Experiences at the 2022 NEDRAcon

2 Jun 2022 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Thanks to Apra-WI’s Amy Disch Memorial scholarship, I was able to attend NEDRAcon 2022, a conference held by the New England Chapter of Apra (NEDRA). The conference was virtual, which allowed the scholarship to cover all the costs of my attendance. Here are a few highlights of my experience:

  • Keynote – A fascinating talk by Michael “Mike” Norton, Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and co-author of Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending
  • The major finding of his research is that spending money on others typically generates more happiness than spending money on yourself, across different countries, situations, and demographics.
  • Another interesting discovery was that people are more likely to give multiple gifts if presented with the opportunity to complete a “set,” which his team named “pseudo-set framing.” For instance, if a person is asked to make a charitable donation with a purchase and they’re shown that their gift is a quarter of a circle, they’re more likely to make additional donations to complete the circle than if the gift is treated like a one-off.
  • People also feel better and more invested in a company’s philanthropy if they are presented with an option to buy in. For instance, XYZ company donates $5,000 to charity normally, and they let their customers know that via an email. The customers will see that email and disregard it. Similarly, if XYZ company sends an email to a customer saying that they have a $10 off their next purchase, the customer will use or not use that $10 without feeling particularly invested. However, if the company sends their customers a notice that they can give $10 to a charity of their choice – money that the company was already planning to give to charity – customers are more likely to view that company well AND come back to the store to make another purchase. 
  • Collaborating for Success: A Frontline Fundraiser Panel – A diverse panel of frontline fundraisers discussed ways that prospect development and frontline staff can best work together to ensure a motivating environment and maximum fundraising success
  • Overall, the panel stressed how much they value their relationship with their respective research teams. 
  • On the topic of essential information in a briefing, the panelists emphasized brevity and conciseness when it came to meeting new prospects. Less information made initial conversations flow more naturally. In contrast, having thorough information for meetings with leadership was crucial.
  • When asked which was more important – speed or accuracy? – the panelists indicated the importance of speed and accuracy, but perhaps with fewer details.
  • At the end of the panel, the advice for researchers was: behind-the-scenes research is very important and open lines of communication are critical.
  • Change America through Powerful Prospect ResearchArmando Zumaya, founder of Somos El Poder, gave an inspiring presentation about how prospect research can help the national movement for racial justice in the United States
  • He defined “true equity” as having a token-free board with major donors of color, a major gifts portfolio that looks like your community, diversity in donors, programs that reach all communities and are known by them, and diversity in staff and leadership. 
  • To achieve this, he asked the group to answer a few questions:
    • Does your board of directors match your community? Your alumni?
    • Do your major donors look like your alumni and community?
    • Do you have an intentional effort to diversify your donors?
    • Do you have an intentional effort to diversity your major donors?
  • He identified barriers to achieving those goals:
    • A tendency to recruit and fundraise from those we know
    • Implicit bias
    • Victimizing people of color (versus recognizing their agency)
    • A lack of intentionality
  • Offering multilingual materials, doing prospect research of key industries, identifying affinity groups, approaching standing institutions, and recruiting spokespeople within communities are all methods to help move towards true equity.
  • Prospect & Processes: Streamlining International Research – The Prospect Identification team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) in New York re-evaluated how international prospects were reviewed
  • MSK recognized that their process for researching international prospects was:
    • Time-consuming (researchers were spending 1-8 hours on each prospect)
    • Not leading to actionable information, like capacity
  • Using the process of Kata, they developed a new system of classifying prospects into three capacity buckets:
    • Not enough information, used when:
      • The prospect cannot be identified
      • No wealth indicators are found
      • Not possible to determine share in family wealth
  • Suspected capacity of at least $1M, used when:
    • There are significant qualitative wealth indicators (exclusive residence, art collection, yacht)
    • The prospect is a member of UHNW family with access to funds
    • The prospect is an old wealth figure
    • Large-scale giving can be found, even with no gift amount
  • Suspected capacity <$1M, used when:
    • Wealth indicators or career point to less capacity
    • Available giving history is at the major gift or leadership gift levels
    • The prospect only gives in their own country
  • They also set time limits per prospect, based on the information available for various countries (e.g., 1 hour for prospects based in Hong Kong since company finances and rich lists are sometimes available).
  • Overall, the process meant that the team had shifted from looking for all-available information to looking for enough information to assign. It did not eliminate the complexities of international research but helped to manage them.
  • The MSK team also shared a list of international resources that I’m happy to share with anyone who is interested.

There were also several other helpful sessions, including roundtables, a networking event, and presentations by vendors. I would strongly recommend going to NEDRAcon to my fellow Apra-WI members, and I appreciate being given the opportunity to attend. Thank you, Apra-WI!


Written by Tesha Pittenger. 

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