Apra at 30: Stories From Christine Mildner

Apra’s turning 30! This year marks Apra’s big 30th Anniversary, and that calls for some celebrating.

The Connections team has reached out to Apra members who have dedicated years to the organization and asked them a few questions regarding all things Apra: past, present and future.

Christine Mildner is the senior philanthropy analyst at Legal Health in Portland, Oregon, and a consultant and principal of Strategic Edge Resource Consulting. She joined Apra shortly after starting out in prospect development in 1991, and has volunteered with Connections throughout her career. See what Mildner has to say regarding Apra’s place in her life.

  1. Connections: When did you begin in prospect development, and when did you join Apra?

    Mildner: I started in prospect development in 1991, back when everything was hard-copy research and Dialog on dial-up was relatively new. I joined Apra soon thereafter and attended the first Apra conference in Seattle.

  2. How have you seen prospect development change throughout your tenure?

    We have access to a lot more information and much more immediately and we have to spend more time verifying and validating. We have better technology for analytics — we used to have pretty basic charts and graphs, and now we have exciting data visualization. We have become a much more broadly recognized field — people actually want to become researchers now instead of saying “Huh?” when you bring the possibility up. There is a lot more philanthropy research that validates our work. If anyone had told me I would have to do so much with statistics when I first got into research, I probably would have run screaming, but now I enjoy the challenge. 

  3. What elements of prospect development have remained constant during the time in which you have worked?

    We still have to educate our fellow development professionals about what we can and cannot do, and that spending eight hours on a profile before they even get an appointment is not a good use of time. The bio information we provide is basically the same, but with more depth, speed and accuracy possible. The technology changes, but the goal remains the same.

  4. How has Apra benefitted you — professionally and/or personally — since you have been a member?

    Apra has been an invaluable professional development resource, not just due to the education it provides through conferences, webinars and Connections, but also the direct connections to other professionals, who have a vast store of knowledge and experience when advice or guidance is needed. 

  5. Do you have any predictions for the next five to 10 years of prospect development?

    As technology continues to evolve and provide more and more information on demand, I think we need to continue our efforts to educate our colleagues about the value of having a prospect development professional on staff or available through consulting. We have vendors pushing screenings and other services as one-stop founts of prospect information to executives who do not understand the need for a professional validation, analysis and prioritization. I still see a trend of appointing the staff person with “spare time” to do prospect development, whether or not that person has the mindset and skillset to do so.

  6. How has your work been affected by technological advances?

    Technology makes work both easier and harder. Easier because of fast access to so much information, and harder because of the information deluge. It is so much easier to do analysis and create understandable visualizations, but the programs are more complex too.

  7. Currently, we are soliciting Apra stories from members via the hashtag #MyApraStory. Do you have an Apra story you would like to share?

    A while back, I gave a presentation at an Apra International conference about old-school research methods. I was surprised by the number of attendees who came up to thank me because they had never heard of some of the resources I shared — or even thought to check out their local library as a research resource. There is an advantage to coming up through the old school! 
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