Successful Berklee/BoCo Alumni #120: Toby Cattolico

Toby Cattolico

Listen to the interview (approx. 58 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2009 from the Boston Conservatory with a major in Percussion Performance.


Position:  Stewardship  and Engagement Officer (a.k.a. Alumni Relations & Fundraising) at University Prep Academy, an independent private school (grades 6-12) in Seattle–where Toby himself went before attending BoCo.  One of two people who works in fundraising, Toby manages everything alumni-related–the alumni association, the alumni board, building relationships with alumni donors, follows-up with events and gifts.  He also does a lot with their internal donor database to track contacts and keep everything clean and orderly.


Overview:  After graduation, Toby wanted to move back to Seattle.  He did some gigs, and as a way to make more money started ushering at Benaroya Hall, the home of the Seattle Symphony which also hosts other events.  By 2011 he had worked his way up to head usher, then floor manager.   He got to know people working upstairs for the symphony, and was encouraged to interview for the position of Group Sales Manager for the Seattle Symphony.   Toby was “hungry to do more,” so he applied. While he didn’t get the job, 9 months later the person who did left and he got it in late 2011.  He was given a portfolio of people under-40 to work with, and in 2 years doubled the size of the young patron program.  “Being able to speak music was an ENORMOUS advantage in my job . I was the only one of the fundraisers with previous music experience–others would mispronounce composer names, while I could share my own experiences and knowledge.”

By mid-2013, Toby took the position of Gift Officer at the symphony, where he again was very successful.  However, by 2015 it was clear that there was no room to move up .  An acquaintance mentioned a small NGO that focused on sustainable development in Latin America was looking for a gift officer.  Eager for a new challenge, Toby applied and, 4 interviews later, started work in mid-2015.  However, over that next year the organization got to be more faith-based than Toby had counted on, and he felt it wasn’t a good fit.  Mid-2016 n old high school friend who reached at U-Prep reached out to him about the newly-created position and, after some soul-searching, Toby applied to his current position and got the job.


You can see Toby’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:   “I enjoy the one-on-one aspect of fundraising. The relationships that are created that you can develop for the organization. Same deal at the Seattle Symphony or at a NGO I was with. You get to meet a lot of people from all walks of life.  In fundraising, your goal is to cultivate that relationship for a lifetime.””

“I create pipelines for the alumni board–people aren’t there forever, so I have to build relationships. I create metrics, who has been asked, etc. It’s kind of eclectic, but definitely project-oriented and relates to the academic calendar.”

“I’m proud to be a BoCo graduate. Getting an arts degree is a lot harder than many people might think–don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. We have close relationships with mentors, like people in a Ph.D. program. Enjoy it.  You’ll get a lot of skills and those skills you get from your education can be transferred.”

“Don’t be afraid to try something new and step out of your comfort zone.  You have no idea what’s out there.You may end up liking something you didn’t even know existed!”

“If you want to get into non-profit fundraising, be willing to volunteer your time–whatever you’re looking to get into. It shows them that you’re passionate about whatever the organization may be about. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door, plus you get to know the employees.”


See the full index of successful Berklee/BoCo alumni.