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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.

  • Mon, April 24, 2017 3:10 PM | Laura Parshall

    It's almost here! In just a few short days, NEDRA will converge on Portsmouth for two days of learning, networking, memories, inspiration, and--oh yes--karaoke. If you're going to be joining us, please remember to bring with you some visual memories of the "old days," whether that's a picture from your first conference, an old copy of "Who's Who," or presentation materials from before the dawn of the PowerPoint age.

    We hope that you'll join us for the Conference Reception sponsored by iWave on Thursday evening at the Portsmouth Gas Light! This is a great opportunity to get to know your fellow attendees better, and to have some fun while networking. Later that night, we'll be having our private, NEDRA-only karaoke session in the same location. Don't forget to pack your leg warmers, acid-washed jeans, crimping iron, and color block sweaters: the karaoke session will have a 1980s theme in honor of the year of our founding, and 80s dress-up is highly encouraged! (I am PERSONALLY encouraging it. Please don't let me be the only one rocking a side ponytail and far too much blush!) 

    While you're at the conference, don't forget to share your experiences on social media, using the hashtag #NEDRAcon2017! 

  • Mon, April 24, 2017 3:04 PM | Laura Parshall

    In honor of NEDRA's 30th anniversary, here is the very first issue of the NEDRA News, published well before "blog" was even a word. I feel honored to hold the position that Beth Melvin apparently initiated thirty years ago, publishing the NEDRA News to inform and educate our members! We've come a long way since this first issue, with so many wonderful articles written by members and friends. Thank you for everything YOU do, to keep the NEDRA News alive!

    First Issue of NEDRA News.pdf

  • Thu, March 30, 2017 4:09 PM | Laura Parshall

    The NEDRA board had its monthly operations call on Friday, March 10. Among the subjects discussed were next month's conference, upcoming programs, and, of course, our 30th anniversary. Read on for more information!

  • Thu, March 30, 2017 4:02 PM | Laura Parshall

    The 2017 conference is now less than a month away, and we're nearing capacity for registrations! If you haven't yet registered for the conference and you want to attend, don't hesitate--register today!

    We have several volunteer opportunities available for people who would like to help make the conference run smoothly, and help document it for posterity. The Conference Committee is currently seeking the following:

    Think Tank facilitators -- to help facilitate discussion at the Think Tanks that will be held on the last day of the conference

    Conference Photographer -- to take candid shots throughout the conference, and a few posed shots during lunch on the second day when the scholarships and Ann Castle Award are presented

    Registration Volunteer -- to check in conference attendees and distribute conference packets on Thursday and Friday mornings

    Session Hosts -- to make sure that session speakers have all they need and that rooms for the sessions are appropriately set up and comfortable.

    More information about the volunteer opportunities can be found on the 2017 Conference Volunteer Opportunities page. If you're interested in being a session host or have questions about this role, please contact Ginny Santamaria. If you're interested in being a Think Tank facilitator, a conference photographer, or a registration volunteer, contact conference co-chairs Lisa Foster and Susan Grivno.

    Additionally, to help celebrate NEDRA's 30th anniversary, we are seeking stories, pictures, and other memories from people's past experiences with NEDRA. Do you have photos from a conference years ago? Can you jot down a story about a time you got to connect with some of your NEDRA peers and had a great experience? Bring it to the conference! We'd love to collect these memories and save them for the future.

    We're also looking for people to bring in blast from the past items: research tools from back in the day that were once vital but are now obsolete! (I'm sure someone has a twenty-year-old copy of "Who's Who" lying around, right?) Help those who have been in the industry for a while remember the good old days (or maybe they were the "pain in the neck old days"), and show those who are new to the field what prospect research used to be like when we had to travel uphill both ways in the snow to get to the public library for resources.

    Looking forward to seeing you next month at the conference!

  • Thu, March 30, 2017 3:58 PM | Laura Parshall

    The 30th anniversary of NEDRA seems to be bringing up a lot of reflection on how far we've come--not just the organization, but each of us as individual researchers. In this month's feature, departing (alas!) board member Tim Enman reflects on his own experiences in research, and with NEDRA.

    Thoughts on a Decade in Prospect Research

    by Tim Enman

    After about a decade in prospect research, I recently accepted a new position in my organization in Advancement Services. It’s been a bittersweet move. I’m excited by my new responsibilities, but they also fall outside the realm of development research, as defined by my organization, so it is a step away from the NEDRA community that has been so generous to me in terms of education and opportunity. As we celebrate Research Pride Month and the beginning of NEDRA’s 30th anniversary year, it seems appropriate to share a few reflections on the profession and organization of which I’ve been so proud to belong to.

     At 36, I’ve spent more time doing prospect research than almost anything else.  When I started, I was a few years out of college, where I majored in creative writing and philosophy/history. I left university with a couple poems I was proud of, a fuzzy understanding of Kant’s concept of the sublime, and an even fuzzier idea of what a mortgage was. After graduation, I tried out a career as a broker of private air travel for high net worth clients before deciding it wasn’t for me and landing in the Alumni Office of Clark University. Even after working closely with the super wealthy on arranging their travel on a daily basis, I still had very little idea of how they made their money. As the son of an engineer and a nurse, the world of asset management and private fortunes were totally foreign to me. My supervisor, Karen Doherty, paid for me to attend an eye-opening NEDRA boot camp taught by David Sterling, and with that I was mostly left to explore on my own, with the occasional correction. (Like a couple months in, when I discovered that the numbers in parentheses on a financial statement represented a loss instead of a gain…) I’ve since grown into a prospect research professional who must be restrained from boring entire roomfuls of people with discussions of securities, the peculiarities of real estate in New York, London, or Hong Kong, dynastic succession in particular royal families, compensation trends in the asset management industry, and the mechanics of CRUTs, CRATs, and CLATs.


     All this growth was enabled by, yes, being plugged into Google and LexisNexis for 8 hours a day for 10 years, but more meaningfully by an exceptionally open and generous professional community that helped to put all that information in context. The NEDRA boot camp was an indispensable starting point, and meeting other researchers through NEDRA programming over the years raised my sights in terms of the breadth of understanding and confidence of presentation I might aspire to.

     I was particularly impressed (and thankful) for the programming on the financial services industry which Amy Begg coordinated during her time on the programming committee. I wanted become a researcher more like her, to be able to provide the kinds of insights she could provide to her institution, so I started volunteering with her programming committee. At that stage in my career, I was three years in and still often felt like I was winging it, relying on a dog-eared photocopy of an Investment Dealers Digest compensation survey from 2007 for insight into the financial lives of my institution’s wealthiest prospects. I volunteered on the programming committee she chaired, and spent the first year lurking on the monthly conference calls, hoping not to embarrass myself in front of the group of experienced researchers who made up the committee. That NEDRA had a working board was obvious from the visible effort that Amy and other members made to recruit (free) speakers, find (free) space, and promote events while managing their own workloads. I waded a bit more deeply into volunteering by coordinating a Q&A with Rick MacDonald, then the Director of Planned Giving at Clark. (Despite a major snow storm, a half-dozen hardy NEDRA members still showed up.) A couple years later, I took the plunge and volunteered to present a full-day boot camp, after which I finally felt like a “real” researcher. I later had the opportunity to join the NEDRA board, where I and co-chaired the programming committee for the past two years and had the satisfaction of encouraging fantastic researchers to step into a well-deserved spotlight and share their skills and knowledge with the community.  

     My career in prospect research has not been without its downsides. While researchers get by on everyday salaries, we spend our days contemplating the finances of those much better off. It’s easy to make the mistake of comparing your self-worth to your ultra-wealthy prospect’s net worth, in a world which often encourages us to equate the two. And while it’s exciting to discover a wealthy new prospect, we sometimes learn uncomfortable truths about how their fortune was made. The markets reward innovation and brilliance, but they also award sharp practice. We need to trust our gift officers and institutional leaders not to hand over the keys to our institution’s values to people just because they can write a big check.

     But my time is prospect research has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, if the career didn’t exist, I would not have been so optimistic as to wish for a job as interesting as this one. I’ve been fortunate to learn widely and deeply in the service of organizations which have a positive impact not just locally, but globally. During my career supporting higher education, my efforts have contributed to the founding of new centers of learning, built new buildings and transformed old ones, and helped to bring students from many different walks of life together to study. I’ve seen colleagues take on roles with prominent national organizations, and bring the knowledge they gained from research into careers at the highest levels of their organization’s strategic planning.

     Advancement Services isn’t too far from Prospect Research (my new desk is literally two cubes over), but learning computer programming languages is something I would have not considered possible for myself without the growth I experienced as a prospect researcher, a role where it is your job to figure out what you don’t know.  It’s been a journey that, for me, has pushed backed the boundaries, sometimes self-imposed, of what we can learn and the tasks we can accomplish with curiosity, persistence, and some savvy Googling.

  • Thu, March 30, 2017 3:51 PM | Laura Parshall

    Thanks to everyone who attended the Greater Boston 30th anniversary celebration, the Data Analytics Show & Tell Think Tank, and the Directors Round Table this month!

    Coming up, we still have three more regional 30th anniversary celebrations to go, in northern New England. The first will be held in Portland, Maine this very night--March 30--at Salvage BBQ. The next will be at Moxy in Portsmouth, NH (you may have been there during a conference!) on Thursday, April 6. The final regional celebration will be in Montpelier, VT at the Three Penny Taproom, on April 20.

    After that, it's time for the biggest celebration of them all: the annual conference! For those of you who are new to the field, a Research Basics Bootcamp is being held at the conference hotel the day before the conference, and it's a great way to get a head start.

    For more information on any of these programs or to register for them, visit the Upcoming Programs page.

  • Thu, March 30, 2017 3:37 PM | Laura Parshall

    This article was written in 1998, on the occasion of NEDRA's 10th anniversary (in this case, it was the 10th anniversary of NEDRA's first conference). Georgia Glick provides a very interesting look at our beginnings, great to remember as we celebrate our 30th anniversary this year!

    NEDRA's Founding.pdf

  • Tue, February 28, 2017 1:36 PM | Laura Parshall

    On a very icy February 8, the NEDRA Board met via conference call instead of in person as we had planned. Among the subjects discussed were the conference, upcoming programs, and NEDRA's 30th anniversary. Read on for more information.

  • Tue, February 28, 2017 1:22 PM | Laura Parshall

    Registrations are continuing to come in for the 2017 Annual Conference! Keep in mind that hotel rooms are limited, so if you're planning on attending and need lodgings at the conference hotel, don't delay making your room reservation! Also, when you register for the conference, please consider checking off a volunteer opportunity on the registration form. We need your help to make sure the conference runs smoothly! If you have questions about any of the opportunities, please contact Conference Committee co-chairs Lisa Foster and Susan Grivno.

  • Tue, February 28, 2017 1:06 PM | Laura Parshall

    Thanks to everyone who attended the NEDRA 30th anniversary celebration in Amherst at the beginning of this month! Thanks also to those who attended the International Research Think Tank on the 22nd. As spring peeks around the corner, we have a lot more great NEDRA programming coming up. First of all, there are still three more 30th anniversary celebrations to go before the conference: one for the Boston area on March 9th at Cambridge Brewing Company in Cambridge, one for Maine on March 30 at Salvage BBQ in Portland, and one for New Hampshire at Moxy in Portsmouth (not far from our conference hotel). We also have a Think Tank on Data Analytics Show and Tell coming up on March 24 at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Brookline, MA. Come discuss your projects, problems, and challenges! There will also be a Directors' Round Table held at Northeastern University in Boston on March 29. Join us to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing managers in prospect development!

    For more information on these programs or to register, visit the Upcoming Programs page.


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