What Does Mentorship Mean to YOU?

As president of Apra Wisconsin, I know that mentorship is an urgent need for our members. While our chapter membership includes many seasoned veterans, every year brings new faces, some on large teams, and some working alone. When we receive back your membership forms, many of you check off the box for wanting a mentor, but only one or two of you check off the box indicating your willingness to be a mentor.

So, we have a gap. That’s easy to see, and I am sure we can all think of some reasons why: time, distance, expectations. But I think another reason may be that mentoring itself has many different definitions, so in addition to defining expectations, we need to define the activity itself.

I am going to start where many of us do, with Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentorship (consider yourself warned: this article has 74 citations, compared to 2 in the entry on phantom stock).

Among the words and phrases which pop out to me are “guide,” “informal,” “sustained” (so far so good), “role modeling,” “transmission of knowledge,” “vast experience,” “change practice,” “catalyzing,” and “psychosocial support.” No wonder we hesitate to check the mentor box.

Besides the traditional mentorship pairing of an experienced PD pro with a less experienced one, I can think of a few alternative matchmaking services we might offer as a chapter; for example, pairing up people who work alone, and/or pairing up solo practitioners with people on large teams. And there’s got to be many more ways we can help each other.

Personally, I can never thank enough the people who helped me from my beginnings in prospect development, when I felt very isolated, to my days helping manage a team, and now as a small business owner. Some of you offered training, advice, and even affirmation, while others helped me envision and then navigate career changes. Recently, I’ve benefitted from the kindness and guidance of other prospect development consultants, Milwaukee entrepreneurs, and many of you.

We are a sharing and welcoming profession, and none of us should feel alone. To paraphrase something I heard at the Apra Chapter Leaders’ Summit, if you work by yourself, then Apra Wisconsin is your team.

So if we were to build a mentoring program in Apra Wisconsin, what do you think it should look like? Please use the following survey to share your ideas: https://forms.gle/HBWDcYMVoX96kaL8A

Cliona's Apra International Experience

It had been around twenty years since I’d been to a conference that required travel. The last one I attended was in Peoria, Illinois when I was working for a very small non-profit in Chicago. The accommodations were spartan, I think it was a Motel 6 and my colleague and I shared a room.

So, Pittsburgh was a total blast! I’d never been to Pittsburgh and never considered visiting it, but it was a lovely surprise. It’s small enough that getting around is easy and the city has a great atmosphere and plenty to do and see.

Cliona Alley.jpg

The above is a photo of an alley that is used as an art space. I had the good fortune to witness dancers use the space for a performance. Pittsburgh is a test site for driverless cars, so I also got to see a driverless car. I had great fun hanging out with the Apra members from Wisconsin. We met for meals, drinks, visited the Andy Warhol Museum and rode the Incline.

Networking beyond our chapter was a challenge, especially as all the sessions I attended featured a lecture format.  Nevertheless, it was great to network with the Wisconsin Apra members and a colleague from the College of the Holy Cross, whose area of expertise is hedge funds.

I will touch on three conference sessions that I found particularly interesting. Oregon State University, Brown and Concordia St. Paul presented research on using social media to track and qualify new prospects. They used familiar strategies for engagement, such as asking viewers to share wedding photos on campus. But they then tracked the responses and identified prospects for qualification. They were able to demonstrate that digitally engaging alumni increased donations significantly. Cornell presented case studies for business valuations, for both domestic and international businesses. The International example was a South Korean Egg Production company. Cornell made international research seem much less daunting. Granted Cornell has access to international research tools that most of us may not have access to, such as Factiva and Capital IQ. Rollins and the University of Denver presented research on creating pipelines for boards aimed at increasing diversity.  Roseann Fitzgerald from Holy Cross shared that they have a system for increasing diversity that they implemented in the seventies, whereby they cultivate student leadership for the board of trustees. The college has a seat on the board for a recent graduate and they serve two-year terms.

I want to thank Apra Wisconsin for awarding me the scholarship to attend Apra International. It was a terrific experience and I came away with aspirational dreams to add to my prospect research toolkit.

Steven Lange Goes to Anaheim

Hello! My name is Steven Lange and I am the Prospect Research Manager at the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association.

I was the 2017 recipient of the Apra Wisconsin scholarship, which supported my first Apra International Prospect Development conference experience. At the time I had only been in the prospect research field for a year and a half, so attending this conference, located this past year in sunny Anaheim, CA, was very helpful in continuing my education and training. And I hope giving you a taste of my conference experience will encourage you to apply for the scholarship in 2018.

I heard from industry colleagues on a range of diverse topics, including international research in Asia, tools for onboarding and motivating new staff, identifying GenX and Millennial prospects, and strategic partnership with gift planning – to name just a few.  The sessions furthered my personal development, and boosted my own research skills, but they also helped me identify strategic enhancements for our prospect research program at WFAA.

The networking opportunities were also beneficial and fun. I enjoyed breakfast with a few colleagues to discuss foundation research; spent lunch with Penn State, UC Santa Barbara, and the University of Manitoba, during which we discussed the structure of our teams and research resources; and attended a laidback happy hour with Apra peers from around the Midwest. I’ve found networking opportunities, like the Apra happy hour, to be great opportunities for advancing career goals while hearing about new and interesting projects other organizations are doing. Oh, and if you go with a team, it can be fun, at conference meals, to sit at different tables than your teammates so you can meet even more people!

I would like to thank the scholarship committee for selecting me, and Apra Wisconsin for creating this opportunity in the first place. The 2018 Apra conference is in Pittsburgh, and it sounds great, so I encourage each of you to apply for the scholarship!

Everything Must Have a Beginning

Welcome to Perspectives, Apra Wisconsin's new blog!

In this space, you can expect some posts focused on research, prospect management, and prospect development. Our broader goal, though, is to simply create and curate some content that intrigues as much as it inspires – that, perhaps, even just once in a while, provides the reader those “ah ha” lightbulb-above-the-head moments. And we hope, no matter what, to elevate a different angle or context or . . . perspective!

That’s our hope.

Our goal is to publish once per month, with a big-hearted hope to publish more frequently, once we get this train really moving.

Anyway, this is just the beginning.

But we think this is the beginning of something great, and we hope you come along for the ride.