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Senior Director of Development, Foundation Relations

University of Denver, Office of Advancement
Colorado, United States
$115,000.00 - $125,000.00
Closing date
May 17, 2022

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Position Type
Fundraising, Corporate and Foundation Relations, Fundraising Administration
Employment Type
Full Time
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In preparation for the most ambitious philanthropic campaign in the University’s history, the University of Denver is building an advancement enterprise that mirrors the excellence of our great institution. Advancement efforts at DU have a tremendous impact through our relationships with DU’s remarkable students, dedicated donors, inspiring alumni, engaged families, and wonderful friends. DU is committed to building and fostering a culture of deep engagement and philanthropy in support of our institution as we implement the DU IMPACT 2025 vision and prepare for a fundraising campaign with a bold and courageous goal.

The University of Denver and DU Advancement deeply value inclusive excellence, recognizing that its success is dependent on how well it values, engages, and includes the rich diversity of constituents. You can learn more about inclusive excellence at the University of Denver by visiting the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. As a part of that effort, we are continuing to grow a team of inclusive, collaborative, inquisitive, innovative, ethical, and transparent advancement professionals who possess deep mutual respect for one another and for our shared profession.

Position Summary

The University of Denver is seeking an experienced, driven, and passionate Foundation Relations fundraiser to join our Advancement team as the Senior Director of Development, Foundation Relations. Reporting directly to the Executive Director of Foundation Relations, the Senior Director of Development will partner with administrative, academic, and advancement colleagues to secure funding from private grant making organizations in support of the University's highest priorities with a strong focus on STEM aligned schools, colleges, and institutes. The Senior Director serves as a subject matter expert in the area of institutional giving (predominately private foundations) and will actively pursue funding opportunities for the university's top priorities. The Senior Director will manage a large and diverse portfolio of foundation prospects that are aligned with DU’s STEM areas of strength. They will develop and mature their assigned portfolio of foundation donors including the management of foundation prospects in pursuit of individual and unit goals set annually in collaboration with the Executive Director and the Assistant Vice Chancellor for University Development. Additionally, the Senior Director will establish and maintain relationships with program officers and foundation leadership to assist in advocacy of university programs for funding opportunities. They will serve as a close partner and key resource for the Deans of the Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics to strategically partner with funders aligned to DU’s STEM priorities with the goal of securing philanthropic (gifts and grants) support. The campus-wide Advancement team is highly collaborative in its work and the Senior Director will be expected to build and foster extensive value-added relationships with their campus partners.

The successful candidate will possess a strong capacity for developing relationships with foundation leadership, as well as foundation program officers, to actively cultivate, solicit, and close complex gifts and philanthropic grants from institutional funders. The candidate will conceive and implement customized strategic cultivation and solicitation plans for each foundation prospect. They must possess excellent communication (written and oral) and relationship-building skills, as well as have a deep commitment to elevate STEM-related education and have keen awareness and appreciation for emerging issues and opportunities in engineering, computer science, natural sciences, mathematics, and innovation.

Primary Responsibilities:


  • Secure philanthropic support for the University of Denver, working primarily with foundation donors assigned to their portfolio and/or unqualified foundations that are aligned with the university's top priorities, as well as unit priorities.
  • Leverage qualification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship strategies and techniques in the area of private foundation/institutional fundraising.
  • Proactively identify new sources of institutional support from private foundations.
  • Develop meaningful and productive relationships with a portfolio of foundation donors and prospects that are both local and nationally based.
  • At a steady state, achieve an annual fundraising goal of $1-4M from assigned portfolio in collaboration with academic leadership and other development professionals.
  • Utilizing a thorough understanding of the university's highest priorities, build productive relationships with select faculty, leadership, and other staff at DU to successfully identify compelling and fundable programs, research, and priorities.
  • Collaborate with other academic leadership and colleagues across advancement to effectively design and execute compelling and successful gift strategies.
  • Travel (alone and with DU leadership) to meet foundation prospects and donors with the purpose of effective, coordinated and efficient cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship.
  • Partner with stewardship colleagues around acknowledgments for received foundation gifts, as well as partner with marketing and communication colleagues regarding press releases and media announcements for select grant awards and programs.

Grant Proposal Management 

  • Appropriately coordinate applicable aspects of awards with advancement and/or the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP).
  • Strategically serve as a partner for grant development, assisting with pre-proposal and proposal design, writing, editing, budget preparation, and generation of proposal collateral for the university's top priorities.
  • Effectively monitor and manage the status of solicitations and corresponding reporting requirements from multiple units and divisions across campus for projects that are aligned to priorities.


  • Educate colleagues and peers across campus on foundation relation techniques, and lead partnerships with colleagues to structure and successfully close gifts involving foundation gifts at the 6-figure+ level.
  • Provide mentorship to others in Foundation Relations.
  • Engage in the advancement goal-setting process for Foundation Relations metrics.
  • Effectively and responsibly steward budgetary and other resources to advance the University of Denver.

Partnerships & University Citizenship

  • Serve as an active and collaborative partner to all academic departments and functions, central and unit-based advancement functions, and other campus colleagues, to foster strategic, effective, and collaborative fundraising practices for foundations.
  • Model One DU leadership.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Advanced knowledge of Foundation Relations techniques and best practices and familiarity with the long-term and complex nature of foundation partnerships.
  • Demonstrated ability to close major gifts ($50,000+) through principal gifts ($5 million+) in a relationship-based culture.
  • Demonstrated ability to form and fully leverage cross-functional teams of colleagues, staff, and academic/administrative leaders toward closure of transformational gifts.
  • Demonstrated technical knowledge of proposal concept development and proposal writing.
  • Proven ability for strong and compelling written and oral communications.
  • Experience independently strategizing with academic leadership or equivalent leadership to successful conclusions.
  • Demonstrated ability to work with various stakeholders at all levels.
  • Proven ability to work with a high level of confidence and independence, to maintain confidentiality, to prioritize assignments, and to manage time effectively.
  • Strong project management experience, with the ability to successfully engage in multiple initiatives simultaneously.
  • Demonstrated interpersonal skills that help foster and maintain effective relationships with colleagues, foundations, and university officials/leaders.
  • Ability to interact effectively with diverse groups having competing interests and priorities within the University and community.
  • Cultural competency and ability to understand and appreciate cultural differences and to communicate effectively across cultures.
  • Ability to serve as a strong coach and mentor to other advancement professionals and to foster an inclusive, collaborative, inquisitive, innovative, ethical, and transparent office culture founded on deep mutual respect.

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent combination of education and work experience (Veterans with equivalent combination of military certification/education and experience may substitute for the degree qualification)
  • 5 years of paid fundraising experience, working within the full spectrum of development, including qualification, cultivation, gift solicitations, stewardship, and donor recognition
  • Demonstrated experience soliciting, securing, and stewarding gifts from foundations (major gift + levels)

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Graduate degree
  • Experience working in a University setting or similarly complex non-profit environment
  • Experience working in a STEM related academic setting
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