Birkholz is the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Photo of Josh Birkholz
Josh Birkholz

MANKATO, MNJosh Birkholz, a 1994 Bethany graduate, is the 2021 Bethany Lutheran College Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.

Birkholz is regarded as an international expert and leader in philanthropy and fundraising. He began his career in 1997 as a development associate for the University of Minnesota Foundation. In 2004, he joined Bentz Whaley Flessner (BWF), a global fundraising consulting and service company in Minneapolis that serves higher education, healthcare, and leading nonprofits as a fundraising consultant. Birkholz quickly rose through the ranks at BWF, becoming a partner in 2008 and was named CEO in 2019. He is credited as the founder of BWF Insight, the data and science division of the company. He also serves as an instructor at the Rice University (Houston, Texas) Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership.

Birkholz is widely regarded as a trailblazer of 21st-Century fundraising strategies. He’s authored many articles and publications, contributed to several books about philanthropy and fundraising, and is the author of a fundraising text book Fundraising Analytics: Using Data to Guide Strategy (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). Birkholz was the recipient of the prestigious American Prospect Research Association (APRA) Visionary Award in 2015 for his contributions to prospect development, and was the 2017 Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Crystal Apple Award for Teaching Excellence.

Birkholz commented about receiving the Bethany distinguished alumni award, “I am incredibly honored to be chosen. While I’m blessed with career success, I see people worldwide that do so much more and are worthy of distinction. I remember meeting a missionary imprisoned for his faith in a foreign land, and encountering a man living in extreme poverty giving his last chicken to someone he felt needed more. I’ve seen children in the most vulnerable areas of the world struggle with their disabilities to walk on their dirt floors, yet smile because they know they are children of God. I know they will hear the words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ Bethany has sent out many amazing people into the world. To be recognized among so many others is truly humbling, and I am tremendously grateful for the honor.”

Birkholz is married to Tracy (Gray) a 1995 Bethany alumna. The couple are parents to three daughters. The family lives in a suburb of the Twin Cities and are members of Bloomington Living Hope Lutheran Church.

Birkholz will be officially recognized as Bethany’s 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient at the Bethany Spring Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 7, 2021, when he will address the graduating class and guests.

MEDIA: If you need further information, please contact Bethany’s Manager of Alumni Relations, Jake Krier, at 507-344-7519. Find additional information about the Bethany Distinguished Alumni Award, past recipients, and nominating criteria on the Distinguished Alumni web page.