Senior Director of External Relations and Advancement

Posted on 06/05/2020

Santa Clara University

Santa Clara, CA

Job Description

Position Purpose
The Senior Director of External Relations and Advancement (Major Gifts) plays a critical role in the Ethics Center’s efforts, in collaboration with Santa Clara University Development, to secure resources for its strategic funding priorities and deepen its relationship with donors and prospects of the Ethics Center. In furtherance of the Ethics Center’s strategic plan, the Senior Director of External Relations and Advancement (Major Gifts) designs and implements strategies for increased engagement with the Center’s current and prospective major donors. The Senior Director of External Relations and Advancement (Major Gifts) creates and executes donor cultivation plans to achieve the goals of an ambitious an ambitious campaign plan.

The Senior Director of External Relations and Advancement (Major Gifts) will report to the Ethics Center’s Executive Director and will build and manage a portfolio of 100 major gift prospects. He or she will lead the identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of prospects targeted for gifts between $10,000 and $2,000,000. He or she will also collaborate with Santa Clara University’s development team around key funding opportunities and develop prospect-to-donor strategies.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities 

Develop Fundraising Strategy

  • Lead the development of engagement and solicitation strategies for qualified major gift prospects, oversee the implementation and personally drive the execution of said strategies.
  • Meet dollar and activity metrics set with Executive Director of the Ethics Center.

Prospect and Donor Management

  • Lead the qualifications, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of a portfolio of high net worth prospects ensuring that each receives regular and strategic contact
  • Secure and conduct personal face-to-face and virtual visits monthly to qualify, engage, solicit and steward the Ethics Center’s major donors and prospects.
  • Execute solicitations to secure major gifts between $10,000 and $2,000,000 for the Ethics Center from individuals, corporations, and foundations.
  • Collaborate with the Ethics Center’s program directors, and SCU development officers and directors of external relations to develop multi-interest proposals and promote organized and strategic outreach to our individual, corporation, and foundation donors.
  • Produce well written, accurate and timely follow-up and related correspondence such as comprehensive proposals, related budgets, contact reports, cover and thank you letters, emails, reports and briefings in support of cultivating, soliciting and stewarding assigned prospects.
  • Track and record activities as they relate to assigned prospects using CLARA (Blackbaud), constituent management software and report regularly to the Ethics Center’s Executive Director and SCU Major Gifts team.

Liaise with University Development Office and Other Campus Groups

  • Participate as an active partner with the Office of Development, sharing information and collaborating with colleagues in a respectful and professional manner; contributing to a healthy and positive work environment.
  • Attend internal and external meetings and events when appropriate, and supply written briefings to President’s Office, Executive Director and others as they pertain to assigned prospects and prospect development.

Manage strategic Advisory Board engagement and recruitment

  • Attend meetings of strategic board committees
  • Propose and research potential board members

Other duties as assigned.


General Guidelines 

Recommends initiatives and implements changes to improve quality and services. Identifies and determines cause of problems; develops and presents recommendations for improvement of established processes and practices. Maintains contact with prospects and solicits feedback for improved services. Maximizes productivity through use of appropriate tools; planned training and performance initiatives. Researches and develops resources that create timely and efficient workflow. Prepares progress reports; informs supervisor of project status; and deviation from goals. Ensures completeness, accuracy and timeliness of all operational functions. Prepares and submits reports as requested and required. Develops and implements guidelines to support the functions of the unit.

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The items below are representative of the knowledge, skills, abilities, education, and experience required or preferred.

This position requires the ability to effectively establish and maintain cooperative working relationships within a diverse multicultural environment.


  • Excellent understanding of the Ethics Center vision, mission, goals, objectives, achievements, infrastructure, and current issues of concern for higher education generally.
  • Knowledge of successful fundraising best practices
  • Excellent knowledge of applicable laws, rules, regulations, institutional policies, etc.
  • General knowledge of estate and planned giving vehicles. General knowledge of the various types of charitable gifts, including in-kind gifts, gifts of securities and gifts of real property.


  • Must be goal-oriented and self-motivated individual who can demonstrate accountability, initiative, creativity and focus in a rapidly changing and intellectually stimulating environment.
  • Required to have a valid driver’s license and personal transportation vehicle available for frequent travel to business meetings (mileage reimbursed under federal guidelines).
  • Proficiency in fundraising databases (or similar).
  • Demonstrated experience in developing proposals and successfully soliciting funds from individuals, foundations and corporations.
  • Advanced analytical, critical thinking, problem recognition/avoidance/resolution skills.
  • Design and production of development communication materials, including brochures, gift tables/charts, and presentations.
  • Demonstrated skills to work as a member of an office-wide team of professional and administrative colleagues. Skills to interact with diverse constituencies and to work collaboratively in teams and with other units of the campus.
  • Excellent interpersonal communication skills, including political acumen to establish and maintain good working relationships throughout the organization within all organizational levels of the University and specifically with executive and academic leaders, faculty, parents, students, volunteers, alumni, donor and donor advisers and other constituencies.


  • Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to collaborate, build alliances, and achieve results within a population that may possess competing interests, opinions, and/or expectations.
  • Demonstrate strong active listening skills and ability to negotiate positive outcomes.
  • Positive attitude, sense of humor and flexibility.
  • Demonstrate a level of comfort working and communicating with top executives, community leaders and/or university leadership.
  • Ability to motivate, build long term relationships with and gain the respect of internal and external clients.
  • Demonstrate the ability to manage time and workload to multitask and achieve goals in a deadline driven environment.
  • Ability to work on the road and/or work at odd hours and on weekends.


Bachelor’s degree required

Years of Experience

6 – 8 years of related professional experience which includes 3 – 5 years of direct development, fundraising, marketing, strategic planning, and/or coordinating special events experience, preferably in a higher education environment. Supervisory or management experience preferred.

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