On October 28th I attended a conference hosted by the Upstate NY Chapter of the Association of Prospect Researchers for Advancement. Prospect research professionals from throughout upstate NY gathered at Niagara University for a day of learning. The conference title was "By the numbers:  Fundraising analytics and its powerful uses."

Rachel Link, Data Research Analyst at Buffalo State College started the day off with a wonderful presentation about portfolio and research metrics. She discussed how prospect researchers can contribute to the productivity of the prospect pipeline by organizing and presenting gift officer metrics and portfolio analysis. Rachel also stressed the importance of sifting through the data you collect about prospects in order to create reports that highlight your accomplishments as a prospect researcher. Tracking your research efforts is a key component to communicating the value you add to the fundraising efforts of your organization.

The second presentation of the day was put on by Kate Chamberlain, Data Analyst at Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital. Kate spoke about the efforts she employs to manage a fundraising database that includes approximately 7 million donors and potential donors. The Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital uses a statistical technique to analyze its database in order to determine the lifetime donor giving capacity of potential donor groups. This methodology helps Kate and her team determine which donors to invest in given the likelihood that the Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital will receive gifts from that group of donors which are of greater value than the investment it made to obtain those gifts.

The final presenter of the day was Alan Schwarz, Pulitzer Prize-nominated reporter for the New York Times. Alan spoke with APRA-UNY about his research into concussions and dementia in retired NFL players. His presentation highlighted how the results of statistical analysis can be used to create a powerful and persuasive story. By crunching the numbers and presenting them in a compelling fashion, you can build a strong case to support your point of view. Alan's perspective on the power of statistical analysis is one that prospect researchers can definitely appreciate. Prospect researchers often find themselves in a position where they must use the power of the numbers to prove to their fundraising team why it makes sense to approach a particular potential donor rather than spend time cultivating an individual that they believe is less likely to make a major gift to their organization.

Overall, the APRA-UNY Conference was a great experience. I enjoyed meeting prospect researchers from colleges and universities throughout upstate NY. I also learned a great deal about the role of data analysis in the field of prospect research.


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