News

  • 23 Jun 2021 4:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Apra Wisconsin will be hosting a summer event with the following agenda for the morning and additional information about Kevin's presentation:

    10:00 a.m. Welcome/Intro

    10:05 a.m. Kevin MacDonnell: Good Tools

    Advancement professionals work in complex environments and enjoy a lot of autonomy in how they manage their time and projects. Good tools are essential. In this session, Kevin MacDonell will describe how using a simple notebook can help us be better leaders, managers, and professionals. His adaptation of the famous Bullet Journal method involves more than just taking good notes; it’s about accessing the captured content of our days in a progressive, creative way.

    11:00 a.m. Networking

    11:30 a.m. Apra business meeting (Optional)

    Noon Adjourn

    Kevin MacDonnell, Executive Director, Dalhousie University

    As Executive Director, Advancement Operations for the Advancement Department of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Kevin entered higher education advancement in 2003 as a communications writer and later moved on to prospect research, annual giving, and business intelligence. While pursuing an interest in data analysis, data mining and predictive modeling, he launched the CoolData blog (cooldata.org) in 2009, focused on learning predictive modeling techniques for professionals working in advancement and nonprofits. He has presented widely and is co-author (with consultant Peter Wylie) of a book published by CASE called Score! Data-Driven Success for Your Advancement Team. His new blog, CoolOps.blog, focuses on Advancement Services as a strategic partner in support of the institutional mission.


  • 24 Jan 2020 4:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Apra Wisconsin has joined with Apra Illinois, Apra Indiana, and Apra Michigan to host a regional conference October 15-16, 2020 in Chicago. The Programming Committee is currently accepting proposals and registration will open in early summer. For more information, go to the conference website: www.apragreatlakes.weebly.com. Follow along on social through @APRA_GreatLakes on Twitter and ApraGreatLakes on Facebook.

    We look forward to seeing you there!

  • 28 Oct 2019 4:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Last week I attended the 20th anniversary of “bbcon” (Blackbaud conference) in Nashville, TN, in part thanks to Apra Wisconsin’s scholarship award. The third photo is of the main stage ballroom that was used for several all-attendee presentations; a recent press release stated there were over 3,000 people present. Though I attended bbcon few years ago in Baltimore, MD, while working for a small, private college, this year I focused on different sessions in the healthcare vertical.

    I now work for a healthcare system and was able to connect with a few other UnityPoint Health affiliate foundation database administrators (DBAs) from Iowa and Illinois. We don’t get to meet in person very often, so that was a valuable touch-point with these colleagues. I also worked on my business-card collection, from vendors and consultants to other researchers and DBAs in organizations across the country (and Canada!) I sincerely appreciated the opportunity to chat with other individuals from organizations, large and small, with similar challenges with regard to their work. The ability to share and listen was supremely therapeutic.

    Some of the sessions I attended that stood out for me (both as a researcher and as a DBA) included:

    ·         “The Impact of Donors Following Tax Reform” – The presenters, Jason Lee (Association of Fundraising Professionals) and Sally Ehrenfried (Blackbaud), shared some interesting statistics and projections regarding how tax reform may be affecting donor behavior nationally. One such stat from Giving USA was “people who itemized provided 82% of total giving in 2016” (i.e., before the reform passed). Significant decreases were projected by the presenters going into 2020. They recommended using the IRS tax withholding estimator to help your donors see the potential benefits of their donation(s), though they also shared that most people do not give for the tax break – they give because they care about the cause. They also discussed some universal charitable deduction legislation that’s been introduced in Congress in the last few years, which has some bipartisan support. An interesting session, and an issue to watch in the coming year.

    ·         “Data Ethics in the Age of AI” – This early-morning, standing-room-only session was given by two Blackbaud employees, Carrie Cobb and Cameron Stoll. The two speakers referred to their approach to this topic as “good cop/bad cop,” as they tried to tackle the questions of: “Can I track this data?” and “Should I track this data… and how will it be used?” They shared the ODI (Open Data Institute) Data Ethics Canvas and encouraged all of us to use it to guide project-planning and decision-making. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) was discussed a bit and reminded us all that it’s only a matter of time before the United States adopts similar data protection laws. I took away from this session that my organization needs to review our “opt-out” provisions on all communications, as well as consider the “creepy scale” when data collecting (i.e., How creepy is it that I know your dog’s name because of the 5 minutes of research I did online?).

    ·         “What We All Need to Know about Nonprofit Audited Financials” – A sarcastic, savvy CPA from New York speedily presented on this topic, geared toward funders/foundations GIVING money. I first thought, “Maybe I’m not supposed to be here and should attend something else?” but very quickly realized this was valuable information for a researcher. Though we did not touch the hallowed 990 tax form, he did emphasize its importance in sizing up a nonprofit’s financial stability. I learned that providing a “management report” with your audited financial is good practice and more funders will be asking for this, as it is the narrative accompanying the figures; also, good to check the data of the audited financials against that report to see if they were completed at the same time. He also said that if an organization can demonstrate at least three months of cash reserves, they are showing the beginnings of good fiscal health (along with a line of credit; good to get it when you don’t need it).

    ·         “Research for the Non-Researcher” – Liz Turcotte (Blackbaud) began the presentation by asking for a quick show-of-hands and unveiled the wide variety of roles in the audience (e.g., development directors/leaders, researchers, other development professionals, and DBAs.). She went over the basics of research and did a decent job of explaining to non-researchers in the room that approximately 20-40% of a person’s assets are publicly available in the U.S. She also said a reasonable amount of time to spend validating a wealth screen on a new prospect is 20 minutes – as many of us know this varies quite a bit from prospect to prospect. Staff-bandwidth, the importance of having the prospect’s last name, and a valid home address, and good data management were all shared. All said, I was glad this session was offered, and was well-attended, to bridge that gap of understanding between researchers and the fundraisers they support.

    I’m very glad I attended this conference and did come away with increased understanding and confidence in the work I do. There were hundreds of sessions going over the course of three days and I wished there had been new technology to be in more places than one. The Apra WI scholarship is an incredible opportunity for professional development and national networking. I am so grateful to the committee for choosing me this year!

    — Anitra Hovelson, 2019 Apra Wisconsin Scholarship Recipient

  • 3 Oct 2019 4:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Apra Wisconsin welcomed Doug Cogswell of Advizor Solutions as our presenter on September 27, 2019. Doug presented on a variety of topics including finding and segmenting prospects, portfolio management, and change management strategies.

    After a delicious lunch, the chapter broke into groups to discuss membership, events, and mentorship. During the business meeting, we awarded the Presidents Award to Ellen Finn and the Amy Disch Memorial to Devin Venden. Many thanks to Ellen and Devin for their contributions to our chapter and the prospect development community! We were joined by Amy Disch’s family, which was a wonderful way to connect and remember our colleague and friend.

    Thank you to Doug for speaking, to Anitra Hovelson and UnityPoint Meriter for hosting, and to our sponsor iwave, for your support!

  • 17 Jun 2019 4:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As president of Apra Wisconsin, I know that mentorship is an urgent need for our members. While our chapter membership includes many seasoned veterans, every year brings new faces, some on large teams, and some working alone. When we receive back your membership forms, many of you check off the box for wanting a mentor, but only one or two of you check off the box indicating your willingness to be a mentor.

    So, we have a gap. That’s easy to see, and I am sure we can all think of some reasons why: time, distance, expectations. But I think another reason may be that mentoring itself has many different definitions, so in addition to defining expectations, we need to define the activity itself.

    I am going to start where many of us do, with Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentorship (consider yourself warned: this article has 74 citations, compared to 2 in the entry on phantom stock).

    Among the words and phrases which pop out to me are “guide,” “informal,” “sustained” (so far so good), “role modeling,” “transmission of knowledge,” “vast experience,” “change practice,” “catalyzing,” and “psychosocial support.” No wonder we hesitate to check the mentor box.

    Besides the traditional mentorship pairing of an experienced PD pro with a less experienced one, I can think of a few alternative matchmaking services we might offer as a chapter; for example, pairing up people who work alone, and/or pairing up solo practitioners with people on large teams. And there’s got to be many more ways we can help each other.

    Personally, I can never thank enough the people who helped me from my beginnings in prospect development, when I felt very isolated, to my days helping manage a team, and now as a small business owner. Some of you offered training, advice, and even affirmation, while others helped me envision and then navigate career changes. Recently, I’ve benefitted from the kindness and guidance of other prospect development consultants, Milwaukee entrepreneurs, and many of you.

    We are a sharing and welcoming profession, and none of us should feel alone. To paraphrase something I heard at the Apra Chapter Leaders’ Summit, if you work by yourself, then Apra Wisconsin is your team.

    So if we were to build a mentoring program in Apra Wisconsin, what do you think it should look like? Please use the following survey to share your ideas: https://forms.gle/HBWDcYMVoX96kaL8A

  • 20 Nov 2018 4:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It had been around twenty years since I’d been to a conference that required travel. The last one I attended was in Peoria, Illinois when I was working for a very small non-profit in Chicago. The accommodations were spartan, I think it was a Motel 6 and my colleague and I shared a room.

    So, Pittsburgh was a total blast! I’d never been to Pittsburgh and never considered visiting it, but it was a lovely surprise. It’s small enough that getting around is easy and the city has a great atmosphere and plenty to do and see.

    The above is a photo of an alley that is used as an art space. I had the good fortune to witness dancers use the space for a performance. Pittsburgh is a test site for driverless cars, so I also got to see a driverless car. I had great fun hanging out with the Apra members from Wisconsin. We met for meals, drinks, visited the Andy Warhol Museum and rode the Incline.

    Networking beyond our chapter was a challenge, especially as all the sessions I attended featured a lecture format.  Nevertheless, it was great to network with the Wisconsin Apra members and a colleague from the College of the Holy Cross, whose area of expertise is hedge funds.

    I will touch on three conference sessions that I found particularly interesting. Oregon State University, Brown and Concordia St. Paul presented research on using social media to track and qualify new prospects. They used familiar strategies for engagement, such as asking viewers to share wedding photos on campus. But they then tracked the responses and identified prospects for qualification. They were able to demonstrate that digitally engaging alumni increased donations significantly. Cornell presented case studies for business valuations, for both domestic and international businesses. The International example was a South Korean Egg Production company. Cornell made international research seem much less daunting. Granted Cornell has access to international research tools that most of us may not have access to, such as Factiva and Capital IQ. Rollins and the University of Denver presented research on creating pipelines for boards aimed at increasing diversity.  Roseann Fitzgerald from Holy Cross shared that they have a system for increasing diversity that they implemented in the seventies, whereby they cultivate student leadership for the board of trustees. The college has a seat on the board for a recent graduate and they serve two-year terms.

    I want to thank Apra Wisconsin for awarding me the scholarship to attend Apra International. It was a terrific experience and I came away with aspirational dreams to add to my prospect research toolkit.

  • 17 Apr 2018 4:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Hello! My name is Steven Lange and I am the Prospect Research Manager at the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association.

    I was the 2017 recipient of the Apra Wisconsin scholarship, which supported my first Apra International Prospect Development conference experience. At the time I had only been in the prospect research field for a year and a half, so attending this conference, located this past year in sunny Anaheim, CA, was very helpful in continuing my education and training. And I hope giving you a taste of my conference experience will encourage you to apply for the scholarship in 2018.

    I heard from industry colleagues on a range of diverse topics, including international research in Asia, tools for onboarding and motivating new staff, identifying GenX and Millennial prospects, and strategic partnership with gift planning – to name just a few.  The sessions furthered my personal development, and boosted my own research skills, but they also helped me identify strategic enhancements for our prospect research program at WFAA.

    The networking opportunities were also beneficial and fun. I enjoyed breakfast with a few colleagues to discuss foundation research; spent lunch with Penn State, UC Santa Barbara, and the University of Manitoba, during which we discussed the structure of our teams and research resources; and attended a laidback happy hour with Apra peers from around the Midwest. I’ve found networking opportunities, like the Apra happy hour, to be great opportunities for advancing career goals while hearing about new and interesting projects other organizations are doing. Oh, and if you go with a team, it can be fun, at conference meals, to sit at different tables than your teammates so you can meet even more people!

    I would like to thank the scholarship committee for selecting me, and Apra Wisconsin for creating this opportunity in the first place. The 2018 Apra conference is in Pittsburgh, and it sounds great, so I encourage each of you to apply for the scholarship!

  • 10 Mar 2018 4:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Welcome to Perspectives, Apra Wisconsin's new blog!

    In this space, you can expect some posts focused on research, prospect management, and prospect development. Our broader goal, though, is to simply create and curate some content that intrigues as much as it inspires – that, perhaps, even just once in a while, provides the reader those “ah ha” lightbulb-above-the-head moments. And we hope, no matter what, to elevate a different angle or context or . . . perspective!

    That’s our hope.

    Our goal is to publish once per month, with a big-hearted hope to publish more frequently, once we get this train really moving.

    Anyway, this is just the beginning.

    But we think this is the beginning of something great, and we hope you come along for the ride.


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