The vision for Southern Methodist University (SMU) has always
been bold. It is an enduring aspect of SMU’s character, exemplified
by its mission to create, expand, and impart knowledge through
teaching, research, and service, shaping world changers who
contribute to their communities and excel in their professions in a
global society. Founded in 1911, this nationally ranked
comprehensive research university with a liberal arts tradition
empowers the bold, curious, and creative with limitless
opportunities to effect real change and solve 21st-century
As president of SMU since 1995, R. Gerald Turner is leading an
era of unprecedented progress. President Turner’s tenure has
included two highly successful major gift campaigns: The Campaign
for SMU: A Time to Lead (1997 – 2002), followed by SMU Unbridled:
The Second Century Campaign (2008 – 2015). Together, these historic
major gift campaigns raised more than $1.6 billion for student
scholarships, endowed faculty positions, academic programs, and
capital projects, including new academic, student life, and
athletics facilities. SMU is about to embark on the public
phase of a third comprehensive campaign.
The optimistic outlook of Dallas is at the heart of SMU, and
SMU’s enterprising spirit has helped shape Dallas into a global
gateway for people of all backgrounds who want to change the world.
The 234-acre main campus near the heart of Dallas is a vibrant
environment of energy and creativity. Through its eight schools,
SMU boosts intellectual capital and shapes future leaders by
attracting exceptional students, faculty, and staff. The spark of
innovation powers an academic enterprise that spans the arts,
business, engineering, humanities, law, sciences, teaching, and
theology. It also promotes data literacy across disciplines and
ignites the vast potential at the intersection of data science,
high-speed computing, gaming, virtual reality, and artificial
intelligence to fuel research, creative scholarship, and
transformative teaching. As Dallas’ university, SMU offers students
life-changing access to the future-forward momentum of Big D – one
of the nation’s fastest-growing regions – for incredible learning,
research, social, and career opportunities.
Today, SMU is home to a student body of more than 12,000
undergraduate and graduate students – from all 50 states and 83
countries who take advantage of small classes, hands-on research
opportunities, leadership development, community service, and
innovative programs. Students of color constitute more than 31
percent of the student body. Forty-nine percent of undergraduates
and 48 percent of graduate students are female. More than half of
undergraduates are from outside Texas. Three out of four
undergraduate students receive grants and/or scholarships. Among
students reporting a religious preference, 28 percent are Catholic,
14 percent are Methodist, 46 percent are from other Protestant
denominations, and 12 percent represent other faiths (including
Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism).
As home to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, SMU is the
only private university with a presidential library on its main
campus. The Bush Center serves as a resource for the study of the
life and career of the 43rd president of the United States and
promotes an understanding of the Presidency, American history, and
important issues of public policy.
Well into its second century of achievement, SMU upholds a
steadfast commitment to its mission. The aspirations and optimism
that led to the school’s founding more than a century ago continue
to drive the future-focused academic enterprise, shaping world
changers – the problem solvers, the influencers, and the leaders
who will make an impact around the globe.
Under the leadership of President R. Gerald Turner, SMU has made
unparalleled progress in academic quality, infrastructure, and
financial strength, and seeks to advance even more in the years to
come. To that end, the school’s Strategic Plan 2016 – 2025
outlines University objectives to be achieved by 2025 and maps six
enduring goals: to enhance the academic quality and stature of the
University; to improve teaching and learning; to strengthen
scholarly research, creative achievement, and opportunities for
innovation; to sustain student development and a supportive campus
experience; to broaden global perspectives; and to increase revenue
generation and promote responsible stewardship of resources.
Reporting to the Senior Executive Director of Program Services
and Donor Relations, the Director of Donor Relations and
Stewardship is responsible for managing a team, and developing,
implementing, and continually improving a comprehensive stewardship
program focused on communications, recognition, naming
opportunities, endowment reporting and compliance, scholarship
stewardship, and custom major donor stewardship. The Director
collaborates closely with Development and External Affairs (DEA)
colleagues, as well as university leadership, to maintain donor
relations standards and donor-centric programming across all areas
of the university. Essential functions include:
Office of Donor Relations Management
- Oversee donor recognition and stewardship activity focused on
principal and major gift level donors, planned giving and endowment
giving, including but not limited to annual reporting and select
donor recognition programs.
- Introduce and implement new programs as necessary.
- Develop a more strategic, focused approach to the highest level
of lifetime giving.
- Lead a donor recognition strategy for naming opportunities,
including permanent donor recognition.
- Lead centralized efforts for a forward-thinking approach to
donor acknowledgments, honor rolls/donor lists, holiday stewardship
programs, and other stewardship communication.
- Oversee and manage specialized projects.
Donor Relations Culture Development
- Create a culture of knowledge of donor relations across the
- Work closely with the Office of Principal Gifts and Office of
Annual Giving and Alumni Relations on stewardship efforts towards
various annual giving donor societies and annual donor
- Develop stewardship standards for the university to be used by
all schools and units.
- Serve as a consultant to these areas as they develop their own
respective stewardship programs.
- Oversee partnership with Investments office and schools and
units to ensure donor intent is being met on the endowment
- Work with Enrollment Services and Financial Aid regarding
scholarship management and support stewardship for annual
scholarships and endowed funds.
- Represent Donor Relations in weekly DEA coordination meetings
with DEA colleagues on various areas of donor stewardship.
- Participate in relevant professional groups and trainings to
maintain a strong knowledge of best practices and trends in the
- Serve on the DEA Leadership Team.
Annual Planning, Budgeting and Personnel Management
- Create a cross-functional team culture of high performance,
excellence, and customer service.
- Lead and motivate individual team members and provide input and
direction while supervising a wide range of projects.
- Provide guidance, direction and career mentoring while setting
individual performance goals and evaluating staff performance.
- Work collaboratively with other managers within the Program
Services and Donor Relations unit to cultivate culture across the
Metrics, Tools, and Systems
- Establish metrics-driven donor relations activity utilizing
existing BBEC fundraising software.
- Collaborate with Development Services colleagues on setting
strategies for growth and improvement with reporting tools and
system functionality as well as utilizing additional tools and
- Develop standard vehicles designed to enhance communication
with donors, and a standard means for measuring success of such
- Track progress with the ultimate goal of improving services and
donor stewardship strategies.
THE IDEAL CANDIDATE
Five (5) years of professional work experience, including three
(3) years managing a team in donor relations and/or
Knowledge of industry standards.
Prior experience developing and administering budgets and
working with a customer relationship management system
Experience with Microsoft Office suite necessary and strong
Excel skills required.
Understanding of endowment spending and experience with
cloud-based donor engagement tools preferred.
Skills & Knowledge
Must have excellent organizational, time and project management,
interpersonal, written, and verbal communication skills.
Requires strong writing, copy editing, analytical abilities with
the ability to prepare reports and make effective and persuasive
presentations to internal and external constituents.
Ability to collaborate and guide the integrity and maintenance
of database records and files including those used to track donor
and gift information, endowments, major gifts, and other
Highly developed creative problem-solving skills.
A motivated self-starter who takes initiative, anticipates,
challenges, and follows through to deliver results.
A personable and engaging individual with a consistently
professional appearance when interacting with internal and external
A positive individual possessing high levels of initiative and
comfort working with teams or as an independent practitioner.
Ability to move comfortably in a wide variety of social
settings, including among people of substantial influence and
wealth, and the ability to forge solid personal relationships.
An individual who embraces diversity and fosters inclusion in
all aspects of life.
Intuitive, perceptive, and skilled at reading both people and
situations as well as flexible and willing to adapt, especially
when advancing multiple projects and priorities.
An individual who balances a sense of urgency in addressing
needs with the patience required of a team-oriented
A hardworking, self-motivated individual who fully dedicates
energy to a cause and is willing to “go beyond the job
description”, including extending extra effort when necessary to
see projects to successful conclusions.
A service-oriented person who engenders support among
colleagues, staff, and the community through knowledge, experience,
creativity, vision, and dedication to the mission of SMU.
Compensation Competitive with
comparable organizations, and commensurate with
experience, and prevailing market trends
After Hours This
position requires occasional work during the evenings and on
Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution required,