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.