Saint Mary’s University

Director of Philanthropy
Posted Date: 
Friday, April 13, 2018
Closing Date: 
Friday, May 11, 2018

The Opportunity

Saint Mary’s University is seeking a Director of Philanthropy to create and implement long-term development program planning in support of the strategic objectives of the University.

This is an exciting opportunity for an experienced fundraiser, team leader, and development operations manager interested in playing a lead role in a future major campaign, and further building and developing our philanthropy program. It is also an opportunity to work in partnership with key advancement volunteers, as well as with a motivated and enthusiastic Development team and expert colleagues from Alumni Engagement, Advancement Services, Principal Gifts and External Affairs.

Reporting to the Vice-President Advancement, the Director of Philanthropy will play a vital role in increasing private sector support, actively engaging stakeholders, and advancing the University’s profile in the community and with all its constituencies.  

The new incumbent will be responsible for a personal portfolio of major gift prospect and will develop, implement, and provide leadership for the University’s upcoming institutional campaign as well as ongoing philanthropy programs in the areas of major gifts, planned giving, annual giving, and donor relations. Our exciting major campaign will support Saint Mary’s new strategic plan, based on a bold vision to advance key areas across the University. The Director will be a member of the Advancement Senior Leadership Team and will lead a team of six development professionals, and a total unit comprised of nine staff members.   

About Saint Mary’s University

Saint Mary's University is home to a vibrant and engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni from nearly 120 countries around the world that share a passion for learning and a commitment to contributing to the local and global community. Established in 1802, Saint Mary's has grown to include undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Arts, Business, Science, and Environmental Studies, as well as numerous professional and executive development programs. Many of these programs offer field courses, internships, or co-operative education options, allowing students to mix classroom experience with real world skills.  We have one of Canada’s most international campuses, with almost 30% of our students who come from outside Canada, and we have forged more than 40 international partnership agreements.

Our University is home to the largest Faculty of Arts in Atlantic Canada, which includes unique programs in a variety of areas such as geology, anthropology, and occupational psychology. The Faculty of Science is widely known for its cutting-edge research in areas such as green chemistry, population genetics, and green roof ecology. We also offer the only undergraduate astrophysics degree program east of Montreal, and our flagship science program – the PhD in Computational Astrophysics – is the only one of its kind in Canada. The University’s Sobey School of Business is recognized as a national leader in business education, as well as the largest business school in Atlantic Canada. It is the only school in the region that offers a full spectrum of business programs from baccalaureate to doctorate, and we are the only Canadian university to offer Bachelor of Arts degrees in Entrepreneurship.

A compact campus, small average class sizes, and welcoming students, staff and faculty help foster a spirited and inviting atmosphere that is the hallmark of the Saint Mary's community. We are committed to academic excellence and experiential learning, as seen through our consistent ranking in the top 10 undergraduate universities in Canada. The University has an annual operational budget of $125 million, and an endowment of approximately $35 million. More than $100 million has been spent over the last 10 years upgrading almost every part of campus, welcoming 7,000 full-time and part-time students annually.

Saint Mary’s is distinguished in our global focus. In keeping with our vision – to be the University of choice for aspiring citizens of the world – our University is expanding its global reach at an unprecedented rate.

Advancement at Saint Mary’s University

The Advancement team has an important role to play in advancing the goals and ambitions outlined in our University’s Institutional Strategic Plan. The Advancement unit provides leadership to the entire university community in deepening its focus on friend-raising and fundraising, on engaging external benefactors, the internal community, and Saint Mary’s alumni, encouraging them to connect with and give back to the university with its 216-year-old history of providing value and values. Saint Mary’s has a tradition of engagement with its community, drawing upon its 50,000 alumni, many of whom are leaders in business, politics, the arts, culture, science and industry.The last institutional campaign at Saint Mary`s University was a great success and closed in 2010 with a goal of $40 million which was surpassed by 14%.  Current fundraising programs are poised for growth and presently generate between $2 to $4 million per year in new philanthropic gifts from individuals, corporations, foundations and other partners.We are also responsible for advancing Saint Mary’s University's image and reputation by disseminating news; developing and implementing internal and external communications, strategic marketing, special events; and developing strong relationships with key constituency groups.

Further Information

SMU Strategic Plan 2017-2022:

Annual Financial Report:

Research at SMU:

SMU Academic Plan:

Quick Facts about SMU:

SMU History:

Alumni Website:

Maroon & White Alumni magazine:

Giving to SMU:

Campus Life:

News & Events:

The Ideal Candidate

The new Director of Philanthropy will be a strategic, collaborative leader, and accomplished professional fundraiser who possesses a genuine passion and enthusiasm for higher education and is highly-motivated to design and implement fundraising tactics to enable the University’s exciting vision for the future.

The ideal candidate will possess solid experience and knowledge of best practices in building development programs, teams, and operations, and fostering a culture of philanthropy across the University. With a track record of success in major gift fundraising, the Director of Philanthropy will be an effective relationship builder who thinks creatively in identifying new potential partners and who understands how to extend networks by harnessing and leveraging the connections of others. 

A leader with vision, who is able to inspire and motivate team members, the Director of Philanthropy will develop a high-performance culture that focuses on both results and collaboration. With a high degree of professionalism and commitment, along with a sense of humour, the ideal candidate will encourage our Development team to continue to raise their sights, elevate their performance, and reach their full potential. The new incumbent will be a confident, supportive coach and colleague, who is positive and energetic, and who helps others to become successfully engaged in development efforts for the benefit of the University.  

The ideal candidate will bring a strategic and analytical mindset and exceptional planning, organization, prioritization, and problem-solving skills to bear, and will work with the team to further develop systems, processes, structures as well as progress tracking and reporting mechanisms that ensure a solid operational base for our development activities and for our upcoming institutional Campaign. The new incumbent will be goal-oriented, driven by metrics, and focused on deliverables. 

The Director of Philanthropy will excel at listening, respectfully questioning and evaluating information with a high-level of personal responsibility and will build trust and respect with and among Board members, academic leaders, donors, colleagues, staff members, and volunteers. Open, warm and personable, the incumbent will be a team player who consults with others, shares information, is generous with their time, and gives credit to others.

Nimble and entrepreneurial, the successful candidate will be undaunted by change and ambiguity and will take the initiative to hit the ground running. Patient and diplomatic, the new incumbent will effectively navigate the University’s structure through collaboration and education. An authentic and influential communicator, the successful candidate will be skilled at articulating plans and ideas to inspire major donors and colleagues towards common goals. 

Key Duties and Responsibilities

Fundraising & Donor Relations

  • Provides leadership, develops plans and executes annual and major gift fund raising initiatives, overseeing staff and volunteer committees.
  • Responsible for solicitation and stewardship of major donors and prospects.
  • Oversees special project and university-wide fundraising campaigns including leading the development of the case, developing the budget, recruiting and training volunteers, leading the design of  creative materials, developing constituency solicitation programs, cultivating prospective donors, orchestrating the solicitation strategy and donor follow up.
  • Continuously cultivates current and potential donors by establishing programs to move donors through giving cycles with proper recognition and stewardship activities.
  • Sets annual targets and monitors performance of staff and initiatives in reaching goals.
  • Plans, implements and/or oversees on-going fundraising activities. These include but are not limited to:
  • Annual and Planned Giving Programs.
  • Special Project Campaigns.
  • University Campaigns.
  • Special events.
  • Donor cultivation and relations activities.

Development and Campaign Operations

  •  Organizes, plans, monitors and updates structure of the Development Team and its members.
  • Develops strategies and annual operational plans to meet specific University Advancement goals and objectives. 
  • Ensures progress tracking, financial controls and reporting systems are in place.
  • Assists in the development of policies and procedures related to fundraising.
  • Cultivates and personalizes correspondence and communication with donors (e.g. gift acknowledgements, annual financial and donor reports).
  • Maintains liaison with and provides advice and assistance to the University community.
  • Participates in community activities.


Staff and Volunteer Management

  • Directly supervises a current team of 6 Development team staff members and numerous volunteers, with indirect supervision of 2-4 advancement team members (i.e. Prospect Research Officer; Communications Officer, Advancement).
  • Assigns tasks and/or delegates responsibility.
  • Monitors performance and provides day-to-day and periodic formal performance feedback.
  • Counsels, and provides training and develops opportunities to enhance performance levels and team participation.
  • Selects and recommends direct reports, confirms selection and transfer of indirect reports.
  • Grows the University’s senior volunteer structure and participates in the identification, recruitment, training, management, and stewardship of volunteers.



  • Establishes, maintains, and strengthens relationships with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Participates in professional associations and assumes executive positions in these groups from time to time.
  • Represents the University and takes advantage of professional networking opportunities in the community.
  • Provides guidance to President and others with respect to fundraising and related issues.


Qualifications & Competencies

  • Relevant experience in a management role in the non-profit sector, leading a fundraising program and a team, preferably in a complex environment.
  • Proven fundraising success with individuals, corporations and foundations. Experience with fundraising techniques through all aspects of the donor cycle.
  • Strategic fundraising program planning, implementation and management skills, in the areas of annual giving, planned giving and major gifts.
  • Knowledge of, or proven success with, elements of institutional campaign management will be considered a strong asset.
  • Solid leadership experience and the ability to attract, retain, mentor, motivate, and lead a professional team of fundraisers to achieve common goals and objectives.
  • Proven senior volunteer management experience.
  • Superior interpersonal skills to develop and maintain a broad range of relationships as well as engage and inspire stakeholders both internally and externally. Ability to develop relationships of trust and respect with faculty, volunteers, donors and colleagues.
  • Operational experience, including budgeting, forecasting, KPI, metrics and fundraising operations.
  • Exceptional communication skills (written and oral) and well-developed presentation skills.
  • A University degree is required for this role.
  • Availability for occasional travel as well as occasional work on evenings and weekends.
  • A Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) designation will be considered an asset.


For More Information

To learn more about this leadership opportunity at Saint Mary’s University, please contact Sylvie Battisti, Vice President Search at KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.) via email at

For the full Executive brief, please visit:

All inquiries and applications will be held in strict confidence.  Please send resume and letter of interest to the email address listed above by May 11, 2018.

Saint Mary’s University invites applications from all qualified individuals. We are committed to the principles of employment equity.