A Prospect Research Mix Tape

For this month’s blog post, I created an annotated prospect research playlist on Spotify. The titles (if not always the lyrics) reflect techniques, processes, themes and buzzwords in prospect research. 

In the time-honored tradition of letting music speak for itself: here you go.

It includes more songs than I listed below.

Mining Song – Ladysmith Black Mambazo

This song will elevate the necessary task of data mining—going back to your tired data again to find hidden gold—and leave you with goose bumps. Also a shout-out to the group’s founder, Joseph Shabalala, from Ladysmith, South Africa, who died this month. 

Looking for Clues – Robert Palmer

A falsetto number from Robert Palmer’s solo period to inspire your detective work.

Information Overload – In Living Color

Distorted guitars, a driving drum beat and simple lyrics to accompany the days when you can’t possibly look at one more web site, excel list, or database result. Also one of my favorite concerts in high school.

Data Source – Waveshaper

This synth-pop bit of Swedish electronica will make you feel like you’re driving across a forgotten planet in a dune buggy to find the source of all data.

One Thing Leads to Another – The Fixx

A new wave earworm for when you’re humming along that little bread crumb trail.

Down in a Rabbit Hole – Bright Eyes

The sad send-off from your Apra colleagues when they hear you were last seen at the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research poring over Houston telephone directories.

Pick Up the Phone – Lupe Fiasco (Explicit)

A suggestion to those who would ask a researcher to please “do a little digging” to find out if their donor in question would prefer the chicken or the fish entrée.

Fool’s Errand – Fleet Foxes

The wistful, haunting refrain will transport you back to every time you lost a week of your life to that research project that you have to admit was pretty far-fetched, if not an entirely pointless, dead-end time-suck.

Data Entry – Flying Lotus

A wordless groove for the task.

Profile of Jackie – Charles Mingus

Remember that profile you wrote of Jackie, or anyone.  You captured the ineffable quality of her spirit, the way she is worlds within worlds.  After jazz, your profile may be the only true American art form.

Moves – Olly Murs (feat. Snoop Dogg)

Moves—managing, tracking, measuring. If you’re doing portfolio management as part of your prospect research work, you’re talking a lot about moves.  But not in such a catchy way, I bet.

Metrics – Active Bird Community

Ah, metrics.  Well, before you develop a new metrics report to measure the behaviors you want to encourage, listen to this 90’s style slacker rock lament. 

Inclination – Fragile Porcelain Mice

Determining prospect inclination can be…murky.   Like this song.

StrategyArchie Bell & The Drells

The whole point, kinda.  Yes, if you really want that donor, you’ll need a strategy.  And, I want those back-up singers the next time I am up there all alone on stage at the major gifts meeting. Hailing from Houston, this band was once backed by students from Texas Southern University, and later, HSPVA (High School for the Performing and Visual Arts).

Family Tree – EZI (Explicit)

If you’re a new researcher, practice making these.  One of the most nerdy fun projects in research (speaking of a rabbit hole) and most difficult to fit on a page. 

Deadlines and Commitments – The Killers

There’s more to life than deadlines and commitments, but don’t tell that to your proposals and solicitations report.  Listen to The Killers; everyone else seems to be.

Rabbit Hole – blink-182

This, my fellow researchers, is a final cautionary tale.  Don’t spend six hours on BloodHorse or The Equinest looking for the alleged name of your prospect’s thoroughbred. Apra needs you!

– Victoria Walsh, Apra Greater Houston board member


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New Year, New You

Happy New Year Apra Greater Houston members!

If you are anything like me, once all my new year celebrations officially end around MLK Day (why celebrate one day when you can celebrate for two weeks), dread about new year resolutions I’ve made begins to creep into my psyche.  Some of my personal resolutions include the typical ones such as being healthier and reading more books, but as president of Apra Greater Houston, my personal resolution involves all of you.  But before I share 2020 goals, I’d like to celebrate the successes of 2019.

In late 2018 the board held our first (in a long time) retreat meeting in order to plan 2019 programming.  Our ambitious goal was to plan an event for every month as well as outline our annual conference goals. In recent history, the chapter’s programming was limited to the annual conference and one or two other events throughout the year, which is not unusual for most chapters around the country.  

We sought to increase the number of events as well as bring programming that was relevant to Greater Houston area, which is pretty unique. Houston consists of development organizations big and small; organizations that span from healthcare to zoos; and organizations at varying stages of prospect development sophistication.  We largely accomplished this goal, more than doubling the number of events we held in the previous year and increasing the average number of attendees at our events. Our annual conference had the highest number of attendees in the last four years, a number I’m particularly proud of.  In addition to these goals, we refreshed our website, and social media pages (please add us if you haven’t already!); absorbed the membership of Apra Central/South Texas; and were highlighted in Apra Connections, Apra International’s online magazine.

We couldn’t have accomplished these goals without our membership, so thank you for joining, renewing and attending our events! A special thanks goes out to every member that has given us feedback and our tireless, volunteer-driven board who has worked hard to schedule our events as well as every presenter that spoke at our meetings. Truly, thank you.  

Though it is #newyearnewdecade, my goals for Apra GH remain the same, with a few new challenges.   

In addition to continuing the high level of programming and conference attendance of 2019, I would like to empower those in our profession to become better ambassadors for prospect development. My approach to this goal is two-pronged.  First, I would like to grow our organization’s outreach to the many universities in the area to introduce the prospect development/fundraising career to the next generation.  A commonly shared anecdote amongst many of us is that we “fell” into development. I’d like to help make that career choice more intentional for Generation Z, which by many accounts is supposed to be the most philanthropically savvy generation. Secondly, I would like to encourage YOU to be more involved with Apra. That’s right – you reading this blog right now! If your 2020 goals include professional development, we are the place where you can present, write a blog, join a committee or connect with other members to gain expertise.  If you don’t want to do any of those things, but still would like to get involved in other ways, email me.  The aprahouston@gmail.com goes to my phone and I check it on a regular basis.

Finally, if the way you would like to grow your professional development is simply by showing up, please do so. Our next events that are currently scheduled are on February 26th, March 24th and our annual conference on May 28th, so mark your calendars! I look forward to seeing you there! 

Brittani Williams, President

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Foresight is 2020! Get a jump on the decade with these tips from industry pro Helen Brown Group.

Sunrise 2020, Japan


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A peek behind the curtain…



If you have access to Inside Philanthropy, check out this recent article highlighting the role of Prospect Development!

What to know before you ask: Talking shop with a veteran prospect researcher


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Why one billionaire is calling out Silicon Valley’s favorite philanthropic loophole

Here is an interesting read to start your week.

Houstonians and noted philanthropists Laura and John Arnold and their take on donor advised funds.

Why one billionaire is calling out Silicon Valley’s favorite philanthropic loophole

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What does a million bucks feel like?


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by | July 18, 2019 · 2:35 pm

Happy 4th of July! – Upcoming Events



Happy 4th of July!

Due to the holiday our regular Apra email will go out next week, but save the date for a few events!

  • July 17th – Retaining Mega Donors Lunch and Learn
  • August 1st – Apra Texas (Greater Houston & North Texas Chapters) Happy Hour at Prospect Development in Phoenix

Have a safe and happy holiday!

-Apra Greater Houston board


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Throwback Thursday

Another Apra GH annual conference is in the books!

Thank you again to our sponsors, volunteers, presenters and most importantly attendees!  If you attended and haven’t completed your post-conference survey sent out on Tuesday, please do so.  We’d like to make the 2020 conference even bigger and better!

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A journalist’s take on taking a break…from Google.

“I am not nostalgic for an era of bank queues, closed shops and being lost. I am glad to be relieved of the obligation of social interaction just to access a bit of information, because people are not always helpful, patient or fun to talk to. But for all that Google has given us, we have paid a price: we’re well on our way to eliminating the element of surprise from our lives and, with it, joy.”


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Take a peak at our annual conference speakers!

Still on the fence about attending our annual conference on May 23rd? Check out our amazing presenters!


Roslyn P. Clarke is the director of prospect research services, on the BWF Insight team. She manages all outsourced research projects, leads a team of researchers, conducts trainings, and provides prospect research counsel.

Before joining BWF Insight, Roslyn served as director of prospect research at Morehouse College and assistant director at Harvard University, where she was responsible for education and training for development research and specialized in the financial industry. At Harvard, Roslyn also lead research efforts for the principal gifts team and New York fundraising region while working to educate gift officers on wealth and philanthropic trends. Prior to Harvard, Roslyn worked at Brown University and Hebrew SeniorLife.

Roslyn is a seasoned conference speaker, frequent conference faculty member, and has conducted countless prospect research bootcamps. Over the years, she has presented for Apra, CASE, NEDRA, and AFP.

Elizabeth C. Hickman is the vice president at Thompson & Associates.  Elizabeth has over 35 years in the financial services world.  She brings significant trust and wealth management experience to the team. Her knowledge of family and estate-planning issues, wealth preservation and wealth transfer, added to her expertise in private foundations, charitable trusts and the needs of the nonprofit sector, enhance the team’s abilities to meet the needs of its clients. 

Active in the charitable community, Elizabeth has served on the boards of both local and national organizations, while serving on numerous professional advisors boards for Houston nonprofits.

She has taught at the Advanced Trust School of the Texas Bankers Association on subjects relating to charitable trusts and private foundations. She earned the Five Star Wealth Manager designation for seven consecutive years.

Elizabeth is a proud sixth generation Texan. She is married for over 20 years to Greg and currently lives in Houston. They are active in their church, where they have both served in various leadership positions. They enjoy using their gifts of hospitality with family, friends and strangers. They love to read, travel and are passionate about encouraging others to live generous lives.

Mike Pede, AVP for Alumni Relations at UH, enters his 10th year in service to UHAA. A 1989 graduate of UH’s Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, Mike and his wife, fellow UH graduate Melanie Stinson Pede (’91), are UHAA Life Members and the proud parents of daughters Kelsey (’17) and Krista (Class of ‘21) . Mike has served or currently serves on advisory boards for Bank of America and Liberty Mutual alumni affinity programs, and Council of Alumni Association Executives. He also has served CASE as Chair of the 2017 CASE IV Conference and as Programming Chair for the 2014 Conference in Houston. Also a member of the global CASE Commission on Alumni Relations. Mike also serves on committees at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Greater Houston Basketball Committee and the Texas Bowl. He is in his third term as Chair of the American Athletic Conference Alumni Council and is a past board member of the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators.

Following graduation Mike served in several capacities at UH Athletics from 1989-1993, before serving 13 years as Assistant and Associate AD for Rice University. Beginning in 2006, Mike was in private business for three years and also extended his resume as VP of North American Music for LiveNation in Houston. Now Associate VP for Alumni Relations at UH, Mike has been leading UH alumni relations programs since rejoining his alma mater in 2010 with UHAA. In whatever time is left, he enjoys spending quality time with his family, golf and travel.

Mark Walcott is the Executive Director, Advancement Information Systems, Reporting, and Analytics at the University of Houston. Mark has over 9 years of experience in advancement services where he has transformed various aspects of Illinois State University, University of Houston, and University of California, Davis. His vision for the profession is to continue to find innovative ways to enhance the relationship between an organization and its donors, constituents, and friends.

Mark also serves on the board of directors for AASP.

Register here for the annual conference today!


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