How the Apra Greater Houston Board Spent Their Summer

Summer is officially in our rear view as temperatures drop and the school year is well on its way. While summer looked quite different with the lack of travel plans, trips to the pool, and many other seasonal activities, the Apra Greater Houston Board did not abandon our beach reading list (really, our backyard or living room reading list), and in fact, supplemented it with a selection that helped us get to know our city better and reflect on where we have been and where we are going as a community. The book that has us talking is Prophetic City: Houston on the Cusp of a Changing America by Stephen L. Klineberg.

So, what did we think?:

“As a lifelong Houstonian, I was surprised at how much I was still able to learn about the history of our city from Klineberg. While today, Houston is an incredibly diverse and fairly progressive city, Prophetic City highlights the history of discrimination that shaped much of the city we know today. Things like how as recent as 1980, there were open sewers in the black communities of Houston; and how 5th Ward was purposely bisected by the construction of I-10 and Hwy 59, cutting off downtown access and further isolating those minority communities. The story of the police murder of Vietnam veteran Jose Campos Torres in 1977 where the cops were convicted but given probation and fined $1 sounds all too similar to the many stories of police brutality against people of color that we’re still grappling with today. The studies that Klineberg and his students began in 1981 show how common racist views were not that long ago, but also show surprisingly progressive views like environmental protection and gay rights. It’s fun to read about how we as a city have changed over the last four decades, in both positive and negative ways. “ – Ashley Estes, Apra Greater Houston Board Secretary

“Fascinating! While Houston is home, I did not realize how much more there was to the city’s story. I loved reading about the familiar names we know as Houstonians, like Jesse H. Jones, but excited to learn about the ones I didn’t know as well like the Suite 8F Crowd. If you ever wondered how we earned the title of “the sinkhole and pothole capital of America,” Klineberg covers that as well. He does not pull the punches, quick to highlight where we have fallen short as a community, along with celebrating the best parts of who we are. I have always felt that Houston was a special place, and Klineberg does a wonderful job explaining why.” – Natasha Jesudason, Apra Greater Houston Board Marketing & Communication Director

“As a native Houstonian, I was pleasantly surprised at how much information I didn’t know before reading Prophetic City.  I was most fascinated by learning how much philanthropy shaped Houston.  The philosophy of the early Houston leaders was that government (and specifically taxes) should be minimal and civic leaders needed to also donate time, money, and effort, so that burgeoning cultural institutions could flourish.  Their reasoning was not as altruistic as it seems on face value, but it was effective.  More cultural offerings meant more people wanted to move to Houston and business could also thrive.  But that philosophy of helping others and leading the charge on adding cultural institutions has continued to thrive 180+ years after Houston’s founding.  In addition to that, learning about how Stephen Klineberg’s annual study came to fruition and some of his key findings over years was fascinating to me as a researcher.” – Brittani Williams, Apra Greater Houston Board President

The Board’s informal book club was so much fun that we would like to invite you to join us. Our Fall selection is Biased by Jennifer L. Eberhardt. Watch your inboxes for an opportunity to meet virtually in November to discuss the book.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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


Filed under Uncategorized

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 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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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

Sunrise 2020, Japan

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What does a million bucks feel like?

Leave a comment

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


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized