Director of Fundraising Communications

Posted on 07/29/2021

Duke Alumni Engagement & Development

Durham, NC


For the global Duke community, the name “Duke” represents more than just a university. It means family. Duke’s Office of Alumni Engagement and Development is here to keep more than 180,000 alumni, donors, students, parents, and friends connected to the programs, people and places that mean the most at every stage of their lives. When you join the Duke Alumni Engagement and Development team, you join a team of high-achievers who are committed to deepening relationships, enabling connections, and helping the community make world-changing impact.

Occupational Summary:

The Director of Fundraising Communications plays an integral role in communicating philanthropic opportunities across the full span of the donor lifecycle. As the lead communicator for the Duke Annual Fund and the Office of Gift Planning, this position is responsible for creating a comprehensive strategy that starts alumni, parents and friends on their lifelong giving journey and successfully inspires them to give annually, at greater levels over time, and to leave a legacy gift when they are able. The director will help create a highly integrated program that raises more than $10 million annually from 35,000+ donors and drives a significant flow of legacy gifts to the university. The program is a strategic, targeted, highly-complex and multi-channel outreach effort comprised of a combination of direct mail, e-communications, text messaging and traditional telemarketing/phonation techniques as well as social media.

The Director of Fundraising Communications further provides leadership and direction in the development, implementation, and monitoring of the strategic marketing plan for all 10 school annual funds and Duke Alumni Engagement and Development’s specialized programs, which include parents, class reunions, young alumni, and current students. In partnership with school and program directors, the director establishes and achieves short- and long-range marketing/solicitation goals and works with Business Intelligence to evaluate the effectiveness of efforts to recommend opportunities for improvement. Similarly, the director provides communications direction to gift planning experts embedded in Duke Alumni Engagement and Development as well as in the schools. The director also drives highly coordinated efforts to integrate fundraising and philanthropic messaging in a broad range of Duke alumni and parent communications, where appropriate.

This individual specifically manages a staff of three communications specialists. The team collaborates with Marketing, Communications, and Stewardship colleagues as needed to execute a successful annual fundraising campaign. They work closely with key campus partners not only to fundraise, but also to develop and to disseminate critical information about university fundraising priorities and the impact of donor gifts at Duke.

The ideal candidate should possess a strong marketing background with proven success, excel in a highly decentralized environment, and provide leadership/management support within a collaborative, fast-paced, team environment.  They collaborate closely with colleagues across Duke Alumni Engagement and Development to ensure consistent operations, focused messaging, comprehensive strategy, and seamless operation of fundraising communications programs.

This position reports to the Director of Digital, Development and Analytics within the Marketing, Communications and Stewardship team.

Work Performed:

Oversee Duke’s Multi-Channel Fundraising Communications Program (40%)

  • Work in close concert with the Assistant Vice President of Duke Annual Fund and Assistant Vice President of Gift Planning to develop and to execute annual direct marketing strategies to increase donors and drive dollar totals for outright gift and legacy gift programs.
  • Manage the annual marketing and communication planning process which includes defining themes for the year, drafting the solicitation schedule, identifying authors, writing messages and working with Business Intelligence to define the segmentation strategy.
  • Direct the annual marketing and communications planning process on behalf of Trinity Annual Fund and the Graduate School to achieve their annual fundraising goals.
  • Foster relationships with key campus partners in schools and units to develop and to disseminate critical information about Annual Fund fundraising priorities and the impact of unrestricted giving at Duke.
  • Oversee the Duke Annual Fund direct marketing program, a sophisticated, complex, data-driven, and personalized effort for Duke’s ten schools and programs, which include parents, class reunions, young alumni, and current students. In partnership with communications colleagues and school/unit Annual Fund directors, develop messaging and outreach strategies to solicit Annual Fund support (at all levels) from alumni and parents through direct mail, email, online, social media, traditional telephone channels, and text.
  • Implement and integrate best practices to achieve maximum participation and dollar totals for all Duke Annual Funds. Research, evaluate, and recommend viable emerging technologies in support of digital and traditional fundraising and stewardship initiatives, and conceptualize strategies to reach under-represented audiences through integrated cross-channel cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship campaigns.
  • Work with the business intelligence group to create, track, and analyze various tests to determine efficacy of fundraising and gift planning messaging.
  • Ensure quality control by monitoring workflow between university partners and the Marketing, Communications, and Stewardship team to ensure proper proofing and editing procedures are followed; review and approve copy and design for all communication pieces. 

Direct the development, implementation, and monitoring of a strategic marketing plan for DAED fundraising communications efforts to align the communications work of the Duke Annual Fund (DAF) and Duke’s Office of Gift Planning.  (40%)

  • Partner with Duke Annual Fund, Office of Gift Planning, and Marketing, Communications, and Stewardship colleagues, to develop and execute a comprehensive strategic marketing and communications plans that supports the fundraising goals of the Duke Annual Fund and Gift Planning.
  • Identify opportunities for alignment of messaging and marketing tactics to enhance the experience of all donors, secure annual and legacy gifts, and to streamline internal processes.
  • Partner with Business Intelligence to develop and use data analytics, forecasting, prospect segmentation, and innovative technologies to enhance fundraising programs in the Duke Annual Fund and Gift Planning to increase donors and dollars. Apply data insights to inform the strategic planning and decision-making processes.
  • Perform outreach to and collaborate with school and unit colleagues in developing annual plans to drive giving to school and unit Annual Funds. Share marketing best practices and new technologies aimed at increasing alumni participation, number of annual donors, and legacy gifts.

Manage the Fundraising Communications Team and Serve as an Active member of the Marketing, Communication, and Stewardship staff (20%)

  • Manage a team of three fundraising communicators, including an Assistant Director of Gift Planning Communications, an Assistant Director of Annual Fund Communications, and a Digital Marketing Coordinator for the Annual Fund.
  • Work with individual team members on goal setting, annual performance planning, and evaluation and provide opportunities for growth within the context of Marketing, Communications, and Stewardship and Duke Alumni Engagement and Development.
  • Participate in Annual Fund Advisory Board meetings and provide updates and input on topics as necessary.
  • Where appropriate, attend Annual Fund and Gift Planning events and gift club receptions.
  • Plan and attend strategic planning meetings with university partners.
  • Perform other related duties incidental to the work described herein.

The above statements describe the general nature and level of work being performed by individuals assigned to this classification. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all responsibilities and duties required of personnel so classified.


  • Experience developing and implementing successful marketing campaigns through a multi-channel approach.
  • Prefer a minimum of 7 years of relevant work experience with increasing levels of responsibility
  • Demonstrated excellence in writing and editing
  • Careful attention to detail
  • Ability to set schedules and manage deadlines effectively
  • Ability to work flexibly and collaboratively
  • Fundraising experience preferred
  • Knowledge of educational fundraising, higher education issues, research universities, and Duke University preferred

Behavioral Competencies:

  • Curiosity and Information Seeking
  • Attention to Detail
  • Planning, Prioritizing and Multitasking
  • Collaborating with Others
  • Expresses Ideals Orally and in Writing
  • Share Knowledge
  • Caring About Direct Reports
  • Coaching
  • Leadership
  • Mentoring
  • Managing Change
  • Performance Management


Required Qualifications at this Level:

Education/Training: Work requires completion of a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, Communications, English or a related discipline.

Experience: Work requires at least five years experience in writing, public relations, communications or related discipline. Prefer seven years experience.

Duke University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer committed to providing employment opportunity without regard to an individual’s age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status.

Duke aspires to create a community built on collaboration, innovation, creativity, and belonging. Our collective success depends on the robust exchange of ideas—an exchange that is best when the rich diversity of our perspectives, backgrounds and experiences flourishes. To achieve this exchange, it is essential that all members of the community feel secure and welcome, that the contributions of all individuals are respected, and that all voices are heard. All members of our community have a responsibility to uphold these values.

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