My ultimate career goal is to work in the field of prospect research at a college or university. To me, the job of the prospect researcher is the perfect combination of my research skills, my talent for writing, and my love of higher education. I find the idea of spending my days parked at a desk, pouring through oodles and oodles of information, searching for the key facts and clues that tell the story of a potential donor to my organization's cause to be both exciting and worthwhile.

While I ultimately envision myself in the role of prospect researcher, I am aware that this is a pretty specific goal. So for now I am looking for an entry-level position, ideally in an organization's advancement department. I am also considering positions with for-profit organizations where I can learn transferable skills. I am eager to learn the ropes and begin contributing my skills, knowledge, and passion to help a nonprofit organization advance it's mission.

Throughout my job search, I have had the goal of learning as much as I can about prospect research and the field of higher advancement more broadly. One way I am doing this is by watching freely available webinars that cover topics related to prospect research and fundraising. Yesterday I watched a WealthEngine webinar titled "Measuring Fundraising Return on Investment and the Impact of Prospect Research." The webinar touched on the importance of calculating the return on investment for the time spent researching potential donors. This is an important issue in many prospect research shops because there is often a disconnect between front-line fundraisers and the back of the house staff. The value of the research role is not always fully recognized nor understood by other members of the fundraising team. Consequently, it is important that researchers can measure their impact in order to demonstrate that their work is adding value to the organization's fundraising efforts.

The webinar also outlined and suggested specific metrics that can be used to measure the success of an organization's prospect research efforts. For example, prospect researchers can track the following:
•Number of Prospects Qualified
•Number of Prospects Qualified by Source
•Number of Prospects Qualified by Capacity Level
•Time spent by source
Ultimately, the webinar emphasized that the time and energy spent calculating ROI will both help demonstrate the value of investing in the research function as well as indicate to the research team what research methods are most effective at delivering actionable results.  

Seeing as how this blog post is titled "Of Webinars and Internships," I should touch on another element of my professional development plan. Next week I will begin an internship at Finger Lakes Community College. The goal of the internship is to help me develop a professional portfolio in the area of higher ed advancement and communications. I am exciting about this opportunity and I look forward to reporting more information about it as the internship progresses.

Check back for more updates about my adventures in professional development as I pursue my dream job!


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