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To the Next Level - An Interview with Josh Whelan

In this episode, Andrew visits with Josh Whelan, Vice President and Senior Consultant of Petrus Development. This is the first episode of Season 3 for the Petrus Development Show. In this episode, we get to know Josh and hear some of his history which has led him to his work today. Andrew and Josh talk about Josh's experience in development and philanthropy. As well as Josh's faith and how to find the best practices for your organization and, ultimately, your personal journey. 

Listen to "62 - Josh Whelan (Petrus Development): To the Next Level" on Spreaker.

Show Notes:

At the time of this interview, Josh is celebrating his one year anniversary as VP of Petrus Development.

Josh attended the University of Mississippi and graduated in 2004. He worked for 1 year in psychology clinic and realized that while he wanted to help people, he did not what to help as a psychologist. He went back to school and earned his masters degree.

After his Master's Program he worked for the University of Mississippi Foundation. Then as the VP of sales for small company which was entrepreneurial in nature where he learned how to adapt quickly in a fast pace environment. After that he moved to Delta Health Alliance where he gained experience in corporate and foundation giving.

Then he was the VP for Palmer Home for Children where he experienced starting a capitol campaign. 

Afterward he joined FOCUS and was with them for 2 years, during this time met Andrew at the Petrus conference and began developing that relationship to begin consulting. 


Client work

He has experienced working with annual manual clients all the way to capital campaign clients. Watching annual manual develop to on-sight consultant clients. He has helped in the hiring process for development officers. 

All this work is helping others build things that are intending to last.

Taking all this experience and knowledge and seeing the best practices in one organization and using that information to help create best practices for another organization.

When asked for advice, Josh’s answer is “we need to do a little more discussion on where you are. You.”



Executing a campaign. What is our vision? What can we be? Think bigger than “this is what we do, this is what we’ve always done.” But rather, what can we become with the right resources. Need to think about it as a team effort.

Long term key benefactors were the hardest sell for a campaign going back to the “this is how it’s always been” mindset. 

The feasibility study was very helpful in bringing in those that were hesitant.



Would challenge him in formation of his work skill and his faith. Took him from very local to the south 3rd of the country which brought a more intense travel schedule. The people were so great, though, that the transition was very smooth. Challenging but he loved it. 



How is it to go from asking to leading?

He knew he had the experience to help people and quickly learned how much he loved it. To help guide and speed up the process for clients.


Last 6 Months

The organizations that had been implementing best practices and doing the work beforehand have been doing well. The have been growing. We never know what the future holds, but if you’re doing the right things you can weather the storms.

He has seen many organizations adapt really well.



Josh played football in high school. And it's one of the only times in life that you literally get knocked down and have to pick yourself up again. And that’s development. Being rejected and having to pick yourself up and keep moving forward. Having to be conditioned and push yourself to make the phone calls and the appeals and the asks. 

One experience that he continually comes back to was a commitment he made with a group of his teammates senior year was that they were going to be excellent in all aspects of life, not just football. Making that goal with his teammates and spending as much time as possible being excellent, was life-changing. 


Lightning Round

  1. If you could fundraise for any organization at any time in history, what would it be?
    • Anything Catholic at a time of crisis in the church and St. Jude’s
  2. If you could get a donor meeting with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
    • Pope John Paul II, to talk about all that he dealt with in his lifetime.
  3. Is there enough money out there for organizations doing good works?
    • If you work hard enough, do the right things, implement the best practices, yes.
  4. What is one piece of advice that you would give your past self?
    • Spend more time with boots on the ground with the people being impacted by the ministry. Find great mentors.
  5. Who are 3 people who have most influenced you, professionally?
    • His father, mentors in different parts of development, VP of development at Ole Miss
  6. What is one fact about Josh that most people don’t know?
    • Spends a ton of time reading about Irish history. He spent 2 months backpacking though Europe before graduate school where that love of history and genealogy began.

Bonus Questions: How have you seen the impact of generosity in the lives of donors?

  • He has been seeing the opportunity for evangelization from that generosity and/or seeing the evangelization of the donor through the outreach.

BONUS Josh walks through his conversion to Catholicism.


Andrew’s Take Aways:

  1. Josh’s wealth of experience that is being applied in all areas.
  2. His analogy that the development director is the offensive coordinator of an organization.
  3. Implementing best practices. Doing things the right way and the best way leads to results in any environment.


Action step:

If you’ve been trying to figure out what you should be doing, or trying to find best practices, go to the Petrus website, click the “Let’s Connect” button and schedule a call with Andrew, Josh or another consultant.


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