Senior Executive Director, Philanthropy

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Florida, United States
Salary Not Specified
Jan 28, 2021
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time
Job Description

The Senior Executive Director oversees all of the institution’s gifts officers and is an active major gift solicitor themselves, charged with securing six- and seven-figure gifts., traveling as needed to interact personally with donors. Directing the efforts of solicitors supporting all three of the University’s campuses, the Senior Executive Director shall sustain a highly collaborative, coordinated, and synergistic effort among solicitors of gifts from prospects ranging from prospective mid-stream donors through those ready to participate in major and planned giving. The Senior Executive Director is responsible for developing and executing strategies that will enable the team to achieve its ambitious annual and longer-term goals for sustainably attracting substantial amounts of high-level philanthropic support.

The Senior Executive Director will be assigned a unique portfolio of prospects comprising alumni, friends, corporations, private foundations or other nonprofit entities. He or she will identify, qualify, cultivate, solicit, and steward donors, with a special emphasis on addressing university-level fundraising priorities. Building relationships with University leaders, faculty, and staff, the Senior Executive Director will promote a culture of philanthropy and maintain a strong working knowledge of the institution’s specific needs, opportunities, and challenges as they pertain to potential philanthropic opportunities and donors. The officer will work in partnership with volunteers and university representatives to purposefully establish and grow philanthropic relationships with donors. The Senior Executive Director will develop and implement individual strategies for cultivating each of their own prospects and move potential donors in an appropriate and timely fashion toward solicitation and gift closure.

The Senior Executive Director is responsible for leading, mentoring, and coaching those reporting to them, devising strategies to enhance collaboration among team members, developing the talent pool, and strengthening their performance. The officer shall effectively deploy personnel in order to maximize gift productivity and efficiently leverage travel plans and resources. The Senior Director oversees and coordinates the efforts of the Executive Director of Gift Planning, the Executive Director of Philanthropy for the Prescott, AZ campus, and the Executive Director of Philanthropy for the Daytona Beach, World Wide, and Philanthropic Organizations. The Senior Executive Director fosters vertical and horizontal integration of engagement, communications, programmatic, and solicitation activities associated with the individual campuses, colleges, and units the officer oversees, and actively promotes a “One University” outlook.

Since the primary responsibility of the Senior Executive Director is their own field work, the successful candidate is expected to be capable of leading with an agile, light, though diligently organized touch, often while in the field themselves, and to embrace the philanthropy unit’s collaborative leadership concept aimed at mitigating departmental silos. The Senior Executive Director is a key part of that leadership team for the Office of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement. He or she will communicate solicitors’ progress to its goals to stakeholders, and partner effectively with colleagues in Impact Reporting and Annual Giving, Data Services, Marketing and Communications, and Alumni Engagement.

Candidates must be highly-energetic, self-starting individuals with a proven track-record of securing private support through direct solicitations at the six-, and seven-figure levels and substantial experience in leading a team of solicitors and managing limited operational resources. This leader must possess strategic thinking, talent development skills, effective communications and networking skills, exceptional adaptability to change, and, above all, a drive to achieve results. The ideal candidate shall be a proactive, creative, and tenacious problem solver; positive and engaging; nurturing of professional and client relationships; a careful listener with high emotional intelligence; professional, poised, and polished; discrete with confidential material; an exceptional brand ambassador; and a confident and effective organizational leader. Candidates must possess the ability to work with sense of urgency, high attention to detail, and commitment to producing excellent, finished work with minimal oversight. The Senior Executive Director must be adaptable and able to perceive and seize opportunities for synergies.

Responsibilities include the following:

Fund Development Efforts
Directly and personally engage prospective donors through correspondence and face to face or virtual meetings, traveling extensively, as required. Solicit major gifts of five figures or more, with an emphasis on seeking gifts of six-figures or greater. Craft proposals and other documents to assist in this process. Participate in all elements of the donor cycle, including identifying, qualifying, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding donors. Effectively manage prospect portfolio and maintain accurate records in the institution’s philanthropy and alumni data systems in a timely fashion.

Developing Solicitation Strategies
Develop strategies for cultivating prospects and advancing relationships in a timely and appropriate manner toward solicitation and closure of gifts. Track and report on progress toward goals. Develop strong relationships with campus partners and volunteers capable of helping advance those solicitation and maintain a robust understanding of campus needs, challenges, and opportunities pertinent to potential solicitations and relationships with prospective donors. As applicable, devise solicitor strategies in support substantial discrete, individual fundraising campaigns. As directed, play a key role in goalsetting, planning, and implementation of fieldwork in the context of large, multi-year institutional fundraising campaign.

Oversee direct reports, set overarching strategy to meet solicitation goals; efficiently and effectively deploy personnel to projects, prospects, and locations; sustain a high level of collaboration among staff; coach and develop the talent pool; and champion the unit among stakeholders. Establish a culture of compliance with team guidelines and a commitment to setting and achieving bold goals in challenging environments. Ensure transparency and prompt communication of strategies, outcomes, and progress to goals to colleagues within the Office of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement and other stakeholders. Collaborate effectively with other leaders and staff within and beyond the Office. Actively promote and contribute to the integration of all of Office’s activities associated with individual campuses, colleges, or units.


Bachelor's and 10 years of applicable professional higher education fundraising experiences with increasing responsibility, including 7 years of successful experience with personal, direct solicitation of six- and seven-figure gifts, and 5 years of supervisory experience of a team of 5 or more professional major gift solicitors, robust knowledge of gift-planning, and experience in the use and management of an enterprise donor-data system.

Preference for a degree in a STEM field, CFRE or CFRM certification, experience leading a senior solicitation staff of more than 10, and experience planning and leading a fundraising campaign.


  • Professional development best practices
  • Best practices in direct solicitation of major gifts
  • Understanding of the planning and execution of fundraising campaigns
  • IRS regulations pertaining to giving
  • Robust understanding of higher education and its organizational structure
  • Gift planning vehicles, strategies, marketing, and solicitation
  • Fundamentals of strategic marketing and communications
  • Experience with a CRM (client relationship management) platform to accurately record and mine information
  • Goal setting, tracking, reporting, and outcomes projection
  • Effective proposal writing strategies
  • Development of business plans and detailed strategies
  • Strong grasp of gift document language development and editing
  • Personnel management, team organization, and coaching of professionals
  • Best practices in talent development
  • Strategies for travel planning and logistics
  • Budget management and projections
  • Conducting research and analyzing and synthesizing data and information
  • Proper business correspondence and document formatting
  • Expert proficiency in the Microsoft Office Suite (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  • Use of general office equipment, computers, and software
  • Business, professional and social etiquette
  • Use of the internet as a productivity or research tool
  • Standard business/office filing techniques
  • Basic mathematics, especially as applied to completing financial documents
  • Understanding of professional organizational structure


  • Practical mastery of direct solicitation strategy and tactics
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills
  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills
  • Problem solving skills, emphasizing a solutions-oriented mentality
  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Excellent supervisory skills
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Analyze and synthesize prospect reports, maps, tables, graphs, and other technical information
  • Apply mobile device technology for productivity, communication, and social media
  • Effectively use and communicate through social media techniques and platforms


  • Must be an energetic, self-starter capable of producing exceptional outcomes with minimal supervisory oversight
  • Personally conduct direct solicitations for philanthropic gifts and attract substantial amounts of private support
  • Identify, engage, cultivate, solicit, and steward private donors of gifts, with an emphasis on attracting gifts of $25,000 or more, with an emphasis on six- and seven-figure gifts
  • Strategically optimize allocations of personnel and budget to achieve high ROI performance
  • Monitor and report on solicitor performance
  • Successfully coach and inspire high performance among direct reports and further develop that talent
  • Lead effective meetings
  • Manage and meet deadlines
  • Develop proficiency with university’s fundraising database/software
  • Demonstrate adaptability and resilience when confronted with challenges and changing priorities
  • Maintain positive and respectful engagement with colleagues and clients
  • Demonstrate strong character, emphasizing integrity, caring, and honesty
  • Effectively prioritize and manage multiple tasks
  • Generate prospect reports, maps, and other technical information associated with giving and engagement
  • Manage and meet deadlines
  • Adhere to divisional and university policies and procedures
  • Prudently manage sensitive and confidential information with discretion
  • Work effectively in a multi-faceted organization and develop mutually respectful relationships with stakeholders at all levels, diverse individuals, and communities
  • Develop and demonstrate an authentic and enthusiastic interest in the mission of the university
  • Develop a basic knowledge of the aviation and aerospace industry and professional community
  • Use all standard office productivity equipment (e.g. copiers, printers, etc.) at a high-level of mastery
  • Travel as appropriate by automobile, aircraft and other means for work related trips
  • Work frequently on evenings and weekends, as required
  • Maintain a valid driver’s license and possess the ability to safely and effectively drive

Similar jobs

Similar jobs