BOK Stories: How Apra Members Advance Their Careers With the Body of Knowledge

The Apra Body of Knowledge (BOK) is a comprehensive tool that helps individuals and their managers identify growth opportunities and ensure they have the knowledge and resources to excel. The BOK also helps prospect development professionals demonstrate the breadth of their knowledge to those who are less familiar with their role.

Read on to see how several Apra members are utilizing the BOK in their roles and organizations, as told to Apra staff. Then, see how you stack up and take the first step in boosting your professional development by taking the BOK assessment quiz.

Devon Gessert

Data analytics is a rising star in the prospect research profession, and it’s one that looked very different if you were training as a researcher 10-15 years ago. Data visualization helped our group a lot when it came to explaining the ins and outs of our wealth screening results to my organization’s fundraisers and executives.


Karen Greene

I have used the BOK in my consulting work as a tool for educating researchers and managers of research in understanding the depth and breadth of range a researcher might work. Most are surprised at its extent. I also have used it as a way to evaluate researcher knowledge, using it to build a professional development plan for the researcher. There is no equivalent in other fundraising professions!


The BOK helped enormously with crafting interview questions for candidates for various positions, including fundraisers.


Karen Isble

Our research director has used the BOK as a regular reference guide to help in creating performance standards/expectations. The BOK is an exhaustive overview of the scope of fundraising work, which we combine with benchmarking against industry peers. The BOK would be useful to a developing prospect management or analytics shop.


Jennifer MacCormack       

I’ve focused primarily on the relationship management and analytics domains, as the two often blend the most in certain skills and knowledge. I would say my knowledge and skills have taken my work beyond major gifts and across more teams throughout Advancement at my organization. I work in annual giving, marketing, alumni relations, planned giving and donor relations. 

I have definitely directed newcomers to our field and associations to the BOK. It’s a great resource for understanding the entire breadth of expertise and knowledge in our field, but also what each domain specifically does. I have advocated for it through other associations, including CASE and AFP. They don’t have anything close to the detail contained in the Body of Knowledge, and it’s a super way to promote the value of prospect development.

One fun way to approach this is to compare your résumé with a BOK domain you currently align with or would like to align with in the future. What would you want to see on your résumé? What do you need on your résumé for a promotion or going after a higher level position at another organization? There are many ways to navigate and use the BOK. This really focuses on assessing what you need or want, especially if you’re interested in stepping into a new domain, such as analytics.

I continue to master analytics. It’s a rapidly evolving field in advancement, and I hope this is reflected in updated versions of the BOK. Overall, I try to maintain a good awareness of the skills and knowledge in all domains. I can’t do it all but it behooves me to know what it takes. As a supervisor and someone who is deeply committed to prospect development and fundraising, it’s critical to know what drives success.

The BOK is an exhaustive overview of the scope of fundraising work. 

Caroline Oblack

OHSU Foundation uses Apra’s BOK to provide senior leadership and HR a clearer understanding of the skills we bring to the organization.

We have found the BOK to be an invaluable resource and have utilized it to:

  • Identify strengths within the team for cross-training opportunities;
  • Create professional development plans;
  • Restructure the team to ensure strengths are maximized; and
  • Provide senior leadership and HR a clearer understanding of the skills we bring to the organization.
  • A couple of years ago, I was trying to advocate for an additional research position. The BoK helped me figure out what the current researchers in the unit were already doing, and then it really helped me determine the areas we were lacking. The two levels for each competency mapped it out in an orderly fashion.

I’m not sure this advice is for everyone, but my approach was very simple and I did this when I was trying to advocate for the new research position: I literally went down the competencies and checked off what we were doing and what we were not doing. What we were not doing (or maybe not doing as efficiently as we could have been) was what I focused on for the new position duties. Like I said, it was a very simple approach.

I would also like to add that the BOK helped enormously with crafting interview questions for candidates for various positions, including fundraisers.


Amy Turbes

The Prospect Development team members’ roles and responsibilities have evolved over time, plus as the leader I needed to advocate for higher grade levels and salary increases for team members. We used the BOK to help us define and articulate key responsibilities and outcomes, which informed the drafting of new job descriptions. The Apra Salary Survey was shared with members of our human resources team as well. The end result was a grade and salary increase for each team member and well-formed job descriptions.

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