PD 2020: An Apra-tizer With Our Prospect Development Conference Chair

An interview by Jennifer Huebner Featuring Apra Prospect Development Conference Chair Lindsey Nadeau

Connections often features Q&As with chapter leaders and Apra speakers. As we ramp up to Advance Tomorrow: The Prospect Development Virtual Experience (otherwise known as Prospect Development or #PDVE2020), this is a snapshot of what PD chair Lindsey Nadeau’s responsibilities and support squad look like to whet our appetites for this August.

Jennifer Huebner: PD 2020 has gone virtual and changed to August 24th-27th. What other changes might we expect? What will the programming look like?

Lindsey Nadeau: I’m thrilled to share that the virtual format will still include marquee events like Apra Talks (my favorite), a panel with fundraising association leaders from Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), Association of Advancement Services Professionals (aasp) and Apra, moderated by the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Stacy Palmer. Also featured will be a keynote from journalist Frank Sesno about the power of the questions we ask the and narratives we can then craft. Our goal is to start our days out by bringing everyone together for big picture discussion and ideation, and then to transition into breakouts and exhibit hall experiences.

We are also offering more affordable registration prices to reflect a desire to be as inclusive as possible, especially given Apra knows how many members are facing budget challenges.

One of my personal struggles about PD is picking which sessions to attend, especially when two amazing presenters are offering concurrent sessions. Our virtual format will yield more recorded content for attendees who haven’t figured out how to clone themselves; you’ll be able to double back and watch the recordings.

JH: As we’re about two months away from Advance Tomorrow: The Prospect Development Virtual Experience’s new dates, what are some key milestones you’ve hit? What’s left?

LN: Goals to date:

  • Exceeded proposal submission needs, attracting 187% of what we originally could accept
  • CPC revised the program lineup at the end of June
  • Accepted virtual presenters were notified the first week of July
  • Session schedule re-finalized
  • Registration re-launched on 6/22, virtual registration costs adjusted

Future accomplishments:

  • Developing the keynote, Apra Debates, and a plenary panel of Apra, AFP, AHP and aasp association leaders
  • Partnering with presenters to develop engaging, interactive sessions
  • Creating social connection opportunities and meaningful volunteer opportunities
  • Teasing content as we lead up to late August

JH: What are you most looking forward to once were broadcasting live in August?

LN: I’m eager to see our planning to come to life! As a former high school debater, I enjoy some friendly sparring, so I am especially excited for my annual favorite: Apra Debates. But at its core, PD is about learning, and that’s what keeps my anticipation high. Many of this year’s sessions have tapped into the pulse of our industry and recent trends — machine learning and artificial intelligence, diversity and inclusion, cryptocurrency and due diligence policies (my personal favorite!) – yielding a fascinating lineup. I’m having a hard time choosing which sessions to go to. Now that recordings will be plentiful, I’m relieved!

JH: How does one get tapped to be an Apra PD chair? Being an industry expert and volunteer certainly fit the bill — is there anything else?

LN: (Chuckles) You might be foolish enough to raise your hand for it! I approached Bond Lammey, Apra’s then-president-elect, in 2018 to serve in this role. Apra’s president selects the PD chair, ideally someone near the host city with Conference Planning Committee (CPC) experience. I raised my hand because Apra PD is my Super Bowl. My first PD experience, with its endless opportunities to learn and connect with others, set off a lightbulb for me. I realized our industry offers careers, not just j-o-b-s. Since then, I have sought out diverse and progressive roles with Apra’s conferences to help me see how those pieces all fit together. By the time PD was coming to DC, I realized I might just have the experience and desire needed to lead it.

As Apra’s volunteer ranks grow, a pipeline of PD chair “hand raisers” has emerged. My 2020 planning journey began at the end of 2018 when I was selected as chair, and the 2021 chair was selected at the end of 2019. The pipeline allows chairs to shadow one another, learn from real-time attendee feedback, and hit the ground running.

JH: As any Apra PD attendee and volunteer can attest, it takes a village to execute this multi-day and multi-faceted learning endeavor. What’s the composition of your tribe? How have things changed now that we’re virtual?

LN: My personal tribe includes my spouse and my past and current supervisors, who all selflessly support my volunteering. My day-to-day guides are Apra’s talented staff and my Apra board liaison, Sarah Daly (a former PD chair). Additionally, roughly 20 volunteers are building this year’s conference. Volunteers are tasked with different components of PD, including breakout sessions (managed by the CPC), Apra Debates, and volunteer management. These sub-committees ensure diverse, engaging, and timely content for all fundraising disciplines, industries, and shop sizes.

We also began planning for PD’s pre-conference workshops and the Executive Leadership Cohort, but unfortunately their formats highly depend on in-person experiences, so we’ve paused those components until it’s safe again for Apra to gather in person.

JH: How were PD volunteers selected?

LN: There are three primary avenues. The Apra board secretary manages volunteer placement, so they shared a list of members who self-identified via Apra’s volunteer survey. I also received referrals from past PD chairs who intimately understand what this volunteer work entails. Finally, a handful of members voiced interest directly to me.

Selecting this year’s volunteer cohort was one of the more challenging aspects of being chair. Far more people self-identify to help with PD than available committee spots. It’s a terrific problem to have, but it can feel like trying to win 3D chess against yourself. Recruiting a diverse, well-rounded committee requires a mix of fundraising sectors, veteran and first-time volunteers, Body of Knowledge domain expertise, non-managers and managers, geographic representation and a variety of other diversity markers as well.

JH: What do some of your days with the most PD-focused activity look like?

LN: My most grueling sprint was scheduling breakout and workshop sessions for the original in-person, which was a slide puzzle. For each of the 72 sessions, there were 11 factors I checked and double-checked via a color-coded grid. A few criteria included:

  • Don’t double book speakers or stack sessions from the same organization
  • Diversify topics, domains, organization types, and Level I/II content in each timeslot
  • Respect presenters’ live stream/recording preferences

Aside from this intense six weeks, and of course having to revisit the grid in June to tweak it for our virtual format (assisted by my two-year-old!), a normal week includes conference calls to advance multiple PD components. I prep for upcoming calls and complete action items before or after work or while my daughter naps on the weekend. And I’m not alone — many volunteers dedicate personal time to PD because we are invested in the success of Apra and its members.

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Join Us for Advance Tomorrow: The Prospect Development Virtual Experience. Learn more and register here.

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