What’s up in Wyoming: prospect management strategy sessions

A few years ago we undertook a new prospect management project in our shop: to conduct a hand-crafted analysis of each of our fundraisers’ portfolios in hopes, as is always our ultimate goal, to increase our fundraising efficiency. At Wyoming we have the benefit of a low fundraiser-to-researcher ratio, so we have the luxury of being able to build strong relationships with our front line and having time to sit down with them individually to talk strategy.

And thus our “Portfolio Strategy Sessions” were born. To clarify, we use the term “portfolio” for the list of donor prospects with whom the fundraiser is assigned with actively managing the relationship and cultivating for philanthropic support. We began with an assessment worksheet and a prescribed process for culling through portfolio information and what things to identify to fine tune it. We agreed, with our fundraising staff, to meet twice annually for the strategy sessions.

For those of you who like the nitty grits, here’s what we addressed:

  • Total portfolio number – too big or too small?
  • Last contact date – what percentage of the fundraiser’s portfolio has been contacted in the last 6 months?
  • Capacity of prospects – do all assigned prospects have the capacity to give at the level we classify as a major gift? Are there potential prospects that have been identified with higher capacities that can replace ones with lower capacity?
  • Affinity – do they have good scores from our affinity modeling? Or recent positive contact reports, giving history, etc.?
  • Stewardship prospects – do they comprise less than 30% of the fundraiser’s assignments?
  • Where prospects are in the cultivation cycle – Has the fundraiser cultivated enough relationships to meet their proposal submission metrics?

While we haven’t conducted any formal analysis of return on investment for our labors on this project, we’ve already noticed quite a few positive outcomes. The most striking of which, for me, was realizing how many of the nuances of our prospect management program hadn’t been retained by our fundraisers in their initial trainings. Over time, we are slowly modifying our onboarding process with new fundraisers to identify how to make the memorization of prospect management policies more digestible. We’re adding optional, and sometimes compulsory, prospect management refresher trainings. More and more all of the time, we find ourselves speaking the same language as our fundraisers.

After our first few sessions, I was chatting with one of our fundraising directors who was explaining to me her personal process for tracking her asks throughout the fiscal year. It was superbly simple goal setting with structured follow through that sparked an idea: a new type of strategy session to add to our repertoire. We didn’t have a formal process for goal setting for our fundraisers in place – something that likely puts us behind many of our peers. We’d had subjective success with our first initiative so I pitched the idea to leadership and watched with small degree of trepidation as the fish not only took the bait, but sucked it down hook and all. (Don’t worry, my boss *probably* wouldn’t mind being metaphorically compared to a fish?). And suddenly we were on the hook ? they wanted to have the first of our new “pipeline strategy sessions” in two months.

At UW, our pipeline refers to our tracking of all proposals that fundraisers are planning to submit or have submitted and are waiting on a response from the donor. Our plan here was to develop a process that balanced several needs:

  • prompt our fundraisers to set goals
  • provide an opportunity to develop strategy for next steps with existing proposals
  • ping fundraisers on proposals they had projected already making the ask but hadn’t actually done it yet
  • create a process that was reproducible with the fundraisers and their development assistants so they wouldn’t require assistance from research each time they wanted to set goals and analyze their asks
  • produce a process that could go from idea to implementation in less than 8 weeks

In keeping with the success of our portfolio strategy sessions, we reproduced the process of creating a standard procedure and a worksheet to guide us through the meeting. For these, we decided our role was to serve as guides on a journey the fundraisers were taking to be more organized and proactive with their proposals, rather than using researcher time to develop statistics or scour for new prospects. By using prospect management reports that fundraisers already have access to pull on their own and providing some instructions on how to work through them with their development assistants, we created a process that fundraisers could recreate on their own whenever they wished. We still created bi-annual meetings to sit with them to work through it for accountability, but these involve no preparation on the part of our prospect development staff.

Here’s what we look at in pipeline strategy sessions:

  • Proposals with “expired” ask dates – ones that occurred before the meeting but the fundraiser has not indicated that the ask had indeed been made
  • Prospects in their portfolio who were coded in our moves management process as ones who were being asked this fiscal year – these codes are set by the fundraisers, so we encourage them to submit a proposal for all of these prospects. A defined and written goal is harder to ignore than one that was never formally stated.
  • Travel planning – we charge the development assistants with putting all individuals on a map who the gift officers are planning to ask, that way they can use it to visualize their travel. Ultimately we hope this will lead to more efficient use of travel funds ? perhaps by consolidating multiple trips to the same region into a single one.

These sessions were met with a lot of positive feedback from our fundraisers. We’re very fortunate here to work with a team of true professionals who loved the idea of adding more accountability and structure to their work. In the Cowboy State we highly value our personal freedoms, so I was surprised at such a widespread satisfaction with increased structure.

Perhaps even the most over-loaded prospect development shops might have time to create such process for their fundraisers, where they can be engaged in prospect management with minimal time output from the prospect development staff?

While we haven’t yet delved into a serious ROI for either of these strategy sessions, I do have one tiny data bit to share with those of you who love numbers. After completing two pipeline strategy sessions over the course of 6 months our proposal pipeline we had increased the number of proposals on our pipeline by 30% from the year prior. But numbers aside, I think any time we take the opportunity to build stronger relationships with our fundraisers and demonstrate for them how useful the insights of prospect development can be, we get a win for our organizations and for our field. And for those of you who attended our CPRA conference this spring, we got lots of great resources and tips from Bond Lammey to start or improve optimization processes in our shops. The UW team took some furious notes and are already starting our creative juices flowing for how we can optimize our own portfolio and pipeline strategy sessions for our second year.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Fundraising Database Administrator – DMNS Job Posting – Member Benefit

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) is seeking a Fundraising Database Administrator to join its institution. For more information and to apply, submit your cover letter and resume by 5:00 PM MST on May 22, 2016 to: http://chm.tbe.taleo.net/chm01/ats/careers/requisition.jsp?org=DMNS&cws=1&rid=646. Resumes will not be accepted after this time.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Member Benefit: Job Posting at The Nature Conservancy

The Colorado Chapter of the Nature Conservancy is hiring a Prospect Research Analyst.

To view details and apply, go to: https://careers.nature.org/psp/tnccareers/APPLICANT/HRMS/c/HRS_HRAM.HRS_CE.GBL?Page=HRS_CE_JOB_DTL&Action=A&SiteId=1&JobOpeningId=44171&PostingSeq=1

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Children’s Hospital Colorado – Prospect Development Coordinator Job Opening – CPRA member benefit

Children’s Hospital Colorado has an opening for a Prospect Development Coordinator. For more details and to apply, visit: http://www.childrenscolorado.org/about/careers/howtoapply.aspx.

Prospect Development Coordinator
Children’s Hospital Colorado
Aurora, Colorado

As part of the Prospect Management team, the Prospect Research Coordinator will prepare prospect research profiles and conduct research to help the prospecting efforts related to identification, rating and screening of prospective donors.

Qualifications

  • Three or more years experience working in prospect research environment
  • Proven ability to perform the prospect research function in a not-for-profit environment.
  • Experience sourcing information from online database and web sources
  • Working knowledge of resources available for prospect research.
  • Proactive, strategic planner and highly process oriented.
  • Must maintain a high level of confidentiality.
  • Skilled at working independently and be a strong team player.
  • Ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work with a wide range of people (including foundation staff, hospital staff, volunteers, donors, etc).
  • Highly organized, accurate and detail oriented.
  • Extreme attention to deadlines.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Ability to compose and format correspondence and reports. Excellent editing/proofreading skills.
  • High level of computer proficiency, preferably MS Office (Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Outlook) and Blackbaud CRM database strongly preferred. Bachelor’s Degree preferred.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CPRA Mission: Morris Animal Foundation (Denver)

As our #ResearchPride month draws to a close, I am excited to introduce our very first entry in a recurring segment to the CPRA blog. “CPRA Missions” shows what pride in our profession really means by highlighting the amazing causes our colleagues are dedicated to supporting.

To launch things off please enjoy the following blog by Rebecca Richman, Senior Research Specialist at the Morris Animal Foundation.

__________

rebecca richman and princess

Rebecca Richman and Princess, a timber wolf at Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center. The Morris Animal Foundation has just funded research to re-evaluate distinct species of wolves and the results should be very interesting!

Our mission at Morris Animal Foundation is to create healthier lives for animals around the world. We fund science to help wildlife, companion animals, and horses. The foundation was established in 1948 by Dr. Mark L. Morris Sr., a veterinarian who cared deeply about animals and their well-being. He created the first nutritional food to help Buddy, one of the first guide dogs in the United States, who was diagnosed with kidney disease. This was the beginning of Dr. Morris’ pioneering work to create nutritional diets for animals. He eventually partnered with Hill’s Pet Nutrition and used the royalties from this work to establish Morris Animal Foundation.

Fast forward to today, our Scientific Advisory Boards, comprised of the brightest minds around the world focused on animal health, meet three times a year to choose the best, most impactful studies for our available funding. We have invested more than $100 million toward 2,400 studies that have led to significant breakthroughs in diagnostics, treatments, preventions, and cures to benefit animals around the world. Some of these breakthroughs have become industry gold standards and are used in every veterinary practice in the country. At any given time, the foundation is managing about 250 studies in the field and at the world’s most respected veterinary research institutions and universities, including Colorado State University.

Morris Animal Foundation is unique in that we’re the best resource, and often times the only resource, for funding research that focuses solely on benefiting animals. Some of this research does have an eventual impact on human health, but our focus is on helping animals. In addition to the 250-on-average studies we’re managing, our work is focused on five key initiatives: Healthy Animals, Future Scientists, Feline Infectious Peritonitis, Osteosarcoma, and the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is the largest observational study ever conducted in the United States to benefit dogs everywhere.

I’m a nature lover so our wildlife research is very important for me personally. We’ve helped many species come back from the brink of extinction, including cheetahs, black rhinos and elephants to name just a few. We also help researchers respond to wildlife emergencies around the world. Recently we provided emergency funding that helped scientists identify malnutrition in stranded California sea lion pups. The veterinarians developed treatments and supportive care plans that increased survival of the pups so they could be successfully returned to the wild after rehabilitation. Another favorite study is focused on finding a cure for white-nosed syndrome in bats, a deadly disease impacting multiple species and thousands of bats around the country. These oftentimes underappreciated creatures help pollinate not only native plants, but our food crops as well. Bats also keep insect populations under control. They’re very beneficial little critters!

I enjoy working for Morris Animal Foundation not only because of the amazing work that we do and because we’re the only source of funding for some incredibly important research for animals, but also because the people here are awesome. Their passion fuels everything we do. From the donors and staff to the trustees and scientists, we all love animals and we believe animals make the world a better place. I’m very excited because as the foundation continues to grow, we’ll be able to fund even more studies and help even more animals everywhere!

__________

If you are interested in learning more about the Morris Animal Foundation, you can check out their website here: http://www.morrisanimalfoundation.org/

Also, any members who are excited to show some #ResearchPride and brag up their organization in an upcoming “CPRA Missions” post, please contact Colleen Reese at creese11@uwyo.edu or 307-766-3921.

 

 

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

#ResearchPride

First, I love prospect development. You all probably love it too or you wouldn’t be reading a fledgling blog on the CPRA website. There are a lot of reasons I love working in this field, but a biggie is how collaborative it is. There are two really cool things going on right now that showcase how great it is to be a sharing prospect development professional.

Did you know that March is Prospect Development Pride Month? I read this on Helen Brown’s awesome blog. Her post for March 1 is great because, for one, she references a blog she wrote two years ago called “Coming Out” about having #ResearchPride. This was the first Helen Brown blog I ever read and I’ve been following her faithfully ever since. The second cool part is a great resource of blogs she lists at the end of her post. So much amazing prospect development knowledge is being shared around us everyday! So check out Helen’s blog and the great list of others you can visit too: https://www.helenbrowngroup.com/proud-voices-in-harmony/

And as if all of this great informal, grassroots sharing and education weren’t enough, we’ve just come off the heels of the APRA Chapters Share the Knowledge weeks in February 8-19. Did you miss it? Don’t worry!?? The webinars, articles, and PowerPoint slides are all still up for you to check out: http://www.aprahome.org/p/cm/ld/fid=455

The Wyoming team booked a big conference room with plush chairs (emblazoned with our hallmark bucking rider, Steamboat, no less) and all sat down together to watch CPRA’s own Eric Patterson share “Regional Hot Spot Identification: Benefits and Techniques”. If you didn’t catch this, you should immediately follow the link above and download it so you can scope it out. Seriously, don’t even bother finishing this blog post! Eric is awesome at sharing prospect development knowledge in a way that will make you laugh, but will also make you think. No matter where you are in your operation with travel planning for your fundraisers and data analytics, there are some nuggets in here for you. I have to admit that occasionally our team got so excited about some great ideas we can plug into our own travel planning and geographic hot spot identification that we were talking over the presentation and will probably need to watch it again later.

So let’s all take advantage of Prospect Development Pride Month to feed our minds a little bit. Let’s be proud of our work and the amazing things we help our organizations achieve. Then let’s spark our prospect development creativity with the ideas of our collaborative colleagues all across the globe. Lastly, let’s all read Mark Egge’s blog about the best questions to ask colleagues at conferences and make it happen. If I show up at the CPRA spring conference and no one asks me, “What dinosaur is most suited to doing your job and why?” – well frankly, I will just be plain disappointed. I’ll only forgive you if you all took my instructions above and listened to Eric’s webinar at the expense of finishing this post. Mark Egge’s blog: https://managingprospectresearch.wordpress.com/

To some good reading. Cheers.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Colorado Public Radio – Contract work opportunity – CPRA member benefit

Colorado Public Radio seeks a part-time contract researcher for creating profiles. To inquire, contact Carol Miller, Director of Leadership Gifts, at cmiller@cpr.org or 720-635-9991.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CPRA Spring 2016 Conference

CPRA Spring 2016 Conference
Friday, March 11, 2016, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

CFRE continuing education approved event

Learn more and register for the conference

Presenter:
Bond Lammey
Senior Associate, Bentz Whaley Flessner

Morning sessions: “Relationship Management 101: What’s in Your Toolkit?” and
“Portfolio Optimization: From the Toolkit to Construction”

Afternoon session: “Raising the Profile of Prospect Development: Building on a Solid Foundation”

Lunch included.
Roundtable discussions on topics from the morning sessions.

Networking opportunities to follow.

This conference has received CFRE continuing education approval for 5 points.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

APRA Chapters Share the Knowledge educational opportunity – CPRA featured

APRA’s Chapters Share the Knowledge series is offering complimentary educational and networking activities for the prospect development community from February 8 to 19. APRA Chapters are joining APRA International to host presentations in formats ranging from a Twitter Talk to an interactive webinar.

APRA Colorado (CPRA) will be represented by Eric Patterson, Communications Director, who will present the Webinar, “Regional Hot Spot Identification: Benefits and Techniques.”

For the full schedule of events and to register for individual sessions, visit the APRA Chapters Share the Knowledge page.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Inaugural Blog Post: What’s Up in Wyoming?

Snowy Range MountainsIt’s a new year and positive thinking is at the forefront of my mind. I’ve never made a new year’s resolution in my life–and at this point it’s unlikely I ever will–but I think that personal growth should be a constant striving. Plus, a bleak Wyoming winter is the perfect stage to be considering how positive thought can affect us in our work. I believe that optimism can permeate all aspects of our lives, but I had to ask myself: “how can the bright side improve prospect development?”

It’s easy to find those little annoyances that can bog down our daily lives in this field. Perhaps it’s that fundraiser who is too busy raising money to enter contact reports. Maybe it’s those little aspects of our data that we know are low enough of quality that they are hindering our efforts in meaningful statistical analysis. Heck, I’ve had my moments where I was just plain sick of writing profiles. Instead fixating on the grievances, let’s relish in some victories and savor the excitement of our upcoming plans for growing philanthropy for our organizations.

In 2015, I experienced some staff turnover, and as a consequence, interviewed a number of aspiring prospect development professionals. Admittedly, this is Wyoming and I think most of them didn’t know what prospect development was. However, one of the spectacular side benefits to this process was the perspective it gave me on why I love my work. I had a candidate ask at the end of the interview what we like about working here. Great question. I fell in to prospect development almost as serendipitously as anyone and had never really considered an articulation of this answer. However, it tumbled out of me like a mountain stream: the opportunity for creative problem-solving, respect from leadership for our unique perspective in how we can advance our mission, knowing that I am spending my work time supporting a cause that I believe is making a positive impact on the world. The positivity was lying under the surface, just below my pre-articulated thoughts. Let’s bring the positivity to the surface and make it a part of our daily lives. Recently we announced a large, meaningful gift to College of Education here at the University of Wyoming and I asked my staff to break from their work to attend the media announcement. I wanted them to see the fruits of their labor–the excitement on the faces of our faculty and our university and state leaders and the words of optimism of creating a preeminent program in our state. Prospect development is a part of that and I wanted us all to take a half hour to savor it. I think those little positive reminders can pay forward in our optimism for our work. In 2016, I challenge you to carve a little time out of your schedule to appreciate the impacts on society to which you are contributing.

I often enjoy perusing articles and blogs while I have my morning tea. I’m sure many of them will be referenced in my future posts, but one of my favorite series is titled “How to Be a Success at Everything” (http://www.fastcompany.com/section/how-to-be-a-success-at-everything) and a line in one of their recent posts inspired my desire to self-analyze my positive thinking in prospect development. The author, Harvey Duetschendorf, states, “Without a dose of optimism, we’d never try anything new, and our lives would remain perpetually stuck in the same place.” (http://www.fastcompany.com/3055069/how-to-be-a-success-at-everything/7-habits-that-can-help-you-become-more-optimistic) Trying new things in prospect development can be a scary space – time and budgetary commitments and return on investment are up in the air. But with some positive thinking, this might just be the year to leap off a running horse and tackle a steer by its horns.

That said, here’s my first new year’s resolution ever. In 2016, I resolve to think more positively.

_________________________________________

Welcome to the first installment of the CPRA blog!

To wrap up I want to briefly introduce myself so that you can contextualize any ridiculous comments you may encounter (e.g. rodeo metaphors).

My name is Colleen and I am the Director of Prospect Management and Research for the University of Wyoming. Here at UW, we have an amazing team that covers all of the areas of prospect development, even though “data analytics” isn’t in our titles. My educational background is in anthropology and my work background pretty closely follows the classic form of a prospect researcher ? a variety of unrelated jobs of varying degrees of interest. Eventually I found myself in Wyoming and in prospect development and I know I’m right where I belong. Here we do the anthropology of philanthropy and have the bonus of statistically significant sample sizes.

CPRA’s member organizations represent a number of very important causes. I reside in higher ed, which I personally believe is one of the most important solutions to so many of our cultural woes. I know that the faculty and students I serve are making a difference in the world and that my work in turn is making a positive impact.

So what I’d truly like to kick off the CRPA blog with is gratitude. Gratitude to all CPRA members for your work toward wonderful causes and gratitude for the opportunity to do my part to make the world a little bit better of a place.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment