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Executive Director, RISD Fund

Rhode Island School of Design
Rhode Island, United States
Salary Not specified
Closing date
Feb 18, 2023

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Position Type
Fundraising, Annual Fund
Employment Type
Full Time

Rhode Island School of Design seeks an innovative and inclusive Executive Director to lead the RISD Fund.  

RISD students and staff come from a wide range of geographic, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, representing all forms of diversity.   We seek a culturally competent candidate who will thrive in a campus environment that advances principles of social equity and inclusion, environmental and climate justice and equal access to resources and opportunities.  All potential candidates must recognize diversity and inclusion as central to excellence.

If you’re looking to join a cohesive and talented team dedicated to engaging alumni, parents and friends through creative outreach strategies, we are interested in hearing from you. 

Founded in 1877, RISD has earned a global reputation as a leader in art and design education. It is recognized for its renowned faculty of artists and designers, the breadth of its specialized facilities, and the intensity of its studio-based approach to learning—an approach where critical thinking informs the making of works by hand. Approximately 2,500 students from around the world study at RISD, pursuing full-time bachelor’s or master’s degree programs in 19 fine arts, architecture, or design majors, complemented by essential study in the liberal arts. 

The RISD Museum, with the fourth largest college or university museum collection in the country, is an integral part of the institution and a resource for the College and the larger community. RISD’s mission incorporates artistic and scholarly achievement with social impact, and the institution has played a vital role in preparing students for leadership roles in all sectors, as demonstrated through the outstanding and varied accomplishments of its 31,000 alumni. 

Providence, Rhode Island offers its own vibrant art scene and is conveniently located between two other major cultural centers: Boston and New York. The RISD campus is contiguous with the campus of Brown University and the two institutions share social, academic, and community resources.

Position Overview

The Executive Director leads the development of a holistic strategy of philanthropic engagement for alumni, parents, families, and friends that yields sustained participation and generosity in the RISD Fund. 

The RISD Fund includes all current-use unrestricted and restricted gifts to RISD, excluding gifts for capital projects. 

In this role you will forge relationships and collaborate with members of the Institutional Advancement team, such as Alumni + Family Relations, Advancement Services, and Stewardship, and with administrative and academic department leaders. 

The Executive Director develops and implements a comprehensive multi-year plan and timeline with clear goals and metrics that incorporates a multi-channel strategy for solicitation and stewardship of RISD Fund donors, including more than 33,000 alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff, and friends. The Executive Director, through personal efforts and leadership of a team of (currently five) RISD Fund Officers, focuses on attracting leadership annual giving and expands giving to the 1877 Society ($2,500+) as a gateway for major gift support through comprehensive solicitation, programming, and personal gift solicitation.  In addition, the Executive Director and RISD Fund Officers secure leadership annual giving ($5,000+) from parents and recruit donors to the Families Association Leadership Council. The Executive Director, in partnership with the Executive Director of Alumni + Family Relations and representatives from Student Affairs, provides staffing support to the Council including organization of Council meetings, report preparation, talking points, and other materials required by Council leadership to effectively inform and engage fellow members. The Executive Director will hire, train, supervise, and evaluate professional staff and will oversee the selection, management, and evaluation of any RISD Fund vendor partners.


    Plan and execute a current-use giving program, establishing segmented strategies to engage and encourage support from alumni, parents, and friends, setting dollar goals to meet or exceed them while monitoring progress on an ongoing basis. Devise and implement an appropriately weighted multi-channel strategy including, but not limited to: telemarketing, direct mail, social media/crowdfunding, email, and text campaigns appropriate to each donor segment. Manage vendor relations including for student calling, direct response and marketing. Work cooperatively with the Executive Director of Donor Engagement with marketing/advertising agency. Recruit and grow a corps of volunteers to engage in donor cultivation and solicitation, especially for the 1877 Society leading to increased support at the $2,500+ level. Responsible for identifying, cultivating, soliciting and stewarding a limited pool of leadership annual giving prospects and donors, focusing on gifts of $10,000+. The individual will conduct at least 75 personal solicitations annually.  Lead a team of RISD Fund Officers in securing 1877 Society ($2,500+) and Families Association Leadership Council gifts ($5,000+), identifying donors with major gift potential ($100,000+) and working synergistically with philanthropy and planned giving officers to transition prospective donors to their portfolios for additional cultivation and solicitation. Recruit donors to the Families Association Leadership Council. Provide lead staffing support to the Council including organization of meetings, report preparation, talking points, and other materials required by Council leadership to effectively inform and engage fellow members. Partner with Executive Director of Alumni + Family Relations and volunteers to develop and promote a program that engages and attracts current use gifts from RISD student families while identifying those with major gift capacity. Partners with the Vice President of Institutional Advancement to ensure timely solicitations of trustees, emeriti trustees, and other leadership donors. Work synergistically with Executive Director of Alumni + Family Relations and team to engage 1877 Society donors and prospective donors as volunteer leaders, including through significant reunions.  Develop plan to engage faculty, staff, recent alumni, and students in philanthropy. Ensure all administrative functions relating to the RISD Fund are carefully managed and processes completed in a thorough and timely basis, including, but not limited to: development and management of program budgets and projections; generation and coordination of direct response campaigns; planning and implementation of special events; management reports; acknowledgements of gifts; monitoring and processing of pledge reminders.  Hire, train, professionally develop, manage, and evaluate all RISD Fund staff. Select, manage, and evaluate all RISD Fund service providers. Work collaboratively and synergistically with the RISD Museum Deputy Director of Development and External Affairs and peers on the Institutional Advancement Senior Management Group (SMG) including: the Senior Executive Director of Development; Executive Director of Alumni + Family Relations; Executive Director of Advancement Services; and Executive Director of Donor Engagement to achieve organizational goals and strategies. 


    Perform related duties as requested. Work collaboratively with other members of Institutional Advancement to support department initiatives, plans, and projects. Serve as a representative of Institutional Advancement with other campus partners.


Bachelor’s degree in relevant field required. Master’s degree in relevant field or equivalent combination of education and experience preferred. Ten years+ of fundraising experience devising and managing annual giving and/or membership programs, preferably in higher education. Proven ability to work and communicate effectively with a broad spectrum of divisional and institutional colleagues, within an environment that values diversity as defined by, race, color, religion, age, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, national origin, veteran status,  or any other characteristic protected by law. Demonstrated success in devising and executing comprehensive annual giving strategies and programs including digital direct marketing. Personal record of prospect solicitation and securing gifts at $50K+ level. Management experience and supervision of employees including hiring, training, and evaluating performance. Excellent oral and persuasive written communication and presentation skills. Strong organizational skills. Demonstrated effectiveness in outreach to volunteers and other fundraising partners. Interest/experience in art and design desirable.

Application and Nomination

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. A resume and cover letter explaining how the applicant meets the qualifications specified in this announcement may be submitted to, attention Maureen Pena.

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