Executive Director of Leadership Annual Giving

Posted on 04/16/2021

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

Cornell University, a nationally ranked Ivy League institution, is looking for an Executive Director of Leadership Annual Giving to join the Alumni Affairs & Development division in the appealing city of Ithaca, NY. The Executive Director will lead a team of seasoned professionals with a focus on collaboration, strategic planning, volunteer engagement, and forward-looking ways to engage, cultivate, solicit, acknowledge and renew donors making the choice to support the Cornell Annual Funds. The Cornell Annual Funds total has more than doubled during the past ten years and is expected to experience continued, robust growth during Cornell’s campaign.

The successful candidate will be an innovative, collaborative, strategic, creative, and intellectually curious/broad thinker who has a demonstrated track record for driving and inspiring a culture of giving within and external to Cornell.

The Executive Director will be responsible for setting campaign and annual fund goals, further establishing the importance of unrestricted support during the campaign, creating the annual fund campaign case for support, implementing innovative ways to broaden volunteer and donor engagement, and creating new fundraising strategies that build on the University’s strong tradition of philanthropic giving and committed alumni base, further building out its constituency to its greatest potential throughout its campaign and beyond. The Executive Director will drive the work to deliver 6%+ growth year over year in unrestricted support in partnership with colleagues across campus.

Cornell provides exceptional benefits that include professional development, wellness programs, health care options, generous paid leave provisions, 12 holidays, employee education options, a retirement program, and Children’s Tuition Assistance. Cornell receives national recognition, as an award-winning workplace for our health, wellbeing, sustainability, and diversity initiatives.

Cornell University embraces diversity and seeks candidates who will contribute to a climate that supports students, faculty and staff of all identities and backgrounds. We strongly encourage individuals from underrepresented and/or marginalized identities to apply.

Key Responsibilities

  • Prioritize increasing fundraising results at the $5,000+ level.

  • Drive iterative strategies for leadership donors with the capacity to contribute $10,000 to $1M in current-use unrestricted funds, as well as a multi-channel program for donors with a capacity of $1,000 or more.

  • Play a critical role in the development of Cornell’s pipeline by leading strategic partnerships and consultation for College and Unit Annual Fund efforts.

  • Advise on targeted engagement utilizing donor acquisition and retention strategies to grow Cornell’s 22+ Annual Funds and increase the number of donors at the leadership and major gift levels.

  • Drive a culture of discovery in partnership with the Discovery Team and Prospect Development and Research partners.

  • Responsible for ensuring the total annual fund goal is met by setting campaign and annual fund goals and creating new fundraising strategies that build on the University’s strong tradition of philanthropic giving and committed alumni base, further building a long-term base of support for the University.

  • Responsible for actively managing a talented team of Leadership Annual Giving team members and leveraging centralized principal and major gifts teams; college and unit colleagues; and key trustee volunteers to articulate strategies needed to drive donors and dollars to 22 annual funds across campus.

  • Accomplish this work in partnership with the Alumni Affairs and Development gift officers, a well-established volunteer network, the communications, marketing and participation team and various other programs


  • Bachelor’s degree and at least 7 years of relevant experience in University annual giving programs or similar experience in a non-profit organization that emphasizes broad-based fundraising across multiple programs, donor acquisition, volunteer management, and stewardship experience.

  • Ability to effectively strategize and engage various groups and constituents, including, senior administrators, major and principal gift officers, College and Unit staff, Alumni Affairs and Development program partners, alumni, donors, volunteers and major benefactors to positively impact donor support to the University.

  • Demonstrated ability to provide management oversight, leadership, and direction to a diverse team while implementing change management strategies.

  • At least four years of growing supervisory experience. Possess a supportive and accessible management style, a proven ability to succeed in a matrix-based performance structure, and a strong commitment to personal and professional development for self and team members.

  • Demonstrated success in developing and executing annual giving programs, and the ability to integrate an annual giving strategy with program partners including communications, marketing and participation; major gifts development, donor relations and colleges and units.

  • Demonstrated track record of managing complex relationships, proven collaboration and teamwork skills, extensive experience working with volunteers and knowledge of multi-channel fundraising.

  • Ability to think strategically, critically and creatively. In concert with the Communications, Marketing and Participation team, oversee the messaging for multi-channel solicitations and communications at the $1,000+ level.

  • Have a demonstrated track record of driving and inspiring a culture of giving.

  • Ability to work in a data-rich environment where decisions are based on analysis, testing, and a commitment to iterative process improvement.

  • Particular strength in developing strategic and comprehensive annual fundraising plans that directly affect the Divisional metric dashboard and executing against these plans to achieve goals and successful outcomes.

  • Ability to create and manage a budget, in addition to experience working directly with senior levels of the organization.

  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills; attention to detail; demonstrate high initiative and flexibility, and ability to work with diverse stakeholders and program areas.

  • Possesses a high degree of personal integrity and a commitment to AAD’s values of Service, Unity, Respect, and Excellence.

  • Strong computer skills, familiarity with technology and other innovations that can streamline the development process and contribute to the integration of alumni affairs and development function.

  • Ability to synthesize data and create strategy based on that data.

  • Some travel is required and must maintain a valid and unrestricted driver’s license.

EEO Statement: 

Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities. We also recognize a lawful preference in employment practices for Native Americans living on or near Indian reservations. Cornell University is an innovative Ivy League university and a great place to work. Our inclusive community of scholars, students, and staff impart an uncommon sense of larger purpose, and contribute creative ideas to further the university’s mission of teaching, discovery, and engagement.

To apply for this job please visit cornell.wd1.myworkdayjobs.com.