Conferences & Training
Program - Annual Conference for Development Researchers

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Day 1, Wednesday, Jan. 16

NOON-1:00 PM

Welcome and Introductions

Major Gift Trends and Prospect Development
Come hear major trends in major gifts and major gift fundraising. In this day and age, nothing is certain, but one thing we do know is fundraising is not the same as it was a generation ago. Or even 10 years ago. Learn about trends, find out what's next and discover how prospect development can help our teams lead the way.

Elective Sessions (choose one)

  • Income: It's Not Just the Numbers
    High income earners often have similar assets to those in finance who are typically compensated through a bonus structure. The ways in which they earn their income impacts how they think about their money and ultimately their philanthropy. Explore the psychology of this and strategies we might employ toward these industries.
  • Analytics: Concepts and a Practicum
    You've heard the buzz, but what is analytics? Presenters help demystify analytics and talk about various shops. Then, they'll walk you through making a typical descriptive analytic score in Excel you can take back to your shop and use right away.

Show and Tell Lightning Round
Large school, small school, public or private...we all can learn from each other. With a maximum of five minutes, conference participants share the most exciting thing their team has produced this year. Each will provide a short description of his or her problem, the process and the solution. Learn some great new approaches for tackling some of prospect development's perennial challenges!

Networking Reception
Join conference faculty and your colleagues to network and unwind. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres and drink tickets will be provided. Don't forget your business cards!

Conference Adjourns for the Day
Dinner on your own


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Day 2, Thursday, Jan. 17

8:00-9:00 AM
Breakfast Roundtables: Agents of Ethics
Prospect Development is trusted by leadership to make recommendations representing multiple perspectives including the donor, the gift officer, leadership, and the organization. Bring your sticky situations and be prepared to discuss them with an ethical lens alongside fellow attendees during this informal breakfast roundtable session.

Creating and Running a Prospect Research Department on a Shoestring
This session focuses on what you can do with limited resources to make an impact in your development office. Items covered will range from free services to tips and tricks you can performs in widely available programs. You will leave this session with tangible and concrete examples of how you can add value to your shop and showcase your talents as a researcher.

Elective Sessions (choose one)

  • The Making of Transformational Gifts
    Transformational gifts are often an organization's greatest opportunity to achieve or expand its mission. The behind-the-scenes work to secure and vet a transformational gift can entail years of purposeful strategy development, research, and negotiation involving multiple teams at various levels of an organization including significant facetime between the prospect and senior leadership. A panel of three industry experts field your questions on all aspects of transformational gifts including identification, qualification and solicitation strategies; relationship management policies and tracking processes; and partnering with senior leadership, advancement services and frontline colleagues. If you wish to submit questions or panel topics in advance, email
  • Prospect Development in a Small Shop
    Many practices used at large shops can be adapted to a small shop, but it's undeniable that there are fundamental differences between these two types of organizations. Being in a small shop often affords you greater flexibility to innovate. Examine the unique opportunities of working in a small shop and review strategies for becoming an army of one (or two) with limited resources.

11:45 AM-1:15 PM
Lunch on your own

Elective Sessions (choose one)

  • Streamlining Healthcare Processes
    Do you have a Grateful Patient program? Do you work with healthcare fundraisers? This session focuses on how you can add value to the healthcare fundraising arena.
  • MGO Metrics
    You value what you measure. What do we measure in major gift fundraising? Learn about tried and true metrics and how you might adapt them to your school.

Elective Sessions (choose one)

  • Don't Excel, Pivot! Data-Driven Wealth Analysis from Annual Fund to Major Gift
    Discuss the tactics and strategies Harvard implemented for their reunion annual campaign team that led to a reduction in the number of research requests from the annual fund. Additionally, by using giving data and pivot tables, Harvard was able to influence ask amounts across the gift scales for the front-line team.
  • The Times they are-a-Changin': Navigating Leadership Transition
    Whether it's a university president, a development executive, or perhaps even your supervisor, navigating leadership transitions can induce anxiety and uncertainty. While change is inevitable, it doesn't have to invoke worry. In this session, attendees will hear stories of leadership changes in varying capacities and strategies that will set you, your team, and your operation up for success when change comes your way.

Effecting Change: A Strategic Guidebook for Development Professionals
How might you influence and impact change within your development operation? How can you develop more meaningful partnerships across your organization? This session will empower attendees with the knowledge and skills needed to enact strategy development, change management, and benchmarking tools that lead to process improvements and organizational excellence.

Conference Adjourns for the Day
Dinner on your own

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Day 3, Friday, Jan. 18

8:00-9:00 AM
Breakfast Roundtables and Faculty Office Hours

International (Wo)men of Mystery: An Analyst’s Guide to Vetting International Prospects
International research is one of the most challenging niches in our field. Many professionals grumble at the mere whisper of the topic. And yet, everyone wants to know more: Where to start? When should I agree to research international prospects? What sources should be trusted? How to get around language barriers? And most importantly, should my organization accept a gift from this prospect? Those challenges aren't going anywhere, but with a bit of structure and process, you can create a system that works for you and your shop! Come learn from how George Washington University approaches international prospect development work from parent screenings to in-depth vetting research. While GW's research focuses primarily on the Middle East, there will be general takeaways for how to routinize your approach to international research.

Stump the Faculty
Wrap up the conference with a fun Q&A session. Bring any questions you didn't get answered and put our faculty presenters to the test. You may submit your questions in advance or during the session, anonymously or openly.

11:30 AM-NOON
Conference Wrap-up and Closing

Conference Adjourns

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Day 1 Day 2 Day 3