Apra at 30: Stories From Helen Brown

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.

Helen Brown is president of The Helen Brown Group, a full-service prospect research consulting company in Watertown, Massachusetts. She is a former Apra and NEDRA board member and a past recipient of the NEDRA Ann Castle Award. Brown says that when she was just starting out in prospect research, “It was seen as a half step up from clerical work.” See what Brown has to say regarding the profession’s evolution as well as Apra’s place in her life.

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

    Brown: I became a researcher in 1987 and joined Apra fairly soon thereafter. I remember reading about the first-ever Apra conference.

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

    When I began, prospect research was 99 percent reactive, and the resources we had available to us were very limited. It was seen as a half step up from clerical work. Now it’s a recognized and respected professional fundraising career with a rich and growing set of resources and opportunities, whether you’re interested in research, fundraising data science or relationship management.

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

    The enthusiasm and graciousness with which we share resources, tips and techniques with each other, and the genuine collegiality of our community.

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

    I have learned everything I know from my mentors and colleagues in this field, and have made great, lasting friendships within our community from serving as a volunteer with NEDRA and Apra.

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

    Fundraising data science, artificial intelligence and the evolution of resources we use are going to have a huge impact on our field. International privacy laws and government regulations are going to struggle to keep up with evolving technology and our ethical standards and expectations will remain extremely important.

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

    The advent of the internet/web had a huge impact on our access to information worldwide. It’s hard to imagine a time before we had as much access as we do now, and it has made our work more rich and relevant.


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