Senior Director of Foundation Relations

Michigan, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Mar 30, 2021
Apr 28, 2021
Employment Type
Full Time

Senior Director of Foundation Relations

Classification: Development Officer III/S

Level:   APSA 15



The Senior Director of Foundation Relations is responsible for planning, implementing, and evaluating a comprehensive program designed to fully develop potential gift and grant income from the foundation sector (private foundations, public charities, community foundations). This includes maintaining positive working relationships with foundations that are currently supporting the university as well as identifying and developing new relationships with foundations that have significant potential. The Senior Director will work closely with university and college leadership, faculty members, the Office of Sponsored Programs, and Institutionally Limited Proposals. Leading the Foundation Relations Team, they will work closely with University Advancement colleagues, among others, and will interface with the Senior Director of Corporate Relations to develop funding strategies for projects and initiatives that have both foundation and corporate support potential.


Reporting to the Associate Vice President for University Advancement, responsibilities include, but are not limited to:


  • Design and implement a proactive development plan (long-range and annual operating plans); expand and enhance foundation partnerships with the goal of increasing proposal submissions as well as gift and grant income from foundations.
  • Interface with the Provost, Vice President for Research, Deans, and/or University Advancement leadership to determine priorities for which foundation support will be solicited.
  • Maintain accurate and current information on the funding priorities and interests of top-tier foundations in each staff members’ portfolio and ensure strategies and ongoing next steps are in place for each.
  • Manage the identification, tracking, dissemination, and follow-up processes of foundation Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and other funding opportunities to internal constituents.
  • Assist University Leadership, Deans, and Faculty members in the preparation and submission of proposals to foundations.
  • Collaborate with university programs that have the potential to drive big ideas.
  • Manage the ideation and proposal development process to align with funding opportunities and to avoid competing interests.
  • Collaborate with the Office of Institutionally Limited Submissions on nominations and application development/submission for annual limited submission foundation awards and competitions.
  • Ensure practices and procedures are inclusive of interpersonal and cultural diversity.
  • Cultivate and maintain strong customer relationships and rapport with stakeholders and/or client groups.
  • Identify and respond appropriately to both internal and external customer needs utilizing available resources.
  • Collaborate in order to problem solve and make decisions to achieve desired outcomes.
  • Share knowledge, time, and expertise to assist other members of the team.
  • Review and approve (via the online transmittal process) all foundation proposals processed through the Office of Sponsored Programs, monitor the status of those proposals, and if funded, determine if the dollars are countable in University Advancement totals.
  • Maintain an active portfolio of major top-tier national-level foundations, focusing on significant university-level and/or multi-college initiatives that have the potential of generating seven-figure and above grants from foundations.
  • Coordinate and participate in strategic visits for university leadership (President, Provost, Vice President for Research and Innovation, Academic Leadership and Vice President for Advancement) with foundation leadership.
  • Develop and coordinate relevant foundation-related training sessions and presentations for faculty members as well as University Advancement colleagues.
  • Serve as an internal Foundation Relations consultant and advisor as necessary.
  • Represent the university at major foundation-related conferences, symposia, and other events.
  • Participate in requisite University and University Advancement leadership meetings, member of the Advancement Cabinet.


  • Interview and recommend the employment of approved professional assistant and support staff.
  • Supervise, direct, motivate, and evaluate professional assistant and support staff to ensure consistency in quantity and quality of work performed.
  • Set clear direction and priorities for staff, promoting excellence through clearly defined and measurable goals.
  • Conduct annual reviews of staff performance.


The Senior Director of Foundation Relations will communicate/interface with the following:

  • President
  • Executive Vice President and Provost
  • Executive Vice President for Health Sciences
  • Vice President for University Advancement
  • Associate Vice President for University Advancement
  • Vice President for Research and Innovation
  • Key Staff in the Office of Sponsored Programs
  • College Deans and Associate Deans for Research
  • Faculty Members
  • Executive Managers, University Advancement
  • Senior Director of Corporate Relations, University Advancement
  • University Advancement Staff


The Senior Director of Foundation Relations supervises the central-based Foundation Relations team with dotted line supervision to the Associate Directors of Corporate and Foundation Relations in a number of colleges and units.


The Senior Director of Foundation Relations reports to the Associate Vice President for University Advancement.



Knowledge equivalent to that which normally would be acquired by completing a four-year college degree program in Communications, English, Public Relations, Marketing and/or Business; five to eight years of related and progressively more responsible or expansive work experience in professional and higher education fundraising, public relations, marketing, development of budgets, preparation and presentation of case statements and analysis of operations; or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

Valid driver's license as travel is required.


The successful candidate for the position of Senior Director of Foundation Relations should have:

  • A bachelor’s degree and a minimum of seven years of relevant experience, preferably within a large, complex research university setting. An advanced degree is preferred.
  • A track record as a successful fundraiser, proven professional and collaborator with significant experience in foundation fundraising, preferably focused on the national foundation sector.
  • The vision and skills to develop a strategic long-range plan as well as annual operating plans to build new/enhance existing relationships with a goal of increasing gift and grant income from foundations.
  • Politically astute in working with faculty and deans in a highly complex environment.
  • An ability to work collaboratively across a range of Academic and Advancement staff.
  • Demonstrated strength in working with administrative and academic leadership.
  • An ability to discuss complex institutional initiatives with prospective foundation funders.
  • Excellent organizational, interpersonal, and networking skills with large groups as well as with individuals.
  • Excellent proposal development and writing skills.
  • Accomplishment in a position requiring independent planning and efficient utilization of time and resources.
  • Demonstrated leadership in successfully managing and mentoring a Foundation Relations team of fundraisers and support staff.

March 2021


If you have any questions regarding this position, please contact Pat Karam, Director of Recruitment at

Candidates must submit an application and resume through the Michigan State University Human Resources web-based system, the URL for this website is Please indicate the position number 697990 when submitting your application.

MSU is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer.

MSU is committed to achieving excellence through cultural diversity. The university actively encourages applications and/or nominations of women, persons of color, veterans and persons with disabilities.