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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, July 26, 2012 12:32 PM | Laura Parshall
    In the winter of 2004, NEDRA News published this article by Helen Brown on what it's REALLY like to be your own boss, working as an independent consultant in the field of development research. Her experience and insight are eye-openers for anyone considering this as the next step in their career.

  • Tue, June 19, 2012 4:48 PM | Tara McMullen-King (Administrator)
    NEDRA's board of directors recently returned from its annual retreat, where they spent 2 days in deep discussion about the organization's strategic planning for the year. Many topics were discussed, including the annual conference, NEDRA News, membership growth, volunteer opportunities, and much, much more. The board can report that 2012-2013 is promising to be an exciting year with lots of activity - so stay tuned!
  • Tue, June 19, 2012 4:47 PM | Tara McMullen-King (Administrator)

    NEDRA is pleased to announce that one of our new board members, Laura Beaudet, has taken on the role of editor-in-chief of the NEDRA News blog. Welcome, Laura! On that note, if any of you are interested being a volunteer and writing for the NEDRA News blog in the coming year, please contact her directly at lbeaudet@mit.edu for more information.

    In tandem with this, Tara McMullen will be ceding editorial responsibility for the NEDRA News blog, but will continue to manage our sister blog, NEDRA's Industry News blog. If you are interested in serving as a member of the Editorial Committee and being a contributor to the Industry News blog, please contact Tara at


    Happy reading!

  • Tue, June 19, 2012 4:10 PM | Tara McMullen-King (Administrator)
    Building on the success of our 25th Anniversary Conference this year, we are pleased to announce that we are getting close to finalizing dates and a location for our 2013 conference and hope to be able to announce some early details next month. So stay tuned here for more information coming soon!
  • Mon, June 18, 2012 5:46 PM | Tara McMullen-King (Administrator)
    Click the image below for more exciting information!

  • Mon, June 18, 2012 5:46 PM | Tara McMullen-King (Administrator)

    We are pleased to announce that the programming committee is in the process of creating some great programs to be offered in the fall! We hope to have more information for you soon on what's coming up... including a Research Directors' Forum and a Data Analytics 101 Workshop.


    Many of you have been asking about the next Research Basics Boot Camp. The programming committee is happy to say that one is being scheduled for the third week of October (exact date to be determined), at Northeastern University in Boston. Stay tuned for more information as we finalize the fall programming schedules!
  • Mon, June 18, 2012 1:42 PM | Tara McMullen-King (Administrator)
    Blast from the past! In the Summer of 2002, NEDRA News published an article from Peter Wylie on ways to perform some basic data analysis tasks to begin to grasp the richness of the information housed in our systems. How many of these data points are still relevant today? How has the field of analytics grown in the 10 years since this article was published here? Share your thoughts, advice, and feedback here!

    The Many Facets of Data Mining - NEDRA News Summer 2002.doc
  • Thu, May 24, 2012 7:01 PM | Tara McMullen-King (Administrator)

    NEDRA’s 25th Annual Conference in Review

    By Conference Co-Chairs Amber Countis and Melissa Bank Stepno


    NEDRA held its 25th anniversary annual conference on April 23rd and 24th at the Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We were thrilled to welcome more than 200 attendees for a wide range of educational programs in three tracks: Prospect Research, Prospect Management & Analytics, and Trends & Hot Topics. A talented slate of speakers addressed a range of topics, including best practices in prospect management, social media, analyzing SEC documents, change management, researching in China, development analytics, leadership annual giving, alumni and constituent engagement, and project management, to name a few. In addition to structured programming, attendees had the opportunity to network with colleagues and vendors and participate in a diverse array of productive and informative roundtable discussions. A highlight of this year's conference was the recognition of NEDRA’s 25th anniversary through our very special 25th anniversary panel discussion, moderated by David Eberly from Children’s Hospital Trust. Panelists included three past NEDRA presidents: Helen Brown from The Helen Brown Group, Paul Dakin from Mount Sinai Medical Center, and Joe Donnelly from Northeastern University.  All three were able to share great memories of NEDRA’s origins and growth over the last quarter century; what keeps it relevant; where the profession is likely going; and also reinforced the importance of volunteering and giving back, to ensure the strength and future prosperity of the organization. They offered a great mix of past reflection and forward vision to motivate and encourage all attendees, no matter their experience level!


    Recognizing the limited budgetary resources for professional development that many NEDRA members face, we were pleased to once again offer a scholarship opportunity – this year’s scholarship recipient was Elizabeth Moyer from Nantucket Cottage Hospital.


    NEDRA’s annual business meeting was held on Tuesday, April 24th. Outgoing President Amy Minton reflected on the organization's activity and accomplishments during this 25th anniversary year, including an overhauled and more robust NEDRA website, increased utilization of volunteers at all levels, and the revamped NEDRA News.  Treasurer Bruce Berg shared updated financial statements with the membership. Vice President Amber Countis recognized and thanked outgoing board members Nancy Faughnan (Yale University), Amy Minton (Bowdoin College), Barbara Moore (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute), Sarah Ruberti (Mount Holyoke College), Marlisa Simonson (University of Hartford), and David Sterling (Western New England University).  Five new board members were also elected at this time. The full slate of board officers and directors for 2012/2013 was approved as follows:


    President – Amber Countis, Tufts University

    Vice-President – Tara McMullen, Combined Jewish Philanthropies

    Secretary – Suzy Campos, Amherst College

    Treasurer – Bruce Berg, Northeastern University

    Amy Begg, Harvard University

    Anne Brownlee, Harvard Medical School

    Cheryl Cerny, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

    James Cheng, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

    Lisa Foster, Phillips Academy

    Melissa Bank Stepno, Target Analytics, a Blackbaud company

    Ian Wells, Massachusetts General Hospital


    Our conference sponsors help to make it possible for us to present two full days of programming and keep registration costs reasonable. We are grateful to them for their overwhelming support of NEDRA this year! This year’s conference sponsors were:

    Thank you to our conference volunteers, and to all who volunteered for NEDRA in the past year. We are truly a volunteer-based and volunteer-run organization, and our success depends on the generosity of our members. Please contact the NEDRA office (office@nedra.org) if you are interested in volunteering for NEDRA; there are always a wide variety of opportunities available.


    Many thanks to everyone who attended the conference and helped to make it such a success. We hope you will make plans to join us for NEDRA’s 26th Annual Conference in 2013!

  • Thu, May 24, 2012 6:59 PM | Tara McMullen-King (Administrator)
    The Ann Castle Award is NEDRA’s recognition of notable achievement in the field of development research, which may include special projects, articles in development-related publications, or other efforts that have served to promote or assist others in the field of development research.  It may also recognize exceptional effort or achievement that has served the development mission of the nominee’s organization.

    This award honors Ann Castle. A native of Michigan, she earned a bachelor's degree from Smith College and a master's degree from Harvard Divinity School.  In 1988, she became Director of Development Research at Wellesley College.  The following year, she became Director of Development Research at Harvard University, where she remained until 1997.  In 1997, Ann became Director of Development Research at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY.  For the last two years of her life, Ann worked as an independent consultant in Development Research, working for Slate.com at Microsoft, the United Nations Foundation, and the White House Conference on Philanthropy.  Ann passed away on February 22, 2000 after a brief illness. Ann was the president of the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement from 1992 to 1993 and was the editor of the Philanthropic Digest.  In the late 1990s, when Slate magazine was someone to compile a ranking of philanthropists that, in Ted Turner’s words, would "honor the generous and shame the stingy," the editors turned to Ann.  She quickly developed a listing that in December 1996 was published as the Slate 60.

    This year marks the 11th year that NEDRA has honored distinguished service to research and fundraising in Ann’s name.  Previous recipients of the Ann Castle Award include David Eberly, Shelley Brown, Judy Rotenberg, Sandra Larkin, Helen Brown, Elizabeth Crabtree, Valerie Anastasio, Paul Dakin, Charlie Carr and Marianne Pelletier.

    In honor of NEDRA’s 25th Anniversary, the Board of NEDRA thought it appropriate that this year’s award recognize the founding of our organization.  The non-Board members of the award committee, Patti Whitford of Hamilton College and Marianne Pelletier of Cornell University, concurred with this nomination.  The NEDRA Board thanks Patti and Marianne for their service on the award committee.

    Many hearty congratulations to NEDRA's 2012 Ann Castle Award Recipient, the founding president of NEDRA:

    Joseph J. Donnelly, Jr.

    Joe Donnelly currently serves as Vice President & Campaign Director in the Office of University Advancement at Northeastern University.  In that role, he oversees development information services, donor relations, events, and research. In addition, he helps plan and implement the strategic direction of the advancement division in advance of a major fundraising initiative.

    Since beginning his development career in research at Brandeis, Joe has held positions in donor relations at Harvard, Brandeis, and Northeastern universities, and was director of advancement services at Phillips Academy, Andover.  He has also done front-line fundraising in health care and education.

    Joe was the founding president of both the New England Development Research Association and the Association of Donor Relations Professionals (ADRP) and has done many presentations at NEDRA, APRA, ADRP, CASE, and AFP conferences.  In 2009, he was presented the Founders Award from ADRP for “significant contributions to the profession.”  Joe holds a B.A. in art history from Bates College.

  • Thu, May 24, 2012 6:55 PM | Tara McMullen-King (Administrator)

    This year, we will be highlighting noteworthy statistics and moments from each month in NEDRA’s history, in honor of NEDRA’s 25th anniversary as an organization.

    In this month in NEDRA’s history:

    • May 1988: NEDRA’s membership totaled 133.
    • May 1988: We held our 1st Annual Conference, “Database Searching,” at Brandeis University.
    • May 1988: Joe Donnelly elected NEDRA’s president for 1988-1989.
    • May 1989: NEDRA hosted a roundtable on “Identifying and Researching Planned Giving Prospects” at Harvard University Medical School.
    • May 1990: Our 3rd Annual Conference “Rating and Screening: Research Gets Scientific,” was held at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
    • May 1992: Many attended a NEDRA roundtable “Making the Most of Scarce Resources in Cultural and Social Service Organizations” at the Museum of Science (Boston).
    • May 1994: NEDRA had 299 members.
    • May 1994: NEDRA held its 7th Annual Conference, “Hidden Millionaires: Researching Low Profile Prospects,” at the Guest Quarters Suite Hotel in Boston, MA.
    • May 1995: 150 people attended NEDRA’s 8th Annual Conference, “Coping with Change,” at the Boston Newton Marriot Hotel. 
    • May 1996: A workshop on “Researching Private Companies” was presented by David Eberly at the Kennedy School of Harvard University.
    • May 1997: NEDRA’s 10th Annual Conference, “Hidden Millionaires: Researching Low Profile Prospects,” was held at the Boston Newton Marriot Hotel.
    • May 2000: 205 people attended our 13th Annual Conference, “Measuring Impact & Adding Value: Research in the New Millennium,” at the Newton (MA) Marriott Hotel. 
    • May 2001: NEDRA’s 14th Annual Conference, “The Point of Technology,” was held at the Doubletree Guest Suites in Waltham, MA.  This was the first NEDRA conference to move from a 1-day to a 1 ½ –day program.
    • May 2006: Our 19th Annual Conference, “Turning Over a New Leaf” took place at the Westin Hotel in Providence, RI.
    • May 2007: NEDRA’s 20th Annual Conference, “Charting the Course to Success: NEDRA’s 20 Year Voyage,” was held at the Cliff House in Ogunquit, Maine.
    • May 2008: NEDRA’s 21st Annual Conference, “Research – Coming of Age” was held at the Renaissance Providence Hotel.
    • May 2009: Our 22nd Annual Conference, “Intersections: Many Fields, One Common Goal: took place at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland, Maine.

    So, did any of you attend any of these events, or remember these moments? We encourage you to share your thoughts and comments here!


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