Senior Major Gifts Officer
Wayne State University - School of Medicine
Alan has been in the fundraising business for over eleven years, previously as a Planned Giving Specialist for the Salvation Army and now in his current role as a Senior Major Gifts Officer at Wayne State University. We had a chance to sit down with Alan to ask him about his career and interests.
What brought you to a career in fundraising?
Fundraising is “kind of” the family business. My father, Ted Tolcher, has been in fundraising for over 40 years. My uncle’s entire career has been in planned giving with the Salvation Army in Chicago. My brother, Brett, works in fundraising at DePaul University in Chicago. Growing up, my brother and I heard so many inspiring stories about the wonderful people my father and uncle met through their profession and how they were able to help them through philanthropy. It always appealed to me as a very gratifying and noble career.
Please share three things you have learned over your career that would benefit other gift professionals.
1. Most of us get into fundraising because we truly care about people and making connections that help the organizations we love. Sometimes this causes us to speak more than listen. Make listening a priority.
2. Philanthropy is donor driven. Sure, our organizations have needs but ultimately, we are trying to help our donors achieve their philanthropic goals.
3. Be a part of the team! If you have a team, use them. Someone may be a good writer, and another may have a good track record of securing meetings. Ask them for advice. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of your team’s collective strengths and offer your own skills as well.
What brought you to the PGRTSEM and what benefits have you gained?
· My previous employer always asked their fundraisers to join the PGRTSEM. The cost was always considered an investment rather than an expense.
· There is an entire network of professionals that you can reach out to for assistance. There is also an official mentor group but I have sought advice from many members of the group and consider them mentors.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“What is the use of living, if not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone.” -Winston Churchill, October 10th, 1908
About what things in your life are you most passionate?
I have a passion for my Lord, my family and being a good steward of all the things with which I have been blessed. I also love music as well!
What would you like us to know about your family?
My family has been a great source of encouragement and a calm in an often-hectic world. Due to the pandemic, this past year has presented many challenges and there were some days that I might have preferred the seclusion of the office. However, I will look back on this year and cherish the time spent getting to know my family in a way that would not otherwise have been possible. It has been a blessing for which I am very grateful.
Do you have a philosophy on life and what are the three values you hold dearest?
· I truly try to live life as close to “the Golden Rule” as possible. I feel like if you can do this, much of life will just fall into place.
· The three values I hold most dearly are Family, Grace and Love.
Thank you, Alan, for helping our members to get to know you a little better! We appreciate your commitment to the PGRTSEM and wish you continued success in your career!
Article Credits: Stephen D. Moore