Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wait, If You Are APRA MidSouth... Who Or What Is "APRA"?

Understanding what your professional association options are as a prospect researcher may not be immediately clear. When I was new to this industry years ago, fresh from the corporate world, I was the only one in a small development group. I was given a clear mandate from my fundraising group – what they wanted – and I just started doing it… This worked well enough for a time. I remember in that first year or two that I went to a fundraising gathering. There were no researchers! I remember thinking that maybe this was the state of the world we lived in. I sort of decided I’d been meant to wander the earth alone – with my laptop of wealth indicator databases, Excel lists, and profiles in progress.

Then one day, new at a different job, I was encouraged to review the APRA (Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement) website, I was given a username and password and access to everything. Whoa! So this is a full industry that had been going for 20+ years – and there was a wealth of shared ideas and best practices to tap into. Wow. In a few minutes, I began to feel connected to a wider prospect research horizon than I’d yet known. You see, I’d not had anyone nurturing me toward a specific professional group that I should trust. Up until that day, I was appreciative of other fundraising/advancement groups and associations, but I noted how APRA much more focused on what I did day-to-day and as a career. I regularly listened to their saved seminars and read Connections, the newsletter of APRA. I looked at opportunities available at conferences and meetings. I reviewed the different smaller chapters around the United States.  I wondered if Tennessee was supposed to have a chapter. (YES, TN was! More on the 2007 APRA MidSouth birth/history in another blog post.)

Today, APRA is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois (picture of tower they are in below). I think it is worth noting, this is their 25th year of existence! As of this month (March 2012), APRA has a completely renovated website (link above). I was fortunate enough to visit the headquarters for a strategy summit of chapter presidents in late February. In particular, I spent quality time with executive director Julie Sutter, operations coordinator Sarah Murphy, and others to address challenges and opportunities for the association. These women are exceedingly bright and helpful. Among their duties, they work with the board of APRA.  Also during this time I was pleased to spend time with Michael Quevli, president of the board. Michael has served APRA for over 10 years. He currently works with Blackbaud Analytics, but has much been in the world as we researchers know it. He was the development director of research at the prestigious Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California for 8 years. The entire APRA leadership is more committed than ever to their chapters, and are actively working to strengthen our network.

What is the best national professional association for a prospect researcher to immerse oneself? I hope this blog post makes this clear. Second, what might be a best total immersion experience into the APRA world? After their website, I believe it is going on to attend the annual national conference. This year, it is in Minneapolis, Minnesota, from August 1 to August 4. Just this week, I received a great brochure in the mail detailing the many options and opportunities. It looks like everything in the mailer is also right there on the web! I am not 100% confirmed yet, but if possible, I hope to see you there.

Geoff Little, APRA MidSouth President

1 comment:

  1. At APRA, will insurance agents find various amortization options, and both fixed and variable rate choices?