Fundraising becomes a career for original 'soccer mom'

Robert Houk • Jan 11, 2020 at 8:00 AM

Fast Facts

Dog or cat: Dog

Favorite Book: “Pride and Prejudice,” by Jane Austen

Ideal vacation spot: “Any beach along the Florida Gulf Coast.”


Carol Sloan of Johnson City has turned her talent for fundraising into a career. She exercises those skills daily in her role at East Tennessee State University’s medical school. 

How do you describe your job at ETSU?

I’m the director of development and alumni relations for the Quillen College of Medicine. I consider myself a professional fundraiser. I’ve been working for ETSU for 15 years in that capacity, raising funds and building relationships with alumni.

What is your favorite part of the job?

Working with philanthropic people is the very best part of my job. It’s a wonderful experience to help a donor match their philanthropic vision with an opportunity for support here at the university. It gives people a chance to invest in the future. For example, many people who have benefitted from scholarship assistance during their education express a strong desire to support today’s students in the same way they were supported.

Donors and volunteers always tell me that they get more out of their gift of money, time and talent than those who receive it.

How did you get into this line of work?

My story is probably similar to a lot of people who become professional fundraisers. I got into fundraising first as a volunteer. My degree is in elementary education and after teaching for a few years, I had my first child and became a stay-at-home mother to raise my son and daughter. I was a home-room mom, a PTA Board member, a Brownie Scout leader, and I accompanied my childrens’ classes on many field trips for 12 years. In fact, I was a “soccer mom” before the term was coined.

My volunteer work turned into an employment opportunity when I took a part-time grant-funded job at the Johnson City Volunteer Center. Soon after I began my work, the position of executive director became available and I got the job. In my role as manager of a nonprofit organization, it became clear to me that fundraising was a key component of a successful organization and that there were dedicated professionals who focused their careers on raising the money to fund important causes.

I became a member of the local Association of Fundraising Professionals and learned much from my fellow members. I decided I would focus my career on fundraising.

What advice would you give someone considering a similar career?

The best advice I could give someone considering a career as a professional is to volunteer for a local nonprofit organization. Most are eager for volunteer support and are happy to have help with their fundraising efforts.

Who has had the greatest impact on your life?

My parents didn’t have a lot when I was growing up, but they were always willing to share what they had with others. They set the example for me of living a life of service and giving back to the community around you. I think of the lessons they taught me as a child in everything I do today.

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