NEDRA NEWS FEBRUARY 2019
A note from Kristen Cocce and Claire Moitra, NEDRA Communications Committee Co-Chairs:
This new year has certainly been a busy one so far as the NEDRA Board ramps up its programming, with a combination of various Think Tanks, programs, and regional VINOs happening over the next few months. We are also moving full steam ahead toward the NEDRA Annual Conference (to be held in Portland, ME on April 10-12) with registration now open! We further encourage you to submit your nominations for both NEDRA Board candidates (by February 8th) as well as Ann Castle Award recipients (by March 8th), as both will be announced at #NEDRAcon2019!
As always, if you'd like to contribute an article, recommend a researcher to be profiled, or submit a recap on a recent program you've attended, please email kbcocce[at]gmail[dot]com or claireamoitra[at]gmail[dot]com.
Kristen & Claire
Travis Roberts, Prospect Management Analyst, Wheaton College
Congratulations on your new position at Wheaton College (MA)! Can you give our readers some tips on the interview process?
Where did you work before you started at Wheaton? What was your title?
I was a Senior Prospect Researcher at the University of Rhode Island, my alma mater, and I worked there for nearly 11 years.
What are some topics you want to learn more about as your Prospect Management career advances?
I have always done data analytics on prospect portfolios and constituents in a very old-fashioned way via Excel, which is great in some ways because you learn a LOT about Excel and how advanced it can be. However, I am really looking forward to working with and learning SPSS, and the R programming language/software. R is open source, and I have been learning it when I can, but I also have SPSS in my new role and I’m very excited to learn it and see how it can save time and improve my analytics work!
Will we see you at #NEDRAcon2019 in Portland, ME? If so, what would your ideal session be?
Yes, I absolutely plan to be there! My ideal session, under the prospect management umbrella, would be a look into the strategies, data and best practices other institutions utilize when moving prospects between portfolios, through annual fund to major gifts and vice versa. Also, anything to do with data analytics is always at the top of my list.
We know you volunteer with NEDRA! Tell us more about what you do and how it has impacted you.
While I have attended NEDRAcon and a few other NEDRA events over the years, I hadn’t volunteered or served on any committees until the past year. Presently I am on the Communications Committee and I also served as a Think Tank co-facilitator for the first time this past November. It’s been a great experience, both in terms of learning a little bit more about how NEDRA functions and more specifically, learning about my official Communications Committee duty of handling a few of the social media accounts. This is the first time I’ve handled the social media postings for an organization, which involves not only posting occasional updates, but also photos of NEDRA workshops or making the occasional graphic to advertise an event (all while using #hashtags for the first time ever!) Through volunteering, I’ve also connected with more people in prospect development than I ever have before, so I keep learning new things while making new friends and acquaintances.
Tell us a bit about your education and how it helps you in your work.
I have a bachelor’s degree in US history and a master’s degree in European history, both from the University of Rhode Island. I had stellar professors throughout my academic career, who really pushed me and helped expand my research and writing abilities significantly. I seriously would not be where I am today without them. Additionally, for these degrees I did a lot of work that transferred over to the prospect research world very well. I had to complete a thesis for both degrees, and I was required not only to do research in online library databases, but also via microfilm, archives, various libraries and, during my undergraduate capstone, I even conducted in-person interviews for a living history project. Once you complete all this research, of course the next step is to synthesize everything into a shorter, informative work that utilizes your collected evidence to make a convincing argument, similar to what we do in prospect research. While the scope of historical research and writing is different for academic purposes, the research and writing skills I learned were directly applicable to this field, so my history degrees have helped immensely.
What would you be doing if you weren't working in Prospect Management?
I love history with a passion, so I would definitely be a history professor or working in a museum.
What is your favorite meal?
General Tso’s chicken (gluten and dairy free version, thanks to my annoying food intolerances) is one of my all-time favorites!
Thank you. So, truth be told, when the opportunity at Amherst College came along I was not actively looking for a job. I had been at Mount Holyoke College for about 5 years, where I created a prospect management system from scratch, introduced in-house predictive affinity scoring, and used data to help drive the prospect strategy. I worked on a team with two terrific researchers, Hut Beall and Sarah Ruberti, who let me be exactly who I am and allowed me to implement a lot of my ideas that, in turn, improved the quality of the work of the Advancement team as a whole. I was in my happy place doing what I loved, so there was no need to be looking to change anything. Then, I heard about a position opening at Amherst College. They were looking for someone to be their Assistant Director of Prospect Management. For those who do not know the prospect research landscape out in the wilds of Western Massachusetts, positions that are strictly Prospect Management are rare out here. I knew this was an opportunity that would not come around again for a long time.
Fast forward to today, I am at Amherst College as the Assistant Director of Prospect Management. I work on a great team with Suzy Campos, Malou Hafner and Keith Aron. They use the same database that we had at Mount Holyoke College (Ellucian’s Colleague) so I did not have to learn a new CRM system. However, I still needed to learn the particulars of their processes, procedures, and coding because, as we all know, each organization always has its own nuances, and learning those things takes a little time. Luckily, I am a quick study and my colleagues are great at helping me learn all the nuances that are specific to Amherst College. It is also a very dog-friendly office and so I get to bring my dog into work!
What is your greatest accomplishment in your career?
In my office, there is a pile of thank you cards and emails, and having that pile is a reminder of my greatest accomplishment, which is not really an “accomplishment”. I get a lot of emails and phone calls from researchers from all over, who find me after doing some sort of a Google search. They often want to implement prospect management at their organization, though some have very complex issues, or need a new take on a complicated scenario they are dealing with. I have talked with some incredible professionals from around the world that I will never meet in person. I think that this type of idea sharing between colleagues is something you do not see happening outside of the nonprofit sector, and I love that this happens in such an organic manner. I hope that what I share with them is helpful, and I think it must be - since I have that pile of thank you cards and emails in my office from them.
Have you presented at a NEDRA Conference? If so, tell us about what you presented and how you prepared.
I have presented at two NEDRA conferences so far. In 2015, I presented Herding Cats: The Art of Prospect Management and in 2016 I presented on the topic of using prospect management to help drive your fundraising strategy. I have never felt natural in front of a crowd, so presenting makes me incredibly nervous My hands sweat, I feel like I have butterflies in my stomach and I worry that I might start stuttering or curse in the middle of it. I like to rehearse my presentation several times. It helps me make sure my timing is good, helps me remember the order in which I want to talk about things, and it helps me to feel like I can get through the actual presentation without losing my train of thought. I still never know what to do with my hands while I am presenting, I think I flap them about a lot.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
I am definitely an introvert. Back in high school, I took a Myers-Briggs personality test, and I was as extreme of an introvert as you could be on their scale. For those who are interested, I am an INTJ, which, on the Star Wars Myers-Briggs, makes me Emperor Palpatine – the Mastermind. I have not become more extroverted in the decades since that test, but I have learned how to be an extrovert when I need to. I have done things that would make most introverts cringe; such as willingly speak in front of large groups of people at conferences. It is not that I mind social situations, or being around many people – it is more that I need a lot of time after those situations to recharge.
What does your ideal weekend look like?
I am a (non-competitive) power lifter, so my ideal weekend would include an empty gym where I would be able to lift for a couple hours each day. I like to watch movies and binge watch TV shows. So, maybe I would watch every episode of Game of Thrones from the beginning so that everything is fresh in my mind when the final season begins. If I am watching movies on my TV at home, there will definitely be a cat or dog snuggled up with me. And if, on my ideal weekend, I were feeling a bit ambitious, I would do some more writing for my book (I am writing a book on prospect management).
Who is your favorite fictional character (book/movie/TV show)?
Most people who see my office (or my house) might think that my favorite character would be Wonder Woman. Yes, she definitely makes the top 20 list for me. However, my favorite fictional character of all time is Quint, from the movie Jaws played by Robert Shaw. He is rough, rude, and not all that likeable. However, he is also smart, straight forward, and he is not wrong about the shark.
Do you plan to attend #NEDRACon2019 in Portland, ME? Will you be presenting?
I do hope to attend the #NEDRACon2019 in Portland, ME this year, but I am not presenting this time around. I did two conference presentations in 2018 (CASE DI and APRA), so I need a short break from presenting in a conference setting. I have to say that the NEDRA conference is my favorite conference. It is well organized, has great speakers who share a wealth of information, and it simply feels like home to me. I have to give the NEDRA conferences a lot of credit for inspiring me. I always get at least one really good idea from the NEDRA conference that I take back to the office and implement – so every organization I have worked with has directly benefited from NEDRA conferences.
I am extremely excited that the conference will be in Portland this year. I grew up in mid-coast Maine on Penobscot Bay, so I am thrilled to have a reason to head back to my home state. I hope to roll it into a longer weekend where I head up the coast to visit a few old friends.
Cats or Dogs or Both?
Both! I am a big animal lover and I have always had pets. Right now, we have 5 cats, 1 dog and 1 rabbit. When I was a kid, I actually wanted to become a veterinarian … or an astrophysicist. So, while I ended up working in prospect research/management (which I love) – I still kind of fulfilled my childhood dreams … on those nights where I watch The Big Bang Theory while sitting on the couch with a couple cats and the dog all snuggled up to me.
Have you recently received a promotion or accepted another position? Share your career move with us! Email us at claireamoitra[at]gmail[dot]com so we can feature your news on the NEDRA home page!
Your Prospects in the News: “Sharing is Caring”
By Erin Ambrose Dupuis, Director of Research & Prospect Development at Merrimack College
Have you ever read a great article and thought to yourself, “Wow this article could be so helpful to my colleagues”? I sure have, and if you are anything like me, your next thought is something along the lines of “What is the best way to share this article with the team?” or “Where in our database would this be seen by all…or anyone?” When I first started my Prospect Research career, more years ago than I care to count, my predecessor was often met by this same conundrum. Over the years (and across more than one institution) I have tried to take his approach to sharing these great articles and fine tune it and update it in a way that is most beneficial for all parties involved.
News Clippings and the Kudos Program seem like second nature to me as it has been part of my daily work routine for years; my hope with this article is that some of you can also implement a similar program at your institution - both internally to share the great articles you come across with your colleagues, and externally to congratulate your prospects on a job well done.
Twice a month when I send an email to my colleagues across campus with the News Clippings attached, I am often reminded of a saying my good friends, the Care Bears, taught me back in the 80s... “Sharing is Caring”. I like to think of what I refer to as the News Clippings as a multi-beneficial project; beneficial to the Research & Prospect Development Department as it is a great way to ensure that prospecting and proactive research is happening on a daily basis (which also benefits the Institution as new prospects are discovered throughout this process), beneficial to my colleagues as I am keeping them up to date on news regarding our alumni, parents, friends, trustees, etc. as well as industry news and trends, and even beneficial to our alumni as any “kudos worthy” news results in a kudos (or congratulatory) letter being sent to alumni through the Kudos Program.
I often start my workday by reviewing the various alerts that are waiting for me in my inbox every morning. For those of you that have daily alerts set up (either through paid resources like LexisNexis for Development Professionals or free resources like Google Alerts) you are already one step ahead in the News Clippings process. As I’m sure many of you do as well, I scan these alerts and look for information that is pertinent to any of our prospects. In addition to individual alerts, I also have alerts set up for “Merrimack College”, which often uncovers new prospects as many press releases will include educational background. Each time I come across an article regarding a Merrimack Alum, in addition to attaching the article to their record in our database, updating the information in their record, alerting the Prospect Manager when the information is regarding an assigned prospect, and in some cases adding them to my “to do list” for a qualification or re-qualification, I also include the article in the current issue of News Clippings.
In addition to articles brought to my attention through the various alerts I have set up, there are many other great sources for articles. The articles listed in the Industry News Blog section of NEDRA News & the NEDRA News Flash is one of my favorite resources for articles that I include in News Clippings. There are several other great sources as well, including Chronicle of Philanthropy, Chronicle of Higher Education, Philanthropy News Digest, and many more.
I typically collect articles from the 1st to the 15th and from the 16th to the 30th/31st. The articles range from news regarding alumni, to industry news and trends; I like to include any article I think will be beneficial to the members of the Office of Development & Alumni Relations, as well as other select campus departments that receive News Clippings. In terms of how the information is presented, each article included in News Clippings is separated by a page break. In the body of the email, I include a bulleted list containing the names of alumni that are included in that issue of News Clippings or the title of the article, this bulleted list appears in the order in which the articles appear in the News Clippings. By providing a list of what topics are included in each issue of News Clippings, I enable my colleagues to scan the News Clippings and have the ability to read the articles pertinent to them.
The News Clippings have proven to be a great resource for the Kudos Program. At Merrimack, the Kudos Program is a collaboration between the Research & Prospect Development Department and the Alumni Relations Department. The purpose of the Kudos Program is to engage our alumni (though a similar program could work in any organization to engage prospects of any kind) by congratulating them on a recent personal or professional achievement or life event. A kudos letter is simply a short stewardship piece to let an individual know that their alma mater is proud of their recent accomplishment. Kudos letters are also sent to alumni who self-report their recent accomplishments via the Class Notes submission form. The greatest part of the Kudos Program is that alumni are generally surprised by the kudos letter and it leaves them with that warm fuzzy feeling we often get when congratulated on a job well done. Which brings us back to our fuzzy friends the Care Bears, they truly were on to something when they taught us that “Sharing is Caring”.
By: Elana Pierkowski, Assistant Director, Prospect Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Sometimes the hardest part of a job is not knowing what you don’t know.
Do you ever need to analyze or sum up data in your job? Do you use Excel? If so, are you familiar with the magic and wonder of pivot tables….or do they fall into that category of not knowing what you don’t know?
If you aren’t already using pivot tables, please read on. Learning about them will save you more time than you can imagine, and make you shine like a star to your colleagues….and supervisors.
So, what is this all-powerful pivot table, exactly? It’s a tool that allows you to quickly reorganize and summarize selected data in a spreadsheet. You can also use the data to make charts, which helps to quickly and visually convey information. In addition, you are able to drill down to see specific records that are summarized in a pivot table. And the best part? A pivot table does not change the source data. Play around as much as you want….the original data stays the same on its own separate tab.
Let’s say you had a spreadsheet of 2,721 prospects. It includes their unique ID, capacity, stage, and home state; it looks a little like this (but with lots more rows):
But now you want to know more about these prospects. What’s the breakdown by state? Specifically, how many are MA? And what is the stage breakdown of those MA prospects, and how many of them have a $100M+ capacity?
Sure, you could use sorts and filters and manually add this up. But that is time consuming, and prone to error.
What if you could ask these questions (and more) and come up with answers with just a few quick clicks? Enter the pivot table. When you select data and then insert a pivot table, Excel creates a new tab that lets you select what fields you want to analyze from the original data, with filters on fields of your choice. You can change the analysis to either sum or count, or show in percent of a whole, and much, much more. Plus, you can then show your data in charts! Magic!
Here’s what your pivot table will look like. The table itself is on the left. On the right is how you manipulate the data. The top right includes the fields from your original spreadsheet that you select from; you drag these field names to the four boxes on the bottom right to make the pivot table, which automatically updates with your selections. The example below is counting the unique IDs (prospects), showing the states in the rows, and the stages in the columns.
But let’s focus on the 1,262 who are in MA. We’ll filter for MA, and let's also show capacity in addition to the stage, so we can see our $100M+ prospects.
Neat, huh? My boss is pretty visual, however. Can I hit insert and get a chart of that? Yes, I can! (You’ll want to put in a title and maybe do some formatting, but the basics are here.)
Going back to the pivot table. It says there are 7 prospects in MA with $100M+ capacity who are in the Strategy stage. Who are those people? No need to go back to your original data, just double click on the number 7 in the pivot table, and a whole new tab opens with the information:
Throughout all of this, your original data has stayed exactly the same:
It’s not possible for me to go into all the different features and logistics of pivot tables in this article. But hopefully now you know enough about how powerful they can be, and are curious to learn more.
What should you do next? Play around - and remember, nothing you do in your pivot changes the original data. You can look for free online Excel tutorials, like this one (or from countless free YouTube videos), that can walk you through the process step-by-step. Or, you can ask if your employer either offers an advanced Excel class or has access to training programs like Lynda. Any of these can help show you everything from the very basics of creating and using a pivot table, to how the pivot table tools at the top of the spreadsheet can help you control how your pivot table looks, to how to use slicers when you are filtering, to how to change from counting your fields to summing them up (e.g. for dollar amounts).
Pivots can be a little intimidating when you begin to use them, since there are so many things they can do and so many ways they can present the results. They can also be finicky. Sometimes dragging the fields around yields unwieldy results. Sometimes your original data isn’t clean, and you must remember that if you change the original data, you must also refresh the pivot table. Sometimes you forget that you’ve put filters on your pivot table, and the numbers do not add up the way you expect them to. Sometimes Excel won't let you insert a pivot table at all because one of your columns is missing a header. Things like this will make you want to toss your computer out the window….I've been there! But stick with it. Trust me, once you are familiar with how pivots work, you will start to rely on them as much as you rely on Excel’s sum formula. You will be able to ask question after question about your data, all on the fly. You will be able to make informative charts with the data, and use this to convey information to your gift officers and/or your supervisors. Let Excel do the hard work for you.
So, to summarize: pivots are amazing. They let you analyze information very quickly and easily, without changing the original data. And you can show the information visually, in chart form.
Now you know what you don’t know. What will you do with it?
Note: If you are interested in learning about pivots and other ways Excel can be applied to our field, check out NEDRA’s Beginner/Intermediate Fundraising Data Science Workshop session on April 10, the first day of this year’s conference in Portland, ME. We’ll be having an all-day, hands-on training session specifically geared to using Excel to help you understand your donors and improve your fundraising. Come learn – on your very own laptop – how you can create pivot tables and charts to visualize results, make and format a portfolio dashboard, manipulate and analyze data, build and evaluate predictive models, and more!
Monique Bourgeois Miller, Assistant Director of Institutional Research, Amherst College
2014 Recipient of the Heather Reisz Memorial Scholarship
Why did you apply for the Heather Reisz Memorial Scholarship?
I applied for this scholarship for a few reasons. Having only just begun a career in Prospect Research, I thought it would be a good way to put myself out there in the field both in terms of being seen and seeing others. My natural inclination is introversion, so I thought that applying for a scholarship would be a good introduction to other people, especially if I was lucky enough to win! Connecting with others in the field was especially important to me since I had just immigrated to the US from Canada and a lot of things were new to me. People at NEDRA were incredibly welcoming and supportive and the scholarship was icing on the cake for me.
Prior to working in Prospect Research, I was a graduate student in Anthropology and Sociology, and I was used to applying for funding to support my work. I am also addicted to learning, and conferences provide not only opportunities for social connection, but also opportunities to learn valuable skills. At the time that I applied for this scholarship, I was working at Hampshire College (a small, undergraduate, liberal arts college), so I figured it would be a good idea to try to find outside financial support for my professional development. My supervisor at the time was really supportive and so was the whole Advancement team at Hampshire College.
What did you gain as a scholarship recipient?
As a scholarship recipient, I gained confidence and a sense of security. I was able to learn with a clear head at the conference, feeling like I deserved to be there, that I was part of a community. I also realized that NEDRA members are more than a random group of people who happen to work in the same field and think about similar things while at work; NEDRA is a community of supportive and caring individuals, colleagues, mentors, and friends. It was an honor to receive an award named after a person who so clearly exemplified the idea and practice of mentoring. It was clear to me that Heather was valued a great deal and that she is sorely missed by many people. Feeling that at the conference was really meaningful to me.
What advice would you give to a researcher new to the field?
I would recommend that new researchers reach out and try to connect with others. Ask questions. Try to push through any fear of failure, ask for support, and try new things. Treat everything as a learning opportunity. Be open, be kind, and listen to others. Have fun! I try my best to remember these things each day at work and beyond.
What was your favorite part of the NEDRA conference?
There were a lot of interesting things happening at the NEDRA conference, but my favorite part was learning about Heather, her work, and her family.
How would you describe the NEDRA community?
NEDRA values and supports newcomers in an exemplary way, and I am grateful to the scholarship committee, my colleagues and supervisor at Hampshire College, and everyone I met through the group for welcoming and supporting me.
2018 Recipient of the Helen Brown Group Conference Scholarship
Why did you apply?
My short answer is: FOMO! I applied for the 2018 Helen Brown Group NEDRA Scholarship because my employer at the time didn’t have the resources to subsidize my attendance at the conference (nor did I), and I very much wanted to be able to participate. I knew from attendance at previous NEDRA conferences and events that I would benefit greatly from the educational sessions at the conference and the opportunity to network with research colleagues and vendors.
What did you gain as a scholarship recipient?
I gained a veritable treasure trove of new knowledge in areas where I had little to no knowledge (such as start-up company valuation, identifying art as a wealth indicator, picking up on hidden sources of wealth when dealing with High Net Worth Individuals, etc.) After the conference, I applied my takeaways to my daily research and used them to start meaningful and thought-provoking conversations with frontline fundraisers at my institution. I believe those conversations led to some differences in how fundraisers approached certain types of prospective donors.
I got to hear industry veterans share their extensive experience and insights and to ask them questions. I am always struck by the generosity with which seasoned development researchers share their wisdom at NEDRA. Throughout the year, I contact folks I have met through NEDRA to ask for advice and share anecdotes.
I was also able to meet new colleagues and to cultivate existing relationships. I was recently hired into a new job in the field and I believe that the opportunity was a direct result of connections I formed through NEDRA and nurtured at the 2018 NEDRA conference.
What advice would you give to a researcher new to the field?
I would encourage them to ask questions of those who have been around for a while, because their NEDRA colleagues are extremely knowledgeable and incredibly generous with their time and knowledge. I would tell them to take their work, but not themselves, seriously!
Interested in learning more about NEDRA’s Scholarship opportunities? Visit our Scholarships page or contact Jenn Grasso (jenn[dot]grasso[at]tpl[dot]org) or Diane Parsons (dparsons[at]govsacademy[dot]org) to find out more.
Registration is now open for NEDRAcon2019!
Register for NEDRAcon2019
Interested in becoming a NEDRA Sponsor? Learn more about 2019 Annual NEDRA Sponsorship Opportunities!
Thursday, February 7, 2019 -- Brigham and Women's Hospital (Boston, MA)
Wednesday, February 13, 2019 -- Tufts University (Medford, MA)
Wednesday, February 13th, 2019 -- Elm City Social (New Haven, CT)
Quiet Perseverance: A Prospect Management Tale
Tuesday, February 26, 2019 -- Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Brookline, MA)
Friday, March 1, 2019 -- University of New England (Portland, ME)
Data Science Think Tank
Friday, March 1, 2019 -- Suffolk University Poetry Center (Boston, MA)
Research Basics Bootcamp
Tuesday, March 12, 2019 -- Combined Jewish Philanthropies (Boston, MA)
Please note that there will also be a Bootcamp offered before #NEDRAcon2019 on April 10, 2019 in Portland, ME.
Tuesday, March 12, 2019 -- Salem State University (Salem, MA)
Nominate yourself or a colleague to serve on the NEDRA Board of Directors. Please have your nomination in by this Friday, February 8th!
Nominate a colleague or mentor for the 2019 Ann Castle Award by Friday, March 8th!
Christine Bariahtaris started as Assistant Director of Development Research at Facing History and Ourselves in October 2018. She previously worked as the Data and Research Analyst at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
Suzy Campos is now Director of Advancement Services at Amherst College, adding gift and record administration, and reporting and systems, to her responsibilities in addition to prospect development. She has been with Amherst College since 2011. Suzy served on the board of NEDRA from 2011 to 2018, including serving as President from 2014 to 2016.
Amber Countis joined Texas A&M University-Commerce as Director of Donor Relations in December 2018. She was previously with Norwich University for over 6 years, serving as Director of Prospect Research, Director of Advancement Services and Research, and most recently, Senior Director of Advancement Services. Amber served on the board of NEDRA from 2009 to 2015, including serving as President from 2012 to 2014.
Ruthie Giles joined Amherst College as Assistant Director of Prospect Management in December 2018. She previously worked at Mount Holyoke College as Senior Researcher for Prospect Management since 2013.
Marium Majid transitioned from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT to Trinity College in Hartford, CT in November 2018.
Claire Moitra is now Senior Research Analyst at Brown University. She had worked as a Senior Research Analyst at the Rhode Island School of Design from 2012-2019.
Congratulations to everyone on this list!
Share your career move with us! The 'Researchers on the Move' section is intended to inform the NEDRA community of the career movements within our industry. All information is self-reported. If you recently received a promotion, took another job, or made any sort of career shift, email us at claireamoitra[at]gmail[dot]com so we can feature your news right here!