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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, 2012 5:02 PM | Tara McMullen-King (Administrator)
    Click the image below for even more exciting information!


  • Wed, March 21, 2012 2:10 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:


    • March 1987: NEDRA held its first official meeting at Radcliffe College on March 5th, 1987. As of that time, NEDRA had 15 members.
    • March 1990: NEDRA held a mid-winter forum on “The Future of Major Donor Research: Roles and Responsibilities” at the University of New Hampshire.
    • March 1992: NEDRA held its first Directors Roundtable.
    • March 1995: NEDRA held a roundtable on “Researching Genealogy at the National Archives” at the Silvio Conte Federal Records Center in Pittsfield, MA.
    • March 1999: As of that time, NEDRA had 319 members (having added more than 300 members in the previous 12 years!)
    • March 1999: NEDRA held a roundtable, “When Research is Only One Hat on Your Rack,” at New Hampshire College.
    • March 2002: NEDRA held a workshop on “Web Searching Strategies,” presented by Ran Houck, at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.
    • March 2006: NEDRA held a workshop, “Show Me the Money – The Role of Research in Building a Major Gifts Operation,” presented by Poonam Prasad at Northeastern University.

    So, did any of you attend any of these events, or remember these moments? We encourage you to share your thoughts and comments here!
  • Wed, March 21, 2012 2:05 PM | Tara McMullen-King (Administrator)

    The NEDRA News staff has decided to revisit an old column formerly featured in NEDRA News - our Researcher Spotlight! We will regularly select a member of our diverse NEDRA constituency to get their take on prospect research and life. Let's get to know one another!


    This month, we spoke with: SAMANTHA HARRIS


    What is your position and where do you work?

    According to my business card, I’m a “Senior Research and Program Manager, Special Projects” at Tufts University. It’s a bit of a strange title – even I’m not sure what it means!

     

    Describe your experience with NEDRA – how long have you been a member? What made you get involved with the organization?

    When you work for an organization like Tufts, or for a division like Tufts Advancement, there’s an expectation that you should and will grow as an employee in your field of specialty. So joining NEDRA was essentially a requirement of being a prospect researcher here, not necessarily a personal decision. However, I happen to agree wholeheartedly with Tufts’ philosophy on career development, so if the decision had been mine alone to make, I would have happily joined. I’ve been a NEDRA member since early 2005.

     

    What’s your philosophy on life?

    My dad always gave me a hard time on the subject of “contributing.” Even at the age of 8 or 9, we would be at the dinner table, and if I was quiet, and not asking good questions or giving good answers, I would get scolded on the importance of “contributing.” He expected all his children to share their thoughts and ideas, to move the conversation forwardundefinedno excuses. This was all so unbelievably frustrating back then, but the concept eventually became one of my life philosophies. I believe you have an obligation to contribute something, anything, to the world around you, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Simply complaining, or being silent, wins you no points.

     

    What’s your philosophy on prospect research?

    Prospect research is primarily answer-driven, a reactive role. We are constantly asked to find or provide answers –What is this individual’s job history? What are his or her philanthropic priorities? What can they give us in the next campaign? This is the heart of what we do, and I think most of us are satisfied being answer-driven, because it’s a clear and structured role, and because answers can be rewarding in and of themselves. But I also think that as researchers grow in the field, they come to understand that not every question or assignment is good, or even relevant – even if an answer can be found – and  and they begin to suspect that perhaps different or additional questions should be asked. When this happens – when a researcher becomes as interested in the question being asked as in the answer being given – this is when a prospect researcher becomes a Prospect Researcherundefined engaged, focused, and solution-oriented in the fundraising process. But solutions are different than answers, and finding and maintaining that line between being answer-driven and solution-driven can be very, very challenging. It requires a different set of conversations, a stronger stomach, openness to potential failure, and a healthy amount of diplomacy. However, in the end I think that that balancing of the solution/answer line will keep our industry healthy and vital.

     

    What’s your favorite music to listen to while you work?

    I don’t listen to music at work – for some reason it’s too distracting. I do like to listen to “48 Hours Mystery,” a television show.

     

    What’s your favorite television show?

    The Simpsons, Seasons 1-10. Woo hoo!

     

    What’s your favorite book?

    I haven’t read it in 20 years but The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norman Juster. It’s an adult book disguised as a children’s tale. I remember being so inspired after reading it...but to do what exactly, I don’t quite remember…which is sort of sad.

     

    What initially interested you about working in prospect research?

    The key phrases I was drawn to must have been “likes to investigate” and “can handle confidential information.”

     

    What do you feel has been your greatest accomplishment, professionally or personally?

    The first thing that comes to mind is donating platelets – I donate platelets 15 times a year. As anyone who has accompanied me during this activity can attest to, I am absolutely terrified when that tourniquet comes near me. I want to die! But I always get through it – I never chicken out. The nurses constantly ask me, “Why are you doing this?” But it’s sort of like what JFK said about choosing to do things “because they are hard” – I want to donate platelets because I can, and because it’s the right thing to do….but I need to do it because it’s so freaking hard.

     

    How do you define success?

    Success to me equals personal happiness. And being happy, in large part, relates to good decision-making. And good decision-making requires patience, self control, and positive thinking. So no, I’m not entirely successful yet.

     

    What’s your greatest pet peeve?


    My greatest pet peeve may be women over the age of 25 using the word “like” in their conversations, like, over and over and over…and over…again. I want to slap my own face when I do that.

     

    If you could have a dinner party with any five individuals, living or dead, who would you invite?

    • My mom’s father, who died before I was born
    • My dad’s mother, who died before I was born
    • My mom and dad (who would surely like to see them too)
    • And let’s throw in a relative of mine from the first century, to hear his thoughts on how great or awful his genes played out.

     

    If you could be a character in any novel you’ve ever read, who would you be and why?

    Can I be “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” but not go through the horrible suffering? Lisbeth Salander is brilliant, creative, and couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of her. She’s the coolest character I’ve ever seen or read.

     

    If you had to work on only one project for the next year, what would it be?

    Funny enough, in our research shop, we have worked on one project for a whole year! We nicknamed it “RAP,” an acronym for “Rating All Prospects.”

     

    As of February 2011, we had over 2,300 active prospects in our database who were screened at the major gift level ($50K+) but had no research-verified rating. We built a project around fixing this gap, to benefit the prospect pool specifically and the division as a whole. By February of this year, we reviewed, refreshed, and verified all 2,300 records, and in the same process, uncovered hundreds of prospects with little major gift potential and recommended deactivation of their prospect record.

     

    RAP is, by far, the longest project our group has completed since I’ve been at Tufts, but at the same time, its scope and value made it worth the time and effort. That’s the key to any successful project: that it’s worth the time and effort, regardless of results.


  • Wed, March 21, 2012 2:04 PM | Tara McMullen-King (Administrator)

    Registration for NEDRA's 25th Anniversary Conference, to be held April 23rd and 24th at the Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge, MA, is now open. So register now!


    http://www.nedra.org/NEDRA2012


    Also take advantage of our conference scholarship application, for those interested in applying (applications due by April 6th) and help make this year’s conference a success by volunteering!


    Hope to see you in Cambridge next month!

  • Wed, March 21, 2012 2:01 PM | Tara McMullen-King (Administrator)


    Registration for these events is now open – please visit our Events page for further event details, directions and parking information to host sites, and to sign up to attend!



     

    Research Directors Forum


    Thursday, March 29, 2012, 9:00am–11:00am


    Registration Deadline: Friday, March 23, 2012


    Location: The UCONN Foundation, Inc., Conference Room C, 2390 Alumni Drive, Storrs, CT


    Presenters:

    Jennifer Sargent, Associate Director of Research, The UCONN Foundation, Inc.

    Jim Holzbach, Director of Research & Data Services, The UCONN Foundation, Inc.

     

    Come ready to participate in a lively discussion on topics such as departmental organization and benchmarking, prospect management, screenings, and partnering with fundraisers. This is a great opportunity to hear what is on the minds of others leading research departments, as well as to share best practices and ideas with colleagues.

     

     



    Living in the Gray Area: Understanding Wealth that isn’t Black and White


    Friday, June 8th, 2012, 9:00am–9:30am (Optional networking time); 9:30am–11:00am (program)


    Registration Deadline: Friday, June 1, 2012


    Location: Teele Hall, Harvard Business School, 230 Western Ave, Boston, MA 02163


    Presenters:

    Amy Begg, Deputy Director of Research, Harvard University
    Anne Brownlee, Director of Development Research, Harvard Medical School

     

    Regardless of your political affiliation, Mitt Romney’s tax returns have given researchers an inside view of the gray area of wealth. How can we take what we learn from this filing and apply the concepts to a broader prospect base? In this session we will review how to look differently at some of the tools researchers use on a regular basis. We will use individual examples to try to understand and explain what is going on “behind the curtain.” In this session we hope to explore how to develop the researcher “gut” and how to think holistically about prospects. 

  • Wed, March 21, 2012 1:59 PM | Tara McMullen-King (Administrator)

    Blast from the past! In the Winter of 1992-1993, NEDRA News published an article from David Eberly on the subject of ethics in the research field. This article was first delivered as a presentation at the 9th annual conference of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives (NSFRE), now known as AFP.

     

    The topic is still of the utmost importance today, but has anything changed? What sort of training on ethics and researcher responsibility takes place in your office? Has one of your donors or prospects ever asked to see their file?


    Share your comments and feedback here!


    Ethics in Research - NEDRA News VI-2 Winter 1992-1993.pdf

  • Thu, February 23, 2012 12:45 PM | Tara McMullen-King (Administrator)

    In the coming 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:

    • February 1987: NEDRA’s Planning Committee began meeting.
    • February 1994: An early roundtable was held at Harvard University, entitled “Cruising Down The Information Superhighway – A Map for Prospect Researchers” – what appears to have been the first NEDRA program on the new (and super exciting, at the time) topic of the Internet!
    • February 1996: NEDRA hit 310 members (up from 210 members as of February 1994).
    • February 1997: NEDRA hosted two roundtables – one on the “Basics of Public Company Research & Prospect Strategy” and another on “Researching Private Companies.”
    • February 1999: 80 attendees participated in a roundtable at MIT on the continued hot topic of the Internet, entitled “Web Tools for Effective Prospect Research Strategy.”
    • February 2000: David Lawson and David Eberly led a NEDRA workshop on “Reading Public Company Documents.”
    • February 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2010: Research Directors Forums were held in Boston and Connecticut.

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

     

     

  • Thu, February 23, 2012 10:52 AM | Tara McMullen-King (Administrator)
    Blast from the past! November of 1987, NEDRA held its first-ever program - a presentation on Ethics in Research (a topic still highly relevant today). NEDRA News subsequently covered the event here:

    Ethics in Research - NEDRA News Winter 1987.pdf


    Were any of you at there? Share your stories here in the comments!

  • Thu, February 23, 2012 10:16 AM | Tara McMullen-King (Administrator)

    Registration for these events is now open – please visit our Events page for further event details, directions and parking information to host sites, and to sign up to attend!

     


     

    ShareTraining REPLAY: Golden BRICs: Researching Prospects in Brazil, Russia, India & China
    Thursday, March 8, 2012, 11:30am–1:30pm (Recording of 1/31/12 live webinar)
    Registration Deadline: Friday, March 2, 2012
    Location: Amherst College, Smith House (Bliss Room), 22 Hitchcock Road, Amherst, MA

     


     

    Parent Programs & Research RINGs in Two Locations!


    RING: Parent Programs & Research
    Friday, March 9, 2012, 9:00am–11:00am
    Registration Deadline: Friday, March 2, 2012
    Location: Milton Academy, Wigglesworth Hall, 170 Centre Street, Milton, MA

     

    RING: Parent Programs & Research
    Friday, March 16, 2012, 9:30am–11:30am
    Registration Deadline: Friday, March 9, 2012
    Location: Miss Porter’s School, Leila Dilworth Jones Memorial Building, 60 Main Street, Farmington, CT

     


     

    In partnership with AFP-Northern New England!

     

    An Introduction to Prospect Research
    Out the Door Essentials: Beyond the Basics to Finding Wealth
    Friday, March 16, 2012, 10:00am–3:00pm (2 separate sessions with lunch in between)
    Registration Deadline: Friday, March 9, 2012
    Location: University of New England, Portland Campus, 716 Stevens Avenue, Blewett Science Center, Room 021, Portland, ME

     


     

    ShareTraining LIVE: Researching and Cultivating Hedge Fund Professionals in Uncertain Times
    Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 12:00pm –1:30pm
    Registration Deadline: Wednesday, March 14, 2012
    Location: Tufts University, Advancement Office, Conference Room 151 (1st Floor), 80 George Street, Medford, MA

     


     

    Research Directors Forum
    Thursday, March 29, 2012, 9:00am–11:00am
    Registration Deadline: Friday, March 23, 2012
    Location: The UCONN Foundation, Inc., Conference Room C, 2390 Alumni Drive, Storrs, CT

     


     

    Living in the Gray Area: Understanding Wealth that isn’t Black and White

    Friday, June 8th, 2012, 9:00am–9:30am (Optional networking time); 9:30am–11:00am (program)
    Registration Deadline: Friday, June 1, 2012
    Location: Teele Hall, Harvard Business School, 230 Western Ave, Boston, MA 02163

     

  • Thu, February 23, 2012 9:59 AM | Tara McMullen-King (Administrator)

    The NEDRA News staff has decided to revisit an old column formerly featured in NEDRA News - our Researcher Spotlight! We will regularly select a member of our diverse NEDRA constituency to get their take on prospect research and life. Let's get to know one another!


    This month, we spoke with: CARL PITRUZZELLO


    What is your position and where do you work?

    Director of Advancement Services at the University of New Haven.  The areas I am responsible for are research, advancement services, and the annual fund.

    Describe your experience with NEDRA – how long have you been a member? What made you get involved with the organization?

    I became involved with NEDRA in the mid 1990s, when I was at Bentley University.  NEDRA has always provided me an opportunity to network with colleagues who are dealing with the same issues on a daily basis that I am at my own institution; having a network of people to contact who may have encountered the same issues is an invaluable resource.  In addition, the educational opportunities NEDRA affords,  including the annual conference and RINGs, have provided me an opportunity to see what other institutions are doing.

     

    What’s your philosophy on life?
    Work hard, play hard, spend time with family and friends, but don’t take life too seriously… because most of life’s minutia is not going to matter in 10 minutes or 10 decades.

     

    What’s your philosophy on development?
    A former colleague created what he referred to as the I3 (or “I-cubed”) strategy, and it’s one that has guided me well.  “I cubed” stands for Informed – Involved – Invested.  Basically, if you keep your donors informed and involved, they will ultimately be invested in your organization.

    What’s your favorite music to listen to while you work?
    Mostly classical as background sound, but after 5 PM, if I am still in the office, anything between the 1960’s and 1980’s.

     

    What’s your favorite television show?

    The Big Bang Theory.

     

    What’s your favorite book?
    The Four Hour Work Week.  I have by no means mastered it, but there are some great tips about work life and philosophies on lifestyle design.

     

    What initially interested you about working in your field?

    I initially had no interest in beginning to work in development after college, but one of my first assignments at a new job I had at a university was to handle running a “few reports” for development.  I had a general idea what development did, but after about 6 months I really took to it and have been in the field ever since.  I left development for roughly a year in 2000, and found that I absolutely missed it.  The thing that still keeps me interested in development is that the work we do benefits the lives of so many people – that is the biggest metric for me that keeps me coming to the office everyday.

    What do you feel has been your greatest accomplishment, professionally or personally?

    I think the greatest accomplishment for me professionally has been elevating the operational side of development.  MGOs can’t go out and ask for the those big gifts if there is not a researcher who is able to find them, or a gift processor who can process and acknowledge that gift, or an annual fund officer who has been soliciting small gifts for many years. I am a strong believer that to have a long-term sustainable fundraising program, you need to have a strong internal operation that can handle new campaigns, new funding priorities, new staff, and all of the many challenges that happen in a development organization from year to year.


    How do you define success?

    Working with people I enjoy, and at the end of the day knowing that I had a small part in making my institution and my community a better place.

    What’s your greatest pet peeve?
    People who feel they are entitled to everything.
     

    If you could have a dinner party with any five individuals, living or deceased, who would you invite?

    Thomas Jefferson
    Larry Bird
    God
    Katherine Hepburn
    My parents and wife

    If you could be a character in any novel you’ve ever read, who would you be and why?

    Tom Sawyer, just because it would be so out of character for me. 

     

    If you had to work on only one project for the next year, what would it be?

    I would want to survey our alumni non-donors and ask them the real reason why they don’t give. 


CONTACT US:

465 Waverly Oaks Road, Suite 421
Waltham, MA 02452
781.894.1457

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