Ohio Prospect Research Network
Established 1987 - Apra Ohio Chapter
Jenny Sowash, Donor Services Coordinator, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Do you have any side hustles?
I am the owner of Vintage Promotions which runs an arts and crafts show called ChristmasFair at the Ohio Expo Center every November the weekend before Thanksgiving.
How did you get into fundraising and/or prospect research?
I have worked at the Columbus Zoo for over thirty years. I have been lucky enough to be in the correct spot at the right time and have been able to grow with the Zoo. I love to learn new software and to figure out how to do new things. I went from being the mail clerk to running the computer helpdesk when everyone was learning how to use Windows and Office products. I volunteered to take a class on Raiser’s Edge and somehow I ended up running the donor database and researching donors. I will always be grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to learn and grow. Always be willing to learn!
What are you reading now?
I am a voracious consumer of audio books. I download them from the library and usually listen to at least two a week.
What do you listen to on your commute?
What is your favorite dessert?
Anything chocolate and ala mode.
What skill would you like to master?
Plumbing! Dripping faucets are so annoying.
What’s your favorite thing about what you do or where you work?
I am part of a great team who make coming to work everyday fun and interesting. You never know what you will see at the Zoo!
Performance Managing Yourself - Marti Fischer Group
Steve Grimes: Prospect Research - The Development Debrief podcast
Do You Need a Single Map or Several Maps? - depict data studio
Wealthy Donors Want Their Giving to be Different Than Their Parents', New Study Says - The Chronicle of Philanthropy
This past year, we’ve been sharing member spotlights in an effort to get know members better and quite a few have shared what they’ve been reading. In case you missed a few spotlights, here are some suggestions for your book pile:
Foundation Prospecting 101 and Free Foundation Prospecting Resources: Part 1 - Apra Connections
Donors Drop by 7% but Dollars Up by 6.2%, Buoyed by Major Donors - AFP
How To Make Networking Events Less Awkward: Be a Croissant, Not a Bagel - NPR
The Science of Resting (Well) - Fast Company
Laurie Wise-Maher, Prospect Pipeline and Research Specialist, MetroHealth
I can take a walk through the hospital and see every color, shape and age of face, hear several different languages being spoken and feel all the things: the empathy, anger, fear, caring, love, joy and hope in the people I pass. I’ve never worked for a more diverse organization – I’m very grateful to be of service to my community through my small role.
What was your first nonprofit job?
I was out of college and in my 20’s and my younger sister got involved in AmeriCorps. Her experience was my first adult view into the world of nonprofits. I had never really had an interest or explored the role of nonprofit organizations in a community before. Her involvement inspired me to look for a job in nonprofit work. I accepted a job at LifeShare, organizing community and corporate blood drives for local hospitals. I’ve been working for nonprofit organizations ever since.
What's the best career advice you've ever received?
“Whatever you are, be a good one.” The quote has been attributed to different people over the years, but I read it on a postcard in a gift shop. It really resonated with me at that moment in time. As silly as it may sound, reading and being reminded of those words created a shift in my perspective on work and life. It also continues to help me recognize and appreciate effort, focus and commitment in accomplishing difficult things.
What song always gets you out on the dance floor?
Do I have to choose just one? Nostalgia wins the day on this question - Push it, by Salt-N-Pepa. Every. Single. Time.
Would you rather have a personal chef, personal housekeeper, or personal chauffeur?
I love clean eating, but it is so much work. Washing food, chopping food, measuring, spices… then all those dishes. I’d rather have a personal chef. Especially if they will shop for the food too. There’s nothing that I enjoy less than cooking (except being late… and full-length animated films).
The Data Crisis Catch-22: How the Pandemic Created a Social Sector Data Gap - Candid
What Does Philanthropy Sound Like, Part 1: Learning From Donors of Color - The Center for Effective Philanthropy
How to Tell If You're Delegating Too Much - and What to Do About It - HBR
Cryptocurrency - AASP All About Supporting Philanthropy podcast
"Show Up!" A Conversation with Helen Brown, President of the Helen Brown Group - Philanthropy Masterminds podcast
Paula Calhoun, Director of Grants and Prospect Management, Malone University
What was your first job?
I worked as an Admissions Counselor right out of college. It was a fun, high energy job that provided a lot of great experiences. While working that job I got my MA in Arts Administration (non-profit management) which kind of paved the way for my future work in fundraising.
I was hired as an annual giving director and discovered I loved putting together pieces of a puzzle in regards to donors, connections, networking, etc. After a few years in annual giving I became the project person in our office. Now I handle some grant writing, prospect research and any other tasks that come my way. I love the variety – it keeps my job interesting since each day is a little different.
Where’s the next place on your travel bucket list and why?
The Grand Canyon! Our family has taken some amazing trips to national parks (Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, Grand Tetons, Acadia) so the Grand Canyon is next on my list to experience. I have two sons and at 11 and 14 they are the perfect ages to explore and hike so we’re trying to squeeze in as many adventures as we can before they grow up.
Personal chef, for sure – I love to eat but would much rather someone else do the cooking…and dishes.
What piece of advice would you give to yourself at the beginning of your career?
Don’t worry about climbing the corporate ladder. Go for substance and find something that you believe in and can contribute to – don’t worry about your title. At the end of the day you want to feel good about the work you did, not the title after your name.
Prspct-L: In the Room Where It Happened - The Helen Brown Group
What to Consider When Using Text in Data Visualizations - Datawrapper
What Happened to Giving Money to Charity? - Vox
Philanthropic Landscape 2022 - First Day Podcast from The Fund Raising School
Anna Lennon, Associate Director, Prospect Development, University of Cincinnati Foundation
What did you want to be when you grew up? Are you doing it?
As a child, I wanted to be an elementary teacher. Clearly, I’m not in a classroom with little ones, but I do provide lots of database training for development officers, so I guess I can count that as teaching.
I worked at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital on the stewardship and events team, supporting signature events, managing all gift in kind donations and working with grateful patient families. That experience led me to my current role at the UC Foundation in Prospect Development working with our development officers in the academic health and grateful patient space.
What’s the next place on your travel bucket list and why?
Greece! My husband and I got married in May 2019 and planned a delayed honeymoon to Greece for May 2020. As we all know, life changed drastically in 2020 and we haven’t been able to reschedule yet, so we’re anxiously awaiting exploring the Greek islands!
Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”
Would you rather have your dishes or clothes be magically clean?
Definitely my clothes! My husband is in charge of dishes in our house and I’m in charge of laundry, so I could have the best of both worlds if someone cleaned (and folded!) all our clothes.
Jenny Thacker, Manager of Prospect Research, Xavier University
My first job was working at a library helping out with cataloging. I ended up moving to shelving and front desk check out. I think librarians are the smartest people. If they don’t know an answer they certainly know how to find the answer.
I have several. I am a pet sitter for many clients and their pets. I specialize in geriatric pets. I am currently sidelined since I fell and have/had 8 broken bones. I also volunteer at a cat shelter and help out doing TNR (Trap, Neuter and Release).
I love a challenge. I have been doing Prospect Research for 30 years and what I love the most is everything is always changing. I remember having to do research by physically going to the library and using their resources to do reports. I love that I can combine my critical thinking skills with my love of gathering data and a little bit of intuition into raising funds that make a difference.
Since I just spent a ton of money to buy a ticket to go see Duran Duran in Columbus I am going to say any of their songs. I am such a product of 1980’s music.
I read a lot. I am in several mystery book clubs. But I am currently reading The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles and my book club book of Homewreckers by Mary Kay Andrews.
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