People of Masterworks | Tamara Wheeler, SVP, Client Services

People of Masterworks is a series highlighting talented folks who contribute to the success of our ministry partners on a daily basis. Our hope is that, by getting to know some of our team members, you’ll also learn more about Masterworks and our mission to move hearts and minds to action.

Welcome, Tamara! 

New to the Masterworks team, Tamara Wheeler brings joy, expertise, and vision to her role as Senior Vice President of Client Services. Her primary function is to oversee our client services team and tend to the entire portfolio of our clients.

Tamara has spent her entire career serving nonprofit organizations, finding deep meaning and purpose in helping ministries share their inspiring stories and inviting people to make a local or global impact through their generosity and giving. 

Prior to joining Masterworks, Tamara served as the Vice President of Marketing and Development for CityTeam, where she led fundraising efforts across five locations in San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland, California; Chester, Pennsylvania; and Portland, Oregon.  

Having previously directed marketing and fundraising strategy with cross-functional teams across a variety of regional and national nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and Canada, Tamara is tireless. Her contributions to integrated marketing efforts have raised mass awareness and millions of dollars in funds, ultimately helping those in desperate need. She has left her mark on a range of human and social service causes, from rescue missions and food banks to international relief and development organizations such as World Vision to health and environmental nonprofits like the American Cancer Society, Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and The Nature Conservancy, among others.

Tamara serves as a board member and volunteer for causes close to her heart. She is a patron of the visual and performing arts and enjoys culinary experiences of all kinds. Originally a graphic artist, Tamara realized she preferred influencing strategy, engaging with people, and working for brands that truly change the world. 

Tamara currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, Jon, after recently relocating from the San Francisco Bay Area. Please take a moment to hear directly from her now!

What motivates you in your work serving multiple nonprofit clients at Masterworks?

What an incredible gift to have the opportunity to live theologian Frederick Buechner’s definition of vocation: “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” It’s been a blessing to spend my career staring straight at hope while serving a variety of nonprofit organizations that do amazing work, staffed by some of the most humble and passionate people I know!

“[A vocation is] the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

— Frederick Buechner

If you know me, you know that I love people and I love food. It’s why I’ve remained connected to philanthropy, literally in Greek: “the love of humanity.” I love the ways that I get to use my gifts and skills to be a link in the chain of helping, whether right here on my block or on the other side of our globe. 

Now, with Masterworks, the possibilities and responsibilities to steward supporter experiences and relationships, and to innovate with clients, fuel me every day — from meeting to meeting, city to city, country to country, and cause to cause.

Describe a moment you’ll never forget in your 20 years leading up to this point in your career. 

I’ll never forget when one of my clients shared the “R&D Method” for nonprofits — instead of “Research & Development,” try the “Rob & Duplicate” way. Stretching a dollar even further is something the best nonprofits I know do every day and every year. 

I’ve thought about this phrase many times over my career. It doesn’t mean steal and re-use. It means show and share. My years both inside a nonprofit and on the agency partner side showed me how some of the best leaders are resourceful and connected. 

You could think about this like the one anothers. Seek good for one another. There is likely someone else or another organization who has already solved a similar challenge or harnessed a new opportunity. Perhaps there is someone who can be with you on brand new adventures, forging new territory. How we get there is important, and I love that the WHY matters so much to everything we do together. 

In your professional opinion, what do you see as the biggest challenge facing nonprofits today?

It seems every marketer and fundraiser is trying to solve the challenge of integrating tools, talent, and technology. Investing in the right people, equipping them with the right toolset, and improving automation are at the intersection of where growth and innovation thrive. 

Another challenge we all share in the philanthropic sector is getting better at saying “thank you” more often — and in more creative, personal ways. The adage that “people give to people” is becoming increasingly true in my decades as a fundraiser and marketer. The concept that people give through an organization instead of to an organization has helped unlock new ideas, a mindset of donor ministry, and huge waterfalls of hope.

Share about your most recent “ah-ha” moment or breakthrough.

Most recently with CityTeam, while leading the marketing and development teams, my “ah-ha” moment came in witnessing the power of connecting a donor’s passions and interests to a community need. 

Having the chance to share and show someone how their generosity helped ignite hope, make an impact, or change a life is such a privilege — one that I steward with great responsibility whether I’m working inside a nonprofit organization, serving as an agency partner, or volunteering for a cause.

What in your personal life equips or motivates you to serve?

My husband is in HR for a large global financial technology company. It is truly a gift to have 24/7 access to someone who has a breadth of knowledge and experience in the topic areas of being an inclusive leader, learning and working with diverse and distributed teams, employee relations and rewards, crucial conversations, and more. These are things we’re all figuring out: how best to learn, listen, and lead. Around the world, everyone is seeking ways to find — and keep — great employees. 

One of my favorite quotes is from Meister Eckhart, “An artist is not a special kind of person. Rather every person is a special kind of artist.” I believe this is true of fundraising and philanthropy. Everyone can make a good fundraiser, and everyone can be a great giver in their own ways.

“An artist is not a special kind of person. Rather every person is a special kind of artist.”

— Meister Eckhart