Executive Director, Donor Relations

Updated: 4 days ago
Location: Waltham, MASSACHUSETTS
Job Type: FullTime

The Opportunity

Brandeis University, a prestigious research University, seeks an Executive Director of Donor Relations. The Executive Director serves as a senior member of the Institutional Advancement staff.  They are responsible for providing strategic leadership, vision, design, and execution of a comprehensive and meaningful program, which includes donor acknowledgement, stewardship, recognition, and engagement across the entire University.  Reporting to the Assistant Vice-President of Operations and Fundraising Support, this critical leadership role will shape the strategy for cross-University donor communications, alumni engagement, and Advancement-related marketing programs.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Strategic Leadership: Devise and lead the strategy for donor communications and relations, ensuring alignment with Brandeis’s enterprise-wide philanthropic goals.
  • Narrative Development: Create a compelling narrative for philanthropic fundraising and alumni engagement.
  • Culture of Philanthropy: Embed a strong culture of philanthropy across Brandeis University.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Build impactful relationships with alumni and donors at all levels.
  • Campaign Planning: Lead the development of multi-year campaign strategies that highlight Brandeis University’s unique strengths and opportunities.


  • Experience: Significant experience in advancement communications, donor relations, or related fields.
  • Leadership: Proven ability to lead and inspire teams.
  • Strategic Thinking: Visionary mindset with a focus on long-term impact.
  • Collaboration: Strong partnership skills to work across Advancement and other university departments.
  • Education: Bachelor’s degree required; advanced degree preferred.

Join us at Brandeis University and be part of a dynamic team dedicated to making a difference in the world!

More information about Brandeis University

Established in 1948 as a nonsectarian university with strong ties to the American Jewish community, we are a medium-sized private research university with global reach. Brandeis is dedicated to first-rate undergraduate education while making groundbreaking – including Nobel Prize winning - discoveries.

In preparation for our next ambitious campaign, IA seeks to strengthen the bonds with the university’s various constituencies and secure the philanthropic resources necessary for Brandeis to continue achieving excellence in teaching, research, scholarship, and campus life.

Our 235-acre campus is located in the suburbs of Boston. We offer a competitive benefits and compensation package, which includes: medical, dental, and life insurance; generous paid time off; tuition remission; a 403b retirement savings plan with a generous match; free parking; and a flexible hybrid working model for most positions.

Primary Responsibilities

Provide leadership and strategic direction in the design and coordination of a comprehensive university-wide donor engagement and stewardship program for donors at all levels of giving and participation. 

Partner with senior leaders and key stakeholders across the campus to create bespoke donor engagement opportunities, and develop appropriate recognition and stewardship programs for schools, centers and


Overseeing a team of 6 advancement professionals, develop annual work plans, project timelines and program calendars; create and manage operating budget; foster a shared sense of teamwork and collaboration; provide effective feedback and opportunities for professional development.

Oversee and direct the work related to endowed fund reporting, selection and/or engagement of fund recipients and beneficiaries. Oversee the administration of named funds, ensuring that gifts are accurately documented through gift agreements, that funds are appropriately recorded and coded, and confirming annually that funds are utilized in accordance with the donors’ wishes.

Develop strategies to increase donor retention, upgrades and acquisitions through creative and meaningful donor recognition programs and initiatives. Create new, and support existing, donor recognition societies for all levels of the giving spectrum, including annual giving, loyalty giving, and planned giving societies, as well as for special initiatives and campaigns.

Serve on the Naming Opportunities Committee, and make recommendations for university leadership regarding giving levels and policy for named spaces, positions, and programs. Oversee the documentation, cataloging, and maintenance of named gifts, including a database of endowed and current-use gift funds and physical named spaces and plaques.

Serve as the primary staff liaison to the University Board of Fellows and the Fellows Council, comprised of the University’s most philanthropic and engaged donors and volunteers.

Develop and oversee a meaningful recognition plan for leadership campaign donors.

Drive the concept and strategy behind all donor engagement and stewardship special events and meetings to ensure consistent delivery and impact for both the university and donors. Plan, design and oversee the annual stewardship event, inaugural lectures, and other special receptions and meetings.

Develop policies and procedures that reflect industry standards, demonstrate best practices, and fulfill the legal and ethical obligations to donors while encouraging increased levels of giving and support.


  • Bachelor’s degree required.
  • Eight years of experience, preferably in a higher education setting and five years, minimum, supervisory experience required.
  • Direct experience leading comprehensive donor relations or communications functions and teams within a nonprofit setting required; experience within higher education environment highly desired.
  • Ability to envision and develop thoughtful, strategic plans, annual goals and objectives, program enhancements, policies and procedures, implementing, managing, and analyzing the effectiveness of these plans over time and adjusting where warranted.
  • Highly effective leadership and management of human and financial resources with a commitment to collaborative teamwork, accountability, and emphasis on staff performance, growth, and development.
  • Demonstrates an understanding of the nuances of donor communications styles and preferences across generational, social, and demographic factors with an exceptional ability to absorb and translate information from a variety of sources into communications and programs that resonate with diverse audiences.
  • Excellent organizational skills with high attention to detail and follow-up. An ability to meet tight deadlines and work on multiple projects simultaneously, while managing competing priorities.
  • Demonstrates an aptitude for complex fundraising and database systems; use of technology and system for marketing, communications, and donor engagement; use of graphic design elements, software, and/or digital stewardship platforms.
  • Exhibits excellent written and oral communication skills that promote academic and business professionalism and convey information clearly and concisely.
  • Presents a collegial, collaborative, and customer-service demeanor that positively reflects the core values and standards of the institution and demonstrates tact and diplomacy.
  • Must be able and willing to work occasional evenings and weekends with an attitude of doing what it takes to get the job done.

Submit Your Candidacy

To learn more, visit the Division of Institutional Advancement and our Alumni Friends and Family websites.

To apply, please visit our and submit your cover letter and resume via the Brandeis University Human Resources online portal.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Diversity, equity and inclusion are important values at Brandeis today and always have been for they are rooted in our founding as an institution. These values serve as a reminder for self-reflection, and a continuous call to grow for us as Brandeisans.  Founded as a model institution for ethnic and religious pluralism, Brandeis University welcomes students, faculty, and staff of all nationalities, religions, and orientations.  Moreover, social justice is central to the mission of Brandeis, which endeavors to foster a just and inclusive campus culture that embraces the evolving diversity of our larger society.  Read more online about our Mission and Diversity Statements at Brandeis Mission and Diversity Statements.

If you are interested in a role and have relevant experience but your work history does not align perfectly with every qualification in the job description, we nevertheless encourage you to apply.

Closing Statement

Brandeis University is committed to providing its students, faculty and staff with an environment conducive to learning and working and where all people are treated with respect and dignity. We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, ancestry, national origin, ethnicity, caste, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, including transgender identity, religion, disability, age, genetics, active military or veteran status and any other characteristics protected under applicable federal or Massachusetts law.

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