Outstanding Fundraising Professional: Tom Nisbett

Tom Nisbett

Join the Association of Fundraising Professionals Arkansas Chapter on November 16 at the National Philanthropy Day Luncheon and celebrate the collective compassion and dedication of this year’s honorees – individuals, organizations and businesses that are transforming the lives of all Arkansans.

By Barrett Gay | Photography by Sara Reeves

With a generous heart and the necessary skills to achieve a task, great things can happen. Tom Nisbett, founder and president of the Nisbett Group, developed the former from his family and quickly cultivated the latter – the task, of course, being fundraising. Tom has been a key player for university and nonprofit organization fundraising across the state and country as well as internationally – cumulatively securing more than $50 million.

TENACITY, TEAMWORK AND TRAINING are key components for success in any industry sector, according to Tom. “I loved fundraising from the first day on the job as vice president for advancement at LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas,” he recalls. “My team at Letourneau completed a $22 million capital campaign while continuing to raise more than $1 million every year for the annual fund. Fundraising is a team sport.”

TOM CITES HIS FATHER AS INSPIRATION for his civic leadership. “Not only did he remain very involved in civic and community leadership, but toward the end of his career in real estate and insurance, Dad conducted three capital campaigns including the library, the historical museum and the hospital in his home town. I guess that I come by fundraising naturally.”

HIS DESIRE TO HELP MORE ORGANIZATIONS SUCCEED changed his career path. “It was a sense of calling to the larger nonprofit sector that caused me to leave university fundraising in 2001,” Tom says. “I had discovered so many small and medium-sized nonprofit organizations that needed help. The Nisbett Group is my consulting business that now has served over 100 client-organizations. We have helped those clients build organizational capacity and raise over $25 million.” He adds, “My greatest fulfillment in working with Arkansas nonprofits has been helping new organizations build capacity and older organizations reorganize for success.”

TOM VALUES RELATIONSHIPS as an immeasurable resource in his personal and professional life. “The Association of Fundraising Professionals – Arkansas Chapter has been a constant source of friendship and personal development for me,” he says. “There is no better group of fundraising professionals nor nonprofit professionals than the members. From international conferences to leadership training, AFP provides the best professional development. We have been providing that excellence here in Arkansas for over thirty years.”

“On one of my development trips to India, I had tea with the President and First Lady of India in the Presidential Palace.”

“When adventure comes knocking, let it in.”

“As a professional fundraiser, Tom is a knowledgeable practitioner, an inspiring teacher and a great friend to have in your corner. He has been a mentor to me and so many others over the years, and we can’t thank him enough for his investment to the profession and our Association of Fundraising Professionals members.”
– Chief Development Officer Matt Cleveland, Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches 

Inviting Arkansas

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