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Executive Director of Prospect Development

Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia, United States
Salary Not Specified
Posted Date
Nov 15, 2021

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Position Type
Administrative, Academic Affairs, Institutional Research & Planning, Business & Administrative Affairs, Development & Advancement, Alumni Affairs, Executive, Executive Directors, Other Executive
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time
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At Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), we Make it Real through learning, research, creativity, service and discovery — the hallmarks of the VCU experience. A premier, urban, public research university nationally recognized as one of the best employers for diversity, VCU is a great place to work. It’s a place of opportunity, where your success is supported and your career can thrive. VCU offers employees work flexibility, a generous leave package, career paths for advancement, competitive pay, and an opportunity to do mission-driven work.

The mission of VCU’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) is to maximize philanthropic support by engaging stakeholders with our institution working in partnership with all VCU schools, programs and campuses as one development and alumni relations community and implementing the best practices and efficient strategies to achieve a comprehensive development program.

DAR is recruiting for an Executive Director of Prospect Development to join the Advancement Solutions and Prospect Development team. The Executive Director of Prospect Development is a University and Academic Professional position reporting to the Assistant Vice President for Advancement Solutions. The Executive Director serves on the campaign leadership team and oversees an experienced team of prospect management, prospect research, and due diligence professionals. VCU and its health system are in the planning phase of the largest campaign in its' history.

The Executive Director leads the university and health system prospect development program, ensuring that the prospect pipeline sustains the university’s philanthropic goals. The Executive Director leverages key relationships to explore, develop and implement prospect strategies that maximize philanthropic engagement. The prospect development program uses proactive analytical and informatics tools to identify and move prospects into relationship management strategies, as well as evaluate the progress of VCU’s fundraising strategies. The Executive Director invests in the prospect development team’s 21st century skill sets, while expanding the organizational understanding of how data can be synthesized powerfully to inform fundraising strategy.

DAR welcomes applicants with transferable skills and competencies from outside the fundraising industry.


In this role, you will:

Portfolio Management and Analysis

- Establish, implement, monitor, and communicate effective processes and policies to create a data-driven portfolio management system
- Work with the Data Team to bolster the appreciation and integrity of prospect data by optimizing contact reports and other data collection opportunities in order to impact relationship management by providing timely and actionable analysis.
- Provide relationship management analytics, robust portfolio/proposal reviews, and focused insights on VCU’s constituents that synthesizes internal data, external resources, and predictive analytics.
- Provide resources and training to support planned solicitations, including interpretation of key data elements to advise potential ask amounts, timing and opportunity
- Optimize and enhance the solicitation management process that supports the work of fundraisers, ensuring that effective plans are in place for all prospects and donors in portfolios.
- Design and execute management reporting to facilitate the tracking of fundraiser activity using data-driven methodologies, best-practice prospecting analysis, and institutional goals.
- Synthesize a large amount of data in the larger context of meeting fundraising goals and providing actionable insights regarding VCU’s constituents.

Prospect Research and Pipeline Development

- Focus on exploring, developing, and implementing strategic pathways that combine new tools and processes to enhance the experience of the Prospect Development team, making their work easier and ultimately improve the ability to fundraise.
- Ensure a robust prospect pipeline, including structuring the delivery system, preparing discovery lists and protocols, assigning potential major gift prospects, setting goals and completing progress reports
- Lead the prospecting and screening process to provide a steady influx of identified and rated prospects into the institutional pipeline
- Conduct macro-level data analysis and synthesis of large and complex datasets that directly support the objectives and goals of pipeline development
- Play a critical role in analyzing development officers’ Discovery assignments and assist in relationship management strategies, including the process of identification, research, rating and categorization of prospective donors
- Perform due diligence on proposed volunteer or governing board nominations, complex donor recognition and other requests of the Gift Acceptance Committee

Collaborative Leadership

- Provide direct supervision, coaching, and mentoring to team members and assist in developing and monitoring progress towards short and long-term goals.
- Facilitate collaboration within and across internal departments, developing policies, processes and training, as well as making recommendations to maximize effectiveness, efficiency, and information sharing.
- Engage in professional development activities that will enhance job performance, including building networks within the university and with colleagues at highly-regarded prospect relationship management shops
- Build and align professional development to reflect a 21st century skill set. Team capabilities include adopting new tools (e.g. Tableau), creating data-driven processes (e.g. contact report form to capture data, a more data-driven portfolio review process, Fundmetric/AI), and partnering with other teams (e.g. Development, Analytics, etc.) to advance fundraising efforts.
- Collaborate with Advancement Solutions and DAR colleagues to build an effective data culture and serve as a steward for prospect data.

Measures of Success:

- Major gift portfolios are optimized based on portfolio composition, coverage (visits), movement towards solicitation, and other analytical data points to ensure that DAR meets both fiscal year and campaign revenue goals
- A robust major gift solicitation pipeline driven by information and data science
- Major gift officers meet and exceed their annual performance metrics by receiving analytical recommendations via deeper and more nuanced analysis of individual and organizational fundraising efforts and portfolios/solicitations
- PD team members are engaged and focused on projects that deliver the most impact through proactive research, identification, and analysis

As a team member, you will:

- Establish trusting and respectful professional relationships
- Practice an outward mindset toward colleagues of widely varying talent, contribution and background
- Represent DAR’s core purpose and values
- Safeguard the confidentiality of constituent information and establish standards of ethics and confidentiality regarding the handling of donor and volunteer information and train colleagues to understand/implement these standards.
- Maintain awareness of best practices, technology advances, and current issues within the advancement profession and be aware of the goals and activities of DAR to adapt the strategic vision of the department

Required qualifications/skills:

- Bachelor’s degree in the humanities, sales/marketing, analytics or related field
- 5-8 years of prospect, customer, or business development experience
- Demonstrated experience working in and fostering a diverse professional environment or commitment to do so
- Ability to solve problems while effectively collaborating with stakeholders throughout a complex, matrix organization
- Ability to provide strategic guidance to leadership and campus partners on all aspects of prospect and donor management and pipeline development
- Expert understanding of protocols and industry best practices for prospect development and business analytics.
- Commitment to research guidelines, methodologies and code of ethics statements as defined by the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (Apra), the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), and other related associations
- Skilled with analysis techniques and tools used to modify, retrieve, manipulate, and report on data from relational database management systems
- Familiar with donor/customer experience platforms like EverTrue, Salesforce, SalesLoft, Blackbaud, or similar platforms
- Expert leader with a track record of successful coaching and succession planning
- Excellent relationship management and interpersonal skills; superior judgment, negotiating skills and diplomacy
- Capable of managing multiple priorities while working strategically, collaboratively and inventively
- Proven budget management expertise
- Commitment to the mission and strategic goals of VCU and the VCU Health System

Preferred hiring standards:

- Master’s degree in Information Science, Library Science, Public Administration, Business or related areas
- Experience instituting a relationship management program in a complex fundraising and development operation including a background in fundraising analytics and data science

Position Details:

Department: Office of Development and Alumni Relations
VCU Job Title: Senior Director, DV 1 (15414)
Salary Range: $115,000 - $140,000
Employment Type: University and Academic Professional / Full-Time
Restricted Status: N/A
FTE: 1.0
Exemption Status: Exempt

Contact Information:

Contact Name: Carolyn Lee
Contact Email:

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