As many of you may know I am the president of APRA. For those of you who are not familiar with APRA, it stands for the Association for Professional Researchers for Advancement. I am not only honored to be in this position but I am fortunate to be the president during the 25th anniversary celebration. The association has over 2,000 members and has evolved considerably during my tenure on the board. I was elected to the board back in 2004 and, even since then, I have seen tremendous changes not only in the association but in the profession.
I was introduced to this incredible line of work back in 1996 when I was a development assistant at AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA). I had no idea there was a profession dedicated to prospect research/prospect management. I came from the entertainment industry and while my superiors did not initially see it as a perfect fit for me I most certainly did. After all, I did research on the character I portrayed. I have always thought that one of the many responsibilities of a researcher is to provide a 3-dimensional view of the prospect just as I tried to create a 3-dimensional view of my characters. So when the prospect researcher at APLA left, I did not hesitate in applying for the position and I haven’t looked back since. Within one month of accepting the position, I was fortunate enough to attend an APRA International Conference inSan Diego. It was transformational and I knew at that moment that I had a new career. I also knew that after my three days with other like individuals at this extraordinary conference that I wanted to give back to this association. APRA was providing me with not only the tools and education to advance in my field but a whole new group of colleagues that were more than willing to help me. At that point the internet was just in its infancy for prospect research. Books, magazines and newspapers were your primary resource and the only possible meaning for Facebook could be a coffee table book of celebrity headshots. It was a simpler time however obtaining information took much longer and prospect research was something some organizations did not admit to doing.
Now prospect research, data analysis, prospect management are at the “big boys table” and we are up and out of the basement and greatly involved in the strategy sessions being held by our fellow leaders. Now it is not a question of whether or not you do research at your organization, it is at what level and intensity. I am enthralled to see the changes that I have seen in the past 16 years and can only imagine where the next 25 years will take us. I am extremely proud of APRA and appreciative of the education I have received. I am starting my eighth consecutive year on the board of APRA and I can tell you it has grown in so many different ways. In addition, I have also been blessed with some really great friends along the way. Who else can say that they got married at the APRA conference? It was my APRA colleagues and friends who made it truly a special event. I guess when you look at it, I am what all organizations strive for – someone who is going to remain loyal for the rest of my life in some form or another. Be insightful and recognize those individuals who have a passion for your organization and make sure you involve them in unique and exciting ways.
So let us take some time to recognize those who provide this remarkable asset that ensures the organizations we work for meet their philanthropic dreams and goals. So if you are one of these fortunate individuals who provide this service, please take time to pat your self on the back and give yourself a standing ovation. If you have colleagues who provide this talent to your organization, take time to say thank you and a hearty congratulation to not only their work but to the association that is celebrating 25 extraordinary years!
*Michael Quevli is a consultant for Target Analytics. You may reach him at email@example.com.