Free ShareTraining Replay seminars for you!


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You already know that keeping current on prospect research resources is critical, because technology changes almost as often as there’s a new tide at the beach. Little-used Engines That Did (bye bye Altavista) and daily workhorses like Google Reader, are here today, washed away tomorrow.

Staying on top of it all is hard, but it’s not impossible. There are lots of great blogs to follow and terrific continuing education, like APRA conferences and web seminars here at ShareTraining.

Taught by seasoned prospect research experts, ShareTraining Replay seminars are $49 -$99 and run 75-90 minutes long. We even have free seminars for you to try, on international prospect research and researching real estate.

Visit the ShareTraining Replay page today to check out all of our great topics and stay on top of the tide!

Where to begin your CEO compensation search


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We are delighted to welcome back Michelle Leder, principal of the fantastic resource footnoted. Michelle last spoke for ShareTraining in December 2009 and a LOT has happened in the financial markets since then! Her last presentation got great reviews, and we can’t wait to experience the next installment of Examining SEC Filings For Director and Executive Compensation. In the meantime, we asked Michelle to give us a teaser of her presentation, and she had this to say…

With so much information available on potential prospects with just a few keystrokes, figuring out where to begin your search can often be daunting. Here at footnoted, we think one of the best places to start is with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR database. And this time of year, when companies are filing their proxy statements (their more formal name is DEF 14A), is a particularly good time of year to dive into EDGAR.

A typical proxy statement has lots of good compensation-related information on what the top executives at a company (and sometimes even 1 or 2 former executives) are making as well as somewhat less detailed information on the company’s board of directors.

Whether you’re picking up a proxy statement for the first time or are a seasoned reader, the best place to start is with the summary compensation table. That will give you a quick run-down on the company’s top executives and how much they made last year as well as the prior two years, both in terms of their salary, bonus and other forms of compensation, like stock options and restricted shares. One quick word of warning, though: the stock compensation listed in the summary table may not be an accurate reading, due to the way the SEC makes companies calculate options.

But there’s lots of other useful information in the typical proxy statement beyond the summary compensation table and with many proxies running 100 pages or longer, it helps to know where to focus your attention so that you can find the most useful information quickly, with minimal stress. We’ll be talking about our best tips for getting through this year’s crop of proxy statements while they’re still fresh.

Join us with Michelle Leder on Tuesday, April 9, for our next great ShareTraining seminar!

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IPOs are dead… right?


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Hugh Bennett

This month we are so delighted to welcome Hugh Bennett, Assistant Director of Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to speak about initial public offerings.Here’s what Hugh had to say about his upcoming presentation:

First the stock market crashed. Then Facebook crashed and burned too. Companies and venture capitalists must only be using social networking and secondary market sites nowadays instead of initial public offerings. 

Actually, no. 

IPOs are still very much a part of capital formation and wealth creation in America.  Market dynamics and regulation are constantly changing, but IPOs keep on coming.  There have been 17 new IPOs in less than two months since January 1, 2013. Just last week, Xoom (a money transfer business) went public and raised $100M for the company and selling shareholders. The marketing effort was so successful that the deal was increased in both the number of shares and the initial target price range.  And then the stock popped up into the $20s from the IPO price of $16 per share.

IPOs like this are full of transparent wealth data on potential prospects. And they regularly attract press attention. Press that your organization’s president, trustees and development leadership may be reading! Staying ahead of this information will help you be aware, informed and may even impress your organization’s leadership with your ESP superpowers when you anticipate their research requests.

The regulatory filings at the SEC are available publicly and provide all sorts of answers to common questions your president may be about to ask. 

-Who are the founders? 
-Didn’t that company spin out of our organization years ago? 
-Wasn’t the venture capital backer someone who is on our board? 
-How big is this company? 
-Do their products or services interact with things we do, or might want? 
-How much stock does the company president own?

Setting up a regular screening of all IPOs might make sense for your organization.  It’s fairly easy to do and can keep you abreast of things your known prospects are doing. Or, it may identify new major gift prospects that you didn’t know were involved with such successful financial activity. For example, earlier this year we noticed that one of our alumni was an executive at a company that had just done an IPO. He had just sold over $500K in stock and still holds stock now valued at over $6M. Using IPO information has moved a previously unknown alum into a priority place on one of our fundraisers’ prospect list.

Join us on March 12 to learn more about how to understand the process a company goes through, who benefits financially, and where to get all the news about initial public offerings in my web seminar “A Path to IPO; a company goes public.”

Measuring Success with Metrics


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We’re delighted to feature Kerry Rock and Natalie Westfall as our February ShareTraining presenters. Kerry and Natalie are two members of the board of Researchers in Fundraising (RiF) in London, England, a networking and educational special interest group of the UK-based Institute of Fundraising. I met with Kerry, Natalie and other board members in August to learn more about how Researchers in Fundraising reaches out and provides education to its 500+members. February’s web seminar on research metrics was one of the many topics that we were excited to present together, and we’re delighted that ShareTraining and RiF could partner to provide information on metrics to both sides of the Atlantic! In this month’s blog post, Kerry and Natalie provide a keyhole view into their upcoming presentation. We hope you can join us on Wednesday February 6 at 10:00 Eastern. ~Helen

Measuring Success2It’s Monday morning, fundraisers are queuing at your desk with new prospect research requests and your boss wants a report on how prospect research has added value to fundraising this year.

You realise that, had you put in place some metrics to measure what you do, you’d feel a lot better equipped to manage the situation; but you don’t really know what to measure or how many measures you need.

Often when measures are discussed prospect researchers say “what should I measure?” “who should see them?” and “when should I report on them, and how often?” Whether you’re a lone prospect researcher or part of a team, it can be difficult to convince your boss or a group of fundraisers that measuring prospect research activity can have a big impact on fundraising success.

Creating and tracking some strategic metrics can help a prospect researcher:
• Clarify their work remit
• Identify their research resource needs
• Determine their research priorities
• Create a prospect research strategy
• Develop more productive relationships with fundraisers and senior staff
• Make an evidence-based case for additional staff
• Raise their profile within the organisation

‘Metrics – measuring and monitoring performance in prospect research’ webinar will explore ways in which using metrics can enhance performance in prospect research. It will look at what can be measured, approaches to measurement and how results can be incorporated into individual and team work programmes.

Join Kerry and Natalie to hear about their approach to creating measures and how they have used them to demonstrate the impact and value of prospect research.

Measure Twice, Cut Once


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We’re kicking off the New Year with a resolution to be more efficient searchers, and so we’ve asked the fantastic Sabine Schuller, Research Specialist at The Rotary Foundation, to help outline her best search strategies. Sabine reminds us that, even before we get down to the nitty gritty of the hunt for information online, there are things we can do to be  efficient. In this month’s blog post, we asked Sabine to give us a sneak preview of one of the tips in her presentation, and here’s what she shared…

So you’re feeling very pleased with yourself. You worked late three days in a row and finally finished that comprehensive research report on the Michigan apple industry. You analyzed GIS maps until your eyes bled, reviewed every Department of Agriculture report on record, and even estimated future price trends. You proudly hand your ten pages of triple checked analysis to the gift officer who requested the information. Her eyes widen as she says, “Oh, wow – this is great stuff. But all I really wanted was to know how to stop apple slices from browning.” At this point you smile and say “No problem” as you run back to your desk. Otherwise you’re afraid you’ll start screaming. As you do your calming deep breathing exercises, you wonder how things could have gone so very, very wrong.

This is one extreme example of what project management circles call the “Goldilocks problem.” Providing too little information is disastrous to your job security, but on the other hand you don’t want your work labeled TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read).  But how to strike that “just right” balance? Unless your workplace perfected its mind reading techniques, your most effective tool is what’s called a “reference interview” or an “information needs assessment.” A reference interview is a researcher led structured discussion that helps decide precisely what information is needed. Open ended questions like “How could I make the information I find more useful for you?” and “If I can’t find exactly that, what would be second-best?” will help your co-workers strategize. The reference interview process will help them decide what they absolutely need to know to move the potential gift forward. 

At this point, you may be wondering “That sounds like a great idea, but who has time?” Let me frame it this way: How much more time would you have to uncover new donors if you knew you only had to find a, b, and c? You wouldn’t be tracking down the entire alphabet! Think of reference interviews as the next level of cooperation between donor researchers and gift officers who both support your organization in their own unique ways.

Learn more advanced search strategies like this at the ShareTraining Live webinar Sharpen Your Search: Getting to the Right Places in Record Time

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How To Know You’re Ready For Data Analytics


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This month’s ShareTraining web seminar is being led by James Cheng, Assistant Director of Prospect Identification & Analytics at the venerable Dana-Farber Cancer Institute here in Boston. James is one of the key pioneers wielding this important market-research tool for fundraising, and this month he brings to ShareTraining a topic he’s been thinking about for quite a while: how to fix it when you’ve got too much – or too little – data to mine with. Here he shares a little bit of his thought process in developing this brand-new presentation:

Before Valerie Anastasio approached me to present in a ShareTraining session, I’ve never quite verbalized this perpetual “see-sawing” I felt while trying to create predictive models with development-related data.

However, after having some conversations with colleagues and seeing trending topics in threads from a data mining and modeling listserv, the way to explain this constant tension between worlds of extremes has finally become clear to me.

On one extreme, as a self-admitted “data junkie,” I find myself always thirsting for more information, begging IT with ever growing data requests, both in terms of frequency and the amount of data I ask for. “I need more!” I think. A desert…a dearth of information.

And yet there exists another extreme, deceptively more heavenly but equally hellish in reality.

Be it through wealth screenings, data appends, open access to open-ended responses, or a combination of all of the above, opportunities come up where I find myself swimming in too much information. Hundreds of variables that hold information related to hundreds of thousands of our stakeholders in the database! Instead of feeling like the parched Serengeti celebrating the end of the dry season by the incoming floodwater, all of a sudden I feel like I’m drinking from a fire-hose on full blast…..with a sippy straw. Deluge!

Given these extremes on the data dearth-and-deluge spectrum, our goal as data junkies is to strive towards a happy equilibrium, and seek to capture the most valuable information.  Once we have that, our work as data analysts is much easier.

 With this in mind, in the upcoming ShareTraining seminar, we will explore:

  1. Ways to diagnose our databases to assess where we are along the data dearth-or-deluge spectrum
  2. Treatment options that alleviate the symptoms of either too little or too much data
  3. The various resources that can help bring us back from the brink of these extremes

Come join me as I help you diagnose and get ready for data mining adventures ahead. I look forward to our time together!

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‘Get Understanding’ of the World of Money


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This month we’re delighted to pull Valerie Anastasio back under the spotlight as our featured ShareTraining speaker. If you’ve joined us for previous seminars, you’ll recognize Valerie’s voice as emcee of each ShareTraining class, but you may not know that Valerie is a skilled fundraising researcher, trainer, and bloodhound-like student of big banks, venture capital, private equity and hedge funds. I’ve asked Valerie to give us a preview of her forthcoming session “Money Businesses: A capitalist primer” on November 20th at noon Eastern. Personally, I can’t wait for her seminar, and I hope you can be there, too! – Helen

Leafing through any financial industry article, website or blog can quickly stun the average reader, much less an unassuming prospect researcher on a deadline. 

The terminology just sounds complicated, the statistics are difficult to grasp, and the numbers…. well, the numbers rival those any cosmologist might throw around. 

 You know what I’m talking about:

Such are the epic proportions representing an industry that in 2007 accounted for 7.9% of our nation’s gross domestic product, a share that has been growing – and accelerating (there’s that cosmology again!) since 1980.  Money is big business.

According to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, financial services employed 5.7 million workers in 2010, and there’s no reason to think that this trend won’t continue.  Financial products and services are a key source of wealth for our country and for the individuals that the industry employs, from the high end deal-making financiers to the traders, brokers, salespeople, lawyers, accountants, and IT providers that support them. 

More important to us:  many of these individuals achieve levels of wealth that afford them the opportunity to make gifts of significance to organizations they care about.  As prospect researchers and fundraisers, we need to brave the big, bling-y numbers and the convoluted terms, and learn at least something about their world.

Twenty-five years ago when I entered the nonprofits the last thing I thought about was the business of money.  Most of us, after all, come to nonprofits motivated by a desire to assist an organization in its mission.  We may not have appreciated (I know I didn’t, anyway) that our work would require us to become students of wealth; that our strongest contribution might lay not only in acquiring facts about our donor prospects, but by providing an appropriate context for interpreting the data, giving shape to questions of strategy and timing that are essential in the approach and cultivation of donor prospects in the financial services industries.  The famous proverb, “With all thy getting, get understanding,” (Prov. 4-7) applies:  with all our “getting” of facts about our prospects, we must also work at our “understanding” of their world.  Only then can we guide our organizations with the kind of insight that will build productive donor relationships over time.  

Valerie Anastasio is Senior Advancement Officer for Prospect Development & Engagement at The Broad Institute in Cambridge, MA. A sought-after speaker and trainer, Valerie has presented to Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the New England Development Research Association, ShareTraining and many other fundraising-related associations. In 2008 she was recognized by NEDRA for her contribution to the field of prospect research and presented with the Ann Castle Award. She also happens to be an acclaimed vocalist/recording artist.

What Drives High-Net-Worth Philanthropy?


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On October 9th, we’re delighted to be welcoming Jeff Briskin of Briskin Consulting to lead our first web seminar of the 2012-13 season. Jeff was the project lead for the 2008 Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy and in his consulting practice Jeff works with fundraisers, attorneys, accountants and others advising HNWIs. We asked Jeff to give us a preview of his seminar But How Likely Are They to Give to Us?: Factoring High Net Worth Donor Motivation.

In the past, wealthy philanthropists have often been portrayed as publicity-seeking tycoons seeking to rehabilitate their tarnished public images by founding hospital wings, schools and foundations, while showing little interest in the day-to-day operations and effectiveness of these organizations.

While some of these individuals may have fit this stereotype at some point, most of today’s wealthy philanthropists are more pragmatic, deeply engaged, and demand higher responsiveness and accountability from the organizations they support. 

In my upcoming ShareTraining seminar, I will be drawing upon publicly available and proprietary research on wealthy donors to create a more accurate and up-to-date picture of the factors that drive their giving decisions. This presentation will examine:

  • How giving by wealthy donors differs from the population as a whole
  • Which factors motivate donors to give to charity in general and specific organizations
  • What donors expect in return and what causes them to stop giving to an organization
  • How a greater number of donors are becoming more strategic in their giving—and who they’re turning to for advice.

One finding that I’ll be discussing could have a huge impact on your development efforts next year. Contrary to common assumptions, donors’ attitudes are heavily influenced by economic and political events. They tend to give less when they feel financially insecure. They’re more likely to either increase or decrease contributions when their tax rates change. And they often give more to political organizations when their beliefs are threatened.

We’ve already seen how contributions from the wealthy are playing a huge role in financing political action committees on both sides of the aisle. And the prospect of Bush-era tax cuts expiring in 2013 may result in a groundswell of financially savvy donors wishing to use charitable giving to reduce their taxes or remove assets from their estates.

In this environment, organizations that understand how to reach both the hearts and minds of wealthy Americans stand the best chances of gaining and retaining these all-important relationships.

Join me on October 9 to learn how.

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The new ShareTraining season is posted!


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We’ve got lots of great seminars for prospect researchers and front-line fundraisers alike. For example, how about these for the first three months:

In October, Jeff Briskin will talk about what motivates high net worth individuals (HNWI) to donate. Jeff was the project manager for the original Bank of America-University of Indiana HNW study, and is currently a consultant to financial advisors, HNW individuals and nonprofit organizations on philanthropy and fiduciary risk management.

In November, Valerie Anastasio, prospect researcher, financial-biz whiz and cabaret chanteuse (where else but ShareTraining would you get such an awesome combo?!) will share her entertaining and informative presentation, “Money Businesses; A Capitalist Primer.”

In December, James Cheng, data guru and awesome alliteration-er brings us “Data Dearth and Data Deluge Disorders: diagnoses and treatments for enhancing the information in your database” which basically means “come on by if you want to learn how to make your database engine purr and be ready for mining, modeling and other analytical antics!”

Check out our ShareTraining Live page to learn more about these and the rest of the ShareTraining 2012-13 season. We’re looking forward to seeing you online!

Is that Valerie Anastasio?!? In a video?


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Around this time of year the ShareTraining team – consisting of Valerie Anastasio, Jennifer Turner and me – meet to finalize plans for next year’s ShareTraining seminar series and to talk about the previous season of seminars.

As usually happens when we get together, the three of us tend to get a bit…enthusiastic, and we start spinning crazy ideas, like…

…“well, why NOT ask Sal Khan if he’ll talk about venture capital and hedge fund compensation?” I said, “I mean, what’s the worst he could say?”

(well, “no,” as it happens. He’s booked solidly through 2014. But hey, we tried!)

Anyway, this time it was Valerie who had the crazy idea:

“It’s summer! We should have a little fun! Let’s make a video to tell the ShareTraining community all about our replays!”

Turns out it wasn’t crazy at all – Jen and I loved it! So here it is, our first video. It’s really short, but we hope you enjoy it!


Oh, and while we were at it, we created a YouTube channel just for ShareTraining. So visit us there for the occasional video update!

Thanks, and have a great summer!

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