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Vice President of Development

Alliance for the Great Lakes
Illinois, United States
$120,000.00 - $140,000.00
Closing date
Apr 14, 2023


Title: Vice President of Development  

Status: Full-time, Exempt  

Location: Chicago preferred  

Role: The Vice President of Development (VPD) will lead our strategic fundraising growth and donor relations efforts for the next five years and beyond. The VPD establishes and leads implementation of long-range fundraising strategy and will be a key advisor informing future organizational strategy.  

Structure: The VPD reports to the President & CEO, manages the Development Team, and works closely with other senior staff leaders. They serve as liaison to our Board of Directors Vice-Chair for Development.  

Compensation and Benefits: Starting range is $120,000-140,000, commensurate with experience. Medical, dental, short- and long-term disability, life insurance, FSA, 11 paid holidays, 3 weeks vacation to start + PTO; Fidelity 401(k) with employer match of up to 6% of salary.  

Work Environment: Flexible hybrid in-person downtown Chicago office and remote TBD; travel required.  



The Alliance for the Great Lakes seeks its next Vice President of Development (VPD) to lead our strategic fundraising growth and donor relations efforts for the next five years and beyond. The VPD establishes and leads implementation of the organization’s long-range fundraising strategy to support organizational growth during and beyond the current strategic plan. They will be a key advisor informing the Alliance’s next program strategy. They lead the Alliance’s effort to connect donors and resources to our strategy and organization and ensure that Alliance leaders are positioned to create opportunities for revenue growth. They build the networks, narratives and opportunities that energize and engage the Alliance’s individual donors, family foundations, and business partners.  

The VPD is part of the organizational Leadership Team. They work closely with the Finance and Operations Team, which leads on revenue & expense accounting, grant budgeting, Salesforce administration and reporting, and project management. The VPD also works collaboratively with the VP of Communication and Engagement and their team, which markets the Alliance’s lower-dollar donor program. They partner with the COO on management of foundation grant fundraising, which requires extensive collaboration with program staff.   

The VPD manages the Development Team, comprising the Foundation & Corporate Giving Manager, Individual Giving Manager and Development Associate. The team is responsible for day-to-day execution of institutional, family, and mid- to high-level individual fundraising. They are accountable for delivery of annual and multiyear revenue objectives, and for achieving growth and retention targets.  

The VPD will start work from a position of strength. Our staff of 26 and 18-member Board of Directors include some of the country’s leading Great Lakes advocates, experts and communicators. Our organization has a well-regarded record of recent and historic successes dating to 1970. The Alliance’s capacity stands tall among state and regional environmental advocacy organizations across the country, with more than $10 million in assets of which more than 70% is unrestricted. We draw more than $1 million in support from individual and family donors each year. Combined with a sterling reputation among private foundations and businesses, the Alliance generates more than $4 million in revenue annually from a diverse base of donors. 

The long-term goals of this position are: 

By the end of 2024, the Alliance can raise $5MM+ in annual sustainable revenue. 

Within five years, the Alliance is sustaining sufficient annual sustainable revenue to support completion of our 2025 strategic plan, with a likely target of at least $7MM, with most growth coming from individuals, families and businesses. 

A typical week for the VPD might begin with a round of donor follow-ups to secure meetings. After that, you meet with the CEO and Board Vice-Chair for Development to outline needs for a Board fundraising strategy planning session happening next month. Tuesday is major donor meeting day and you’ve been able to secure two appointments in the same day in the Chicago suburbs, but they are far apart so you are on the road and chatting with our supporters. Wednesday kicks off in the office with a full team meeting to confirm highest priorities for the next week. Later that day, you have individual check-ins with each of your staff. Last week at an event you attended, a current Alliance donor offered to meet to discuss a potential new six-figure gift, so Thursday you work with the CEO to decide how to frame the next conversation. Friday, one of your team members brings over marketing content from the Communications and Engagement team to figure out how to use it to reach our higher-level donors. You update changes in Salesforce for the week and get yourself ready to start follow ups again on Monday. 




The VPD creates and leads the development strategy that supports the Alliance’s current strategic plan and positions the organization for its next phase of growth.    

  • Create a fundraising strategy and action plan aligned to and integrated with the organization’s current objectives and long-term vision  
  • Design program narratives, descriptions of needs, and success stories in ways that engage and excite the donors with the ability to grow the Alliance’s revenue  
  • Set the annual revenue objectives with Alliance leadership, and design the tactical plans that will ensure progress toward the fundraising strategy goal  
  • Create and lead an intentional moves management strategy that reflects a multi-year pipeline of donor upgrades, growth and retention  
  • Provide guidance and recommendations on future organizational strategy in collaboration with the CEO and board leaders   
  • Advance the Alliance’s diversity, equity, inclusion and justice principles in alignment with development goals. 


The VPD is the primary connector between the Alliance’s programs and those with the ability to support our work. 

  • Maintain and grow a portfolio of primary donor relationships that provide a substantial annual foundation for the Alliance’s work 
  • Lead creation of communications that energize and engage mid- and high-level individual, family and business donors 
  • Activate the President & CEO, board members and other Alliance leaders on external donor relations, public relations and influence building, and specific gift ask opportunities 
  • Design points of engagement throughout the year and across the region between mid-to-high level individual, family, foundation and business donors and the Alliance board and staff  
  • Use convening and events to build and nurture relationships and philanthropic influence 
  • Advise on creation of digital and print materials to ensure fundraising relevance of Alliance image and brand  


The VPD has primary responsibility for setting and reporting on the key performance indicators that demonstrate progress toward fundraising strategy goals. 

  • Set metrics and KPIs for successful implementation of the fundraising strategy and relevant annual targets. 
  • Partner with the Finance and Operations team to ensure revenue and donor data captured in Salesforce supports robust and transparent analysis of progress 
  • Report regularly to Leadership staff and Board of Directors 
  • Identify and recommend timely strategic and tactical changes to address shortfalls and missed opportunities. 


The VPD leads and supervises a team of staff and administers the Development department.  

  • Manage development staff charged with tactical implementation of annual fundraising plans for mid- and high-level individual and family donors, institutional foundations, and businesses. 
  • Create and track annual budget and workplan for department 
  • Evaluate staff performance comprehensively, including for progress toward annual objectives and fulfillment of organizational values  
  • Mentor and coach staff to listen to and partner with program staff to advance the fundraising strategy 
  • Manage fundraising engagement of the Board of Directors through the Development Committee in partnership with the Vice-Chair for Development 
  • Illustrate the impact of philanthropy to our full staff 
  • Nurture, grow and develop a passionate, inspired and accountable staff team aligned to the Alliance’s values and principles 



  • Bachelor’s degree and 10+ years of experience in fundraising at increasing levels of responsibility, with a preference for a focus in major individual, family and corporate giving 
  • Demonstrated success building and implementing multiyear fundraising strategy to grow a portfolio of mid and high level ($1000 - $100K+) individual/family and corporate/business ($25K - $100K+) gifts 
  • Track record of building trusted relationships with individual donors, with intuitive ability to understand and communicate organizational programs, priorities and motivations 
  • Demonstrated skill at crafting narratives and stories that amplify organizational success and create compelling cases for future giving 
  • Expert ability to develop donor pipelines, and establish KPIs that inform efficient and smart tactical fundraising choices 
  • Keen understanding of real-world fundraising environment, with demonstrated ability to adapt both to immediate external disruptions and  long-term trends 
  • Staff supervision experience 
  • Actively engaged in professional development and ongoing learning networks within philanthropy sector 
  • Familiarity and comfort with policy advocacy as a primary organizational mission 
  • Strong network and relationship portfolio in one or more of the Alliance’s priority revenue growth streams including mid-level individual, major individual/family, and corporate donors 
  • Strong networks within the philanthropic community, especially in Chicago. Access to other networks in the Great Lakes region desired, particularly in northern Ohio, Michigan, and eastern Wisconsin 
  • Innate sense of diplomacy, tact and poise around all kinds of people 
  • Experience diversifying an individual donor base, with a priority of building relationships with donors across generational, geographic and cultural boundaries 
  • Experience coordinating with mass marketing acquisition and stewardship that drives small donor giving and generates new leads 
  • Experience motivating members of a board of directors to engage on fundraising strategy and relationship building 
  • Unwavering commitment to building, managing and mentoring inclusive teams that cut across diversities of race, gender, culture, socioeconomic class, and geography. 
  • Commitment to and passion for mission-driven public interest work related to the Great Lakes, clean water, climate adaptation, and the role of water in community and regional resilience and revitalization.  
  • Commitment to Alliance values of community, relationships, courage, integrity, and optimism  
  • Collaborative, collegial, with a good sense of humor and ability to adapt to diverse work styles; adept at working in teams and independently in both virtual and in-person settings. 
  • Familiar with Microsoft Office Suite and project management software 
  • Familiarity with Salesforce and commitment to using the system as the Alliance’s repository of all donor data and relational knowledge 


Job Parameters  

  • This position is full-time and consistent with Alliance employment policy.  The starting salary range is $120,000-140,000 commensurate with experience. 
  • Excellent benefits, including medical, dental, short- and long-term disability, life insurance, FSA, 11 paid holidays, 3 weeks vacation to start + PTO; and Fidelity 401(k) with employer match of up to 6% of salary, eligible after 30 days. 
  • The preference is for the VPD to be in the Chicago/southern Lake Michigan area due to proximity of donor base and staff team. Open to discussion of location with qualified candidates. Travel within the Lake Michigan region is required, with occasional travel elsewhere in the Great Lakes region. 


Application Process 

Please e-mail a cover letter, resume, references and writing sample to: Include job title in the subject line.  

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Materials should be compatible with Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat. Applicants will receive confirmation of receipt of their materials and further guidance and updates about the hiring process by e-mail, with interviews provided for finalists. No phone inquiries please. 


About the Alliance for the Great Lakes 

The Alliance for the Great Lakes is an Equal Opportunity Employer. The search process will reinforce the Alliance’s belief that achieving diversity requires an enduring commitment to inclusion that must find full expression in our organizational culture, values, norms, and behaviors.  

Our vision is a thriving Great Lakes and healthy water that all life can rely on, today and far into the future. We aspire to be a voice for the lakes, and to support the voices of the communities that depend on the lakes and their waters. 

The missionof the Alliance for the Great Lakes is to protect, conserve and restore the Great Lakes ensuring healthy water in the lakes and in our communities for all generations of people and wildlife. We advance our mission as advocates for policies that support the lakes and communities, by building the research, analysis and partnerships that motivate action, and by educating and uniting people as a voice for the Great Lakes.   

To achieve our vision and mission, everyone in our organization will live our values of Community, Relationships, Courage, Integrity and Optimism, and weave the principles of Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion into all our work. Each value and principle is backed by measurable goals and expectations for our Board of Directors and staff.  

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