Founded over 20 years ago by renowned Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan, The Sarah McLachlan School of Music (SoM) helps children, youth, and adults 55+ find their voice.  Using music as a tool to inspire connection, students with different needs, abilities, skill levels, learning styles and backgrounds come together to discover and fulfill their creative potential.

SoM is not a conventional “music school”:  the SoM team creates a community space that is welcoming, safe, and supportive and where all students can feel comfortable being themselves and playing music together. By providing access to barrier free and creative music programs, a unique trust is built among staff and students that expands possibility. While music is the foundation of the SoM community, SoM is built upon the intrinsic value of inclusivity, proudly offering a space where young people are encouraged to forge deep friendships and express themselves.

“We teach music, but we also teach respect, equality, empathy, and the importance of being engaged members of our community.  Music connects us to ourselves and to others and we know, now more than ever, that community is vital to our human experience.” – Sarah McLachlan, Founder & Chair

Over its 20+ year history, SoM has remained true to Sarah’s vision that music programs, transportation, and access to healthy food be offered at no cost for students facing significant financial and social emotional barriers to access. At SoM, in spite of incredible challenges related to poverty, food insecurity, homelessness, family relationships, mental health concerns, gender identity transition and sexual orientation, SoM students are celebrated for their strengths, accomplishments, and resiliency.

SoM has grown from a small pilot project in 2002 to today serving over 1,000 students a year through locations in Vancouver, Surrey, and Edmonton. Continuously adapting to meet the unique needs of our students, SoM has become a highly professionalized organization – while still maintaining a clear line of sight to our grassroots history.

SoM receives no government funding, and has been supported by Sarah’s committed community of friends, event attendees, and important foundation and corporate partnerships.  Now, to support the School’s planned growth and ensure its long-term sustainability, we are recruiting a new Director of Development to lead all of our fundraising efforts.

The Director reports to the Executive Director, and partners with an engaged staff group, keen Board members, and Sarah herself.  This unique and once-in-a-career opportunity features:

  • A supportive and mutually empowering group of artistic and professional colleagues;
  • The chance to build and professionalize a development program, while maintaining the School’s creative and organic culture;
  • The opportunity to judiciously and strategically partner with an engaged, excited, and keen celebrity Founder;
  • A donor and prospect list that would be the envy of many other fundraising programs;
  • A leadership role in a school with a direct line-of-sight to improving the lives of children, their families, and society at large.

To apply & for more info:

This posting is just a summary of this great opportunity.   This search is being led by SoM’s search partner, Christoph Clodius at The Discovery Group, at If you or someone you know is interested or curious, please be in touch to apply or learn more!

Location: Vancouver, BC Employment Type: fulltime Level: senior


Application Timing & Process: The deadline for applications is March 8, 2024. Please apply with a cover letter/expression of interest and CV, ideally in the same document, to Christoph.

Compensation & Benefits: This is a full-time, permanent position with a starting salary range of $105,000 to $125,000 depending on experience. Our comprehensive benefits program features extended medical and dental coverage, a health spending account, holidays, and the opportunity for a flexible office/work from home balance.

History & Founding

With a deep appreciation for the fact that “music saved my life”, Sarah McLachlan launched a pilot project with Arts Umbrella in 2002 to bring the transformative power of musical expression to multi-barriered children and youth. Growth followed rapidly, and in 2011, we incorporated as a registered charity.

Through the generosity of the Wolverton Foundation and the City of Vancouver, a gift of 16,000 square feet of space allowed our program to expand to 285 students. In 2016, an environmental scan/feasibility study of neighborhoods in Canada determined our program outreach to Surrey and Edmonton were needed.

Our Vision, Purpose, and Values

SoM is guided by our Vision, Purpose, and Values. They are:

Vision: Transforming lives through the power of music.

Purpose: Building inclusive and barrier-free communities of musical learning where children and youth find their voice.

SoM Values:

  • Acceptance
  • Care
  • Collaboration
  • Commitment
  • Curiosity
  • Flexibility
  • Innovation
  • Social Responsibility

SoM Participants

We know that kids with different needs, abilities, skill levels and learning styles can participate in music, and through this participation they find their voice. Many of our students face mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, while others have experienced bullying. A majority deal with significant financial difficulties, specifically:

• Nearly three-quarters of participants have high financial needs that prevent them from accessing extra-curricular programming and expressing themselves in safe, alternative, creative environments.
• More than a third of participants have high social-emotional needs such as ADHD, autism, anxiety, and depression.
• Nearly 300 community and school partners help us to identify individuals who could benefit most from our programming.
• Our program impacted 1135 participants over the 2022-2023 school year.

We operate as an after-school program five days a week for 38 weeks, accounting for approximately 60,000 hours of instruction per year. Students range in age from 8-24; we also serve a smaller number of children under five as well as our Senior’s Ukulele Choir 55+. With a retention rate of over 80%, most of our students stay with us for an 8-year period.

We prioritize access, acceptance, and flexibility at every stage of our model working to reduce barriers by providing free transportation from schools designated as high need. We offer a healthy snack program so that students are nourished, and hunger doesn’t prevent them from getting the most out of their class.

As of September 2023, 1060 students are enrolled at our three locations: Vancouver, Surrey, and Edmonton.

Looking Ahead

As we continue to build on our over two decades of experience, we expect to accomplish the following over the next years.

  • We will continue to develop and increase our service delivery to students in Surrey and Edmonton;
  • We will develop our Strategic Plan for 2024-2027;
  • We will continue to develop our leadership team to ensure that our staff are fully supported in their important work;
  • We will continue to stabilize our organizational structure ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion in our policies, transparency, and accountability.

Fundraising at SoM

Last year, SoM’s budget of over $2.6 million was predominantly supported by the Sarah McLachlan Foundation. Additional support from foundations, friends of SoM, events like Barefoot in the Backyard, and other donors provided the balance. The Sarah McLachlan School of Music Foundation holds investments totalling $7.5, which includes both the School’s growing endowment (over $4 million) and operating reserve.

The program is therefore stable and ripe for growth: the Director will be tasked with ensuring the School has an effective, comprehensive, and diverse fundraising program appropriate to its goals and ends. This includes, but is not limited to, continued relationships with the School’s major and potentially major donors, growing the SoM Foundation endowment, and ensuring annual and community-level donors are given the chance to support this incredible institution. Our fundraising goal this year is just under $2 million.

With a clear understanding of SoM’s strategic plan and annual goals, the Director will play an integral role in developing the fund development strategy and ensuring the implementation of donor-centered fundraising programs that will drive growth, build a strong donor pipeline, deepen donor relationships, and provide donors with excellent stewardship.

The Director is a member of SoM’s leadership team that reports to the Executive Director, working
closely with the ED, SoM’s leadership team, School and Foundation Board members, and Sarah to help facilitate and envision organizational growth and expansion initiatives for SoM’s future.

The Director will ideally be:

  • A Natural collaborator – able to quickly connect and build relationships with a diverse group of people, both in person and remotely.  You bring appreciative curiosity, asking questions to understand, engage, and improve.
  • Dynamic and relational – you default to action, are an excellent listener, and can pick up nuance in dealing with others.  A self-starter, you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and are motivated to achieve.  You’re excited to build.
  • Confident and assertive – you deploy your expertise with tact and diplomacy, and aren’t overawed by working with celebrities or high net worth individuals.  You are adaptable, flexible and bring a low-ego, high EQ approach to wanting what’s best for the School.
  • Passionate and curious – you question the status quo, and are not afraid to try new ways of doing things.  You lead with heart and uphold the values that we are all in it together.
  • A leader that inspires commitment to strengthening community through music – confident using your communication, delegation, planning, technology, and operational skills to deliver.  You can take in all the wonderful things the School does, and distill it into clear and compelling language and calls to action for our donors.
  • Inclusive and Respectful – actively contributes towards creating an inclusive, welcoming, and safe work environment, where all of our people feel like they belong.  Your ambition and autonomy fit in well with our culture of creativity.
  • Visionary – able to create a compelling vision for your colleagues, partners, donors, and area of work, to get buy-in, and to engage and empower others to deliver on your plans for the future.  You understand that music is in the air we breathe, while at the same time it’s a tool to achieve phenomenal things.
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Director of Development – Sarah McLachlan School of Music

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