into the billionaire’s experience when spending money. The new Joe Buck value equals a relative proportion to an average US worker’s perception of cost.

    Examples can be illuminating:

    • $3,000 family vacation = J$0.75
    • 1 year, Ivy league education = J$13
    • Diamond encrusted Patek Philippe watch = J$15.75
    • Ferrari 488GTB = J$62.50
    • Exclusive golf club initiation fee and dues = J$87.50
    • $4 million house in exclusive gated community with gut renovation = J$1,000
    • $10 million naming opportunity at your institution = J$2,500
    • $50 million Picasso = J$12,500 (1/4 of their annual salary)

    Hwang’s model can easily be adapted to lower levels of wealth and estimated compensation but the concept remains the same. There exists a relative cost for every item based on an individual’s wealth, salary, and experience that will invoke different thoughts related to cost. Of course, even if donors see the relative cost to be equal to only a few Joe Bucks, if a donor believes the relative cost does not equal the item’s value, they will walk away. As fundraisers, if we can peek through the donor’s lens and understand their relative cost, we will be better brokers, better stewards, and better partners in philanthropy.  

    Hwang, Andrew D. "Here’s What a Billionaire’s Budget Looks Like Compared to the Average American." Money. January 2018:  http://time.com/money/5116357/heres-what-a-billionaires-budget-looks-like-compared-to-the-average-american

  • Thu, February 01, 2018 3:55 PM | Laura Parshall

    Late winter often seems like a dull and dreary time of year, but never fear: we have plenty of great NEDRA programming coming up to liven up your winter days! On February 2, the Buckingham Browne and Nichols School will be hosting a Think Tank on small shops. Wait, that doesn't apply to you? You're at a larger operation? Well, MIT will be hosting a large shops Think Tank on February 13! On February 22, there will be a Directors' Round Table at Northeastern University. We'll also be holding not one, but two presentations of Charitable Powerhouses: A Fundraising Approach to Donors from Private Equity, Venture Capital, Hedge Funds, and Family Offices. The first will be on February 23 at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and the second will be at Yale University on March 9. On March 2, join us at the Peabody Essex Museum for a presentation on international research focused on Asia, followed by an opportunity to view Asian art in the museum!

    You can register for all of these programs and find out more information on the Upcoming Programs page.

  • Thu, February 01, 2018 3:53 PM | Laura Parshall

    Net worth is something we're often asked for, but in reality, we know we can't find for certain. That said, this article by Robert Millar III from the Summer 1994 NEDRA News gives some tips and guidelines for coming up with an estimate.

    Finding That Magic Number- Net Worth and the Assessment of Giving Ability.pdf


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