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SLA-Georgia Members Present at the APRA-GA Spring 2018 Conference

SLA-Georgia Members Present at the APRA-GA Spring 2018 Conference


Chapter members Susan Klopper, Director of the Goizueta Business Library at Emory University, and Stephen Sherman, Research and Data Manager at the Southeastern Council of Foundations, recently participated as presenters in the APRA-GA Spring 2018 Conference. The Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA) includes members across 29 chapters in the U.S., Canada, and Australia who work in areas of fundraising such as prospect development and prospect research, data analytics and data management, annual giving, and major gifts. APRA-GA members work at many of the development offices of local colleges and universities as well as at some of the larger cultural organizations, like the Atlanta Symphony. A number of APRA-GA members identified as having library science or information science degrees, demonstrating yet another potential career path for those in our field.

Susan’s presentation was entitled “Business Research Survival Toolkit: Earning Your Mini MBA in Business Intelligence.” Rather than focusing on specific resources, this presentation stepped back and considered a more strategic, even holistic approach to undertaking research.  This was a presentation more about behaviors, proposing that conducting good business research is as much about what you do offline to prepare as what happens once you may think you know where you are headed.  The audience was challenged to think about their information journeys and whether they were driven by logic or gut; by perception of facts; by assumptions or evidence. The presentation also encouraged audience members to be mindful of credibility and bias, to consider using proxies for hard to find data, to understand the methodology behind data, to not let assumptions get in the way of new discovery, and to be prepared for surprises and seize on these as opportunities rather than be intimidated.

The second half of the presentation focused on Google, and how to apply your offline mental roadmap to bring organization, focus, and intent to its vast sea of information. The presentation explored some of Google’s power search functions (e.g. phrases, site:; inurl:; filetype:, etc) and tricks (e.g. fewer but the right keywords; word order; trigger words; reworking word order and terminology, etc.) as very useful tools for empowering the researcher to challenge the blind trust often placed in Google to deliver the best, the most appropriate, and more credible results.  But the real power of using these Google search strategies draws from the researcher’s understanding of different types of information, who owns and publishes that information, how and for what purposes it is published, what you can expect to find, and all of the factors which enable that offline mental roadmap that is so critical to a successful research undertaking.

Stephen served on a panel entitled “Foundations, Family Offices and Donor-Advised Funds: A Philanthropy Perspective,” along with representative from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and Wellspring Associates, a wealth advisory firm. This panel looked at the trends in giving from three different forms of philanthropic vehicles – private foundations, donor-advised funds, and family offices. The session included an overview of the current data on each and explored the ways in which fundraisers could research the donors behind each form of giving. A common theme was noted among all three that every donor or family has specific giving interests and ways of supporting their selected causes. It is up to prospectors to research those individuals and find the best leads for their organizations’ fundraising needs.

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