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Yale University

Principal Gifts Officer

Deerfield Associates Executive Search, Inc. has been retained by Yale University to conduct a global search for a Principal Gifts Officer.

Yale University

Yale University was founded in 1701 and is the third oldest university in the United States. A private, coeducational institution located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale is a large research university made up of three major academic components: Yale College (the undergraduate program), the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and twelve professional schools. In addition, Yale encompasses a wide array of research organizations, libraries and museums, and administrative and support offices. Resources and facilities include: $27.2 billion in endowment funds, a 900-acre central campus with over 200 buildings, more than a dozen libraries totaling 15 million volumes, including the second largest university library in the country, and the second largest gymnasium in the world with 35 varsity sports teams. There are approximately 169,000 living alumni.

Situated on the scenic Connecticut shoreline, New Haven is two hours by train to New York City or Boston. With 130 restaurants, world class museums, shopping, music, and theater all within walking distance of the university campus, New Haven is a destination for tourists and locals alike. In addition, the region boasts hiking, cycling, skiing, boating, beaches, and numerous other family activities.

The Opportunity

As Yale prepares for an upcoming capital campaign, this position will play a high-profile role within the Principal Gifts unit. Reporting to the Associate Vice President for Development and working in close coordination with partners across Yale University, the Principal Gifts Officer is responsible for building relationships with and securing gifts of $10 million or more from affluent individuals in support of the university’s highest campaign priorities. The incumbent will develop and manage strategies that take into account the full range of donors’ broad philanthropic interests and affiliations, in close coordination with the Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development, Associate Vice President, senior university leaders, and academic and administrative partners. The incumbent will manage a principal gifts portfolio of active prospects and will support the Associate Vice President on implementing strategies for key prospects in the AVP portfolio.

This is an ideal opportunity for a collaborative, sophisticated, self-motivated, entrepreneurial and experienced development professional to come in on the ground floor of the campaign planning process and join a dynamic team of accomplished fundraisers and support staff in a vibrant Principal Gifts unit. The advancement professional we seek for Yale will develop and implement cultivation and solicitation strategies for a select high-end donor portfolio and build and manage high-profile institutional relationships between donors and faculty, staff, and administrators at the highest level of the university. The successful candidate will be strategically oriented, knowledgeable and experienced with principal gifts fundraising and capital campaigns, highly motivated, and a team player who is goal oriented. The complex nature of the gifts involved requires both a highly personalized attention to detail and a strong sense of sophistication in working with high net worth donors each with their own unique goals, interests and personal objectives. Extensive travel is required.

The Responsibilities

  1. Develops cultivation and solicitation strategies for a portfolio of prospects and donors. Builds and manages a network of relationships with prospective donors involving university administrators and faculty. Facilitates and coordinates all communication with these prospects and among the prospect’s campus relationships. Promotes positive relations with these prospects and donors.
  2. Collaborates with university faculty, staff and alumni to pursue strategies to engage, cultivate and solicit prospects in order to secure gifts for the university’s highest priorities.
  3. Collaborates with the AVP to devise and implement cultivation and solicitation strategies for prospects in the AVP portfolio.
  4. Evaluates various gift opportunities and giving vehicles and recommends the most suitable for a particular donor.
  5. Interacts with internal contacts such as the president, provost, deans, directors, faculty, officers, and other development staff to develop and implement prospect strategies and gift ideas, shape and finalize gift proposals, and produce timely and meaningful stewardship.
  6. Assists with the strategy for and creation of written correspondence from various university administrators to donors.
  7. Provides support on case strategy to gift officers outside the core principal gifts team who manage prospects with principal gift level capacity. Works with AVP to track progress of principal cases managed outside the core principal gifts team.
  8. May travel (possibly extensively) commensurate with Yale’s standard expectations for fundraising activity, contact and travel. May involve international travel depending upon prospect assignments.

Required Education and Experience

  • Bachelor’s Degree in a relevant field.
  • Eight years of experience in high end fundraising or a related field, preferably in higher education or equivalent combination of education and related experience.
  • Experience working with sensitive information and ability to maintain strict confidentiality.

Required Skill/Ability

  • Professional credibility, intellectual depth, maturity, and collaborative skills to lead others by influence.
  • Creative and entrepreneurial outlook with a strong intellectual curiosity.
  • Ability and willingness to travel.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and the proven ability to develop and negotiate complex relationships and proposals in person and in writing.
  • Ability to present complex funding opportunities to prospective donors in person and in writing.
  • Ability to develop long-term relationships with high level donors and prospects, as well as a proven track record of success in personally cultivating, soliciting and stewarding seven, eight and nine figure gifts.
  • The credibility, sound judgement, and capacity to engage, motivate and inspire faculty, university administrators, donors, volunteers, and colleagues.
  • Highly developed skills in negotiation, organization, analysis and fundraising, including the ability to interpret financial information and manage data.
  • Demonstrated ability to motivate and engage through highly effective presentations, and through both written and oral communication. A clear and confident communication style which demonstrates institutional knowledge and integrity.
  • Superior interpersonal and listening skills and the proven ability to collaborate as well as build strong working relationships with a diverse portfolio of donors as well as colleagues across the campus.
  • Exceptional negotiation skills and the political savvy to navigate a complex academic environment.
  • Ability to meet deadlines and function effectively in an environment demanding a high-energy level, discretion, flexibility, and superior work.

Preferred Education, Experience and Skills:

  • Personal success cultivating, soliciting and stewarding individual donors at the eight- and nine-figure levels at a university or college.
  • Experience engaging unaffiliated, high net worth individuals as prospects, preferably in a university setting.
  • Experience working closely with an institution’s president or CEO, faculty, senior officers, and fellow development professionals.
  • At least eight years of experience raising major capital gifts.

The University’s Development History

Yale University takes great pride in its three centuries of distinction in teaching, research and preparation of future leaders for this nation and the world. The university has grown and flourished during this time, thanks to the generosity of devoted alumni, parents and friends. To help ensure that excellence, the university engages donors on a personal basis in order to solicit their support of the university’s mission. This effort is carried out in a collaborative manner by staff in the university’s Alumni Affairs and Development unit.

Yale’s record-breaking “…and for Yale” campaign, which was conducted between 1992 and 1997 and raised $1.702 billion, was the largest capital campaign ever completed by a non-profit organization at that time. In September 2006, the university embarked on the public phase of the $3.0 billion “Yale Tomorrow” capital campaign, then raised the goal to $3.5 billion in the fall of 2008, and ultimately surpassed the goal on June 30, 2011, raising $3.88 billion.

Yale is now in the silent phase for its next capital campaign and is seeking exceptional individuals to be a part of this exciting future.

Yale’s Benefits

Yale University offers a dynamic and supportive work environment, competitive salaries and a generous benefits package including medical and dental plans, retirement plan and paid vacation. 

Yale University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

All external candidates for employment at Yale University will be subject to pre-employment screening. All offers are contingent on successful completion of a background check.

Contact Information

To explore this superb career opportunity on a highly confidential basis please send a letter of interest and a resume (both as Microsoft Word documents) to:

Doug Cooney, Executive Search Consultant, Deerfield Associates Executive Search, Inc.
572 Washington Street, Suite 15, Wellesley, MA 02482
Telephone: 781.237.2800

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