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Senior Director of Development - Principal Gifts

Rice University
Texas, United States
Salary Not Specified
Posted Date
Oct 4, 2022

***To be considered for the Senior Director of Development - Principal Gifts opportunity at Rice University, please submit your resume and cover letter in confidence to Bryant Group at with the subject line: Senior Director of Development - Principal Gifts at Rice University.

Position Summary

The Principal Gifts team at Rice University develops engagement, solicitation, and stewardship strategies for high net worth individuals and families and ensures that these strategies are actively pursued and executed. This responsibility includes identifying and articulating large-scale priority opportunities for transformational gifts. Each member of the Principal Gifts team is expected to have a commitment to the university’s mission, an intellectual curiosity about the work of the university, an ability to translate a broad range of academic areas into inspiring visions for donors, a high level of adaptability and flexibility as needs and priorities change, and strong relationships with internal constituencies and colleagues that promote a positive, collaborative spirit for development strategy and planning across campus. As a member of the Principal Gifts team, the Senior Director of Development – Principal Gifts is responsible for developing sophisticated cultivation and solicitation strategies for donor prospects rated at the $5 million level and higher leading to successful closure of principal gifts. Reporting to the Associate Vice President for Development, the Senior Director of Development – Principal Gifts works directly with the Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations (DAR), the President and other senior university officials (including deans and directors of academic units) to enhance Rice’s ability to partner with donors and potential donors in the Rice community and beyond. This high-level work involves extensive collaboration and active partnerships with university leadership, volunteers, and senior administrators to ensure existing and emerging principal gifts level constituents are best positioned with Rice to provide maximum levels of philanthropic support for university and/or school-based priorities.

The ideal candidate will have a demonstrated track record of securing principal gift commitments at the $5 million level and higher and of championing the strategic engagement, creativity and poise required to inspire and mobilize the aspirations of internal partners and prospective donors alike. The ideal candidate will exemplify the sophisticated stewardship essential to maintain and expand donor relationships to garner philanthropic investment on behalf of Rice University. The individual will be a fundraiser, advisor, coach, strategist, and problem solver to amplify this crucial area of philanthropic investment.

Essential Functions
  • Develops and manages a portfolio of principal gift prospects through the identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of donors with an emphasis on $5M+ gifts, working closely with the President, members of the Board of Trustees, and volunteers in the cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of these prospects
  • Identifies fundraising priorities and devises plans and strategies to accomplish goals
  • Works collaboratively with faculty and development colleagues in support of fundraising initiatives
  • Collaborates on development-related communications and events
  • Supports the President and Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations in implementing cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship strategies for members of the Board of Trustees and principal gift prospects
  • Performs other duties as assigned
Additional Functions/Information
  • Develops and implements customized strategies and plans to engage deeply high net worth individuals and families who do not have strong pre-existing connections with Rice University in the long-term achievement of the university’s mission and goals
  • Guided by the scope of prospects’ interest, collaborates university-wide and across DAR to leverage the interest of the potential philanthropic partners
  • Provides expertise and strategic counsel regarding new development opportunities for evolving programs, as needed
  • Leads the development of written proposals, concept papers, fundraising plans and other materials needed to deepen prospect engagement
  • Often works behind the scenes through high-level volunteers, both external and internal to the university, making sure to coordinate activities and communications, and accompanies leaders on calls where appropriate
  • Serves as interactive and synergistic partner with other teams within DAR, particularly major gifts, gift planning, research, constituent relations and development communications, so that all work together to ensure these prospects are managed in a manner consistent with best practices known to be most likely to lead to successful principal gift outcomes
  • In collaboration with the constituent relations, helps formulate personalized stewardship plans for principal gift donors for a sustained partnership between donors and the university
  • Participates fully in DAR’s constituent relationship management (CRM) system, tracking and documenting plans and strategies
  • Promotes a culture of high performance (results), integrity, and continuous improvement that values learning, collaboration, and a commitment to quality work among the development team
  • May require working flexible hours, including nights and weekends
  • Regular travel may be required
Required Qualifications
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Ten years or more of successful professional fundraising experience, including with donors capable of gifts of $1 million or more, and demonstrated success in cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding high-level major gifts
  • Experience-based ability to recognize high potential giving opportunities, and the knowledge of the giving techniques and strategies to maximize that potential
  • Experience working in a comprehensive fundraising campaign
  • Experience with planned giving vehicles and in structuring blended gifts
  • Skills Required
    • Ability to develop and initiate new strategies
    • Advanced problem-solving skills
    • Excellent verbal and written communications skills
    • Ability to work well under pressure and manage projects simultaneously
    • Excellent organizational and time management skills
    • Excellent knowledge of Microsoft Office suite
    • Excellent data analysis skills
    • Ability to work independently and as part of a team to meet expected deadlines and schedules
    • Adept at problem solving, creating contingency plans, and handling issues when necessary
    • Excellent client service orientation and attention to detail
    • Ability to lead and motivate others
    • Strategic skills to craft and implement fundraising and/or project plans
    • Excellent attention to detail and ability to quickly understand and remember details about alumni/donors and projects to which they are assigned
  • No substitutions for education of experience allowed
License/Certification Requirements

Must possess (or have the ability to obtain one within 30 days of hire) and maintain a valid Texas driver’s license with no more than three moving violations and/or at fault accidents within the past 36 month, and no convictions or deferred dispositions for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI) within the past five years.

Preferred Qualifications
  • Education and Experience
    • Master’s Degree
    • Professional fundraising experience at an institution of higher education or non-profit organization
    • Track record of project-related fundraising in a research-intensive organization
    • Experience working on gifts of $5 million or more in partnership with high net-worth individuals and volunteers
  • Skills
    • Ability to relate to, and develop excellent working relationships with, senior leaders
    • Ability to earn the confidence and trust of prospective donors and maintain confidentiality
    • Ability to exercise discretion and to make sound independent decisions and judgments
    • Ability to display confidence as a mentor and collaborator
    • Political savvy to navigate a complex academic environment
    • Strong proficiency with fundraising CRM and in using data to inform workflow, enhance donor cultivation and drive fundraising priorities
    • Strong team management skills in working with diverse personalities and interests
    • A commitment to promoting and supporting an environment of diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • License/Certification
    • Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE)
Rice University HR | Benefits

Rice Mission and Values

Mission and Values | Rice University

Rice University is an Equal Opportunity Employer with commitment to diversity at all levels, and considers for employment qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, genetic information, disability or protected veteran status.

Faculty and staff are expected (but not required) to have completed a full vaccination series for COVID-19 (currently defined as full course COVID-19 Vaccine (typically two shots of a WHO-approved COVID-19 Vaccine or one J&J) and a COVID-19 booster. Rice does not require documentation for COVID 19 vaccination at this time for faculty and staff. More information can be found here:

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