Thursday, February 28, 2013

Children’s Hospitals - Benchmarking

I am the assigned researcher for the children’s hospital at a university. Having past experience at another children’s hospital not tied to a university, I periodically compare the two roles. I have found many similarities in project requests and a few differences in structure. It’s highly probable that you have been asked to look at how other children’s hospitals are planning their next campaign or what events other children’s hospitals have put in place. In essence, we researchers are benchmarking.

While a majority of my time is dedicated to major gifts efforts, I find it just as important to keep myself informed of all the community events that are planned for the year. I invite other researchers that support children’s hospitals to respond and share how you are structured among development officers. In essence, I am benchmarking my role.

Melissa Sridaromont, Secretary, APRA MidSouth

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Between Campaigns: An Update on Our Work

I wrote a blog post in October 2012 about the plans WKU’s mighty Prospect Research team of two created to carry us forward in the interim between campaigns.

So today I thought I’d give an update on how it’s going.  Maybe some of these ideas would be useful for your shop.  And if you have any ideas on what has made your shop and processes more efficient and your development officers happy, please share!
  1. Assessing our resources, methods and procedures.  Cheryl Kugler, Director of Prospect Research and I (the Senior Research Analyst at WKU), had a team retreat.  Just the two of us?  You bet!  We left our office for a conference room in another building on campus and set up like a retreat for 10.  It was so productive and helpful!  And fun! (If you’re going to get away from your regular routine, you might as well have a little fun, right?) Not only did this give us time to focus, we were able to be creative, extrapolate beyond our normal boundaries and establish timelines and goals….something we don’t normally do in our weekly meetings.
  2. We have established monthly meetings with each development officer to discuss their portfolios and their research needs.  This not only helps the officer and their researcher focus on the work but creates team cohesion and investment.  In addition to the monthly meetings, we have established quarterly reviews.  This meeting gives us a chance to really dig into each development officer’s portfolio to assess prospect stages and assignments and anything else that will help the development officers have a clean and manageable portfolio.
  3. To help in managing those portfolios, we have removed prospects with no activity or no recent activity (meaning during the last campaign) from the development officers’ portfolios.  Reviewing the prospect lists and getting the numbers under control has definitely lifted a burden from the development officers. When you go from 400 to 250 (even though the latter is still too large) at least you feel management and assessment can be accomplished. 
  4. Our new prospect rating tool has been a great help in identifying the best prospects in each officer’s pool.  Although it is a relatively new tool, it has become one of our go-to identifiers when rating prospects for development officer travel, within colleges and for special projects  And,  we have incorporated it into several of our established reports as a sorting tool to help bubble up top prospects.
  5. We have also worked on creating new codes to track our prospect research work as well as our database management work.  These codes were established not only to help us, but so the development officers understand how long prospect may have been identified and or have been sitting in their portfolios.  Sometimes tracking this kind of information and making it part of the database process seems like “one more thing” and slows down the work pace.  But now that we’ve got it as part of the routine and procedure, we can already measure the benefits.  So, we’ll keep doing it.
  6. We are continuing to create reports and revise current ones so information is clearly and concisely available to the development officers about their portfolios.  Some of these reports are pushed to their e-mail inboxes.  Along with these reports we are documenting everything – policies, procedures, illustrations and instructions – in notebook form and on a new internal network (Intranet) so they can be easily found and revised. 
I wanted to give this update as it highlights a lot of the “other kind of work” that we have to do as prospect researchers and managers.  Yes, it may seem like a lot of time consuming “busy work.”  However, if we can get the work flowing smoothly for all parties involved – managing the process so it doesn’t manage us – then we researchers will be freed up to do the thing we like to do best: finding those golden prospect nuggets that lead to the next big gift!

Theresa Clark, Vice President, APRA MidSouth

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Resources for Finding Physician Compensation

In estimating a prospect’s gift capacity, having a good sense of his/her compensation range is very important. Many industries offer resources that can help you gain a better picture of estimated compensation, and I am always excited to learn of new resources!

For physician compensation, I like to use Merritt Hawkins. They post physician job postings on their website, complete with salary ranges. I typically use this and cross-check it against Cejka (a popular resource among my colleagues), and the two are almost always comparable. Look to the far right side of the web page, where you can search job postings by specialty. You can also search by region, but I usually include all regions in the initial search – the results include a column with the region listed, and this way you pull all the postings in the selected specialty.  The trick is needing salary info for a position that is currently posted…

What compensation resources do you use for other industries?

Caroline Rossini, Treasurer, APRA MidSouth

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Liking Facebook Like Pages

The other day our whole Vanderbilt research staff (15 of us!) was discussing emerging trends in the industry of prospect research. These are things that are irresistibly going to merge into what we do. Social media was heavily discussed. One thing our group was sure of: there are reams of great prospects self-identifying with high attachment, and this is happening at Facebook Like Pages.

I think you know what these are; it’s where you see (or search for and see) a local business, place, company, NOT FOR PROFIT (ahem), food, artist, band, etc. and hit the ol’ “Like” button. Whenever the organization announces something – puts out information or opportunities – this goes out to all who have liked them. People are commenting and liking and name-linking Like Pages all the time. It’s the same effect as having a Facebook friend.

Check this out: One (of several) Vanderbilt-owned/managed Facebook Like Pages had over 80,000 likes, and is growing at the rate of 600 a week. On this page were comments from all sorts of “likers.” Many were very positive. No kidding, one comment said “you are an answer to my prayers.” I looked this particular person up in our development database. There was not a record of any development contact.

I hope you are like me – what a TON of opportunity!

The challenge is that the folks that run the Facebook Like Pages in my organization are not (yet) harmonized into our development enterprise. Not a huge surprise. Development kind of is given a certain mandate. Marketing/communications – another. However, I am proud to note that early stage collaborations in my greater organization are underway. Everyone has thankfully been – “Yes, good golly, we need to get on that!”

Isn’t it that simple? What could possibly go wrong? What if our organizations could aggregate important Facebook data into our development database – wouldn’t this help significantly with prospecting? Has anyone reading done such a thing? Hit me back with ideas or questions!

Geoff Little, Past President, APRA MidSouth

Friday, February 1, 2013

Open Letter To Our Members, Both New and Old!

On behalf of the board, I would like to thank so many of our members who made 2012 such a great year for APRA MidSouth. We had a banner year, welcoming many new members and expanding programming deep into untouched areas of our membership.

Because of you, we were able to host a number of Prospect Research 101 seminars across our membership area, introducing small and large nonprofits alike to the field of prospect research. We were also able to provide continuing education opportunities and networking lunches to our members already embedded in the MidSouth prospect research community. In November, we went national, partnering with APRA International to host more than 100 prospect research professionals from across the country for a networking happy hour capping off the Advanced Relationship Management Symposium held in Nashville, Tennessee.

This year, we hope to build on this momentum and offer you and your fellow APRA MidSouth members several valuable opportunities.

A one-day conference on April 19, 2013, in the Nashville-area covering a broad range of tips and techniques in prospect research. This conference will be beneficial to shops at all levels and best of all, will connect you with other prospect researchers in your own back yard!

Several webinars and networking lunches that are free or very low cost to our membership. For the first time, we’ll be hosting these events simultaneously in various cities across our four-state area so members all across our region can connect through shared learning.

An APRA International Conference Re-Cap to build on themes and topics presented at the 26th Annual APRA International Conference being held in Baltimore, Maryland. Whether or not you plan to attend the APRA International conference, we want our members to be privy to all the new techniques and trends in our ever-growing field. And, if you are planning to attend, we’ll be hosting a special APRA MidSouth happy hour so you can mingle with other attendees and continue the conversation!

To take part in these and other exciting opportunities in 2013, please consider joining or renewing your APRA MidSouth membership today! As always, please email us (emails on side bar) or leave us a comment if you have questions or to let us know how we can better serve you in the New Year! We’re looking forward to a great 2013!

Angie Stapleton, President, APRA MidSouth