Closing On: March 13, 2023

Location: London, ON

Employment Type: fulltime: Level: senior

Salary Range: $130,000-$160,000


File: Download

The Opportunity

Western University is seeking an Executive Director, Principal Gifts to lead the design, implementation, and management of principal gifts ($1m+) across the university. In addition to personally managing a portfolio of principal gifts donors and donor prospects, with a goal of 10-15 solicitations per year, the Executive Director will provide strategic, supportive leadership to principal gifts staff to enable them to excel in their efforts and delivery of service and partnership to other units.

This position will report to and work closely with the Associate Vice-President (Development), as well as providing support and partnership to the Vice President (Advancement) and the President of the University on cultivation and solicitation for their principal gifts prospects. The Executive Director, Principal Gifts will also engage with and support university volunteers such as the Chancellor, members of the Board of Governors, campaign cabinets and advisory boards.

As a member of the University Advancement Leadership, the Executive Director will jointly participate in setting, implementing, monitoring and evaluating long-term advancement strategies and campaigns for Western University. The Executive Director will lead a number of university-wide projects and initiatives related to Advancement and will support the development of strategic campaign plans for the University. In doing so, the Executive Director will collaborate closely with colleagues in University Advancement, Western Communications, and the various Faculties & Divisions.

Another important aspect of this role is to provide coaching, mentoring and support in partnership with the AVP Development and Executive Director, Faculties & Divisions Development, to create and implement the best structure for principal gifts development across the university, and to build principal gifts capacity in all faculties and divisions. Currently, we are raising about $40 million per year in principal gifts, and the goal is to grow, in particular by increasing the pipeline of prospects rated at $10M+.

The salary range for this position is $130,000-$160,000 per annum, plus a comprehensive suite of benefits and pension.

The University is proud of its on-campus and in-person student and alumni experience, and therefore Senior leaders are expected to work on campus. Flexible work hours are available if responsibilities can accommodate, as well as occasional work-from-home for added flexibility. Given that there will be significant travel in this role (regionally, nationally, and internationally) the University is willing to consider candidates based in the Toronto/GTA area who would be on campus at least one day per week, and likely more at the beginning of employment. Please also note that candidates must possess a valid passport and driver’s license.

About Western University

Western has an impressive track record of success – achievements we take pride in and that have paved a road towards an even brighter, bolder future. But never settling for the status quo, Western seeks to maximize its potential as an academic community and increase the impact of its research, teaching, and community engagement. The University’s newly released Strategic Plan, Towards Western at 150, outlines a bold, inclusive vision for Western’s future, and outlines our priorities and aspirations while serving as the cornerstone of our public accountability.

Combining academic excellence with life-long opportunities for intellectual, social, and cultural growth, Western has been preparing future leaders for careers of impact in their communities since 1878.

A vibrant centre of learning with nearly 45,000 students from 128 countries, we offer more than 400 combinations of undergraduate majors, minors and specializations offered through 12 faculties and schools, and three affiliated university colleges. This includes 88 different graduate degree programs, many of which are interdisciplinary, offered through the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, as well professional programs in Medicine, Business, Law and Engineering.

Ranked among the top 1% of higher education institutions worldwide, Western is Canada’s third-largest research-intensive university and is a founding member of the U15 group of Canada’s most distinguished research universities. As one of the region’s largest employers, Western has an operating revenue of nearly $800 million, and more than 11,000 full and part-time staff and faculty.

One of the oldest and most beautiful universities in Canada, Western is located on over 55 hectares (1,120 acres) along the banks of the Thames River in London, Ontario providing a unique community feeling.  The main campus offers nine student residences, housing either first-year students or upper-year students, plus three on-campus apartments strictly for upper-year and graduate students.

The University Community Centre serves as Western’s student activity centre, with spaces for student government, social, cultural, entertainment and recreational activities. The University Students’ Council recognizes more than 180 student organizations and clubs which cover a wide range of interests such as academics, culture, religion, social issues, and recreation.

Athletics at Western is managed by Sports & Recreation Services. The university’s varsity teams, known as the Western Mustangs, compete very successfully in U Sports, the Ontario University Athletics conference.

As we look towards our 150th anniversary in 2028, we are energized and ready for greater impact. We will educate, support, and encourage leaders who think and act boldly in response to the grand challenges of our time – to serve the public good. As we chart an innovative path over the next 150 years, we will build a university more energized, more influential, and more inclusive than ever before.

University Advancement at Western University

University Advancement inspires loyalty, pride, engagement, support and lifelong relationships with our internal and external communities. We play a leading role in strengthening awareness of and support for the University’s mission and goals by leading the development and alumni relations efforts across campus and beyond.

The University Advancement team at Western consists of over 100 professionals and support staff involved with Alumni Relations, Development, and Advancement Operations.  This team leads the way in serving our alumni, donors, faculty, staff, students and volunteers. Staff are deployed in a centralized/decentralized model whereby some team members worked centrally on overarching strategy and service delivery to colleagues, while others work in various University Faculties, alongside academic and administrative colleagues. University Advancement works in close collaboration with our Advancement colleagues at the Ivey Business School.

Western University has more than 328,000 living alumni in 161 countries worldwide.

The key goal of Development at Western is to connect Western’s alumni, friends, students, parents, faculty, staff, corporations and foundations through strategies and programs that build long-term relationships and philanthropic support for the University. The Development department at Western includes 5 units: Annual, Leadership and Legacy Giving; Faculties and Divisions, Principal Gifts; and Donor Relations and Stewardship.

The Principal Gifts team is dedicated to raising the most significant gifts in support of Western University’s strategic priorities. An integral part of the University Advancement team, Principal Gifts plays a key role in designing, implementing, coordinating, and managing principal gift development activities for university-wide projects and initiatives across all academic and administrative units.

Thanks to the generosity of our alumni, friends, faculty, staff, students, and volunteers, Western celebrated the conclusion of a multi-year capital campaign, Be Extraordinary, in 2018 which raised $805 million. This historic achievement would not have been possible without their support. Together, we have created a university with a sharpened focus, enhanced Canada’s best student experience and continued a legacy of exceptional teaching and research.

University Advancement is actively engaged in the early stages of the most ambitious fundraising and alumni engagement campaign in its history, a key priority outlined in Towards Western at 150: Western University Strategic Plan.

Executive Director, Principal Gifts – Key Responsibilities & Accountabilities

  • Leads and plays a key role in designing, implementing, managing, and evaluating principal gifts activities across the university
  • Manages a portfolio of principal gifts donors and donor prospects, identifying and building a pipeline of 10-15 solicitations
  • Leads principal gifts cultivation and solicitation for assigned principal gifts prospects and supports principal gifts cultivation and solicitation for prospects assigned to the AVP Development and Vice-President (University Advancement)
  • Provides expertise to the AVP (Development), Vice-President (University Advancement) and the President & Vice-Chancellor on principal gift cultivation and solicitation
  • Provides strategic and integrated leadership to principal gifts staff (approximately 5-7 staff), while articulating a clear vision, which supports and enables staff to excel in the delivery of services and fundraising efforts
    • Sets and monitors individual objectives and metrics
    • Works with development staff as a coach and mentor, working to develop staff to reach their maximum potential in generating philanthropic funds
    • Regularly reviews the type of roles required to support principal gifts fundraising activities, and oversees recruitment into roles to meet current and future needs
    • Provides leadership to external volunteers involved with principal gift solicitations, either directly or indirectly
  • Leads university-wide projects and initiatives related to advancement (e.g., partnering with Western Research to support institute fundraising), and supports the development of strategic campaign plans for the University
    • In consultation with the AVP Development, oversees and leads the planning, design, development, implementation and evaluation of strategies and initiatives, enabling the portfolio and Western to achieve fundraising goals
    • Provides ongoing support and engagement for initiatives within University Advancement (e.g., culture, We Speak, CRM design and implementation, talent development)
  • Engages and supports university volunteers (the Chancellor, members of the Board of Governors, campaign cabinets and advisory boards) through working with the AVP Development and Executive Director, Faculties & Divisions Development, to create and implement the best structure for principal gifts development
  • Participates with University Advancement Leadership in setting, implementing, monitoring and evaluating long-term advancement strategies and campaigns for Western
  • Monitors the principal gift activity pipeline across all staff, faculties and external divisions, working with the Executive Director, Faculties & Divisions Development and the Manager, Prospect Management & Research to build a pipeline for gifts (target to increase pipeline of prospects rated $10M+)
  • Ensures that annual and long-term goals for principal gifts are set, monitored and evaluated (current annual target of $40M with potential for growth), in conjunction with overall development objectives of the university
  • Partners with the ED, Faculties & Divisions Development to develop strategies, and to coach, mentor and monitor the development of principal gifts capacity in all faculties and divisions
    • Collaborates with the ED, Faculties & Divisions Development to manage and drive the overall annual pledge targets
  • Continues to advance a team approach to principal gifts to build culture and capacity across the team
  • Develops strong, collaborative working relationships with Western Communications colleagues to ensure the smooth and successful delivery of communications and marketing activities related to advancement
  • Ensures an appropriate development structure is in place to demonstrate Western’s value for matching donors’ highest philanthropic aspirations with the strategic needs of the University
  • Leads the budgeting process for their portfolio (approximately $500K) ensuring resource allocations align to the strategic priorities of the unit
  • Ensures an appropriate recognition and stewardship structure to demonstrate Western’s value and respect for donors to provide them with a meaningful lifelong relationship and experience with the University
  • Presents on key performance indicators related to their portfolio, and prepares reports for University Advancement leadership

Outcomes the Role is to Achieve

Advising and Guidance

  • Senior leaders, fundraising staff and other stakeholders receive informed guidance regarding development policies, practices and procedures

Client Service

  • The University community is served by an engaged and motivated principal gifts team focused on delivering excellent service
  • Thorough and proactive change implementation plans and practices that include commitment and buy-in from all parties involved


  • Skilled and collegial leadership of the team, through management and evaluation of metrics on program activities, regular performance feedback and support of development plans
  • Projections for annual and long-term campaign plans are well-prepared and monitored throughout the year, adjusting strategies and plans as required to achieve objectives
  • A steady pipeline of principal gifts support is developed and maintained
  • Fundraising metrics are met with ongoing evaluation and maintenance (e.g., funding is secured for 5-10 new faculty research chairs)
  • Efficient and effective financial and human resources plans for the portfolio that comply with administrative controls, contracts and other relevant practices

Problem Solving

  • Sound decisions based on a mixture of analysis, wisdom, experience and judgment


  • Strong, productive relationships with senior management team members, colleagues, direct reports and clients
  • Mutually beneficial relationships with donors that enable engagement, maximize gift support, and foster continued giving to Western

Candidate Qualifications & Experience

Required Education and Experience

  • Experience fundraising within a university or other complex non-profit environment
  • Experience executing gifts at the $1 million dollar plus level, as well as gifts that are complex, multi-divisional, and/or pan-institutional
  • Leadership experience in a fundraising, or revenue-generating portfolio with multi-million dollar targets, with accountability for leading staff, budgets, and projects
  • A minimum of an Undergraduate Degree

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities and Attributes

  • In-depth knowledge of fundraising principles and techniques, as well as project management methodologies
  • Compelling and persuasive communication skills to engage individuals and teams inside and outside the University
  • Ability to collaborate across internal and external boundaries to meet common objectives, improve outcomes and support work beyond one’s own unit
  • Ability to develop strategies and tactics that are in line with the University’s mission and which balance competing priorities
  • Ability to deal confidentially with information that has financial, political, regulatory and reputational implications
  • Critical thinking and analytical skills to assess complex higher education issues of concern to stakeholders, including the media and the public
  • Ability to effectively drive and manage change initiatives that align with organizational strategies and/or provide opportunities to increase efficiency
  • Ability to draw on diversity of skills, backgrounds and knowledge of people to achieve more effective results
  • A desire to grow and advance skills, which is demonstrated by attending conferences, workshops and other professional developmental opportunities to enhance performance
  • Ambitious with the ability to identify opportunities, develop action plans and set challenging goals in order to achieve desired outcomes
  • Project management skills to align projects with strategic goals and operational objectives
  • Ability to remain highly motivated, resilient, innovative, and collaborative when faced with challenges

Living in the London Region

London is Canada’s 11th largest city and an ideal environment in which to work, live, and play. Set in the heart of Southwestern Ontario, midway between Toronto and Detroit, London is the region’s economic, entertainment, and cultural hub.

With its numerous educational offerings, an extensive public health care system, and lower cost of living than many Canadian cities, London is a highly desirable community for people at all stages of life. Affectionately known as the Forest City, London sports more than 200 treed areas and public parks with an extensive trail system that runs along the Thames River.

London has a population of more than 500,000 and it continues to play a key role as a regional hub for Southwest Ontario, a region of about 2 million people. Merging our historical expertise in manufacturing, agriculture, and healthcare, with emerging sectors like robotics, digital creative, and financial technology, London is a leader in commerce, culture, and innovation.

For More Information

KCI Search + Talent has been retained to conduct this Advancement leadership search on behalf of Western University. For more information about this opportunity, please contact Tara George or Ellie Rusonik at All inquiries and applications will be held in strict confidence.

To view full position brief, visit

Please send a resume and letter of interest, to the email address above, and note that the deadline for submission is March 13, 2023.

This position is open to all Canadian citizens, permanent residents and those legally able to work in Canada. The University invites applications from all qualified individuals. Western is committed to employment equity and diversity in the workplace and welcomes applications from women, members of racialized groups/visible minorities, Indigenous persons, persons with disabilities, persons of any sexual orientation, and persons of any gender identity or gender expression.

We are grateful to live, work and play on these lands.  Western University is located on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Lūnaapéewak and Chonnonton peoples, on lands connected with the London Township and Sombra Treaties of 1796 and the Dish with One Spoon Covenant Wampum. This land continues to be home to diverse Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) whom we recognize as contemporary stewards of the land and vital contributors of our society.

This is a permanent, full-time position and will be based in Westminster Hall at Western University at 361 Windermere Road, London, Ontario. Western’s vaccination policy and mandatory masking requirement remain in place, and University employees are required to attest to having up-to-date COVID vaccinations.

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Executive Director, Principal Gifts – Western University

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