With Prospect Development Pride Month 2016 fully underway, it’s been an entertaining parade of great stories, slices-of-work-life moments, and celebrations of success in the blog articles, LinkedIn posts, and tweets that folks from five countries have shared. (I count the USA, Canada, England, Ireland and Spain so far. Have I missed anyone? How about it, Aussie cousins? Any pride in Scotland? Join the party!)
#ResearchPride is growing!
And that’s beyond great. But what do we do with all that pride?
We take it to the streets.
Well, okay, maybe not the actual streets. But certainly to our offices. To our bosses. To the conferences and to blog comments. To speak to our champions and to develop new ones. To speak against inaccuracies and misrepresentations we see in the press, in vendor white papers, or on social media.
Because the next step in Prospect Development Pride is action: Advocacy.
For example, pride in our profession and recognition of its varied layers helped build the APRA Body of Knowledge. Using it, you can advocate to your supervisor that you have the skills and experience to be promoted. We can all use it to underline that prospect development is a recognized career path with milestones of achievement.
Another form of advocacy is simply getting the word out about prospect development as a career option. It’s hard for a high school or college kid to know that they can be a researcher, or data analyst, or relationship manager in the nonprofit sector if they don’t know that our field exists. Consider speaking at your kid’s school on career day. Encourage your APRA chapter to participate in a library school’s career fair. Don’t deflect when someone asks at a party what you do. Get your elevator speech ready!
Want to do some advocacy closer to your office? What about doing a lunch presentation on the 5 coolest things you do all day for your co-workers? Back when I was working full-time with frontline fundraisers and it was Team Research’s turn to present at the brown bag, it turned out to be a great learning opportunity for all of us, and usually changed our practices for the better. Not only that, but it created internal advocates for our work.
We need more crossover advocates like those, too. Fundraisers like Jay Frost and Armando Zumaya do what they can to let their peers know about our great work, but they shouldn’t be pulling that wagon alone. We need more of us doing “infiltration presentations” at AFP and CASE and AHP and local fundraising conferences to raise our profile. You may think “it’s 2016 and by now everybody must know about prospect development!”, but we forget that new people come into the field every day who have no idea that our profession exists.
Advocacy is so important, our professional association is taking action
Communicating our impact is key to our profession’s success and growth, and APRA is taking advocacy seriously.
Two years ago Karen Isble made it a cornerstone issue of her presidency and successfully launched the Advocacy Committee, now chaired by Amy Turbes. Speaking as a former board member, I can tell you that creating new committees is not a regular thing for APRA or something taken lightly. While APRA task forces are created and dissolved fairly frequently to deal with short-term issues that come up and need to be looked into, a committee charge must be a serious, long-term APRA commitment.
It’s great to have #ResearchPride, and consider putting that pride into action. For you, maybe that action is becoming bold enough to tweet, or post something on LinkedIn or comment on a blog. Believe me, that is advocacy, and it’s a beautiful thing. Keep it up.
Or maybe you’re thinking about doing some of the other things I talked about above. Whatever you choose, choose something. Take action.
Because our profession deserves advocates of all sorts.