Last fall, on October 23rd, I attended a daylong conference hosted by the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement-Illinois (APRA-IL), which focused on hot topics in prospect research. APRA-IL is an organization for prospect development professionals in the Chicagoland area. Prospect research involves researching, managing, and analyzing data with the goal of gaining donors for non-profit organizations. Librarians are getting hired in this field, as the skill set matches neatly with the profession. The majority of prospect development positions can be found with universities and hospitals, although the field is growing.
According to APRA, Prospect Development has evolved to include the following roles and responsibilities:
- Prospect identification and research: discovering and evaluating prospective donors, and their interests, relationships, inclination to give and philanthropic capacity to inform and support an organization’s fundraising strategies and outreach efforts
- Relationship management: managing, tracking, and reporting on an organization’s activity with its constituent and prospect pools, and making recommendations to positively influence fundraiser and campaign activity
- Data analytics: supporting an information-driven decision culture by deriving conclusions and identifying trends through the statistical analysis of internal and external data.
The skills that our prospect research counterparts have are important for librarians to be aware of, regardless of the work setting. Future attorneys and law firms need to know how to research whether prospective or existing clients have the means to pay them. Law schools have fundraising arms. Law firms like to understand what strategic advantages they can get.
One of the connections I made at the fall conference was with APRA-IL President, Katie Ingrao. Katie is the Assistant Director of Prospect Management at Rush University Medical Center. From our meeting came CALL’s first collaborative webinar. On February 17th, 2016, CALL, APRA-IL, and APRA-MN presented a webinar comparing and contrasting competitive intelligence with prospect research. Over 50 participants from the three organizations listened in. Jerry Burch, from Latham Watkins and Darren Cooper from the Mayo Clinic discussed competitive intelligence and its non-profit sibling, prospect research. Jerry and Darren each presented on their respective fields and then held a panel discussion comparing the type of research they do, ethical questions, skills, tools, intricacies of both professions, and the divide of nonprofit vs. for profit organizations.
[For more information, see the presentation slides from the Feb. 17 joint “Prospect Research and Competitive Intelligence: Exploring Two Sides of Our Profession” webinar here.]