Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Vice President, Development
Posted Date: 
Monday, June 12, 2017
Closing Date: 
Thursday, July 13, 2017


The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is seeking an energetic, forward-looking fundraising professional who is passionate about bringing musical excellence to our community. Our new Vice President, Development will lead a team of fourteen dedicated, talented, and passionate fundraising professionals to deliver on the philanthropic elements of our new 4-Year Plan.

The Vice President, Development will report to the Chief Executive Officer and will work closely with colleagues and Board members to engage current and future individual supporters, corporate and foundation donors, and other funding partners in meaningful, sustainable ways. A primary focus of the role will be developing a sustainable, strategic Development plan and operation to deepen engagement with and support from the many thousands of community members who support the TSO. The Vice President will also serve as the chief development officer for both the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Symphony Foundation, and will lead cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship efforts with our major benefactors.


As the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) approaches its 100th season in 2021/22 it can reflect back on a century of major artistic milestones in every decade of its history. And its future can be just as promising. The Orchestra has shown itself to be a vital asset to its community, and a unique musical voice on the world stage. TSO Music Directors and musicians have been widely praised for artistic excellence, and the Orchestra is instrumental in community music education. With a rich history of touring, recording, broadcasting and commissioning, the institution has helped to develop the careers of hundreds of Canadian artists.

Founded in 1922, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is one of Canada’s most important cultural institutions, and is internationally recognized. Peter Oundjian, now heading into his 14th and final season as the TSO’s Music Director, leads the Orchestra with a commitment to innovative programming and audience engagement through a broad range of performances that showcase the exceptional talents of the Orchestra along with a roster of distinguished guest artists and conductors.

Throughout its history, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has welcomed some of the greatest international artists, including James Ehnes, Maxim Vengerov, Emanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Jessye Norman, Karen Kain, Yefim Bronfman, Angela Hewitt, Lang Lang (in his first week-long residency program in North America), and actor Christopher Plummer. Renowned composers Henri Dutilleux, R. Murray Schafer, Aaron Copland, Phillip Glass, John Adams, and Tan Dun, among many others, have been in attendance for the Orchestra’s presentations of their music.

Today, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra serves the community with one of the largest educational programs in Canada, connecting with tens of thousands of students each year throughout the GTA with our curriculum-based music education programs and outreach.
The TSO also serves the larger community with TSOUNDCHECK, the original under-35 ticket program, and the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra.  Under Oundjian’s leadership, the TSO has distinguished itself as an active supporter of new Canadian and international works, predominantly through its annual New Creations Festival. Since 2008, the Orchestra has released eight recordings under its self-produced label, TSO Live, and has a 3-disc contract with the prestigious Chandos Records label which has already recorded 2 out of 3.  The 3rd recording will take place in Fall 2017.

The TSO recently announced that Sir Andrew Davis will act as Interim Artistic Director for two seasons following the conclusion of Peter Oundjian’s tenure as Music Director at the end of the 2017/18 season. Maestro Davis will provide artistic leadership through to the middle of 2020, when the TSO anticipates that a new permanent Music Director will be in place.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has developed an international presence through a history of touring to venues in the United States, Europe, and Asia. In August 2014, the Orchestra completed a critically acclaimed European tour which included the first performance of a North American orchestra at Reykjavik’s Harpa Hall. In May 2017, the Orchestra completed an historic tour to Israel and Europe, which included the TSO’s first-ever performances in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, as well as concerts in prestigious music venues and festivals in Vienna, Regensburg, Essen and Prague.


The Toronto Symphony Foundation (TSF) was incorporated in 1966 to support the TSO in the advancement of orchestral music.  The TSF operates separately from the TSO and is governed by a board of 11 Trustees. Funds invested by the TSF generate earnings that contribute to the annual funding distributions directed to the TSO to provide a stable and consistent revenue stream over the long term.

Donations received by the TSO each year as part of annual fundraising are used by the TSO to support ongoing operations.  Contributions that donors wish to be invested and used to support the future operations of the TSO are deposited in the TSF and are managed by the Trustees in accordance with the directions of the donors.

Our 4-Year Plan: A Path to Sustainability

Beginning in December 2016, the TSO commenced a detailed and comprehensive review of its business performance, financial systems, and operational planning and execution. Led by Gary Hanson – Interim Chief Executive Officer, the Senior management group has literally taken the organization apart and closely examined its component pieces. This effort has led to an entirely new planning, evaluation, tracking, and executional framework. It has also led to the creation of the most rigorous 4-year strategic plan ever created at the TSO.

This plan outlines a path to financial health and sustainability, addressing the three underlying causes of the TSO’s structural deficit: a significant operating margin decline, a dramatic growth in fixed expenses, and a persistent struggle to achieve sufficient annual renewable philanthropy. These three fiscal problems will be simultaneously corrected while maintaining artistic excellence.

Recent financial results have been very positive. In addition to finishing its 2015/16 fiscal year with an operating surplus, the TSO also reduced its accumulated deficit by approximately $4 million (from $12 million to under $8 million). These results were possible through an increase of more than 1,000 new donors from the previous season, growth in all donor categories, the donation of a 1703 Amati viola, and strong support from the Toronto Symphony Foundation. In 2015/16, the TSO achieved a 20-year record high in donations.

Audience levels also grew substantially over the course of 2015/16 as the TSO presented 44 sold-out performances; welcomed 23,000 first-time attendees; reached a new milestone with total attendance of more than 268,000, the highest in five years; and broke all previous attendance records for Messiah, the Mozart Festival, and the New Creations Festival.

In the past, fundraising growth was driven by end of year, emergency fundraising efforts. While these special fundraising efforts resulted in many generous one-time gifts made to the TSO due to unique financial circumstances, they were neither sustainable nor renewable gifts. The TSO cannot continue in this manner, nor can it count on replicating these extraordinary last-minute types of special fundraising.

The 4-Year Plan will change fundraising at the TSO in two meaningful ways. First, the organization will move away from ‘special’ fundraising, reducing it to zero by 2020. In the place of special fundraising the TSO will grow and develop a larger pool of renewable philanthropic supporters – many of whom will make multi-year renewable commitments. These supporters will be developed from both existing and new contacts. And second, the TSO must raise a Transition Fund of $12 million. This fund will include $5 million to be used to close the structural deficit over the next four years while the TSO durably restores the business. $7 million will be needed to pay down the accumulated deficit and allow the TSO to qualify for Government of Canada matching funds/grants through the Canada Cultural Investment Fund.


The Vice President role provides a unique opportunity to significantly contribute to the future of the TSO by helping to shape our philanthropic vision, team, and programs. Therefore, the ideal candidate will be a focused, strategic leader who will stay the course on building a sustainable and successful fund development program for the TSO. Energetic and pragmatic, the new Vice President will elevate the department and our programs by helping to review and renew our purpose and activities.

Passionate about music and its positive impact on society, the Vice President will contribute significantly to both institutional and fundraising strategy. The ideal candidate will bring a disciplined and realistic approach to planning, goal setting, and budgeting.

The TSO has keen, committed people who look forward to learning, growing, and succeeding together. The new Vice President will be professional, competent, and confident, and must possess the experience and aptitude to properly organize and lead a large department. The successful candidate will provide both direction and encouragement to our development team, and will inspire staff to move forward with consistent and intentional activity, as well as actively and persistently modeling behaviour and expectations for the team. 

In addition to bringing best practices to our development operations, the Vice President will focus on building our people in tandem with our programs. The ideal candidate will bring structure, process, training, and consistency to the development team, and will support others in creating strategies and plans that are carried forward into action.

The ideal candidate must have a strong grounding in annual operating fundraising, as well as deep experience in personally closing major gifts donations from individuals and in major gifts strategy. The new incumbent will bring discipline and enthusiasm to the rebuilding of systems and processes, particularly in the area of major gift and planned giving fundraising, and will chart a path that will ensure the success of our 4-year plan. The Vice President will help to grow our base of donors and actively move them through our major gift pipeline. Experience with campaign planning and execution is also helpful in this role, including fundraising for endowments.

A self-starter with strong initiative, the ideal candidate will have comfort leading in a staff-driven fundraising environment. Willing to make the ask where appropriate, the Vice President will engage donors proactively to develop long-term, sustainable relationships.

Bringing previous experience supporting senior volunteers who are engaged in relationship development, the new Vice President will work closely with the CEO and board chair to engage board members and foundation trustees who are comfortable opening doors and connecting donors to the TSO.

The successful candidate will possess exceptional communication and interpersonal skills, and will be able to connect and develop strong and lasting relationships with donors and colleagues alike. Collegial and collaborative, the Vice President will understand that strong communication and effective partnering with colleagues will yield the best and most sustainable results.

Previous work fundraising in the performing arts, particularly for a Symphony Orchestra, would be helpful to hit the ground running. However, more important is a passion for our mission. We are seeking someone who is committed to the TSO’s long term success, and who is willing to stay the course as we grow and develop our programs, team, relationships, and successes.


The Vice President, Development will oversee a comprehensive, sustainable, and multifaceted development program. Key responsibilities include but are not limited to the following:

Strategic Leadership

• Working with the CEO and senior management group to formulate all fundraising activities, including strategy development, setting measurable objectives, and evaluation.
• Supporting staff in developing and delivering a best-in-class stewardship and engagement experience for donors and members.
• Developing, implementing and leading a robust major gifts programme from identification to cultivation to solicitation.
• Providing leadership to the development and implementation of a campaign plan, as well as strategies and tactics to ensure sustainable, long-term engagement of donors.
• Championing and leading the transition to a philanthropic culture across the organization and working with the senior management group to ensure buy-in and interdepartmental support of philanthropic objectives.
• Collaborating with the senior management group in assessing and developing the TSO’s strategic and financial goals, and taking part in developing approved budgets.

Development Team Management

• Providing leadership and direction of all fundraising programs and staff with the support of the Associate Vice-President, Development.
• Overseeing the recruiting, training, coaching, motivation, and retention of the Development department staff, working with and through team leaders to ensure they have a clear, common vision, and that they are well supported in their goals.
• Collaboratively establishing goals and metrics for the department, and working with staff to develop and deliver on work plans.
• Ensuring effective management and maximization of resources.

Benefactor Relationships

• Cultivating and developing authentic, sustainable relationships with the TSO’s current and future major benefactors.
• Acting as the chief development officer carrying a significant portfolio of relationships, as well as supporting the CEO, Board, Foundation Trustees, and team with their benefactor engagement.
• Serving as an enthusiastic ambassador to the community, representing and championing the TSO and its programs and impact.
• Regular attendance at TSO performances, receptions, and events to ensure appropriate cultivation and stewardship.

Volunteer Engagement & Support

• Leveraging the involvement of the Music Director, the CEO, members of the Board of Directors, Foundation Trustees, and the Development Committee in order to achieve key fundraising objectives.
• Leading and supporting Board and Trustee engagement in fundraising, ensuring that they feel confident in opening doors, and well supported in initiating discussions with prospective benefactors.
• Serving as the lead in coordinating the affairs and activities of the volunteer Development Committee, and any future campaign committees.


Interested candidates are encouraged to contact Tara George, Senior Vice President, at KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.) via email at or via telephone at 416-340-9710 ext. 1013. Nominations are also appreciated.

To view the full Executive Brief, please visit:

We recognize that candidates would and should undertake due diligence before putting their names forward for consideration.  Please know that all enquiries will be kept in strict confidence.

Candidates across Canada and beyond will be considered for this position, as long as they have eligibility for a Canadian work visa, and a willingness to make a long-term commitment to the TSO and to our community.