Jeff Jowdy: The Art & Science of Fundraising

“I believe at the mid and senior levels, you should be staying [in that position] a little bit longer than a year or two.” -Jeff Jowdy

When you talk with Jeff Jowdy, the conversation could go in a lot of different directions. 

We could talk about the University of Georgia Bulldogs Football Team and the amazing season they’re having this year. 

Staying with the journalism theme, we could talk about Jeff’s time as a journalism student at Georgia and what that has meant for his career. 

We could also talk about Jeff’s commitment to his community and his active involvement in the Rotary Club of Nashville and Leadership Middle Tennessee.

But we’ll save those topics for another day because today I want to talk with Jeff about nonprofit fundraising and nonprofit board service. 

If you Google Jeff Jowdy, you’ll see a lot of skills, achievements, and experience, and you’ll see he currently leads Lighthouse Counsel. In my opinion, Lighthouse Counsel is one of the premier fundraising consultancies in the Southeast. 

I hope you enjoy this conversation with Jeff. Thanks again for listening to Next Gen Nonprofit Leadership with Tommy Thomas and be sure to share this episode with the nonprofit board members you know.


“At a major university – or even a smaller university – to make a difference, to change a culture, to deepen a philanthropic program, you don’t do that in a year. If something happens in a year, it’s usually the tail end of the last guy or gal.” -Jeff Jowdy

Show Notes

[2:14] – An introduction to today’s guest, Jeff Jowdy.

[3:45] – What Jeff remembers about one of the most successful fundraising campaigns for the YMCA of Middle Tennessee. 

[6:36] – Jeff explains how his former CEO was different from other CEOs. 

[8:51] – Jeff was proud of his team at the YMCA. Here’s why.

[10:20] – Managing the team was never enjoyable to Jeff, he would rather be out front building relationships.

[10:52] – We hear some insights from Jeff about how to make a great hiring decision. 

[12:42] – Tommy shares his thoughts about making great hiring decisions. 

[14:15] – This is why there is a high turnover rate for fundraising professionals, according to Jeff. 

[17:09] – Jeff realized in order to be successful, he didn’t have time to supervise day-to-day.

[19:23] – What happened when a lady on the board with a Doctorate in Fundraising and 40 years of experience in direct appeal gave Jeff advice?

[20:30] – The office of the president can sometimes put a lot of unrealistic expectations on the office of development. Jeff shares his thoughts on why.

[22:52] – Jeff’s beliefs on legacy giving.

[24:26] – What has Jeff observed about organizations that have thrived during the pandemic?

[26:31] – Tommy wraps up the conversation.

“To be successful, I realized I didn’t have time to supervise day-to-day.” -Jeff Jowdy

Links and Resources

JobfitMatters – Website

Lighthouse Counsel – Website

Mastering the In-Person Fundraising Ask

Episode 2 – Jim Loscheider – Talking Stewardship and Generosity 


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