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Chief Development Officer

Special Olympics Illinois
Illinois, United States
$170,000.00 - $180,000.00
Closing date
Jun 12, 2024


Special Olympics is a global organization that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sport, every day around the world. Special Olympics Illinois, accredited by Special Olympics, Inc., is a not-for-profit organization offering year-round training and competition in 18 sports to a community of more than 55,000 traditional athletes, Young Athletes, Unified Partners, coaches, volunteers, and more.

Special Olympics transforms the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, allowing them to realize their full potential in sports and in life. Special Olympics programs enhance physical fitness, motor skills, self-confidence, social skills and encourage family and community support.

Special Olympics began in Illinois with the first games at Soldier Field in July 1968. Innovators, pioneers, and concerned, forward-thinking individuals of goodwill including Anne McGlone Burke, Dr. William Freeberg of Southern Illinois University, Dr. Frank Hayden, William McFetridge and Dan Shannon of The Chicago Park District, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver helped establish Special Olympics as an essential part of our modern history. Eunice Kennedy Shriver opened the competition with what is now the Athlete Oath. Today, the Special Olympics movement represents 3.9 million athletes in 227 national and state Programs operating in 177 countries and jurisdictions that host 46,000 annual competitions. Special Olympics Illinois is financially sound with diverse revenue streams and a thorough annual budget process. Special Olympics Illinois does not charge athletes or their families to participate in the program.

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” -Athlete Oath



The Chief Development Officer, a pro-active, energetic, relationship builder and mission-driven fundraising strategist, will have an exciting and rewarding opportunity to build the next phase of transformative growth for Special Olympics Illinois. Reporting directly to the President & CEO, the Chief Development Officer is responsible for planning and leading all aspects of fundraising and campaign initiatives.

The Chief Development Officer will bring demonstrated experience building and growing comprehensive development programs with a team of dedicated professionals which include a centralized development team and various leaders representing eleven different regions across Illinois. The Chief Development Officer will also have strength in developing individual giving programs and will carry a portfolio of individual donor prospects. The Chief Development Officer will be creative, entrepreneurial, and comfortable in an environment that requires high-level strategic planning combined with hands-on execution.



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

  • Establish trust and confidence with the President & CEO, Executive Leadership Team, Board members, and development staff through measured, collaborative, and capable leadership.
  • Develop and implement a visionary, long-term strategic plan for development that centers fundraising at the organization as part of the annual strategic and budget planning cycle targeting 10% growth over two years.
  • Build, lead, mentor, and support a high-performing, mission-driven development team that grows a diverse and increasingly larger base of donors and prospects.
  • Build and generate a portfolio of at least three to five leadership gifts at the seven-figure level, with a goal of increasing leadership and major giving to $2 to $3 million annually within the next three years.



The Chief Development Officer will have the following responsibilities:

  • Actively participate as a valued member of the Executive Leadership Team.
  • Lead the growth of Special Olympics Illinois’ strategic relationship management efforts, including strengthening the philosophy and process for identifying, qualifying, cultivating, and stewarding new and existing donors and prospects.
  • Lead, manage, inspire, and grow Special Olympics Illinois’ high-caliber team of development professionals.
  • Develop targeted, innovative campaign strategies that enhance private philanthropy and build a pipeline for major, leadership, and principal gifts from new high-net worth donors and prospects; prioritize and solidify the growth and acceleration of donor support toward the campaign.
  • Create inclusive opportunities for all giving levels to support various events.
  • Plan, manage, and coordinate a collaborative strategy that provides support to the President & CEO and the Board of Directors in their donor engagement activities.
  • Work in close partnership with the Board and Executive Leadership Team in setting robust achievable fundraising goals with clear strategies, targets, and metrics that ensure accountability.
  • Manage a portfolio of approximately 50 to 75 leadership-level donors and prospects, focusing on a pipeline of six and seven-figure plus prospects.
  • Set philosophy for all organizational processes and systems, CRM database, and prospect research, to support future operational needs.
  • Participate as a committed, valued, and collegial leader of the development team who recognizes the contributions of others.
  • Work closely with the marketing and communications team on strategies to attract new partners and donors and magnify Special Olympics Illinois’ philanthropic visibility.
  • Contribute to the creation of a vibrant culture where everyone, especially the athletes and families of Special Olympics Illinois, feels valued, with a sense of belonging, and where contributions of all team members in programming, outreach, and philanthropy are recognized as equally important.



The ideal candidate will possess most of the following qualifications and skillsets:

  • 7-10 years of proven leadership-level experience cultivating and securing major donors across high-net-worth individuals, corporations, and foundations.
  • A commitment to the mission and work of Special Olympics Illinois and its core values.
  • A history of building and/or growing sustainable, comprehensive development programs.
  • A demonstrated commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion in fundraising and development efforts, ensuring equitable treatment of all members and donors.
  • Experience developing, coaching, and mentoring a team of development professionals.
  • Prior experience assessing development programs and aligning team members to best achieve strategic goals and opportunities.
  • Entrepreneurial, creative, and flexible work style capable of thriving within a dynamic and growing organization.
  • Exceptional communication, interpersonal, and analytic skills; the ability to be both creative and strategic, and communicate ideas, concepts, and plans with enthusiasm and diplomacy.
  • Experience promoting a global brand. A background in sports marketing would be a plus.
  • An appreciation for competitive sports, healthcare, and leadership.
  • Flexibility to travel state-wide with the highest frequency in the Chicagoland area. Overnight travel will be required several times/year.
  • Bachelor’s degree required.



The salary range for this position is $170,000 - $180,000 and is based on skills, qualifications, and experience.

Special Olympics Illinois offers a comprehensive and flexible benefits package that includes, but is not limited to, medical, dental, vision insurance; life and accident, long-term disability; 401(k) plan; paid time off including vacation, sick days, and 15 paid holidays; Employment Assistance Program; and Bereavement leave.

Special Olympics Illinois offers a hybrid work environment with a minimum of three days on site at either the office located in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago or the headquarters’ office located in Normal, IL.

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