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A message from Susan Grivno, President, NEDRA Board of Directors

Thank you to everyone who attended the NEDRA Annual Conference in Portland, Maine last month! We are especially grateful to all the speakers and volunteers who made this incredible conference--which offered pre-conference workshops and 24 breakout sessions focused on prospect research, prospect management, and fundraising data science--possible.

Planning has already commenced for the 2020 NEDRA Conference, which will again be in Portland, Maine! We hope to see you all there. Is there a session you'd like to see next year? Let us KNOW! Or consider developing your own presentation. The NEDRA conference is a terrific opportunity to share your ideas and skills. Look for a call for presentations in the coming months to submit your session proposal!

And consider speaking at a NEDRA program or hosting a Think Tank in your area. And, as always, check out the NEDRA website for upcoming programs, Think Tanks, and networking opportunities.

Happy summer,



Ann Castle 2019 Award Winner, Amy Begg, Managing Director of Prospect Management, Harvard University

Forward by Susan Grivno, President, NEDRA Board of Directors

At the 2019 NEDRA Conference last month, Amy Begg was presented with the Ann Castle Award for her contributions to the prospect development community.

Amy is currently Managing Director of Prospect Management at Harvard University. She joined Harvard in 2007 as Associate Director of Research and became Deputy Director of Research in 2011 before assuming her current role in 2016 when she developed Harvard’s first prospect management team.

Prior to joining Harvard, Amy was the director of research at the YMCA of Greater New York in Manhattan. Amy has also worked as a consultant with more than 30 nonprofits across all genres including secondary schools, museums, philanthropic advisory firms and higher education.

Amy has presented widely at both the NEDRA and Apra International conferences and is a frequent NEDRA Bootcamp faculty member. She has also been a featured speaker at other industry conferences including Apra Georgia, Apra Minnesota, and the CASE Annual Conference for Development Researchers.

Additionally, Amy is a trustee and secretary for the University System of New Hampshire which includes all public colleges and universities in the state of New Hampshire. As a trustee, she serves on the Executive Committee, Finance Committee for Investments and the Governance Committee. A 1997 graduate of Plymouth State University, Amy previously served as a board member for the university’s Alumni Association, including a term as chair of the association.

Amy served on the NEDRA board for seven years and is a past NEDRA president. She has grown NEDRA’s Research Basics Bootcamp into the dynamic, popular program it is today. And as conference co-chair for three years was instrumental in raising the profile of the conference and bringing high profile keynote speakers to the NEDRA community including Dan Pallotta and Billy Starr.

Amy’s greatest legacy, though, may be in her ability to develop other leaders in the industry. When she was presented the Ann Castle Award by former Ann Castle Award winners Helen Brown and Dina Zelleke, they shared a few quotes about Amy from her colleagues and friends in the who characterized her as a “devoted…and generous mentor,” and “a leader who creates other leaders.” “She saw more in me than I saw in myself” shared one person, and she is known for seeing the potential in others and encouraging them to grow in ways they may not have thought possible. She shared an important message about this during her acceptance speech, when she urged us to say “yes” to opportunities that come our way: “I realize it isn’t always easy to say ‘yes” but every time that I have, I have grown as a person. Saying ‘yes’ has exposed me to so many wonderful opportunities…In fact, I have found that when I have said ‘no’ it has actually held me back.”

We hope you enjoy the Q&A spotlight, below, featuring Amy. And in her honor, we hope you say “yes” to opportunities that cross your path! (Maybe volunteering with NEDRA? Check out Jenn Grasso’s free webinar for some great ideas on how you can get involved!)

interviewing them to make sure it’s a fit for me!

Congratulations on receiving this year’s Ann Castle Award at NEDRAcon2019! What was it like to attend the conference as an honoree this year?

Thank you, wow, I still can’t believe I received the Ann Castle Award. It was really special to be honored by such an amazing community. Attending NEDRA has been and always will be one of the things I enjoy most in my life. NEDRA is an amazing community and at the conference each year, there are so many great opportunities to connect, re-connect and meet really fantastic people who are doing really amazing things out there.

How did you first find yourself in Prospect Research and Management?

I responded to a job posting in the newspaper for the Foundation Fighting Blindness in Maryland. I had no idea what development was when I went in to the interview.

What advice would you give to someone new to the field or new to NEDRA?

Get involved. However and whatever you are interested in doing. Use the member directory to connect with people when you have questions. Attend NEDRA programming, workshops and networking events. Go to the conference, do informational interviews.

What is your favorite aspect of your job or where you work?

The people. It is what has kept me here for 15+ years. The work is never the same, always evolving and Dina (Zelleke) has given me the freedom to explore new ideas and projects that will better the organization.

What would you still like to explore or learn more about in the field?

Data Analytics and Data Science.

Considering that’s on your professional bucket list, any items still on your personal bucket list?

To go to Italy.

Thank you for all you’ve done for NEDRA over the years, from establishing the Boot Camp programs to serving as President of the Board. What advice would you give to those considering becoming more involved with NEDRA?

I would encourage anyone who would like to become more involved to reach out to someone on the Board to see how their talents could be utilized. NEDRA is an amazing community and it has brought me so much love and joy over the years.

What’s your most memorable NEDRA moment?

There are so many great NEDRA moments I am not sure I can think of just one!


Getting to Yes: Advocating for Professional Development

By: Lisa Foster, Director of Prospect Development at Phillips Academy, Andover and Renana Greenberg Kehoe, Associate Director of Gift Management at Harvard Business School

In an old episode of the sitcom Seinfeld, one of the characters, Elaine, is put in charge of her company’s budget when her boss is away. Although she does not make the best financial decisions throughout the episode, at some point she needs her boss’s approval for a specific hat purchase. She then has to travel all the way to a Burmese jungle and after finally finding him, he refuses to approve her purchase without seeing the hat.

For many, getting approval to spend time and/or money on professional development opportunities can feel just like that: jumping through many hoops just to be told ‘no’ in the end. While there are numerous known benefits to professional development, many still struggle to get supervisor support and approval. Below are a few tips that may be helpful when submitting a request for professional development.

Know your budget

As our recent NEDRA programming survey demonstrated, one of the top three barriers to attending a program was not having control over the budget. Not everyone has in depth knowledge of their department or institution’s operating budget, but it is worth learning about it as much as possible for several reasons. If the total budget for professional development for the year is $1,000 and you are asking for approval to attend a conference that will cost $2,000, it is very likely your request will be declined. While it is not necessary to know the specific budget amounts for every line item, it is important to have an overall sense of your organization’s limits and state of the budget at the time you make the ask (was too much already spent this year, etc.). It is also helpful to be aware of when budget planning takes place as this may allow to time these requests accordingly and have specific funds earmarked for specific programs, conferences, etc.

Broaden reach with current staff

A strong case for attending a specific program is demonstrating how the material that will be covered is addressing a certain gap in the department. For example, we didn’t have an analytics person on the team and having our prospect research person attend an analytics program allowed them to bring back this knowledge and broadened the scope of what our department could do without having to hire someone with this additional expertise.

The value of a network

One of the best benefits of professional development events is meeting other people who are doing similar work and who are facing similar challenges. Being able to build this network of individuals and connecting with them about different matters (challenges, benchmarking, etc.) not only ensures you are remaining informed on the latest trends in the industry but also that you do not have to pay a consultant for more simple inquiries.

Good value

Full disclosure: we have both served as co-chairs of the NEDRA Programming Committee so we are slightly biased; still, most NEDRA programs are a great value for the quality and content. Expert presentations are $85 for members and Think Tanks are FREE for members (and only $25 for non-members). When making the request to attend these programs, it may be helpful to compare the price to other program offerings in our area and highlight the cost efficiency, as well as how the organization is making the most of its financial investment.

Acknowledge time out of the office

Time is money and even attending a free program costs the organization. Regardless of the program price, it is important to acknowledge that you will be out of the office and demonstrate your plan to ensure your work and deadlines will not be negatively affected.

Format the request

Some organizations have a formal request submission portal and at others, the request may be made with an email to your supervisor. Regardless of the channel, it is worth taking the time to plan out how the request is presented. We have found it most helpful to put the description of the program first, details about what we will gain from it, then the price, and finally the speakers with bios at the end, with the idea that the most relevant information to the approver appears first. We have also tweaked this format depending on who is approving—for example, when it’s someone who is extremely busy, we would just include the title, a short sentence about the advantage of attending, the price, and names of speakers. Regardless of the format, always mention the specific benefits of attending this program for your department/organization.

One final note: regardless of your approach, it is worth trying different ways to make the case for professional development. If one way didn’t work, adjust your approach and try again. As long as you don’t have to travel through a jungle abroad, it can’t hurt to try again.


By: Claire Moitra, Senior Research Analyst, Brown University

As a prospect management professional, I am often desk-bound for hours at a time, chasing down leads, and forgetting to eat, much less go for a lunchtime walk. After my first several years in the field, I felt my energy and productivity decrease and I was confused about the cause. Ultimately, a new yoga studio opened up near my office, offering 45-minute lunchtime classes for a great price. Immediately after taking a class or two, I felt improvement with my energy levels, my mood, and my productivity. After realizing that I had been neglecting myself during the workday, I started to make changes in my daily routine. Some days are better than others, of course, but I usually try to complete at least half of these wellness@work tips below. These quick tips helped to increase my energy, focus, and productivity; I hope they help you too!

  • AVOID THE VENDING MACHINE - unless you want peanuts or something resembling a whole food -- sugar may energize you quickly, but with an ultimate crash -- resulting in a lack of motivation and general lethargy. Excessive salt is not an energizer either, so try to find the unsalted peanuts!

  • The vending machine brings me to the next tip – SHOP FOR WEEKLY SNACKS – clean out a desk drawer and stock it with bubbly water, nuts, dried fruits, healthy crackers, and even a few dark chocolate chips for an afternoon treat.

  • DRINK WATER – a lot and all day – which will make you feel great, keep you feeling satisfied, and force you to get up and move around, even if it is just to the bathroom! I keep a one-quart pitcher and a cup at my desk so I am aware of my intake and do not have to refill too often.

  • EAT OUT – and I do not mean at a restaurant - bring your lunch and if it’s nice outside, sit outside, breathe fresh air, and slowly eat your lunch, leaving your screens behind. If the weather is not ideal, then just eat away from your desk. Perhaps invite a colleague to join you and get a laugh session out of it! It is always super fun to discuss research requests like “There is a John Smith that gave $1M to a science museum, can you find out if he is OUR John Smith”…you catch my drift!

  • FIND AN EXERCISE CLASS – if you are lucky enough to have an exercise studio near your office- check to see if they have lunchtime classes at a discounted rate. Choose something that isn’t too cardio heavy, but will be strenuous enough to feel like a challenge. I promise that it’s worth the inconvenience – who has ever regretted going to the gym? I have taken lunchtime yoga and barre classes and although I might take a smidge over an hour, I am much more productive when I return to work!

  • Grab those headphones – tune into great podcasts, calming music, or visit health-conscience websites like these:
    •  mindbodygreen #mbgpodcast
    • NPR – Health Focused Podcasts
    • Mindful.org - Guided Meditations
    • GOOP
    • Food52
    • Global Wellness Institute
    • Mayo Clinic
    • Dr. Weil
    • Deepak Chopra
    • TEDTalks Health
    • Food Heaven Podcast
  • SLEEP – go to sleep early and wake up early- everyone’s sleep needs are different, but commit to a schedule.


Sam Kjellberg, 2017 Recipient of the Heather Reisz Memorial Scholarship

Please describe your career trajectory since receiving the NEDRA Heather Reisz Memorial Scholarship (HRMS).

Since receiving the Heather Reisz Memorial Scholarship, I left the Boston Youth SymphonyOrchestras and moved to North Bennet Street School as their Development and Events Coordinator. I was there for roughly 7 months before moving back home to Minneapolis-St. Paul. However, perhaps surprisingly to all of you, development research work was not my only professional pursuit. I am the founder and co-owner of SK Coffee, a coffee company now based in Minneapolis. I started this company as a hobby while living in Boston. I saw a missing component of the specialty coffee industry: connecting great coffee with everyday coffee drinkers through curated and caring customer service.

How did you hear about the Heather Reisz Memorial Scholarship (HRMS), and what inspired you to apply?

At the time, the Director of Development at BYSO noticed how interested I was in prospect research. As an academic I had some training in deep research methods; however, I wanted to learn and absorb more.

What was a lasting memory from the Research Basics Bootcamp and/or the NEDRA Annual Conference?

There was a presentation on Philanthrocapitalism. Despite working in the for-profit industry now, I still reference these concepts every day. It is extremely applicable in the coffee industry.

Did you get ongoing value from being a NEDRA member after the Bootcamp and Conference?

Absolutely, especially through the resources and tools given to me during that Bootcamp. I continued to utilize the various wealth calculations and sleuthing technique. I still use these but to different ends!

Any other highlights from being an HRMS recipient?

From a relatively non-productive standpoint, being around a bunch of like-minded people with communal history is something to be admired. I felt totally embraced and accepted. The weekend was a true delight!

What advice do you have for a new prospect researcher?

Try to understand WHY you are doing the research. It is not just about gaining wealth understanding; there are lots of people with capacity. It is about understanding the person more intimately and their potential financial situation, but more importantly, it is about connecting cause with commitment.

What connections do you draw between prospect research and your current career?

I think similarly to my last statement about connecting cause with commitment. Being an entrepreneur and starting something from nothing is very much like completing prospect research. You have a vision from where your organization stands, you find the people that will make that happen, and you use compassionate and calculated tactics to connect the two, hopefully resulting in your overall goal! See, you’re all entrepreneurs!

What is *your* favorite coffee beverage?

There is absolutely no close second to this Kenyan coffee that George Howell Coffee Company imports. George has created a direct and exclusive relationship with the Mamuto farm, purchasing the entirety of their lot every year. It is some of the best tasting coffee I have ever had. I sometimes say that it changed my life!

Any other thoughts to share with the NEDRA community?

Your love and devotion to curiosity and learning is truly inspiring! It is my hope that people continue to join the development research community and bring continued change and prosperity to the non-profit world. It is you who helps connect makers, supporters, and visionaries.

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.


Perspective: A Review of NEDRAcon2019

By: Steve Grimes, Director of Development Analytics and Strategy at Jazz at Lincoln Center

I am not a fan of impulse purchases. They never seem to work out for me and it always leaves to some sort of buyer’s remorse. So, when I decided to attend NEDRAcon2019 on a whim (and because the main APRA conference was outside of my preferred price point), I had relatively low expectations due to my past history of impulsive purchases.

Well, my attendance at NEDRAcon2019 was anything but an ill-advised purchase. In fact, having attended many development conferences in my career, NEDRAcon2019 is now the bellwether to which I will likely compare future conferences to.

Here are a few things that I expect industry conferences to offer:

  • Informative sessions, both on the applied and conceptual aspects of our field
  • Suitable and convenient spaces during and after conference sessions
  • A sense of belonging, not just within the conference, but with others within the industry

These three things I believe are key in having a great conference experience, and NEDRAcon2019 surpassed all of those expectations handedly.

First, the sessions I attended were absolute knockouts! The Advanced R Workshop was timely for my needs as the data person for my organization. I walked away from The Best Practices for Understanding your Data with nuggets of information I will use for my future projects. There was a nice change of pace with the Introverts in Extroverted World session, not to mention the cathartic experience of being around people who see the world the way you do. And the Demystifying Prospect Scoring session is the reason why I will be taking a (what I hope to be a successful) change of strategy with the pipeline construction for my shop.

This only makes up the Wednesday and Thursday sessions as I wanted to take some time to tour the area while there. Coming from NYC, and not knowing what Portland, Maine looked like, I was hoping that I wouldn’t be stuck in the middle of nowhere and confined to my hotel room with a lack of places to go during conference down time. But when I was able to get out, I was pleasantly surprised to see what Portland, Maine had to offer. In a ten-block radius of the conference there were restaurants, the harbor, and great little shops to visit (I spent about two hours browsing a great little record store rummaging through albums that I haven’t thought about in years!).

Again, being from NYC and not local to the New England Development/Advancement scene, I was hoping to not be the odd person out considering I didn’t know many people in that area. But the volunteers and the staff of the conference made me feel welcome and not at all like an outsider. However, the real strength of the conference to this end is that it is not too large. While there were many people to network and just have general conversations with, it never felt too overwhelming to just go up to someone and chat. Plus, between the first day dinner and the second day karaoke event, it was great to have a dedicated space to unwind with the participants of the conference.

Now, the conference could do better on a couple of things for next year. Possibly adding a session where there is a roundtable discussion for participants on various industry topics so that we can share our knowledge in a more open way rather than a presentation (if we are all in the room together, we should take the opportunity to take advantage of that). Parking wasn’t the most affordable and for those who were not able to get a room in the hotel (like myself), maybe there could be a way for them to get a discounted rate.

But those two critiques do very little to sully my experience with the conference and my intention is to be back next year. And while I may still have a general fear of what I might get from an impulse purchase, I’m pleasantly surprised at how well everything turned out with this unplanned transaction. I was made aware of approaches in my field I would have never thought of, visited a place that I would have never went to on my own and totally loved it, and was able to get the satisfaction you get from being around other Development and Advancement professionals and feeling like you belong. In my experience, most conferences are able to accomplish one, and maybe two of those expectations. To have all three expectations met has to be commended and I’m very happy that I made my impulsive purchase when I did.

Highlight: The Heather Reisz ‘Walk to Remember’

On Friday of the 2019 NEDRA Conference, 15 early risers met in the Westin lobby to take a brisk walk around historic Portland in support of the Heather Reisz Memorial Scholarship fund. This was the 1st annual ‘Walk to Remember’ in honor of Heather Reisz, a treasured researcher and mentor who passed away suddenly in 2013. The group took in the sites, enjoyed some pre-conference networking, and the event raised $405 for the Scholarship fund which supports new researchers in the field. If you missed this year’s walk but are still interested in donating, please consider making a gift today. Thank you to all of our walkers and donors and we are already looking forward to next year’s event!

Thank you to all of those who attended NEDRAcon2019!

It was great meeting new members and reconnecting with old friends. Attendees traveled from near and far to network and celebrate with us in Portland, and for that we are so grateful!

NEDRAcon2019 by the Numbers:

253 Registered Attendees

+ 33 Presenters

+ 3 Keynote Panelists

+ 2 Networking Receptions

+ 1 Night of NEDRA After Dark

+ 1 Walk to Remember

+ 3 Platinum Sponsors

+ 5 Gold Sponsors

+ 2 Silver Sponsors

+ 1 Scholarship Sponsor


= 3 Days of One Amazing Conference!

Keynote Speakers Elizabeth Crabtree, Helen Brown, and Valerie Anastasio

Scholarship recipients with NEDRA scholarship committee members and presenters

Dating Game Session with iWave and Gravyty

Reception sponsored by iWave

NEDRA After Dark sponsored by DonorSearch

Until next time, Portland!  Let the Countdown to #NEDRAcon2020 begin!


Connecticut VINO

Thursday, June 6, 2019 — 5:30pm–7:30pm — Moonlight Sushi Bar & Grill, 130 Main Street, Middletown, CT 06457

New Hampshire VINO

Thursday, June 13, 2019 — 3pm–5pm — Martingale Wharf, 99 Bow Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801

Healthcare Think Tank

Wednesday, June 19, 2019— 2pm–3:30pm — Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 10 Brookline Place, Room 563, Brookline, MA  02445

International Research: Middle East

Wednesday, June 26, 2019 — 10am–11am — Year Up, 45 Milk Street, 2nd Floor, Boston MA  02109

Lyft that Rocket Lab to the Improbable (all things "unicorn")

Friday, July 12, 2019 — 1pm–2:30pm — Online Webinar


Quiet Perseverance: A Prospect Management Tale (2/26/19)

Data Science Think Tank (3/1/19)

Research Basics Bootcamp (3/12/19)

The Ins and Outs of Corporate and Foundation Research (4/26/19)

A special thanks to all of our presenters and attendees for great sessions!


Lu Weiding Named the Most Generous Chinese Philanthropist

Barron’s, 5/21/19

Billionaire Robert F. Smith's Gift May Inspire Other Donors to Address Student Loans

Barron's, 5/20/19

Why Some Philanthropists Are Letting Their Teenagers Decide How to Spend Donations

Robb Report, 5/16/19

Opinion: Disaster philanthropy needs a feminist and participatory approach

Devex, 5/9/19

As U.S. billionaires live longer, more wealth managers roll out estate and succession planning

Investment News, 5/3/19

Machine learning reveals links between climate misinformation and philanthropy

Physics World, 5/2/19

As Wealthy Donors Fuel Campus Growth, What About Low-Wage Workers and Local Residents?

Inside Philanthropy, 4/23/19

Why India's rich don't give their money away

BBC News, 4/2/19

In Asia's Stealthy Rich City, the Ultra Wealthy Hide Their Hermes

Bloomberg, 4/1/19


Share your career move with us!  If you recently received a promotion, took another job, or made a career shift, email us at claireamoitra(at)gmail(dot)com so we can feature your news on the NEDRA home page!

Lauren Casas was promoted to Senior Research Analyst at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Meg Flynn is now Associate Director of Principal Gifts Research and Analysis at Brandeis University. She was previously Senior Research Analyst at Brown University. 



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