By Greg Duke
Graduation season is upon us once more! As college graduates celebrate, advancement services staff all over the country are getting anxious requests from development staff about how long it will take them to get their new alumni into their Raiser’s Edge database. Here are three strategic tips, from my experience in working in advancement services and on Raiser’s Edge, which will help you get new alumni ready for contact.
A Celebration of Research Pride Month
Yes, I am of the age where I want to sit around telling “In MY day…” stories. But today is still my day because I get to share this amazing profession with you. And this blog post is a rampage of appreciation over how far along we’ve come.
In 1988, I would have to leave my building to go crawl around the basement of the Harvard Business School to look at dusty old copies of the Standard and Poor’s Business Directory to find out how long my prospect had been executive vice president of his company. It was there that I realized that the president of the company had the same last name of my prospect’s wife’s maiden name, and so I had to go to the Personal Name Index to the New York Times, upstairs, to find their wedding announcement and find out if he married the boss’s daughter. And he had.
When we think of the science of analytics, we consider it as a part of mathematics. And math is a set of instructions, even more than science. For instance, it doesn’t matter how you set up your equation, 3 + 3 + 5 = 11. Set differently, the equation would still be: 5 + 3 + 3 = 11. And:
3 + 5 + 3 = 11.
This past summer, I attended the APRA International Conference in Nashville. This 4-day conference centers on analytics, prospect development, and prospect research. To the credit of the organizers, a record 2,000 professionals attended. I was inspired by the melee to write this blog post.
Attending conferences is sometimes thought of as a perk. After all, what productivity happens there besides drinking and picking up tchotchkes? And there is travel, hotel rooms, and meals that the organization pays for. Those of us who are not on the front line of fundraising have an additional challenge for conferences; we are not the holders of the purse strings and so we have to argue for conference dollars. So why go to – and send your staff to – conferences on a regular basis?
I have recently returned from an AFP Central New York luncheon, hearing a talk given by Bill Abrams (of Infinize), and my mind can’t stop spinning about what Bill said. Let me share with you a boiled down version of his message:
I interrupted Bill’s presentation to ask, “So, where will organizations’ major gifts prospects come from, then?” Bill answered that my local auto mechanic is much more likely to have as much income and wealth in the future as my banker does now – the Millionaire Next Door idea but cranked up several hundred RPMs.
And that’s when I started trembling, because now the number of prospects that my clients need to cultivate through personalized, special attention has gone from the top 5% of their constituency to – well – everyone. And I imagined major gifts programs melting down into a huge, stratified, boundless annual giving program.
This article shares my subsequent research along with some of Bill’s ideas to illustrate where this vision comes from.