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Conversations with Prospect Research and Development Pros: Key Takeaways

Campbell & Company recently sponsored the annual conference for Apra, the professional organization “committed to serving, representing and advancing the professionals and practices that enable the philanthropic success of institutions that rely on fundraising to achieve their missions” (think prospect research and prospect development/management). Since it ended, we’ve reflected on what we had heard from prospect research and development professionals at our booth and in sessions, and how we can further support our clients’ work in this area.  Here are a few takeaways:

  1. Prospect research and management professionals, like much of the American population in the last few years, are searching for ways to integrate DEIA principles into their work lives. We know that predictive models built on the characteristics of past major donors are likely to lead to more major donors that “look like” those past donors. We are committed to a more holistic assessment of a donor’s generosity and contributions – and not just at the major gift level. Our colleagues recently wrote about our firm’s journey to forge a more inclusive environment for our employee-owners and clients – you can find that here.
  2. Prospect Development staff are helping to identify new major gift prospects based on factors that go well beyond giving capacity.  Part of the holistic assessment noted above is using measures of affinity and engagement alongside capacity. This is especially critical because so many donors have shifted their giving priorities since 2020. When combined with the reduction in staff that some of our clients have faced, it’s crucial that staff are focused on the best available prospects. Our firm has helped numerous clients develop their custom approach, including this one.
  3. The need to see prospect segmentation in real-time is increasingly important. The effort to analyze data to segment prospects is significant, and so it is frustrating that the giving and engagement data that drives that segmentation is immediately stale. Organizations are moving to automate this analysis, so that donors and prospects “pop” based on their activity, and staff can respond accordingly. We support our clients in that effort with Beam Insights and other automated dashboards and applications.

It was invigorating and inspiring to hear from leaders of organizations in the higher education, healthcare, and arts & culture sectors about what their organizations have been able to accomplish in these areas. As with all good conferences, we left with new ideas about how we can continue to evolve our own practices in partnership with our clients.

Wherever you are in your journey and whatever the questions you are wrestling with, our Strategic Information Services team can leverage data, systems, and processes to build your team’s capacity to make data-driven decisions. If you or your team find yourself wrestling with any of these topics, reach out to Campbell & Company today.

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Cara Anderson Rosas
About Cara Anderson Rosas Cara Anderson Rosas joined our firm after 20 years with the University of Florida Foundation and UF Health. During that time, she took on or supervised...
Katelyn Martin
Katelyn brings a unique combination of development and consulting experience to her work at Campbell & Company. Katelyn’s direct fundraising experience focused on arts & culture and youth development, including...
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