Category Archives: Prospect Research

Donation Desensitization?

Do you remember John A. Paulson? He gifted Harvard University US$400M for its engineering school, two years ago. I draw attention to his gift based solely on its astronomical size. “An historic act of generosity” is the way Harvard described its largest-ever gift, at the time.

Do you remember Marilyn Beaudry-Corbett? She gifted the University of Southern California (USC) US$4M to support mature female MBA students, two months ago. Called “visionary and courageous,” her gift happened to squeak in to my media monitoring of gifts at the million-dollar mark (and above) across North America.

John and Marilyn share a couple of commonalities. Both are intelligent investors who chose philanthropy to do some good. Both John and Marilyn value education and seek to increase access to it, as their giving clearly demonstrates.

Both John and Marilyn attended Harvard’s business school. During Marilyn’s time, however, Harvard did not allow women on its campus, so she went to nearby Radcliffe College to attend the Harvard-Radcliffe School of Business Administration. (I suppose Harvard professors agreed to teach the women only if they stayed in their place.)

I guess that’s where the similarities between John Paulson and Marilyn Beaudry-Corbett end. Also, I’m guessing that you’ve never heard of Marilyn until just now, unless you meticulously monitor media for mega gifts. Her smaller donation may not have registered in the kind of way his larger one did. As gifts grow in size, are the smaller gifts – you know, the $4M ones – merely philanthropic rubble under $40M and $400M rocks? Are we increasingly desensitized to all the great big giving going on out there?

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I think prospect development professionals are particularly prone to this phenomenon of “donation desensitization” since we study such giving so closely. We suffer from repeated exposure to transformational philanthropy!

Think about this: we’re trained to look for financial indicators first and foremost – the more, the better. The higher, even greater. Capacity of major gift donors and prospects is growing by extreme proportions. (Millionaires are OK, but billionaires are better.) Take a look at the #prospectresearch hashtag on Twitter, where you’ll find the latest news about sky-high luxury real estate in NYC (pun intended) or the growing number of gazillionaires on the latest Forbes list.

Are mid-level million-dollar donors – in the $1M to $10M range – even worth a prospect researcher’s attention now? This working-class prospect researcher hopes so. I’m trying not to perpetuate “donation desensitization.” For example, when a $40,000 gift comes in to my organization, I take the time to congratulate the frontline fundraiser who secured that donor’s generosity. I want to know more about who that donor is and what prompted her or his act of giving; trying hard not to take such a gift for granted.

We would likely pay more attention to women’s philanthropy if we face “donation desensitization” straight on. Women give big, but perhaps not quite at the $400M level yet. Watch power women like Mellody Hobson and Sheryl Sandberg patiently, as they are just starting to set inspirational examples on their respective philanthropic journeys.

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Her giving deserves eternal accolades, too. Perhaps she initially gave more of her time and then her talent; eventually her treasure? Even if she left a gift in her will that was realized only upon her death. Or maybe her outright donation didn’t crack the mega-million dollar mark? Is her philanthropy somehow less transformational? I say she deserves acknowledgement still.

Please refer to a new kind of donor roll: [*drum roll*] Donations at the Diva Level. It’s a short summary of major gifts made by women, sometimes specifically for women’s causes, that managed to make the headlines (and their way into my media monitor).

Bookmark Donations at the Diva Level Page HERE

These women made gifts at the million-dollar+ level to organizations of their endearment in recent memory. This is my little way of celebrating their philanthropy, by sharing with you, dear readers, the positive emotional responses their gifts continue to elicit from me.

Care to comment? Tell me about a woman at your organization who has quietly gone about giving her time, talent and treasure with little fanfare. I would love to add her generosity to this list. Let’s celebrate her altruistic and courageous acts together, shall we?

 

Lady Links You May Like

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Power pose outside Lawrence Arts Center, Kansas (April 2017)

So far, I have resisted the urge to compile and collate a list of resources (web links) about anything, knowing there are more competent prospect development professionals out there who are better resourced and best placed to provide this kind of intelligence for our community.

Recently though, I began a thorough cleansing of Chrome bookmarks and noticed that my links about women donors and prospects has grown substantially over the past few years. Why not share the best of these articles, blogs, reports, statistics and lists with other researchers, fundraisers and even donors who are also passionate about women’s philanthropy?

Lady Links was born – you can view (and bookmark) this page on A Few Great Women:

https://diversitydrivendata.blog/resources/

Take a look around, stay for a while. Find out who are the most influential African-American women in corporate America (or were, as this list is from 2014) or check out Catalyst Canada’s comprehensive CVs of board-ready women professionals.

(Like you, I love lists, and when it comes to women, influence and power are key identifiers.)

I hope to grow Lady Links with fresh content often as both grassroots and media interest in women’s wealth and philanthropy grows.

Please do feel free to suggest additional resources in your purview or tell me what you think. If I mentioned your work in this esteemed group of resources, THANK YOU for making a positive contribution. We’re in this quest to narrow the gender data gap in philanthropy together!

— Preeti

 

Michal Shaw | Growing a Women’s Giving Program

Dear great women,

Meet Michal Shaw, a fundraising executive at Oklahoma State University (OSU) Foundation in Stillwater.Michal Shaw

Michal has an impressive depth of diverse experience in higher education fundraising which includes research, prospect management, scholarship administration, gift administration and compliance. In her current role, she oversees donor relations, stewardship and special events.

A double OSU alumna, Michal also leads the University’s women’s philanthropy program, called Women for Oklahoma State University. 

(Basically, she does it ALL.)

I was first introduced to Michal through a joint learning initiative between Apra and the Association of Donor Relations Professionals (ADRP) in 2015. While still on maternity leave, Michal kindly agreed to co-present a webinar with fellow prospect researcher Jennifer Filla and me on harnessing the power of women’s philanthropy. Our collaboration highlighted statistics on women’s wealth; offered practical prospect research techniques specific to female donors; and introduced the concept of starting a women’s giving program.

You can view this webinar in its entirety here as well as read a recap blog post on the Apra website here.

Once the webinar wrapped, for some reason, I thought Michal and I would cross paths again given our mutual interest in advancing women’s philanthropy, but I didn’t think we would reconnect so soon.

A chance meeting at the Women’s Philanthropy Institute Symposium in Chicago still warms this prospect researcher’s heart. Meeting Michal in person compelled me to look closer into the Women for OSU program which is led by an advisory council of passionate donor volunteers.

The Women for OSU Council is made up of about 40 women who hold a minimum lifetime family giving history of $50,000. The council advises OSU Foundation staff on programs and events designed to engage both alumni and friends.

Each member agrees to make a $1,000 annual commitment to Women for OSU while serving on the council which meets three to four times a year.

With that background, I was fortunate to catch up with Michal Shaw recently, to ask her some additional questions about her women’s giving program.

Me: What are the major goals of your women’s giving program?

Michal: Our primary goal is to channel passions and strengthen women’s connections to the University through their relationship with our program. We also aim to increase the number of female donors to OSU as well as increase their total giving through the Women for OSU Endowed Scholarship, a prestigious award that recognizes academics, philanthropic and volunteer activities among OSU students. Funds for this endowment are generated through private donations and sponsorship from events, allowing students to become stronger leaders and educated philanthropists.

Our mission statement says that, “Women for OSU is a diverse group of visionary women who share a passion for inspiring leadership and financial support to OSU. Women for OSU envisions a culture of giving and service that acknowledges the significant impact women have here and inspires others to positively shape the future of the University through philanthropy and engagement.”

Me: I noticed that OSU has a prospect research/management team. Can you tell me about a successful collaboration with your team? If you haven’t worked with the prospect research team, how could they help you increase participation by women donors?

Michal: Our prospect research team plays a crucial role in our success. Not only does this team refer potential WOSU donors and council members to us, they also assist us with research on potential members who have been recommended by third parties. Ultimately, the goal is to find women who are looking for opportunities to engage with the University and/or are passionate about leadership.

Additionally, this team ensures we are strategic in our approach to regional events. We are in the midst of planning an event now for the Washington, DC, area and rely heavily on prospect research to provide us with women who have high interest and high giving capacity, but are not assigned to a development officer or currently engaged.

Me: Just to play devil’s advocate, do alumnae need to be deliberately pursued in a separate giving program in order to feel engaged by the university? 

Michal: No, although the more deliberate, collaborative and strategic we can be in our engagement, the better! It’s been my experience that the more we tailor engagement to a particular donor’s interests, the more likely and quickly she is to jump on board.


Thank you, Apra, ADRP and the WPI for bringing Michal and me together in conversation about building a women’s giving program as well as the critical role prospect development can play in growing our female donor bases of support.

RELATED NEWS:

“Alumnae announce new goals in women’s philanthropy,” (aim to fund 250 scholarships by 2019); Dartmouth News; May 5, 2017 – here

When a woman self-advocates, does she show too much #ResearchPride?

I’m supportive.

As a prospect researcher, my primary responsibility is to offer strategic support for front-line fundraisers, by helping them better understand our donor base. To aid from the background with gentle nudges of informational wisdom.

I’m also critical.

Having practiced prospect research in all of its progressive iterations for more than 15 years, I’ve worked at a number of advancement and non-profit institutions, gathering experiences and formulating opinions about how to work effectively. I’ve grown to judge when it’s not working as well. Out loud, I should add.

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Decades in the workforce have offered some serious self-awareness shaping as well; it’s not just about the work itself, but who is doing that work? [*Coughs*} A white male, I am not.

That’s me: a colleague-pleasing prospect researcher who strives to support. And a veteran non-profit professional who doesn’t tolerate well inaccuracies, inefficiencies (and other not-so-fun stuff) in the grander fundraising operation. Who feels an obligation to  critique provide feedback; to speak out; to self-advocate; and to school teach. Someone who therefore risks not seeming supportive.

I want to be liked and also want to succeed. As a short, brown female professional, is it possible to be both at the same time? If I continue self-advocating, do I risk being disliked?

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Power woman and social technology executive Sheryl Sandberg writes about this issue in her bestselling book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead (2013). Refer to her chapter on “Success and Likeability,” where she resigns working women to being both damned and doomed! She cites research conducted by a number of American business schools including Columbia and Harvard to show how gender stereotypes disadvantage outwardly successful women.

“Our stereotype of men holds that they are providers, decisive and driven. Our stereotype of women holds that they are caregivers, sensitive and communal. Because we characterize men and women in opposition to each other, professional achievement and all the traits associated with it get placed in the male column,” according to Ms Sandberg’s research.

What does it mean for working women? She argues:

“If a woman pushes to get the job done, if she’s highly competent, if she focuses on results rather than on pleasing others, she’s acting like a man. And if she acts like a man, people dislike her.”

Consequentially, some women temper their professional accomplishments and goals. I’m no different.

Certainly, I think twice before taking credit, pointing to my own value and other self-promoting behaviour, knowing I may be disliked by men and women alike. When I do advocate for myself, it’s handled carefully and infrequently.

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During Chapters Share the Knowledge Week last year, I shared with fellow Apra members some stories about my own challenges as a solo prospect researcher in my previous fundraising shop that didn’t fully ‘get’ me.

One of my defense mechanisms is an elevator speech which is the ultimate self-promotion tool. The speech articulates – during those times other staff don’t respond to or seem to appreciate – the work I do to help them sound and act smart and strategic in their donor interactions.

The speech is crafted and ready to launch well in advance of an actual emotion-triggering incident, hence assuring a coherent response. (!)

Recently, Apra board member Amy Turbes asked me to create a new elevator speech as part of a toolkit the advocacy committee is developing to help all Apra members self-advocate in their respective shops.

Before this sensitive soul shares said speech with you, it’s worth mentioning my pre-writing process:

For weeks, I looked for language before tackling this small writing exercise, partly because I’m a wurd nerd, but also being careful not to appear self-serving or ‘braggy.’ (Bragging is just not lady-like, I’ve been socialized to believe.) So, I thought about gentle, pleasant words and phrases I could use to describe prospect development efforts at my organization.

Referencing other sources for inspiration was also helpful. If you’re interested in crafting your own elevator speech, please have a look at the American Library Association’s tips here.

I managed to draw up this little diddly which met my own approval:

By ensuring they have access to relevant, accurate and strategic information, I encourage front-line fundraisers to engage our donors in more meaningful ways, ultimately to secure their support.

Stimulating interest, curiosity and awareness about our current and future donors forms a critical part of the strategic support role I play at my organization.

Specifically, new funding opportunities that I identify for further consideration always demonstrate financial capacity alongside some linkage or known interest in my organization. I help fundraisers determine the initial approach for these quality leads based on ethically-sourced research and my own humble experiences.

It requires intelligence and preparation to make the right ask at the right time of the right person. My work equips fundraisers with the informed confidence they need to make it happen.

Anything less is just Googling.

Notice how I carefully tempered this self-promotion with non-threatening words: encourage, support, curiosity, help and humble. 

As a social being naturally wanting to be liked, my quest for likability intensifies at work, especially based on the scope of my role. Being conscious of it has helped me self-advocate anyway, as needed. I’d rather be real and effective at work to advance my organization’s goals. Really.

Apparently, Facebook king Mark Zuckerberg agrees. He told Ms Sandberg that her desire to be liked by everyone would hold her back, as relayed in Lean In. “He said that when you want to change things, you can’t please everyone. If you do please everyone, you aren’t making progress.”

Like me or not, I raise a stemless goblet to progressive prospect development during #ResearchPride month!

#IWD2017   #WeAreApra

Why We Need More Female Physicians

No Ma’am, this is not fake news.

If you work in a healthcare setting please keep reading because I’m not making this stuff up. Recently, I came across this striking headline in mainstream media:

Female Physicians Save More Lives

That’s right!

Researchers at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health recently compared hospital mortality and readmission rates for Medicare patients treated by male versus female physicians. Their results were small but statistically significant (i.e. clinically meaningful). They found better patient outcomes among those who were treated by female physicians in each area – fewer deaths after hospitalization within 30 days of the admission date, and lower hospital readmission rates, within 30 days of the discharge date, at the same hospital over a period of three years.

Specifically, patients treated by women had a four percent lower risk of dying prematurely and a five percent lower risk of being readmitted to a hospital.

“If male physicians achieved the same outcomes as female physicians do, we would save about 32,000 lives per year,” one of the researchers explained in media coverage.

Now I urge you to read the fine print here in JAMA Internal Medicine if you can power through a complex medical study. I persevered through the key points and discussion sections, relying on sturdy reporting by Vox (where I originally saw this gem), The LA Times and Fox News to help me make sense of the study’s results. Not surprisingly, Fox News appeared the most skeptical among mainstream media – medical girl power, what? 

Female Physicians Build Stronger Relationships With Their Patients

While the Harvard researchers discovered better patient outcomes when treated by female physicians, they did not explain why, drawing instead on previous studies that show the gender of the physician can influence the quality of care patients receive in hospitals.

Women have shown to practise differently than men: they employ evidence-based research and techniques more often; women adhere more closely to clinical guidelines; and they communicate more effectively with patients, offering psychosocial counselling alongside physical treatment. In so doing, women build stronger relationships with their patients.

It likely means female physicians have more satisfied and hence grateful patients.

Too long of a leap in logic? I think otherwise.

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Let’s develop prospect development and fundraising strategies that include – heck, are driven by! – female physicians, as partners in healthcare philanthropy.

Because better patient outcomes are what we ultimately strive for in healthcare (and the philanthropy which supports it), some suggestions to get started:

  • Identify veteran as well as up-and-comer female physicians at healthcare institutions

Do you know who they are, where you are? Where I am, major gift officers tend to focus their outreach efforts on hospital department heads and rock star researchers (rightly so), but I think we could extend our reach beyond this small elite group to help us identify grateful patients.

I’m not referring to those female physicians who are focused solely on women’s health either, but across all medical areas like cardiology, gastroenterology, renal and respiratory. Harvard’s results held up across a wide range of medical conditions.

One special source where you may locate your female physicians is through one of the local branches or national chapters of The Medical Women’s International Association. Members advocate for themselves and the advancement of other women in their profession, so solicit them for advice.

  • Help fundraisers build productive, trusting relationships with female physicians who are comfortable introducing their grateful patients.

Where I am, our go-to crew for grateful patient referrals are currently middle-aged male cardiologists who have been with our institution for some time. What keeps me fulfilled is actually the reactive research I conduct on their donor leads. It’s my intelligence that helps inform fundraisers in dealing with our medical partners. They can quickly put research into meaningful action in these grateful patient cases, so these leads take high priority in my work.

Perhaps our male cardiologists could also introduce us to their female colleagues in addition to grateful patients?

  • Good data practices please

Don’t you just hate it when a prominent physician (i.e. a potential ally) has no record in the database? Or when a new prospect is not naturally partnered to her physician’s record in the database? Me too! That’s why I’ve spent a lot of time physically connecting constituent records to one another. Those data connections will be powerful someday.

  • Start now since the number of female physicians is about to increase

Inevitably, women will become a stronger force in medicine given their fierce enrolment and completion rates in both Canadian and American medical schools.

In a Huffington Post article entitled “Canadian Women are Storming the Ivory Towers,” Bob Ramsay notes three out of five medical student graduates are women. In the USA, 46 percent of all physicians in training and almost half of all medical students are women, according to an Association of American Medical Colleges analysis quoted in The Wall Street Journal more than a year ago.

Intentionally identifying and reaching out to emerging female physicians – tomorrow’s medical leaders – makes good sense now. The future of advancing healthcare philanthropy is held in their capable hands. Now, if only female physicians were paid at par with or better than their male counterparts?

Visuals: A nursing school graduate from St. Paul’s Hospital, circa 1919.

The painting is by “D. Booth ’14.”

 

Learned Woman, 2017

Well now it has been a minute, friends, colleagues and other readers for whom I am grateful. It feels good to glide fingers along keyboard keys again.

I am so glad to shut both the front and back doors on 2016.

Goodbye, Old Bad. Hello, New Good.

In a concerted effort to make the first few days of 2017 better (and productive), I’m looking forward to all the learning opportunities already planned for the first half of my year. I’d like to share them with you, in part, to keep my plans on track and perhaps to inspire your personal development efforts.

There seems to be one common thread that unites all the lectures, events and conferences on this upcoming learning journey: WOMEN!

(You are smart, so you may have already guessed as much.)

What more is there to learn? Are we so damn difficult to figure out? Why women?

It’s simple: to combat complacency.

I resolve to keep practising what (or more pointedly, who) I preach – women donors and funding prospects, because they are potentially forgettable. You read me correctly; women donors could be forgettable. For example:

  • The gift from her estate is now settled and, to be honest, we didn’t really know her while she was alive. . .
  • She volunteered here? Where is that logged?
  • The donation cheque had both Mr and Mrs Smith’s names on it, but only one gets full (i.e. hard) credit in the database. Who do you think defaults to primary donor in this situation?

OK, I digress slightly. This post is really a small compilation of the learning road ahead to grow my knowledge of women donors and prospects and to celebrate the positive and varied ways they (we) contribute to the philanthropic sector.

“Educate Women and Their Community Will Prosper.”

To begin, in January, I registered for a seminar entitled Women and the World, led by lawyer and educator Susan Bazilli. While this seminar is hosted by a female-led financial planning outfit, the topic is about women’s rights, specifically progress made in this area and what more needs to be done. I’m not 100% sure what to expect from this seminar, but am looking forward to an informed discussion.

Of course, during the Presidential Inauguration, I will drink (heavily!) with a fellow political junkie Maureen, so we will see you at The Morrissey.

In February, I am volunteering at a gala event hosted by the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs BC. Rather than just read about their accomplishments in local media, I’m hoping to meet (or merely observe) some of my city’s finest women business leaders in real life.

Perhaps someone in that room is the next advisory committee member or board director or major donor for my own organization?

The evening includes live pitches by these women entrepreneurs hoping to clinch a $25,000 prize. Before that can happen, someone at the gala needs to check your name at the registration desk and stick a name tag awkwardly on your being.

(Leaning into the discomfort I will, as a wise woman once said.)

March promises to be epic with (another) trip to Chicagoland for a symposium hosted by the progressive Women’s Philanthropy Institute of Indiana. I’m so excited! Having read through most of their Women Give studies, I appreciate and respect the WPI’s work; it provides real evidence about women donors’ behaviour and their impact. The WPI grounded me and other advocates with sound information to make persuasive arguments for engaging women as viable donor prospects in advancing and broadening philanthropy.

Among the BIG goals of this symposium:

  • Place women’s philanthropy as central to building civil society and strengthening democracy in the United States. (Timing feels right.)

One session of keen interest will feature the skills required to be a strong woman philanthropic leader in the 21st century. Hearing from fundraising peers and leaders from the ‘Y’ and community foundation movements will also highlight this two-day experience. Wish me luck; reach out if you’d like to hear more; and stay tuned on Twitter: #WomensPhilanthropy.

International Women’s Day is March 8th (hence, epic). While uncertain of my own organization’s plans to commemorate #IWD2017, we have discussed bringing together our medical experts in women’s health with our generous women donors for an informative exchange in a meet-and-greet setting. My part consists of identifying A Few Great Women donors and prospects from our major gifts and annual giving portfolios, who need to be in the room.

In April, I’ll be in Lawrence, Kansas, to deliver a keynote address on women donors at the APRA-MO/KAN conference. I am honoured to attend this chapter’s gathering, knowing its board has worked to be more active and provide meaningful opportunities for its members. I’m hoping to draw on all the wonderful experiences from months prior to inspire and motivate prospect development and fundraising professionals, so we can all engage more women in new and different ways.

Now more than ever, I’m researching determinedly a powerful segment of donor prospects in real life. And enjoying the learning journey ahead. How about you?

The picture is a painting called “Red Cross dropping at Pochella” by James Makuac, a Sudanese artist whose work graced the Nashville airport last summer.

Q for #ResearchPride Month

Dear Friends of A Few Great Women,

This particular post is not about one inspiring and successful woman who gives, volunteers, raises funds and provides great prospect research. This post is about many –  you.

To honour #ResearchPride month, my contribution is simply to pose a question that will motivate you and make you care to comment:

“As a principled prospect development professional, how do you help philanthropy grow?”

Tell me the first words that spring to mind, or take some time to craft a careful (witty?) response. Do please comment here or share on your favourite social media.

And of course, MEN, I want to hear from you too!

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UPDATE | Your tweets from #ResearchPride first week:

I grow philanthropy w/ strategic info analysis, advocacy – @rissatodd

I’m a motivator, educator, & gadfly. Advocate for prof’l excellence toward increased respect & resources – @AskHelenBrown

I grow philanthropy w/ info & insight, & by inspiring confidence – @srbernstein

 I grow philanthropy by being a matchmaker: prospecting & prioritizing – @jenfilla

Great Q! I grow philanthropy through bespoke research. – @kathmscott

Through research, strategic use of info. and by sharing innovative ideas – @MsSParkinson

By building trust and confidence for the Frontline Team! #make that ask – @Lieberstein

I’ll have to think about it – @SarahJLA (a reflective Canadian -ed.)

Big Dreams