Ohio Prospect Research Network
Established 1987 - Apra Ohio Chapter
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.
Tessa Niederbaumer, Manager, Prospect Research, Cleveland Clinic
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.
Danielle Mihalcea, Research Associate, Philanthropic Partnerships, Cleveland Foundation
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.
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.
Anne White, Senior Prospect Research, University Hospitals
I’ve got two:
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.
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!).
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.
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.
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!
Jennifer Ewing, Senior Prospect Research Specialist, Akron Children’s Hospital
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.
Make sure you enjoy what you do.
When/where was your first Apra conference?
2019 Scottsdale, AZ
Dave Matthews Band
Identification of individual names:
How are names presented/shared with gift officers:
Ask The Ethicist: How Can I Brush Up on Ethics in the New Year? - Apra Connections
How To Express More Gratitude at Work & Why Gratitude in Leadership Is Important - Center for Creative Leadership
Inflation Won't Affect Most People's Giving at Year End - and Some Will Give More - The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Key Performance Indicators - The Helen Brown Group
Bill Robbins, Research Consultant, The Ohio State University Foundation
How did you get into fundraising and/or prospect research?
Completely by happenstance! The Director of Advancement Services at the university where I was working approached me about the prospect research opening in her office. I had never worked in advancement and had only a vague idea of what prospect research was, but I was ready for a new challenge. Over two decades later, I’m still working in prospect development!
Travel...and ensure that I never, ever, ever saw snow again.
What is your favorite board game?
I don’t have a favorite board game, but I really enjoy building jigsaw puzzles!
If you were offered a round trip to the moon, would you take it?
Do I get to travel aboard the Millennium Falcon?
Washington, D.C. in 2002.
MacKenzie Scott's Lessons on Giving with Phil and Grace - The Giving Done Right podcast
How to Express More Gratitude at Work & Why Gratitude in Leadership Is Important - Center for Creative Leadership
Data Privacy From An International Perspective - Apra's beyond prospecting podcast
Fraud for Good - Lucy Bernholz
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