Friday, September 30, 2011

Wild West

                Here at Vanderbilt, our research shop finds itself amidst a round of hiring for new members of our research team.  This is an exciting time.  It is a chance to meet incredible folks, and to learn from the outside-in how one finds interest in this unique career.  It’s rare that we have candidates with prior prospect research experience (though we welcome such applications).  More often, we meet businessmen and businesswomen looking for a new career chapter.  Others will sometimes have a history in smaller not-for-profit shops where they completed research as a small part of their work – and have a hunch they’d like to do more of this kind of thing.
                During the time I share with a candidate, it is important for me to note that I try to view my position in partnership with the front-line development offices.  I don’t think of myself as subservient to field work.  I also note that although I complete many reports and documents, my work is not clerical.  
                In the few minutes I share with an interviewee, I often explain that our work of prospect research is an industry unto itself.  We have our own national association, APRA, and in my case (here in Tennessee), we also have a multi-state local chapter, APRA-MidSouth.  Linking in with other prospect researchers to discuss best work practices, analytics or modeling projects, research products, research shop design and workflow, and other concerns these give stature, distinction, and professionalism to the work that I complete each day.
                I also mention that our jobs as prospect researchers are as exciting as the evolution of the Internet (which I find pretty much amazing).  We are charged with information collection and analyzation, which the Internet (via software, blogs, products/services, and beyond) continues to develop in ways no one really can predict.  Sometimes I say it’s a “Wild West” of information, up for grabs for the best of us to settle, analyze, and make profitable to our organization’s goals.
                I rarely have an interview where the interviewee isn’t excited by the potential of the prospect research position for which they are interviewing.  Our industry continues to grow in size and promise.  We suggest enormous opportunities for creativity and business acumen.  Charged with our organization’s mission, we are navigating an amazing frontier of information and ideas to bring about more strategic philanthropy, and create a better world.
Geoff Little, APRA-MidSouth Director-at-Large

Thursday, September 15, 2011

America’s Best Small Companies in 2010

Meet the top 20 on Forbes’ list of publicly traded firms with sales under $1 billion
Believe it or not, there is growth in this economy! These companies range from health care and mobile phones to consumer goods such as kitchen stoves and denim jeans. While many of the names may not be familiar, these competitors have experienced remarkable growth over the last challenging five-year stretch.

Candidates for the list had to be publicly traded for at least a year, pull in annual revenue between $5 Million and $1 Billion, and have a stock price no lower than $5 a share.

Are you looking to add new prospects to your organization’s fundraising portfolio? These might be a few great places to start mining! A few of these firms are based in the South.

20. LoopNet (Commercial Real Estate, Sales:  $75 Million)
19. Capella Education (Online Education, Sales: $385 Million)
18. Hittite Microwave (Semiconductors, Sales: $200 Million)
17. Dolby Laboratories (Audio Technology; Sales:  $859 Million)
16. iRobot (Appliances; Sales:  $373 Million)
15. Tempur-Pedic International (Mattresses; Sales:  $986 Million)
14. Strayer Education (School; Sales:  $579 Million)
13. GeoResources (Oil and Gas; Sales:  $98 Million)
12. UFP Technologies (Containers and Packaging; $115 Million)
11. Rackspace Hosting (Computer Services; $698 Million)
10. Transcend Services (Medical Transcription; Sales:  $84 Million)
9. True Religion Apparel (Clothing; Sales:  $353 Million)
8. Industrial Services of America (Waste Management; Sales:  $285 Million) – based in Louisville, KY
7. National Presto Industries (Conglomerate; Sales:  $491 Million)
6. NutriSystem (Weight-loss Program; Sales:  $534 Million)
5. WebMD Health (Medical Website; Sales:  $480 Million)
4. Deckers Outdoor (Footwear; Sales:  $869 Million)
3. American Public Education (Online Education; Sales:   $174 Million)
2. InterDigital (Telecommunications; Sales:  $359 Million)
1. Medifast (Weight-loss Supplements; Sales $218 Million)

Read more information about these companies here:

Read the full Forbes article here:

Forbes’ 100 best small companies: