Friday, February 21, 2014

SEC Filings for Humans

One of my awesome colleagues found a very cool site to look up SEC filings. It’s called Rank and Filed. Scroll down on the first page and it talks about how they gather data from EDGAR, index it and return it to the user in a format to help investors research, investigate and discover companies.  It’s super easy to navigate and search.  The really handy and easy to use part is under Data Export.  You can look up Investment Advisors and it tells you how much in assets they have under management.  Check it out at

Friday, February 7, 2014

Review of Prospect Research for Fundraisers

I recently had the pleasure of reading Jennifer J. Filla and Helen E. Brown’s book, Prospect Research for Fundraisers – The Essential Handbook (Wiley, 2013).  The authors, each renowned consultants, lean on their considerable experience to provide clear philosophy and how-to’s for this evolving field.  A passage midway through captures the book’s essence:

In the past, prospect research was known almost exclusively for simply gathering data.  This was in the form of printing reports from the database or compiling information on prospects.  Prospect research pushed information out in the development arena.  Like gift entry and other advancement services, a prospect researcher would not always have had regular interaction with the frontline fundraising staff.  The information was often collected in the same way:  without too much consideration for changing needs.  Today, the prospect researcher has evolved into the position of development partner.  Inundated with information, the development department relies upon prospect research to provide strategic information and work in partnership with frontline fundraisers to provide real-time data.  More than in the past, prospect researchers are recognized as fundraisers too, understanding development principles and directing front-line staff to exactly the information they need.  Prospect research also creates and maintains donor relationship management systems and introduces and assimilates new technologies to provide an organization with competitive advantages (page 124).

Filla and Brown have a steady vision for the work of prospect research that they hold high on each page.  They take us to insights on every facet of the work – from understanding the different levels of research needed, and when, to the ‘hows’ of creating a donor relationship management system.  In the International prospect research chapter, they give exceptional strategy and thought using lessons from work with Habitat for Humanity.  The final chapter reviews trends and suggests the future landscape of prospect research.  This chapter is worth acquiring the book alone as the authors delve into content curation and look at cutting edge resources beneficial to researchers.  They address social media and how data visualization is a powerful resource.

I commend acquiring Prospect Research for Fundraisers to any development operation!  These ladies have assembled a crisp, ever-relevant handbook of ideas.  It is surely useful to the one-person development professional as much as a large research shop – such as the staff of fifteen researchers I help to lead at Vanderbilt University.  The book even includes seven appendices including resources for codes of ethics, researcher skill sets, and relationship management concerns.   

Geoff Little, Secretary/Treasurer, APRA MidSouth

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Position Announcement -- Director of Prospect Research, Western Kentucky University

Western Kentucky University
Advancement Services
Director of Prospect Research
Western Kentucky University (WKU), Advancement Services, is seeking applicants for a Director of Prospect Research. This position is responsible for the overall coordination and production of information on the prospects and donors to WKU. The Director of Prospect Research reports directly to the Director of Advancement Services, but maintains close working relationships with other Advancement Services and Development Staff.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities:
The following duties are customary for this position, but are not to be construed as all-inclusive; duties may be added, deleted, and assigned based on management discretion and institutional needs.
  • Maintains an overall knowledge of the University’s top prospects to assist fundraisers in developing appropriate cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship strategies; references and represents that information at meetings and in discussions, as needed
  • Uses daily and weekly sources of information, such as newspapers, magazines and several electronic data sources for important information on past donors, prospects, and for the identification of new prospects; assigns prospect ratings based on giving capacity as determined by extensive financial research through on-line databases and resources
  • Proactively gathers data from research, journals, clippings, etc. on prospects; updates and streamlines to the central files as necessary
  • Responds to inquiries and prepares concise written reports to determine financial assets, potential for philanthropic support, areas of interests and other University affiliations
  • Interprets biographical and financial information on individuals, corporations, and foundations based on the development staff’s fundraising strategies and objectives
  • Proactively gleans information from existing files and sources to identify new fundraising projects or fundraising approaches for previous prospects and donors. This information will be shared on a routine basis with appropriate staff
  • Keeps abreast of developments in prospect research by attending training sessions and communicating with other researchers by means of national and state professional organizational memberships, conferences and electronic mailing lists focusing on prospect research and fundraising issues.
  • Trains and supervises research staff and student assistants and manage a budget for research resources
  • Evaluates research tools and emerging technology and coordinates vendor relations
  • Responsible for oversight and supervision of the Prospect Management area of the alumni and donor database and enforces all policies associated with this system
  • Interprets and monitors prospect management policies
  • Schedules and conducts quarterly prospect review meetings with each major gift development officers
  • Provides standing and special request reports and data relating to prospect management
  • Coordinates all transfers or changes in assignments for all entities associated with the system
  • Has a thorough working knowledge of the database system, helps maintain and enter updated information onto the system and performs other duties as assigned.

Required Qualifications:
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Three years of Prospect Research/Prospect Management or related experience in a higher education or non-profit setting
  • Experience with donor relationship databases such as SunGard Advance
  • Proficiency in conceptualizing and developing proactive prospecting methodologies using such tools as constituent list segmentation, data mining, and electronic and peer screening

Knowledge and Skills Considered Essential for Success:
  • Thorough knowledge of prospect management and research techniques
  • Strong project management skills and a collaborative nature in working with others
  • Excellent analytical skills and the ability to locate and interpret financial and biographical information from a variety of sources
  • Understanding of wealth indicators and the ability to translate such information into prospect ratings and gift estimates
  • Demonstrated ability to analyze and synthesize a high volume of information
  • Ability to write concise research documents accurately with attention to detail
  • Excellent written, oral, and interpersonal communication skills
  • Ability to foster a collaborative, customer-oriented working environment
  • Proficient computer literacy and ability to learn applications quickly
  • Strong analytical skills, including expertise in the modeling and analysis of data
  • Advanced computer skills, particularly with MS Office

Salary is commensurate with experience

Applications for employment will be accepted electronically only. Interested candidates must submit a cover letter, current resume, and names, addresses and daytime phone numbers of three professional references using the online application process. Please refer to the following website to apply: For further assistance call (270) 745-5934. Please reference requisition number S3897. For full consideration, submit application materials on or before January 31, 2014. Position will remain open until filled.

Kentucky state law requires all public institutions of postsecondary education to conduct pre-employment criminal background checks to determine suitability for employment.
Western Kentucky University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, veteran status, or marital status in admission to career and technical education programs and/or activities, or employment practices in accordance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Revised 1992, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Persons with disabilities, who need reasonable accommodations to participate in the application and/or selection process, should notify The Office of Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action/University ADA Services at (270) 745- 5121, a minimum of five working days in advance.