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(Archived) Director of Development

Last Updated: 6/18/21

Job Description

The VCU L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs (Wilder School) seeks a dynamic and experienced Director of Development who will create and execute the planning and implementation of all Wilder School development and alumni activities. The high-caliber Director of Development will be charged with the creation and execution of a strategic advancement plan that will position the School to leverage its national reputation and rankings to address funding priorities and achieve short- and long-term fundraising goals. Under the direction of Dean Susan T. Gooden, the Director of Development will meet Wilder School fundraising goals, including advancing the legacy of the school’s namesake, Governor L. Douglas Wilder, advancing the school’s national prominence in social equity, and advancing student scholarships, fellowships, and endowed faculty positions.

The university recently concluded the Make It Real Campaign and is planning for the launch of the next capital campaign. The Director of Development will steer planning and operational preparations for the next campaign, the most aggressive in the school’s history.

The L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

Named after the Honorable L. Douglas Wilder, 66th Governor of Virginia, the first elected African-American Governor in the United States, and now a Distinguished Professor in the School, the Wilder School has over 1,100 students and more than 11,000 alumni. With an established environment where diverse perspectives thrive, we are a school where a common interest in public service and the betterment of society unites these perspectives together.

The 2022 U.S. News & World Report rankings confirm the Wilder School as tied as the No. 1 ranked program of public affairs in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It ranks among the top 15% of schools of public affairs nationally at No. 38. The Wilder School is also ranked No. 19 in Social Policy, No. 28 in Urban Policy, and No. 34 in Public Management and Leadership.

The Wilder School is a premier resource for public policy expertise and social equity in public safety, governance and economic and community development. Our academic excellence attracts the highest quality faculty and students, and our graduates are leaders in their professions. Our research and consulting practices have global impact. We proudly and intentionally reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

Our location in Richmond, the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, combined with our proximity to Washington, DC, provides national and international opportunities for our students and faculty and for engaged scholarship, teaching and community engagement activities. The Wilder School is a creative, interdisciplinary School with both academic programs and training/research centers in public affairs. For additional information about the Wilder School, please visit our website at wilder.vcu.edu.

VCU Development and Alumni Relations

In 2020, Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) completed the largest fundraising campaign in VCU’s history, with donors contributing $841.6 million. The Make It Real Campaign for VCU funded the critical initiatives that will become points of distinction for VCU long into the future.

DAR Vice President Jay E. Davenport, CFRE, leads the development and alumni relations teams across the institution. Now topping 240 staff, the development enterprise is a hybrid operation, with a strong central team dedicated to marketing and engagement, alumni relations, advancement services and centralized philanthropy services that include regional, planned and corporate and foundation giving. Each dean also has a development team that co-reports to DAR. Davenport is highly regarded as a national leader of university campaigns and recently co-chaired the national CASE conference on campaigns. He and his leadership team are dedicated to creating a sophisticated and diversified advancement operation that recruits, retains and grows its talent through targeted investments.


Chief purpose of this position in support of above mission or goal:

The Director of Development will be highly organized, focused on achieving individual giving and institutional fundraising goals and driving all major gift activity for the school. They will manage a portfolio of donors that includes current and previous donors as well as new prospects, cultivating and stewarding their interest and involvement in the School to result in not only expanded, but also increased levels of giving.

The Director of Development will report to the Dean of the Wilder School. The Director of Development will inspire and manage the development team members around a shared vision for the School’s long-term success. As a visible and people-oriented development professional with a commitment to morale building, the Director of Development will adapt easily to varying situations and be comfortable engaging with a wide range of individuals while displaying integrity, warmth, grace and humor.

Position Responsibilities:

  • Serve as the school’s lead fundraiser and development officer, managing and coordinating the School philanthropy program.
  • Meet philanthropic targets and contribute to the overall mission and strategic goals of the Wilder School.
  • Design, establish, and execute annual and long-range fundraising operating plans and goal-setting plan tied to the strategic needs of the school.
  • Plan and implement the School’s integrated fundraising efforts; coordinating major gift, annual giving, and event sponsorship strategy.
  • Ensure the accurate documentation of major gift solicitation plans and activities in the university’s prospect management system.
  • Steward current relationships and serve as the key point person for the school for all philanthropic activities, goals, and programming.
  • Develop an engagement plan for alumni, donors and other stakeholders to support the goals of the school.
  • Manage a portfolio of approximately 125-150 of the school’s top prospects.
  • Assist with identifying relationships and opportunities for national, regional and other grant opportunities promoting the mission and vision of the school.
  • Coordinate and leverage fundraising activities with all other units at VCU.
  • Integrate the dean, faculty, students and alumni into development activities where most appropriate and effective.
  • Engage, educate, and train faculty, center directors and staff in fundraising practices and activities as well as with school priorities.
  • Coordinate composition, editing, and publishing of fundraising reports.
  • Supervise, direct, motivate, and evaluate development support staff to assure the consistency, quality, and quantity of work performed.

The Director of Development will personally maintain a select portfolio of high-level prospects and donors capable of giving at the major and principal gift levels. The successful candidate will have a proven track record of leadership, management, and campaign experience.

Our ideal colleague must have the energy, enthusiasm, experience and drive, to set and achieve ambitious goals; the political savvy to navigate a complex academic community; and the ability to build bridges and strong collaborative relationships across the school, the university, and with a diverse body of alumni and donors.

Qualifications and Experience

Qualified candidates will have at least five years of senior development and fundraising experience with demonstrated success securing major individual, legacy, political, corporate and/or foundation gifts. The Director of Development will have a proven ability to achieve revenue goals leveraging best practices, emerging trends, and innovations in securing philanthropic support in the development arena. Successful candidates will have depth of knowledge in strategic advancement, annual fund giving, and prospect research. The Director of Development will demonstrate evidence of significant, substantial, and increasing responsibility in a senior development role within a higher education, political, non-profit, or private sector setting.


Minimum Qualifications


  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • Demonstrated success managing multiple significant and successful fundraising campaigns
    • Experience leading and supervising advancement professionals who are successful fundraisers.
  • Demonstrated experience initiating high-level gifts and facilitating discussions with corporate, foundation, and individual donor prospects.
    • A progressive track record of success as an effective leader with expertise in personnel management and strategic planning.
  • Demonstrated experience working in an environment that respects and prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Demonstrated experience working in and fostering a diverse faculty, staff, and student environment or commitment to do so as an employee at VCU.
    • Outstanding interpersonal skills and political savvy, with the ability to navigate a complex environment and understand and relate effectively with diverse constituents.
    • Ability to function at peak in a high expectation environment.
    • Excellent written, verbal, and presentation skills and the ability to communicate in a clear, consistent, and transparent manner to create shared goals and understanding.
    • Willingness and ability to travel regularly, including overnight and occasional weekends.


Preferred Qualifications:


  • Master’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • Demonstrated success securing six-and-seven figure gifts.
  • Experience expanding donor and prospect base and enlarging development footprints beyond “local” geography.

Applications should be submitted to https://www.vcujobs.com/postings/105913, and include a cover-letter and a detailed resume with the names and contact information of three references. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled, with priority review beginning June 7, 2021.

Contact: Paula Otto, Search Chair (piotto@vcu.edu).

“Virginia Commonwealth University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action university providing access to education and employment without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, political affiliation, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or disability”.