Senior Director of Principal Gifts

Senior Director of Principal Gifts

University Overview

The University of Pennsylvania, the largest private employer in Philadelphia, is a world-renowned leader in education, research, and innovation. This historic, Ivy League school consistently ranks among the top 10 universities in the annual U.S. News & World Report survey. Penn has 12 highly-regarded schools that provide opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and continuing education, all influenced by Penn's distinctive interdisciplinary approach to scholarship and learning. As an employer Penn has been ranked nationally on many occasions with the most recent award from Forbes who named Penn one of America's Best Employers By State in 2021.

Penn offers a unique working environment within the city of Philadelphia. The University is situated on a beautiful urban campus, with easy access to a range of educational, cultural, and recreational activities. With its historical significance and landmarks, lively cultural offerings, and wide variety of atmospheres, Philadelphia is the perfect place to call home for work and play.

The University offers a competitive benefits package that includes excellent healthcare and tuition benefits for employees and their families, generous retirement benefits, a wide variety of professional development opportunities, supportive work and family benefits, a wealth of health and wellness programs and resources, and much more.

COVID-19 vaccination is a requirement for all positions at the University of Pennsylvania. New hires are expected to be fully vaccinated before beginning work at the University. For more information about Penn's vaccine requirements and the use of Penn Open Pass, visit the Penn COVID-19 Response website for the latest information.

Posted Job Title
Senior Director of Principal Gifts

Job Profile Title
Major Gifts Officer/Executive Level

Job Description Summary
Reporting to the Executive Director of Principal Gifts, the Senior Director of Principal Gifts is a member of the University's central Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) Principal Gifts team and responsible for the management and growth of a donor/donor prospect pool of some of the University's most affluent and important stakeholders. The Senior Director will design and execute engagement, solicitation, and stewardship strategies for two key groups: 1) non-alumni parents capable of making gifts of $1 million or greater; and 2) alumni and friends capable of making gifts of $5 million or greater. Working closely with school-based colleagues across DAR - and leveraging University leadership, faculty, and volunteers to advance relationships and gift discussions - the Senior Director will ensure assigned individuals and families are best positioned to provide maximum levels of philanthropic support for University priorities.

Job Description

The Principal Gifts team develops engagement, solicitation, and stewardship strategies for top-tier individuals and families and ensures that these strategies are actively pursued. This includes identifying and articulating large-scale priority opportunities for transformational gifts. Each member of the Principal Gifts team is expected to have an intellectual curiosity about the work of the University, an ability to translate a broad range of academic areas into inspiring visions for donors, a high level of adaptability and flexibility as needs and priorities change, and strong relationships with internal constituencies and colleagues that promote a positive, collaborative spirit for development strategy and planning across all Penn's schools.

The ideal professional will bring a deep track record of working at sophisticated institutions that aspire to best practices in the industry. The strongest candidate will have demonstrated principal giving success, strong planned giving knowledge, excellent oral and written communication skills, exceptional judgment, and be a motivated self-starter.

Specific Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Personally manage a portfolio of non-alumni parents (capable or who have the potential to make gifts of $1 million or more within the next five years) and alumni and friend donors/donor prospects (capable or who have the potential to make gifts of $5 million or more within the next five years).

  • Identify, qualify, cultivate, solicit, and steward assigned principal gifts level pool. Drive and manage strategic, consistent, personalized engagement with donors and donor prospects, including meaningful interaction with campus partners and senior University administrators, faculty members, Boards of Advisors, and other high-level volunteers.

  • Assist with organization and orchestration of two Parent Leadership Committee meetings each academic year. Recommend new Committee members and assist with outreach to all $1M+ rated parents. Work closely with central, and school and center colleagues to engage new non alumni families.

  • Devote 30-40 percent of time traveling to develop relationships with University parents, alumni, and friends. These may include individual visits with University leadership, faculty members, or DAR colleagues.

  • Represent the University's priorities in the context of an overall vision for Penn and its place in the world. Contribute to the identification, development, and refinement of compelling gift opportunities to align principal gift donors' interests with the University's priorities.

  • Articulate the case for support for Penn as a whole and for a range of Schools and centers in a way that is both inspiring and specific in terms of activity across Penn and the impact of a gift on the University and beyond.

  • Direct and prepare major proposals and follow-up materials, ensuring stewardship of all prospect contacts.

  • Collaborate with school-based and central staff (e.g., Major Gifts, International Development, Planned Giving) to develop new programs and initiatives aimed at increasing the number of donor/donor prospect entering the principal gifts "pipeline." Develop strategies to move new prospects into the $5 million + category.

  • Lead an extensive and proactive collaboration with colleagues across Schools to develop effective and coordinated strategies for each donor. Create and execute events for cultivation, stewardship, and solicitations to advance principal gifts.

  • Provide thoughtful counsel to DAR colleagues on principal gifts relationship-building ideas and fundraising strategies. Assist in evaluating and designing appeals to principal gift level prospects.

  • Keep abreast of the intellectual content of the University and advances across the academy.

  • Practice the highest standards of professionalism and performance as evidenced by collaborative teamwork, initiative, critical thinking, excellent judgment, tact, reliability, and timeliness of follow-through.

  • Help supervise an administrative assistant for Principal Gifts, establish performance objectives, conduct yearly reviews, and give feedback on performance.

  • Perform other duties and special projects as assigned.


  • BA/BS degree required or an equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • 7-10 years of demonstrated successful fundraising experience, preferably in higher education, including strong track record of high-potential ($1M+) gifts raised from individuals.

  • Ability to travel (at least 35 percent of the time) - local, regional, and national. International as required.

  • Strong interpersonal, listening, organizational, and analytical skills.

  • Excellent communication skills (both oral and written).

  • Dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion

  • Experience with planned giving vehicles and in structuring blended gifts.

  • Experience in working with volunteers and high-net-worth individuals.

  • Emotional intelligence needed to navigate complicated organizations, relationships, and ambiguity

  • Ability to work independently yet relate comfortably in an existing framework of fundraising, participating in and contributing to a total team effort and in a fast-paced, complex environment.

  • Ability to interact regularly and collaborate efficiently with development officers in varying programs.

  • Evening/weekend work.

**Please provide a resume and cover letter in order to be considered for this role. Please upload all documents in the "Resume/CV" section of the application prior to submitting.**

The salary for this position can offer up to $175,000 annually, commensurate with candidate's level of experience.

Job Location - City, State
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Department / School
Development and Alumni Relations

Pay Range
$72,837.00 - $116,539.66

Affirmative Action Statement
Penn adheres to a policy that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected class.

Special Requirements
Background check required after a conditional job offer is made. Consideration of the background check will be tailored to the requirements of the job.

University Benefits
  • Health, Life, and Flexible Spending Accounts: Penn offers comprehensive medical, prescription, behavioral health, dental, vision, and life insurance benefits to protect you and your family's health and welfare. You can also use flexible spending accounts to pay for eligible health care and dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars.
  • Tuition: Take advantage of Penn's exceptional tuition benefits. You, your spouse, and your dependent children can get tuition assistance here at Penn. Your dependent children are also eligible for tuition assistance at other institutions.
  • Retirement: Penn offers generous retirement plans to help you save for your future. Penn's Basic, Matching, and Supplemental retirement plans allow you to save for retirement on a pre-tax or Roth basis. Choose from a wide variety of investment options through TIAA and Vanguard.
  • Time Away from Work: Penn provides you with a substantial amount of time away from work during the course of the year. This allows you to relax, take vacations, attend to personal affairs, recover from illness or injury, spend time with family-whatever your personal needs may be.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: In partnership with Genworth Financial, Penn offers faculty and staff (and your eligible family members) long-term care insurance to help you cover some of the costs of long-term care services received at home, in the community or in a nursing facility. If you apply when you're newly hired, you won't have to provide proof of good health or be subject to underwriting requirements. Eligible family members must always provide proof of good health and are subject to underwriting.
  • Wellness and Work-life Resources: Penn is committed to supporting our faculty and staff as they balance the competing demands of work and personal life. That's why we offer a wide variety of programs and resources to help you care for your health, your family, and your work-life balance.
  • Professional and Personal Development: Penn provides an array of resources to help you advance yourself personally and professionally.
  • University Resources: As a member of the Penn community, you have access to a wide range of University resources as well as cultural and recreational activities. Take advantage of the University's libraries and athletic facilities, or visit our arboretum and art galleries. There's always something going on at Penn, whether it's a new exhibit at the Penn Museum, the latest music or theater presentation at the Annenberg Center, or the Penn Relays at Franklin Field to name just a few examples. As a member of the Penn community, you're right in the middle of the excitement-and you and your family can enjoy many of these activities for free.
  • Discounts and Special Services: From arts and entertainment to transportation and mortgages, you'll find great deals for University faculty and staff. Not only do Penn arts and cultural centers and museums offer free and discounted admission and memberships to faculty and staff. You can also enjoy substantial savings on other goods and services such as new cars from Ford and General Motors, cellular phone service plans, movie tickets, and admission to theme parks.
  • Flexible Work Hours: Flexible work options offer creative approaches for completing work while promoting balance between work and personal commitments. These approaches involve use of non-traditional work hours, locations, and/or job structures.
  • Penn Home Ownership Services: Penn offers a forgivable loan for eligible employees interested in buying a home or currently residing in West Philadelphia, which can be used for closing costs or home improvements.
  • Adoption Assistance: Penn will reimburse eligible employees on qualified expenses in connection with the legal adoption of an eligible child, such as travel or court fees, for up to two adoptions in your household.

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