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Chief Revenue Development Officer

Zoological Society of Milwaukee
Wisconsin, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Closing date
Apr 28, 2023


The Zoological Society of Milwaukee passionately works to conserve wildlife and the environment, educate its community through innovative programs, and support the Milwaukee County Zoo. The Society was established in 1910 as an informal group of community leaders who bought animals and raised funds for the Milwaukee County Zoo. As a nonprofit organization, the Society directly operates education programs and local, regional, and international conservation efforts, and raises funds to support these programs as well as the Zoo itself. Together, the Zoo and Society serve more than 1.1 million Zoo visitors a year.


Reporting to the President & CEO, the Chief Revenue Development Officer is a new position that will lead all initiatives related to the Zoological Society of Milwaukee’s development, fundraising operations, and membership and marketing efforts. The position will lead a team of 30+ employees (with 3 direct reports) in raising over $11M in annual revenue.


Within the first 12 to 18 months, the Chief Revenue Development Officer will achieve the following major objectives:

  • Plan, develop, and implement a visionary, long-term strategy that effectively unites the Development and Membership, Marketing, & Communications departments into a single fundraising engine, leverages all giving channels in a coordinated and comprehensive way, and shifts toward a more holistic approach to donor engagement that drives maximum giving.
  • Establish strong, collaborative, trusting relationships with President & CEO, Management Team, Board Members, Zoo Director, and the Development and Membership, Marketing, & Communications teams.
  • Build and lead a high-performing fundraising operation that grows an increasingly larger and diverse donor base by clarifying portfolio assignments, ensuring strong moves management, and increasing out-of-the door engagements.
  • Establish a metrics-based approach to revenue development that is grounded in concrete data, operates from clear, ambitious KPIs, and regularly produces progress reports.


The Chief Revenue Development Officer will have the following primary responsibilities:


  • Develop and execute a comprehensive and multi-year fundraising strategy aligned with the Society’s strategic plan, and work closely with the Senior Director of Development, Director of Membership & Communications, and the Manager of Fundraising Operations & Stewardship to create and oversee annual fundraising plans in support of that strategy.
  • Set clear direction and priorities for the Development, Fundraising Operations & Stewardship, and Membership & Communications staff; set measurable goals and motivate staff through active communication and delegation.
  • Work with the CEO and other senior leaders to develop clear and compelling messages that articulate the Society’s funding priorities and describe the strengths and aspirations of the Society.
  • Develop a high performing team to drive toward aggressive annual growth in fundraising; oversee all personnel activities for the department, including the recruitment, hiring, onboarding, training, and retention of staff as well as defining the job responsibilities and performance review process for staff members.


  • Guide the development of strategies for acquiring new members, retaining current members, and re-capturing lapsed members, with the goal of maintaining and growing strong Zoo Pass membership (currently a $7 million annual revenue stream).
  • Serve as the liaison to the Board’s Marketing Committee.
  • Oversee all Zoological Society marketing efforts, media relations, publications, sponsorship, cause marketing/promotional activities, education programs, capital campaign, and events/exhibits.
  • Work with staff to plan promotions for the year.
  • Oversee the staffing of the Society’s Associate Board (special events staff will serve as the direct liaison).
  • Ensure that the Society’s social media presence is maximized, branding guidelines are maintained, and production and proofing of print and online magazines and newsletters is properly managed.


  • Ensure the coordinated strategy of prospect development across the Society’s giving channels, including annual giving, major gifts, grants, etc., with particular focus on expanding the organization’s major gifts program.
  • Provide the highest level of support to the CEO in her role as a fundraiser, serving as a co-strategist and partner in cultivating and soliciting gifts.
  • Personally manage a portfolio of 60 individuals and institutions with $100K+ giving capacity (inclusive of the CEO’s portfolio of 30); lead by example to ensure that timely steps are taken toward solicitation.
  • Continue to assess donor stewardship practices; elevate the importance of stewarding all gifts and programs that strengthen donors’ interests in, satisfaction with, and commitment to the Society.
  • Provide significant support to the Board for their fundraising activities on behalf of the Society, serving as the liaison to the Board’s Development Committee.
  • Expand the grants program into a robust operation that capitalizes on a wider range of funding opportunities.


  • Cultivate strong working relationships with senior leaders at the Society and the Zoo; ensure that teams collaborate and communicate in order to continuously integrate fundraising throughout the enterprise.
  • In close collaboration with the CFO, proactively manage the budgeting process, anticipating costs and prioritizing needs.
  • Ensure that all systems and processes follow sound budgetary, legal and accountability practices.


The ideal candidate will possess most of the following qualifications:

  • An enthusiastic commitment to the Zoological Society of Milwaukee’s mission, vision, and philosophy, and a passion for animals.
  • A minimum of seven to ten years of senior-level leadership experience managing successful comprehensive advancement teams, with a track record of building significant annual, major, principal, and planned gifts.
  • Proven staff management skills with the ability to foster an environment characterized by high levels of employee engagement and high performance developed through teamwork and collaboration.
  • Excellent interpersonal demeanor with a strong commitment to high ethical standards and professionalism, and the ability to establish trust at all levels.
  • The ability to effectively present to diverse audiences and organizations of various sizes, including donors, co-workers, volunteers, governmental agencies, community groups, and the general public.
  • Experience guiding membership strategy.
  • Expertise in the field of marketing and communications.
  • An innovative, strategic, and entrepreneurial approach to fundraising and donor cultivation.
  • A strong track record of exceeding ambitious goals in annual, capital, and endowment campaigns
  • The ability to quickly establish relationships with major donors both within the metro-Milwaukee area and the State of Wisconsin, preferably also in Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota.
  • Strong organizational and time management skills with the ability to delegate effectively.
  • Excellent writing skills with attention to detail and the ability to create concise, creative, and engaging content.
  • A knowledge of Tessitura or similar donor-management software, and proficiency in Microsoft Suite, including Excel, Outlook and Word.
  • The ability to think creatively and develop and apply innovative approaches to problem-solving.
  • Excellent analytical, strategic and decision-making skills.
  • Strong business and financial acumen.
  • Possession of a valid driver’s license and the ability to frequently travel out-of-town and overnight, including via air travel.
  • A Bachelor’s degree or equivalent relevant experience is required.

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