Tom Wilson career has been an interesting journey. A common theme from the information to follow is untraditional. While a musician by training – classical clarinet, jazz saxophone, and orchestra conductor –Wilson’s family connection to healthcare helped him to gravitate to hospital fundraising – his father was a pathologist, cancer researcher, and faculty member at University of Nebraska Medical School; his mother was an army nurse officer; his wife a ICU nurse; and his sister an OB/GYN. With a background in the arts and orchestra conducting and management and then deep experiences in education and higher education Tom can work with complex organizations with tough-minded, brilliant professionals – musicians, faculty, doctors and other clinicians.
Wils served as a university and arts organization chief philanthropy officer and has created successful campaigns from inception; turned around stalled initiatives; and provided leadership to organizational and board leadership. He provides guidance to fundraising staff, provides perspective to nonprofit leaders to help manage their organizations, and encourages board members to realize their potential as volunteers in the fundraising process.
Tom started his fundraising career in an unusual way – as endowment campaign consultant for the Ravinia Festival (summer home of the Chicago Symphony). After successfully turning around this stalled campaign, he did staff fundraising in the Chicago area before relocating to Phoenix. After completing a resident counsel hospital consulting project, Tom’s consulting firm moved him to Portland, Oregon to for a resident counsel turnaround project for the statewide public broadcasting system.
Tom’s other staff work included Vice President of Development at the Oregon Graduate Institute of Science & Technology, Vice President for Development at the Phoenix Symphony, Director of Corporate and Foundation Development at Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and General Manager, Chief Fundraiser, and Assistant Conductor of the Lake Forest Symphony in Illinois.
For 10 years Wilson had his own consulting firm in Portland before joining Campbell & Company (headquartered in Chicago) He recently “retired” from Campbell to take advantage of their ESOP retirement program. Tom brought 5 of his clients to his new firm, Wilson Major Gift Fundraising, Inc. in March 2019.
Tom frequently presents at conferences – AHP (healthcare fundraisers), AAMC (academic medical center fundraisers), CASE (for higher education), PSI (for Adventist fundraisers), and AFP.
Tom trained as a musician (classical clarinet, jaz saxophone, and orchestral conducting). He has degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Northwestern University. His book, Winning Gifts: Make Your Donors Feel Like Winners, was published by Wiley & Sons with the endorsement of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Publishing Committee. Tom provides fundraising training at conferences throughout North America and is a certified facilitator for Peter Drucker’s The 5 Most Important Questions self-assessment tool.