Wednesday, April 25, 2012

NY Times Survey of Highest-Paid CEOs

Recently, The New York Times published its annual survey of the 100 highest-paid CEOs in America in an article entitled “In Executive Pay, a Rich Game of Thrones.” The article discusses the compensation packages of the top CEOs and illustrates overall executive compensation trends at the most successful U.S. companies.

(Here’s the NYT article:

Equilar, the company who supplies the compensation data for NYT’s surveys each year, took it a step further and wrote a follow-up analysis of the NYT’s study. (Link to Equilar’s response:

A few of their key findings:
  • CEOs from Consumer Goods companies make up the largest share of the list, while Utilities make up the smallest group.
  • Technology CEOs received the most equity, with 90 percent of compensation received in options or stock/units. On the other hand, Industrial companies paid out 53 percent of compensation in cash.
  • Among all CEOs on the list, 50 percent of all value was given through time- and performance-based stock awards.

Among many other points, the NYT’s article makes the bold statement that business is back to usual following the 2009 recession. CEOs are back to taking large base salaries and even more in terms of stock awards. Seven-figures is the new six-figures.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Surviving the Swirl of Prospect Research


Sometimes my mind as a Prospect Researcher is in a constant state of swirl. How about you?
When I first joined WKU I came on working part-time in prospect research and part-time in stewardship. It was a good job combo so I could get my feet wet in the world of university fundraising.

Then the Prospect Researcher moved to a position as a Development Officer and I was given the opportunity to move into her spot full-time. I jumped at the chance. And inherited the swirl.
We were in the middle of the silent phase of our current campaign. It was time for a new wealth screening of the database. We were upgrading Advance (then known as BSR) from windows-based to the new Advance Web. We needed to find those major gift prospects. How do we manage and track the prospects – old and new? And…...well, you get the picture.

Yep, talk about a mind swirl. Exciting, interesting, but definitely whirling and swirling to get a hold of it all as I learned to do this thing called “Prospect Research.”

That’s when something great happened in the life of this Prospect Researcher. A group of Prospect Researchers in the middle Tennessee area decided that it was time to go small. APRA National is a great organization – great information, great networking, great opportunities – but a bit overwhelming for a 1 ½ person shop like mine to know where to go for help. And I was not just saying “help” meekly I was yelling it from the rooftops – HELP! (No panic involved –well maybe a little…)

This start-up group of Prospect Researchers based mainly out of Vanderbilt University, realized that the Midsouth (i.e. Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky) needed a networking group to connect Prospect Researchers of all sizes and organizations on a more regional level. A group closer together would make it easier to reach each other, to share information, ideas, and opportunities. And much more.

Can you hear me say “Hallelujah?” I almost ran from Bowling Green to Nashville to join (not really, but it sounds good, right?) In the few years since its formation, I have spent many hours with the APRA MidSouth group. They have shared time, ideas, information, themselves. Honestly, for me and our small shop, it has been a life (and mind swirl) saver.

Looking on the other side of WKU’s A New Century of Spirit Campaign (we finish as of June 30, 2012) I am in the mode of assessing how we made it through, what to change and what to do as we prepare for the next campaign (and that includes the help of a new Director of Prospect Research who just joined us).

One thing I know for sure, that no matter how much mind swirling all this review and reloading brings, my friends at APRA MidSouth have helped prepare me for what comes next. Thanks, guys. Thanks for helping me get through the swirls. And I’m here to help you get through yours.

Theresa Clark, Board Advisor, Western Kentucky University

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tommy Lee Jones as a Development Officer

There’s a scene in The Fugitive that reminds me of being a prospect researcher. Federal Marshal Samuel Gerard, played by Tommy Lee Jones, takes charge of the hunt for escaped prisoner Dr. Richard Kimball, played by Harrison Ford, with this memorable speech*:

*“Alright, listen up, people. Our fugitive has been on the run for ninety minutes. Average foot speed over uneven ground barring injuries is 4 miles-per-hour. That gives us a radius of six miles. What I want from each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in that area. Checkpoints will go up at fifteen miles. Your fugitive's name is Dr. Richard Kimble. Go get him.”

Really?!? That’s 113 square miles! That’s the land area of the entire city of Las Vegas! Not only that, but the search area grows exponentially by the hour!

The above scene is great for dramatic effect. In fact, it helped Jones win an Oscar. I get his point. Tommy Lee’s character wants to get into the mindset of the fugitive and wants to be as thorough as possible. But practically speaking, he’s asking for a lot. To relate it back to prospect research, sometimes development officers ask for more than they need. They ask for everything.

When development officers ask for everything you can find on a prospect, what do they really want? I think they really want context. They want the confidence of knowing that you have been thorough. But in the effort to follow up on every tiny detail of a person’s wealth and philanthropy, the law of diminishing returns kicks in pretty fast. Determining what development officers need vs. what you can provide in the allotted time is one of the most important and challenging aspects of being a prospect researcher.

Given unlimited time, a seasoned researcher could find tons of information. But researchers don’t have the luxury of unlimited time. Therefore, we have to be strategic. We must forge and maintain relationships with our development officers so that our work is an ongoing conversation. We must do the basics exceptionally well. We must be thorough, but thorough within the time constraints we manage day to day. You may not have searched every henhouse and doghouse in the area, but establishing the critical overlap between gift capacity and inclination will get you most of the way there.

Go get ‘em.

Mitch Roberson, Communications Director, APRA MidSouth