Director of Advancement Communications

Posted on 01/12/2022

Willamette University

Salem, OR

Position Summary:

Reporting to the AVP for Advancement & Executive Director of University Relations, the Director of Advancement Communications is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the Advancement Communications program. Duties include working in partnership with the AVP, VP, and other University leaders to develop and implement a strategic communications plan aimed at prospective donors, alumni, parents, and friends of the University. This position ensures that University and Advancement editorial strategies, messaging, and branding are understood and adhered to in all work produced by Advancement. The successful candidate will possess excellent persuasive writing and communications skills, superior project management acumen, and be a proactive builder of relationships.

This position must have a superb ability to develop and implement consistent editorial strategies that meet and exceed Advancement goals across the division. The Director regularly reports on progress toward set goals, along with analysis and results of projects based in the program.

This position partners closely with the Vice President of Advancement, the Executive Director of Development, the Executive Director of Strategy and Operations, the Director of the Willamette Annual Fund, and the Alumni & Parent Engagement team lead, ensuring strategies are developed and goals are met. The successful candidate will be a proven manager of broad-based and personalized communications in multiple platforms, including print, digital, and video.

In managing the Advancement Communications team, this role helps the team to develop, execute, and measure successful communications program plans. The role also includes management, hiring, and training of two Associate Directors of Advancement Communications. The position sets and monitors budgets; implements systems, procedures, and practices for the Advancement Communications Office.

The Director of Advancement Communications supports fundraising success by crafting persuasive and accurate communications, especially formal proposals for individual donors and case statements for support. The role provides leadership for the team charged with advancement communications aimed at alumni, parents and friends of the University.

The Director adheres to the principles of ethics and standard practices as articulated in the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Donor Bill of Rights the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement’s (APRA) Statement of Ethics, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) Code of Ethical Principles and Standards as well as the standards of practice of his/her departmental profession, as appropriate.

Reasonable Accommodations Statement
To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable qualified individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Job Description: 

  • In partnership with the AVP, VP, and other University leaders, develops and implements a strategic communications plan aimed at prospective donors, alumni, parents, and friends of the University.
  • Helps to develop, implement and ensure adherence to Advancement vision for communications.
  • Serve as project manager (traffic control) responsible for coordinating and managing the development and production of communications materials (electronic and print) across Advancement.
  • Develops custom gift proposals for prospective donors, working closely with gift officers, Advancement leadership, and other stakeholders to tell the story of the important impact the gift will have on Willamette.
  • Maintain close effective working relationships with colleagues across Advancement, the Willamette University Office of Marketing/Communications, and outside communications contractors.
  • In cooperation with program managers, will help to monitor, evaluate and maintain the appropriate messaging, standards and branding for various segments and populations. Track and ensure that projects align with budgets, policies and procedures.
  • Participates in working groups to assist in the planning, coordination and execution of original communications products and publications related to special events and programs. Helps develop content for informational brochures; reviews and edits drafts of correspondence, reports and brochures for mass distribution; drafts articles and reports.
  • Serves as a “super-user” for Engaging Networks (e-CRM) on behalf of the Advancement team.
  • Assists the Associate Vice President in preparing talking points and speeches for special events.
  • Serves as the team leader for Advancement Communications staff, providing management of the day-to-day operations. Provides advice, support, and guidance to the Associate Directors of Advancement Communications, and any student assistants. Hire, train, and evaluate staff as appropriate by being versed in all aspects of the program and the work of implementing effective advancement communications. 
  • Provide the team with the framework for, and oversight to, staff goal setting and benchmarking for their respective program areas.
  • Acts as supervisor of communications request intake process, intimately aware of each project timeline and progress toward goal. Ensures proactive communication with the requestor and adherence to agreed upon timelines.
  • Assist in the design, development, and dissemination of print and web materials designed to promote Willamette and its work to external audiences.
  • Work with the Communications/Marketing team to develop donor impact stories for reports, publications, websites, videos, etc.
  • Leads regular Advancement Communications team meetings and communications-related meetings with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Reports plans and progress out to supervisor and Advancement staff.
  • Monitor progress toward all broad-based initiatives and goals. Provide a rigorous, systematic review and analysis of all communications activities to find ways to do things more effectively and efficiently. Develop appropriate formats for regular, routine reporting on program performance to a broad array of internal and external constituencies.
  • Provide effective reporting and analysis to supervisor and colleagues for use in management decision making.
  • Create and maintain documentation and processes to standardize work within the department.
  • Assist as needed with other Advancement and University activities.

Minimum Qualifications: 

  • Any combination of education, training, and experience that provides the required knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the essential functions of the position.
  • Strong development writing experience, preferably in a not-for-profit or higher education institution.
  • Demonstrated ability to develop compelling proposals for individual donors that generate major gifts.
  • Experience successfully managing a small team of professionals.
  • Demonstrated ability to work proactively, with excellent organizational and time-management skills.
  • Proven ability to draft effective direct mail and e-mail communications, preferably in a higher education environment, and to guide a successful broad-based messaging platform including a mix of print, digital, and social media.
  • Demonstrated ability to work successfully and effectively with a wide range of constituents and to manage complex relationships; proven collaboration and teamwork skills.
  • Demonstrated history of being approachable, available, and open, and the ability to recognize and bring out the best in others.
  • Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of diversity and inclusion best practices.
  • Demonstrated proficiency with databases (such as The Raiser’s Edge), e-CRMs (such as Engaging Networks), and with Microsoft Office applications.
  • Must be proficient in Microsoft Office Suite and G Suite/Google skills, with advanced skills in Microsoft Word and Google Documents (editing, formatting, citations, headers, footers, pagination, image embedding) and advanced skills in Powerpoint and Google Slides.
  • Applicants should have a thorough understanding of Willamette and of the value of a private liberal arts education.
  • Strong leadership skills, an ability to communicate effectively with students, the ability to adapt style to mentor and lead staff with varying levels of work experience, experience providing regular and constructive feedback
  • Detail oriented, highly motivated, and demonstrate an ability to manage multiple projects and deadlines simultaneously.
  • Able to manage multiple and changing priorities.
  • Conversant in relevant and contemporary technologies and how they can be used in support of communicating and marketing direct mail and electronic solicitation programs, including increasing participation, and measuring and managing results.
  • Superior communication skills with the ability to connect to a variety of audiences; clarity, crispness, and persuasiveness in written and oral communications.
  • Strong analytical skills and the ability to work, at an advanced level, with desktop applications, databases, desktop publishing applications, reporting applications, networked information systems, and digital marketing products.
  • Knowledge of data management practices and techniques including reporting and analysis that lead to effective decision making on behalf of the program.
  • Able to maintain confidential information, navigate relationships with finesse, and work to the highest ethical standards as outlined by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
  • Ability to work occasional evenings and weekends for signature events and activities including Alumni Reunion Weekend.

Preferred Qualifications: 

  • Past experience in a higher education or complex non-profit setting is preferred.

Salary Range: $65,000 – $75,000

Typical Work Schedule

Standard office work week

Physical Demands & Working Conditions

Typical work is performed indoors in a normal office environment

You will need to upload the following two documents as part of your application materials in the “My Experience” section labeled Resume:

  • Cover letter addressing the required/desired qualifications and presenting any other applicant characteristics which deserve emphasis
  • Current Resume

​Incomplete applications will not be considered.

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