Friday, November 30, 2012

The Year in Review

Have you ever taken the time at the end of each year to go over the events that have brought you from “Happy New Year” to “Auld Lang Syne?” I do it personally – so if I send you a Christmas letter be ready for a lot of bragging on my new grandson this year.

But professionally? Nope. Never. Some of these things are taken care of for me. In our office we keep a running tally of the projects we are asked to do, how many prospect ratings we supply, how long every project takes to complete, etc. So the measurable stuff is covered. But other accomplishments, goals and events that aren’t measured analytically? I do it for my annual performance review, but I have really viewed it as a necessary pain.

However, I’ve adjusted my viewpoint on this after attending the APRA Research Management Symposium in Nashville in early November. Instead of viewing this kind of exercise as a necessary evil, I now see how tracking and recording the intangibles is beneficial for the division of development and alumni relations as a whole. Many of the examples that the Symposium’s speakers provided did not only focus on the data and what it provided, but also what the process to get the data accomplished. Intangibles, measured the only way it can be, by human reflection.

For example, the Prospect Research and Management may be tasked with creating a new report for management of principal gift donors. Okay, that’s the data. Then the PR&M team may also be asked to lead the meeting to discuss the report, what it shows, PR&M conclusions, how it will be used to move fundraising forward and any report revisions needed for the future. This is the intangible benefit and process that data does not measure. While the data can be displayed and measured (in the report) the accomplishments of creating the report, leading the meeting and stepping out from behind what is often viewed as a support team member task or role, is equally important to note.

We as prospect researchers and managers have seen our profession and our organizational evolve quickly the past few years. Because we have to be experts on both data and the people behind that data, at times our behind the scenes work needs to be moved out front. We need continually work at changing the perception of PR&M as an afterthought to a first thought.

With the examples of this working so successfully for the presenters at the APRA Relationship Management Symposium, I am now looking forward to tracking the intangible part of what I am tasked to do. Sure, keeping track of the intangible value PR&M brings to the fundraising process and team may be a bit of a time consuming task. But now as I have taken that time to engage in this exercise, I’m convinced it’s a necessary and extremely valuable one.

Besides, reflection is always good. And it feels great to be able to recount the contributions we have made for our team.

I encourage you to invest some time in this exercise and to make it one of your habits for the new year. I am putting it at the top of my to-do List for 2013.

Theresa Clark, Director-at-Large, APRA MidSouth

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