Preparing for Apra Fundamentals: Prospect Research—A Q&A with the Live Event Faculty

On Thursday, Feb. 27, Apra will host Apra Fundamentals: Prospect Research, in Chicago. This event contains the same great education as last year’s New Researchers Symposium, but with a brand-new look. Recommended for professionals new to prospect development, this event will host in-person networking opportunities and exercises combined with web-based learning in the weeks leading up to the event.

This year’s live event faculty includes Director of Prospect Management and Research at University of California-San Diego, Andillon Hackney; Director of Client Engagement and Strategy at Futurus Group, Ryan Frank; and Senior Director of Prospect Development at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Gareth Griffin.

We spoke with them to learn what more about the event.

Apra Fundamentals: Prospect Research is the improved version of New Researchers Symposium. What are some of the key differences in this year’s event, and how will they benefit participants?

Andillon Hackney: Apra Fundamentals is structured to foster discussion, specifically around prospect management, portfolios and ethics. Because our summer cohort had completed the modules, they brought great questions that they were tackling in their day-to-day. That is the benefit of the onsite symposium — real-time problem solving.

The program focuses on four areas: campaigns, prospect research, prospect management and data science. Why is it important for attendees to learn about each area early in their careers?

Gareth Griffin: We all wear so many hats in our profession. Having a well-rounded understanding of the big picture will help us be better professionals in our specialties.

Ryan Frank: It is essential that all these areas be covered to paint a broader picture of fundraising and our profession as prospect development professionals. With a broader knowledge base rounding out different fundraising areas, we can also see our profession through a different lens than other fundraising professionals. With a solid background firmly set into place early on, attendees will have added skills to their professional tool belts to further build upon.

Registrants can access an online community to network with fellow attendees, download resources and communicate with faculty experts. How can participants use this to prepare for the event?

AH: Some of our best questions come weeks before on the community network. Having access to faculty and others often spawns great conversations we can continue in Chicago. It’s also a good place to find other people similar to you in your own region or organization. It really does help to find a colleague you can run ideas by — that’s how innovation happens and how we as prospect development professionals raise the bar.

RF: Although we can’t “require” registrants to read up on this resource material, it is extremely important for everyone to do as much as they can to digest this material before we meet. The resource material is a primer and plays a large part in understanding how our time together at the symposium will flow.

Participants will learn to navigate ethical considerations when conducting research. What is the importance of this education, and how will learners be able to apply this knowledge to their jobs?

GG: Unfortunately, ethical questions are murky and can have many interpretations. The ethics sessions will help attendees ask better questions in order to make a decision that is best for them and their organization. The conference also provides resources for folks grappling with difficult ethical dilemmas.

As the live event faculty, what makes you most excited about teaching a new generation of prospect development professionals? How has your industry experience shaped this year’s education content?

AH: I’m most excited about meeting everybody and learning new tips and tricks — we always do. It really is true that we get as much out of this day as attendees do. With data privacy in the forefront of national news, expanding our ethics discussion into a module will really help prepare new prospect researchers for some of the questions they may field from their colleagues at work. Apra does a great job of keeping up with changing regulations that impact our work, and the Apra Fundamentals platform is a great place to think through how you would respond and what policies you need to implement in your shop.

GG: I LOVE the enthusiasm of new prospect development professionals. That enthusiasm is infectious. I love the questions that new professionals ask, as well. New ideas and best practices often develop from a simple question. With my experience as a member and former chair of the Apra Ethics & Compliance Committee, I think it is important to have a solid understanding of the ethical guidelines of our profession, and that helps to inform how we approach problems and questions.

RF: The great thing about this profession is that I learn something new every single time I sit down with new researchers and prospect development professionals. Because our profession is completely grounded in learning from others, I love the idea of sharing ideas and methodologies I have utilized. But here’s the kicker: don’t do it exactly like me — find a way to do it better! By sharing ideas, we are all able to do our jobs better, faster and more streamlined.

For more information on Apra Fundamentals: Prospect Research, click here.

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