RAISE Podcast: Tim McMahon, Marquette University

On this episode of the RAISE podcast, Brent gets the inside scoop from Tim McMahon, Vice President for University Advancement at Marquette University. Check out this recap featuring our favorite takeaways from the episode, and how to tune in yourself!


Episode overview…

Tim and his stellar team decided they weren’t willing to wait to see how the pandemic played out to launch their capital campaign. So, they decided that the Time to Rise is now. So far, they’ve had 50,000 donors to the campaign already; there was a 62% increase in giving in FY21 vs FY20; over 500 donors have given to the campaign at the $100k+ level; and 42% of donors to the campaign are first-time donors. And, it’s all been done completely virtual. Brent invited Tim onto the podcast to talk about the future of work and advancement’s risk of missing a huge opportunity to retain (and attract) talented employees, but they ended up covering lots of other subjects along the way. Brent and Tim talk about the perks and challenges of getting a part-time MBA, how a career in fundraising allows former athletes to live out their dreams and have a balanced life, and how leadership is action, not position. 

Now’s your time, Tim – go, Golden Eagles!

Lessons learned from this episode…

Add your voice to the conversation. Tim responded to Brent’s LinkedIn post that read: “I’m worried that the higher education sector broadly and advancement offices specifically are going to miss out on the incredible potential for post-pandemic remote work to improve employee retention, support DEI outcomes and enhance the donor experience by embedding staff in key markets where alumni and friends live, work and play.” Tim’s response gives us hope for the sector. (And earned him a RAISE podcast invite!)

Take advantage of the opportunities to get degrees, certifications, and professional development through your workplace. Tim completed his part-time MBA while working in athletics fundraising at Fordham. Working a demanding full-time job while getting a part-time advanced degree was no easy feat, but Tim loved learning alongside classmates from Wall Street  who brought real-life experience and an extra layer of seriousness to the course of study. Part-time MBA-ers mean business. (get it?)

Think outside the box. Your passion can become your career. Mike is from a baseball family and was a passionate player himself. When it became clear he wouldn’t pursue a career on the field, he was introduced to the world of athletics fundraising. He realized he could work shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best athletes and coaches in the world in a career that offered upward mobility, translatable skills, and leadership experience. Win-win-win.

Stick your neck out for your friends and colleagues. At one point in his career, after a lot of hemming and hawing, Tim turned down a seemingly perfect job offer because it just didn’t feel like the right time. He received a text from his friend and mentor Mike O’Neill who said, “If you don’t take this job, I think you’re making a big mistake.” Tim pivoted, accepted the offer, and gives credit to Mike for “encouraging” one of the best decisions he’s ever made.

The grass isn’t always greener, but sometimes it is the right time to move on. There are flexion points in a career or at an institution when it makes sense to make a jump. There is so much value in longevity and institutional knowledge takes a long time to build. But, change means growth, and to harken back to words of advice from our friend Caroline Chang, “Take your cookies when they’re passed.”

Be rightfully bold. Marquette decided they weren’t going to wait on the uncertainty of the pandemic to plan-postpone-plan-repeat the public launch of their Time to Rise capital campaign. Instead, they did deep, data- and tech-powered work to make the quiet phase and virtual launch a huge success. They’ve had 50,000 donors to the campaign already, a 62% increase in giving in FY21 vs FY20, over 500 donors at the $100k+ level, and 42% of donors to the campaign are first-time donors. 

About Tim… 

Tim joined Marquette University as the Vice President for University Advancement in October 2018. Previously, he served as Senior Associate Vice President in the Office of University Advancement at Villanova University from 2014 to 2018. As the number two leader on Villanova’s advancement team, he led day-to-day activities of the office, helping the team eclipse $100 million annually in new gifts and confirmed pledges. During that time, McMahon played a pivotal role in the successful Campaign to Ignite Change, which secured $760 million in gifts and pledges, far surpassing its $600 million goal. He also helped lead two of the campaign’s signature capital projects: a $65 million renovation to the Finneran Pavilion and a new $60 million Performing Arts Center.

McMahon brings nearly two decades of higher education experience to his new role, having served in senior development positions at both Hofstra University and Fordham University. As the chief athletics development officer at Hofstra, he managed a prospect pool of over 150 and secured the largest pledge in Hofstra athletics history. Before that, McMahon served in several development roles at Fordham University, where he secured several multimillion-dollar gifts.

McMahon has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Hofstra University, where he was a member of the baseball team, and an MBA from Fordham University. He and his wife, Kara, have three sons.

Tim is leading his Marquette advancement team with trust and respect. Interested in joining his team? Marquette is hiring. Check out their job postings or connect with Tim on LinkedIn.

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