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Assistant Vice President, Principal Relationship Development

James Madison University
Virginia, United States
Salary Not specified
Posted Date
Jan 18, 2022

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Position Type
Executive, Other Executive
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time
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Assistant Vice President, Principal Relationship Development



We are a community committed to preparing students to be educated and enlightened citizens who lead productive and meaningful lives.


To be the national model for the engaged university: engaged with ideas and the world.

Who We Are
Located in the heart of Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley, the city of Harrisonburg is approximately 120 miles from Washington, D.C. and Richmond, VA. With a population of just over 53,000, Harrisonburg is one of the most diverse communities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. JMU is a selective, public institution with a growing national reputation for offering experiences that lead to an outstanding education and inclusive environment for students, faculty and staff. The student body includes approximately 20,000 undergraduate and 1,900 graduate students, with over 1,000 full-time instructional faculty.

JMU offers thriving programs in the liberal arts, science and technology, and professional disciplines at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels. The university is committed to expanding diversity, fostering equity and inclusion, and supporting superlative teaching and scholarship. JMU has achieved national recognition for the high quality of its academic programs, focus on maintaining strong student/faculty interaction, and innovative faculty research.


Principal Relationship Development at JMU:

The goal of the Principal Relationship Development (PRD) program at James Madison University is to invite alumni, parents, friends and other constituents into the life of the university in such a way that they will be encouraged to make gifts of a size and scope to have a transformational impact on the institution’s ability to achieve its highest goals.  Collaborating closely with partners in University Advancement and throughout the university, PRD facilitates the development of highly customized plans for individuals and couples with the capacity to make gift commitments of $1M or more.  These plans are intended to identify and meet the unique needs of each donor while making them feel embraced by the whole university and appreciative of JMU as the partner with which they can achieve their most ambitious philanthropic goals.  


Reporting to the Vice President for University Advancement, the Assistant Vice President for Principal Relationship Development (PRD) will lead a principal giving program that aspires to the outcomes stated above by:

  • Effectively managing a portfolio of 50-75 high capacity donors and prospective donors. 
  • Focusing the attention of critical players throughout the university on the importance of these high- level prospects to the future of the university.  
  • Modeling the attributes that set principal gift fundraising apart from other types of fundraising in the management or his/her own portfolio of app. fifty highly rated donors and prospects; 
  • Overseeing the operations of a program designed to ensure every development officer with principal prospects in her/his portfolio manages those individuals to the same standard; and
  • Working with partners in University Advancement to ensure that relationships with individuals capable of making the most impactful gifts are anticipated and sustained over the long term.  


It is expected that a minimum of 75-80% of the AVP’s time will be devoted to activity relating directly to fundraising.


Duties and Responsibilities:


  • Partnering with offices within and external to University Advancement to identify individuals with the capacity to give $1M+, seeing that steps are taken to qualify each as a principal giving prospect for JMU, and that determining which donors and prospects should constitute the core PRD Prospect Pool.
  • In consultation with the appropriate partners, creating for each qualified principal giving prospect a cultivation, solicitation and/or stewardship plan that is intentional, intensive, comprehensive in its employment of all available resources university-wide; customized to meet the specific needs of each  individual, and designed to make that person feel a) embraced by the university, and b) appreciative of JMU as the partner with which they can achieve their grandest philanthropic dreams.  The list of potential partners includes, but is not limited to, the president, the president’s cabinet, the academic and administrative leaders overseen by the senior leadership team; athletics; colleagues at all levels within University Advancement; and key volunteers. 
  • Working with the Vice President for University Advancement to provide staff support to the President, Provost, Vice President for Advancement, other top administrators and volunteer leadership as they engage with the principal donors.  The AVP will recommend strategies, prepare briefing materials and see that each partner is appropriately prepared for whatever role is expected of them in other ways as needed.  The AVP will also see that the activities of each partner are coordinated with those of other university leaders; and otherwise keep them informed of any cultivation, solicitation and stewardship plans for these prospects.
  • Working with colleagues in Development to develop and coordinate plans for the principal giving prospects within their portfolios, taking steps as needed to ensure these prospects are managed in a manner consistent with the principles known to be most likely to lead to successful principal gift outcomes.
  • Overseeing periodic meetings involving senior leadership and development staff for the purpose of developing and monitoring cultivation/solicitation/stewardship plans relating to the members of the PRD Prospect Pool, in order to ensure:
    • The university’s best thinking is brought to the discussions about each prospective donor; 
    • The relationship building activities associated with each take full advantage of all of the resources the university has to offer;  
    • Activities for a prospective donor re appropriately coordinated at all levels;  
  • Playing a lead role in strategizing about solicitations, providing expertise for structuring of complex gift proposals, and, as necessary and appropriate, participating in the solicitations themselves.
  • Closing major and deferred gift commitments of $1M+ within time frames deemed (in consultation with the VP for University Advancement and other parties) to be optimal to the circumstances of each prospect and to the fundraising goals of the university.
  • Developing and managing a portfolio of approximately fifty individuals who have the financial capacity to make current and/or deferred gifts of $1M or more.  
  • Working with partners in University Advancement to Identify or refine key performance measures that will accurately gauge the effectiveness of the Principal Relationship Development program; working with the appropriate parties to develop reports to track the program’s progress towards its goals; and reporting results in a timely way to the Vice President for University Advancement.  
  • Providing staff support to any volunteer support group (e.g. a leadership or principal giving fundraising council) that might emerge as an element essential to the overall success of the Principal Relationship Development program.
  • Taking other steps as needed to ensure the Principal Relationship Development program is fully integrated with other programs within the Office of Development and the Division of University Advancement.
  • Supervising Principal Relationship staff which currently includes a Deputy Director and a Coordinator (the first primarily with calling responsibilities, the latter with responsibility for the PRD program’s administrative support.  


Successful execution of the responsibilities listed above will require the AVP to work collaboratively with staff in the Office of the President, the Division of University Advancement, the Office of Development, Intercollegiate Athletics, the JMU Foundation, members of the President’s Cabinet, and the administration and faculty the institution’s colleges and schools to ensure all available resources are brought to bear for the success of the program. The AVP will serve as a member of the Vice President’s leadership team, and will at the request of the President, the Vice President for University Advancement, and colleagues on the UA Leadership Team participate as needed in any endeavor advancing the work and success of the division.  



  • Minimum of bachelor’s degree
  • Demonstrated understanding of principal giving as a unique fundraising enterprise.
  • Experienced in capital campaigns, major gift initiatives and intentional stewardship.  
  • Experience-based ability to recognize high potential giving opportunities; and the knowledge of the giving techniques and strategies to maximize that potential.
  • Experience in managing the design, development, implementation, evaluation and growth of fundraising programs.   
  • The organizational, verbal, and written skills required to communicate effectively and persuasively to donors/prospective donors and their professional advisors.  
  • Excellent listening and interpersonal skills, and the ability to build relationships with donors and prospective donors that will be equally meaningful to both the donor and the university.    
  • Ability to work collaboratively with others with in the Division of University Advancement, the university as a whole, and volunteers and other external audiences.
  • The freedom and willingness to travel extensively and work flexible hours, including evenings and weekends.


  • Master’s degree
  • Minimum of ten years successful experience in higher education fundraising and major gift solicitation, with demonstrated ability to close major and principal gifts.
  • Experienced in supervising staff.



To apply go to  or visit and reference posting number F1785. Commensurate with Experience.

James Madison University is an equal opportunity employer committed to creating and supporting a diverse and inclusive work and educational community that is free of all forms of discrimination. This institution does not tolerate discrimination or harassment on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, genetic information, national origin, parental status, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status.




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