Queen's University

Executive Director, Principal Gifts
Posted Date: 
Monday, September 23, 2019
Closing Date: 
Monday, November 4, 2019

Job Description


Queen’s University is seeking a high performing and experienced professional in the area of major gift development to fill the newly established role of Executive Director, Principal Gifts. Reporting to the Chief Development Officer, the Executive Director, Principal Gifts will provide strategic direction and leadership on principal gifts fundraising strategies for transformational initiatives of the highest value and priority to Queen’s University.

In partnership with the Advancement and Development Leadership Teams, campus partners and senior administrators, the incumbent will design, execute and oversee a sophisticated principal gifts program with targeted strategies aimed to maximize life-time engagement and philanthropic support of gifts in the $5 million + range, largely from individuals.  This includes facilitating strategies, monitoring and coordinating initiatives, and ensuring that next steps are completed in a timely manner with the goal of furthering the university’s development goals.

The Executive Director will manage a diverse and sophisticated portfolio of principal gift level donors, and will serve as a key advisor to the Vice-Principal (Advancement), Chief Development Officer, the Development Leadership Team, volunteers, and other key campus partners, providing high level expertise, strategic direction, and facilitation in the development and implementation of principal gifts fundraising strategies.


Widely recognized as one of Canada’s leading universities, Queen’s University has an international reputation for scholarship, research, social purpose, and spirit. Founded in 1841 and located in Kingston, Ontario, Queen’s is committed to using its talents and resources to rise to the challenges facing our local, national, and global communities.

Queen’s student body consists of approximately 24,000 undergraduate, postgraduate and professional students, drawn from more than 100 countries and every Canadian province and territory.  International students make up 10% of the full-time student population and 95% of the student population comes from outside of Kingston. Our alumni body of 150,000+ is also stretched across the globe.

Queen’s attracts extraordinary students. The average entering grade of incoming undergraduate student was 89.1% in 2017. When compared to 500 other institutions as part of the Collegiate Learning Assessment, first-year Queen’s students rank in the 90th percentile for critical thinking, problem solving, written communication, and lifelong learning skills.  By fourth-year, our students are in the 98th percentile, underscoring Queen’s transformative learning experience. Queen’s ranked 4th among medical-doctoral universities in Canada in Maclean’s 2016 University Rankings, and 2nd for student satisfaction.

Queen’s offers a full spectrum of undergraduate and graduate research-based programs, with a concentration of expertise in physics, chemistry, cancer research, geosciences, environment and biodiversity, social determinants of health, surveillance studies, and art history and art conservation.

Research prominence is a pillar of Queen’s Strategic Framework and Queen’s is a member of the U15, Canadian research-intensive universities.  Research plays a critical role in the University’s ability to contribute knowledge and ideas to Canada and to the world.

A 5-year faculty renewal plan has been launched to further research and academic excellence; over the next five years, 200 new faculty members will bolster the vibrancy of our teaching and learning.   Innovation Park, the Office of Partnerships and Innovation, and the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre are actively building a global hub for innovation and an innovation eco-system for Eastern Ontario. 

The campus also has a fully integrated network of six libraries and is home to several outstanding museums and arts facilities, including the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

Queen’s is home to a recent STEM-field Nobel Prize winner, 43 Canada Research Chair holders, a Canada Excellence Research Chair, a Canada First Research Excellence Fund award, and is second in Canada in faculty awards.  Queen’s is also the recent recipient of three Canada Foundation for Innovation grants under the Major Science Initiatives fund and two Networks of Centres of Excellence grants, all of which recognize the awarded research centres and scholars as national and international leaders in their respective research fields.


Philanthropy, in the form of volunteerism and donations, has been an essential ingredient in Queen’s success over its 178-year history.

Led by the Vice-Principal (Advancement) and in partnership with the university’s senior leadership, the Office of Advancement leads and coordinates alumni relations, communications, fundraising, and stewardship to build life-long relationships with alumni, volunteers and friends of Queen’s to advance the strategic vision and academic mission of the university.

Advancement uses a centralized/decentralized model comprised of approximately 140 positions across Central Advancement and faculties and schools. The Office of Advancement provides systems and supports for all advancement activities, strategies, and fundraising for university-wide priorities and assistance for faculty/school priorities. The university has adopted an activity-based budget model, and Central Advancement has a $12 million operating budget. 

Department of Development

The Development team works with donors (and families) on donations at the major and principal gift levels, including planned gifts.  The department is comprised of a core central team who support and work collaboratively with the senior leadership of the university, faculty members and development teams in faculties, schools, departments, and key programs. The team also collaborates with colleagues across the university’s International, Research, University Relations, and Student Recruitment offices to ensure that we align our support for the university’s strategic objectives, and maximize our use of resources and relationships.

Development’s ability to identify and acquire a deeper knowledge of the interests and capacity of potential donors is augmented by the expertise and support of the Prospect Research group in Advancement Services. A designated Alumni Relations team provides a seamless and highly personalized level of service, liaising with front-line development officers and Donor Relations group to ensure that we continue to engage donors well after a gift is completed through a contemporary approach to stewardship. A group of Gift Planning specialists works with people who would like to plan a gift to Queen’s as part of their legacy by providing confidential advice on the complexities of estate gifts, life insurance, annuities and many more giving options.

Thanks to the support of our generous donors, a total of $59.9M was received in donations in our last fiscal year of May 2018 - April 2019.  Of this total, 69 gifts of $100K+ have accounted for $46.2M of the $59.9M donated. These figures support our continued emphasis on principal ($5M+) and major gifts ($100K+). Queen’s University last capital campaign concluded in April 2016.  The 10-year Initiative Campaign raised more than $640 million, surpassing the university’s $500 million goal set at the beginning of the campaign. This resulted from the support of more than 60,000 donors – 35,000 of which were alumni – for the advancement of the university’s top priorities.





Program Development & Implementation

  • Collaborates with partners to design, implement, and oversee the principal gifts program at Queen’s, with strategies aimed to grow a pipeline of principal gift prospects ($5 million +) through the identification, evaluation, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of high net-worth prospects and major gift donors.
  • Helps develop and lead a sophisticated principal gifts program at Queen’s, designed to obtain transformational and maximum long-term financial support for the university. Program elements include in-person visits, data-mining, working with allied professionals, supporting family wealth initiatives, and other means of inspiring principal gifts.
  • Works with the Chief Development Officer to design and recruit a Principal Gifts Advisory Committee.
  • Manages the operating budget for the Principal Gifts unit.
  • Develops measurements for timely evaluation of program performance and forecasting.
  • Stays abreast of philanthropic developments, giving vehicles, and/or relevant legislation that may assist in maximizing revenue.


Internal Facilitation

  • Serves as a trusted advisor, and university-wide resource and liaison to benefactors, the Office of Advancement, senior university officials, volunteers, allied professionals, executors, and others, to coordinate strategies and help secure principal gift commitments.
  • Fosters and reinforces a non-territorial, sophisticated approach to donor-centric philanthropy which encourages collaboration, flexibility and responsiveness.
  • Helps develop university-wide process to sustainably identify “big ideas” for consideration by prospective principal gift level benefactors.
  • Works closely with the Prospect Research team to identify potential benefactors at the principal gifts level.
  • Collaborates with Donor Relations to establish timely and appropriate stewardship plans, ensuring gifts are handled and recognized according to sound Advancement practices.
  • Works with Advancement colleagues on internal and external communications, briefing notes, research profiles, funding proposals, gift agreements, stewardship reports, and accountability reports. Ensures all necessary constituents are involved in key efforts focused on specific prospects.
  • Serves as a member of the Development Leadership Team.
  • Represents the university and the Office of Advancement on committees and to internal and external audiences, ensuring understanding and adoption of Advancement policies and procedures.


Portfolio Management

  • Personally manages a portfolio of 10+ high-potential principal gift prospects and works with a small pool of major gift prospects.
  • In collaboration with Advancement staff, works to expand and diversify the base of principal gift prospects and benefactors by researching and developing donor strategies.
  • Develops and maintains an in-depth knowledge of the university’s activities, priorities and needs in both teaching and research. Applies this knowledge in matching the interests and needs of prospective benefactors with the strategic needs of the university.
  • Contributes to the strategy for comprehensive and project specific fundraising campaigns.
  • Recommends prospects for service on committees/boards, facilitates engagement, motivates and organizes a broad range of influential volunteers, and university senior administrators, who will assist in securing principal gifts.
  • Ensures all contact reports are recorded in a timely fashion on the Advance database.


Staff Management

  • Plans, prioritizes and manages the work of principal gift program employees and assesses their performance.
  • Assesses staff training and development needs, and ensures employees receive training required to improve and sustain successful performance.
  • Evaluates job candidates and makes effective recommendations on suitable hires as well as transfers and promotions.
  • Promotes a culture of inclusion, with a commitment to the university’s equity, diversity, accessibility, and inclusion initiatives designed to foster an inclusive, supportive, and welcoming work environment for individuals with diverse backgrounds and identities.
  • Investigates, addresses and resolves employee/labour relations issues, including making decisions regarding disciplinary and discharge matters.
  • Undertakes other duties as assigned in support of the unit and/or department.



  • Minimum 10 years of progressive experience engaging with donors and managing fundraising programs, with a focus on principal, major and planned giving, preferably in a university setting.
  • Demonstrated ability to inspire and raise donor sights, articulate aspirational goals and institutional priorities, and effectively present philanthropic opportunities to high net-worth prospects and donors.
  • Strong record of involvement in seven-figure gifts.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of diverse giving vehicles, as well as a demonstrated understanding of family wealth management and integrated gift strategies.
  • Outstanding prospect management and tracking skills including proven success identifying, evaluating, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding donors at the major and principal gift levels.
  • Proven success developing and implementing strategic plans and meeting objectives.
  • Experience working as part of a large and complex organization considered an asset.
  • Demonstrated success working with volunteers to achieve shared goals.
  • Proven leadership and human resources management skills including recruiting, organizing, directing, motivating and retaining staff and volunteers.
  • Knowledge of federal and provincial Canadian legislation affecting charities and charitable status in order to secure complex principal, planned and major gifts.
  • Understanding of the administrative, academic, and governance structures of the university environment, and the challenges faced by post-secondary institutions.
  • Strategic planning, budgeting and financial management skills to oversee and forecast the Principal Gifts unit budget portfolio, and assess budget implications of strategic initiatives.
  • A university degree is required. Consideration will be given to an equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Holds or is working towards the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation or equivalent will be considered an asset.
  • This position will require travel within and outside of Canada. A valid driver’s license and passport with no travel restrictions is required.


Additional Desired Abilities and Qualities

  • Proven ability to effectively build and manage long-term and productive relationships with donors, volunteers, colleagues and organizational administrators. The ability to foster inclusiveness and diversity of ideas.
  • Adept at interpreting the interests of donors and matching them to the strategic needs of the university.
  • Ability to think and act strategically and creatively in a high-pressure work environment.
  • Ability to identify optimal approaches to secure cooperation from campus partners – senior administrators, faculties, schools, departments – in support of stakeholder engagement and fundraising strategies.
  • Persuasive and creative communication and presentation skills that allow success both within the campus environment and in the field.
  • Ability to convey technical, tax and legal material related to charitable giving in both oral and written form effectively, concisely, and in a broadly accessible manner.
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills, with an ability to compile and interpret data from a variety of sources, select appropriate methods of analysis, monitor emerging trends and issues, and disseminate information.
  • Ability to recognize and make complex decisions with good judgement and acute sensitivity to the political environment and to the reputation of the Office of Advancement and the university.
  • Self-motivated and results driven.
  • Motivated by the opportunity to communicate the impact of a transformational gift.
  • Ability to become rapidly familiar with changing new technology and trends, assess innovation for institutional benefit and impact.
  • Work on evenings and weekends is occasionally required.



KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.) has been retained to conduct this search on behalf of Queen’s University.  For more information about this new role, please contact Tara George, Partner / Lead, KCI Search + Talent at QueensED@kcitalent.com. All inquiries and applications will be held in strict confidence.

To view the full Executive Brief, please visit:  www.kcitalent.com

Named in 2019 among the top 25 “Best Canadian Employers” by Forbes, Queen’s offers progressive compensation packages and strives to provide career enrichment, as well as staff learning and development opportunities.


Please note the deadline for submission is Monday, November 4, 2019. Candidates must submit resume and letter of interest via the Queen’s University HR portal. Office of Advancement is committed to accessibility for persons with disabilities. We provide support and accommodation throughout our recruitment process, taking into account the individual accessibility needs of each applicant. Please contact Tara George with any enquiries or for assistance.


The University invites applications from all qualified individuals. Queen’s is committed to employment equity and diversity in the workplace and welcomes applications from women, visible minorities, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQ persons. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, in accordance with Canadian immigration requirements, Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada will be given priority.