Ohio Prospect Research Network
Established 1987 - Apra Ohio Chapter

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  • February 15, 2024 5:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Christine Bitner, Prospect Research Analyst, University of Dayton

    What's the best career advice you've ever received?

    Build good bridges; don't burn them. Every person you meet could potentially be the key to a new opportunity. You never know how that interaction may fit into your future, both personally and professionally.

    What could you give a 45-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?

    Genealogy research. I am absolutely obsessed. I even worked for our local history library for a few years as a young woman—nothing like getting paid for your hobby.

    When/where was your first Apra/OPRN conference?

    I attended my first in-person conference last year, OPRN, at the Columbus Zoo. 

    Where's the next place on your travel bucket list and why?

    I would love to go to Niagara Falls, both the US and Canada side. I am utterly obsessed with oceans and waterfalls. It's not just the beauty that attracts me; maybe it's the soothing sounds—the rhythm of it. There is also something about the energy and possibly the danger of them and how they are completely out of our control that both scares me and calms me down at the same time.

    What is your favorite season?

    Summer is definitely my favorite season. The days are longer, and there are so many more things to do socially in the summer, like fairs, festivals, and BBQs. Also, I love gardening. Whether it is indoors or out, flowers or food, it keeps me "grounded", LOL. Gardening is like a tranquil retreat for me. The repetition and solitude are very meditative. Watching things grow and produce and then preserving that food to share with family and friends is a tremendous source of pride for me.


  • January 10, 2024 8:23 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Nicole Wright, Prospect Research Consultant, Ohio State University

    How did you get into fundraising and/or prospect development?

    My best friend and OPRN member Jenny Sowash and I applied for seasonal jobs at the Zoo while we were students at OSU. Jenny was hired as a seasonal and has made a career there. I interviewed for a Zoo seasonal job but was called back to my OSU student job.  A few years later, a position opened up at the Zoo in the Development Office running the Adopt An Animal program and other fundraising programs.  I was there for 9 years which gave me a foundation for fundraising and non-profits. I went on to positions at Habitat for Humanity, Franklin Park Conservatory, The Ohio State University, Goodwill Columbus, Cristo Rey Columbus. I returned to Ohio State in 2022 as a Prospect Research Consultant.

    When/where was your first Apra conference?

    Indianapolis in 2023

    What skill would you like to master?

    Kitchen knife skills. I love watching Chopped, Top Chef and all kinds of cooking shows and wish I could chop vegetables like a chef!

    What is your favorite board game?

    Scrabble

    What is the last TV show you binged watched?

    The West Wing.  I binge watch this at least twice a year.


  • July 19, 2023 7:43 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Cara Perez, Manager of Advancement Operations, Jump Start, Inc.

    How did you get into fundraising and/or prospect development?

    I was a lost college graduate who had no idea what to do next. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity by way of a friend to work for a small nonprofit that needed help with database management after acquiring another nonprofit. I have always enjoyed meeting donors during events and a few years into my career, I learned I could get to know donors without ever having to do the “ask”. I truly enjoy prospect research, learning about my community and the impact it can make on an organization.

    What's the best career advice you've ever received?

    You are always networking! You never know when someone you previously met or worked with can help you in the future.

    If you could complete one work-related task with a wave of your hand, what task would you choose?

    Updating occupation information in real time!

    What’s a random fact you recently learned?

    In 1892, the first rollercoaster at Cedar Point opened and with a top speed of 10mph.

    What is the last TV show you binged watched?

    Ted Lasso and I loved the ending.

  • July 07, 2023 8:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Tessa Niederbaumer, Manager, Prospect Research, Cleveland Clinic

    How did you get into fundraising and/or prospect development?

    After graduate school, I was accepted as a development fellow at a foundation supporting a local hospital. This position gave me exposure to all aspects of a fundraising shop and the experience helped me define what I wanted to focus on (I originally thought I wanted to plan events). As with many shops, there was not a dedicated research team, so I wasn’t able to do a formal rotation. I think I fell into the field because I showed an interest in knowing more about the people who donated and because I had some background in analytics so I was able to collect information from many sources, summarize, and present usable information. After my fellowship ended, I moved on to my first prospect research-focused job and I haven’t looked back!

    What could you give a 45-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?

    I am a huge Peloton fan and could give a presentation on Peloton/the instructions with no preparation, lol. I bought a bike at the very start of the pandemic after trying it in a showroom in Los Angeles (I caved to peer pressure). I had never cycled before buying the bike. I became hooked, and I have done a class on the platform (bike, walk, run, yoga, medication) each week since.

    Are there any books, podcasts, or courses that have changed the way you approach your daily work?

    I listen to a podcast produced by American Public Media called Marketplace - https://www.marketplace.org/shows/marketplace/.  It comes out daily and focuses on business and economic news, but no degree or finance background is required. It’s been helpful in keeping up to date on the economy and factors that impact philanthropy.

    How do you approach traveling on vacation? Do you make an itinerary or just explore?

    I am planner so I love a good itinerary. However, my husband is more of a “go with the flow” type person. We compromise, and typically I will plan one thing in each city we visit and then leave the rest unplanned.

    Is chili a soup?

    I consider chili to be more akin to a stew than a soup. However, my overall view of chili may be a bit controversial since I grew up eating Cincinnati Chili. My dad’s side of the family is from Cincinnati, and I have many memories at Skyline and being in the kitchen helping my mom make homemade chili.


  • June 26, 2023 7:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Danielle Mihalcea, Research Associate, Philanthropic Partnerships, Cleveland Foundation

    How did you get into fundraising and/or prospect development?

    I have a background in investigative research, so it was perfect for me! The depth of Philanthropy is spectacular. I enjoy the people I meet, the skills I am developing, and the impact fundraising has on the community.

    What's the best career advice you've ever received?

    Always be willing to learn anything, even if it doesn’t pertain to your field. You never know when it might come in handy!

    What skill would you like to master?

    I would like to master the science of research. What I mean by that is, learning efficient techniques, the best software, and the organization skills it takes to create an excellent project.

    Where’s the next place on your travel bucket list and why?

    Romania! My parents are from there and we use to visit every other summer. I haven’t been back since before COVID, so I miss the food, culture, and beautiful views.

    Are you an early bird or night owl?

    Early bird gets the worm.


  • May 12, 2023 8:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Anne White, Senior Prospect Research, University Hospitals

    What's the best career advice you've ever received?

    I’ve got two:

    • Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. If someone recognizes a special skillset or quality you have (that you may or may not recognize yourself) and offers you an opportunity, take it; work where the culture is going to value what you uniquely bring to the workplace.
    • I think one of the best things I’ve heard recently is when dealing with a complicated email exchange (especially if with a passive aggressive personality), pick up the phone.

    If you could complete one work-related task with a wave of your hand, what task would you choose?

    Entering data into database.

    What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?

    How to do a meaningful and strategic profile.

    How do you approach traveling on vacation? Do you make an itinerary or just explore?

    Hybrid.  I try to have a few key destinations but don’t like to let the spontaneity of the trip be spoiled with too long of a checklist.

    What are you reading now?

    Just finished reading both Spare by Prince Harry and Palace Papers by Tina Brown.

    Who’s your go-to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to?

    Hall and Oates (child of the 70’s!).

    Are you an early bird or night owl?

    Night owl.

  • February 27, 2023 8:10 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Betsy Schmidt-Gullett, Executive Director of Prospect Development, University of Cincinnati Foundation

    What did you want to be when you grew up? Are you doing it?

    I wanted to be an artist… singing, acting, dancing, painting, writing poetry… all the things!  Sadly, I have no performing arts talents. I still occasionally write, but only for myself to “find the truth” as Madeleine L’Engle used to say.

    If you were so wealthy you didn’t need to work, what would you do with your time?

    The obvious answer: spend more time with my kiddos and travel!  Honestly, I have always thought that if I didn’t have to work I would still work in some capacity – part-time or as a volunteer, but would feel the need to do something to help others. 

    What are you reading now?

    The Scholomance Series by Naomi Novik – Just finished this series and LOVED it!  If you enjoyed Hunger Games, the Divergent trilogy or Harry Potter, I highly recommend this series!  Literally read the first two books over a weekend.

    What’s a random fact you recently learned?

    An octopus has nine brains!  My boys told me this and I couldn’t believe that it was true… but it is… these kids are fascinating.

    Favorite way to reenergize during the day?

    Take a walk – move around – dance in the kitchen.  My brain starts working better after I start moving my body.  Love to have walking meetings!

  • January 20, 2023 11:27 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Jennifer Ewing, Senior Prospect Research Specialist, Akron Children’s Hospital

    If you were so wealthy you didn’t need to work, what would you do with your time?

    Volunteer at my daughter’s school and with at-risk youth.

    What childhood rule was most difficult for you to follow?

    No talking in class.

    What's the best career advice you've ever received?

    Make sure you enjoy what you do.

    When/where was your first Apra conference?

    2019 Scottsdale, AZ

    Who’s your go-to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to?

    Dave Matthews Band

  • December 12, 2022 7:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    General Notes:

    • Proactive gets pushed to the back burner many times. Some try to use “offensive calendaring” to block days/time for proactive work.
    • Gift officers want new names but aren’t always following-up or feedback is informal.

    Metrics/Tracking:

    • For some teams, proactive identification is not a specific department/team goal or metric but keep track for personal year-end reporting. May vary by team member based on individual roles.
    • Some track proactive identification but less formal procedures or policies or expectations for gift officer follow-up. Typically, after a period of no real outreach the follow-up is simply “drop assignment.” Cincinnati Children’s started a more formal “blitz” process (scheduled work-flow in NXT) where each newly assigned prospect is mailed, emailed, called, etc. so many times before they can be dropped. Based on capacity and giving levels, more outreach attempts are expected if higher rating and/or giving.
    • Building a dashboard (very new)

    Identification of individual names:

    • Review internal lists on regular basis: new donors, donors over $500, volunteers, event attendees, DAF donors, IRA donors
    • Review names associated with affiliations of current board members or donors
    • Review WealthEngine / iWave screenings – donors to similar/relevant organizations (arts org for Art school; donors to pediatric cancer organizations)
    • livealumni and RelSci mentioned
    • Peer review of lists by board members but it can be time consuming and often hard to get consistent follow-up from volunteers
    • News alerts/other alerts can generate an overwhelming number to read through unless very specific criteria. Many times never get reviewed! Using vendors such as aidentified or Insightful can help with curating/targeting alerts (news around IPOs, stock transactions, investment, relationship mapping).
    • Names presented generally meet certain criteria (capacity, giving, connection). Very rare to get gift officers to follow-up on high-capacity, lower connection prospects but depends on department/unit and need for new prospects.

    How are names presented/shared with gift officers:

    • One-on-one meetings with gift officers
    • Regular meetings with all gift officers
    • Regular meetings with just lead gift officers. Larger meetings can turn into free-for-all discussions.
    • Generally basic information is shared

    Corporate/foundation prospecting:


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