Skip Navigation
Print Share

Director of Individual Philanthropy

Company: Detroit Zoological Society
Date Posted: January 5, 2018

The Director of Individual Philanthropy is responsible for securing major gifts for the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS), primarily through the identification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of individuals. S/he will match the philanthropic interests of prospects and donors with the organization's funding priorities, including advancement of its capital and programmatic plans, education, conservation, animal welfare and sustainability programs, and to grow its endowment. S/he will plan, design and implement a comprehensive program designed to increase charitable giving and will conduct multiple approaches simultaneously while organizing and documenting these efforts utilizing the DZS prospect management system.

The Director of Individual Philanthropy will support, both publicly and privately, the principles of the Detroit Zoological Society. S/he will support and enhance a clean, safe, enjoyable, and educational experience at DZS facilities by actively engaging in the enforcement of Customer Service Standards, and specifically by knowing and understanding the Detroit Zoological Society's "SCOPE" of service, animal care, community relations and park appearance guidelines; by enforcing safety and security policies, and following all other policies set by the organization. The Director of Individual Philanthropy will maintain a professional manner when dealing with all constituencies and always preserve a high level of integrity, professionalism and confidentiality.

This job description is by no means all-inclusive and may be subject to change during a performance period due to the needs of the Detroit Zoological Society and its leadership. This document will be reviewed on a continual basis and will be modified as needed.

Authority and Accountability:

The Director of Individual Philanthropy has the authority to carry out the job requirements and responsibilities and is accountable to the Chief Development Officer.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Responsible for securing major gifts for the Detroit Zoological Society's capital, programmatic and endowment priorities by planning and implementing a comprehensive major gifts program.
  • Prioritize, plan and execute strategies to secure major gift commitments (generally $50,000 and up) from past/current donors and members, and other prospects identified through prospect research or by Board members, Development Committee members, colleagues, current donors or others.
  • Engage and encourage active participation by Board and Development Committee members and other volunteers in all aspects of the major gifts process, including prospect identification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship.
  • Meet with donors and prospects, provide Zoo tours and experiences, arrange opportunities to meet with DZS program staff, the CDO, and/or the Executive Director/CEO in order to engage, cultivate and solicit prospective donors.
  • Provide materials and briefings to prepare the CDO, CEO, Board members, Development Committee members and other staff and volunteers for meetings and approaches with prospective donors.
  • Meet established benchmarks in prospect management, face-to-face meetings, solicitations, stewardship and other actions as well as gifts secured.
  • Organize, coordinate and document donor contact and plans using the DZS prospect management system.
  • Provide stewardship for major gift donors, expressing gratitude for past support and ensuring that they remain connected to the DZS mission.
  • Encourage and assist individuals in exploring and executing planned gifts.
  • Maintain the integrity and confidentiality of the donor database.
  • Manage expenses related to major gift programs.
  • Participate in DZS activities and events as required.
  • All other responsibilities and tasks as assigned by the Chief Development Officer.

Working Conditions: Regular work schedule fluctuates and will match the schedule of donor encounters, some seasonal weekend and evening events, and best hours to make contact with individual donors and prospects. The work environment is generally comfortable and most work is indoors although the position may require work outdoors with exposure to seasonal weather conditions for special events, tours, openings, etc. This individual will be exposed to computer monitors and may have some exposure to outside weather conditions, as well as the output from air conditioning and heating systems and fluorescent lighting.

Physical Requirements:The Director of Individual Philanthropy must have the ability to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. This position requires the individual to sit for long periods of time as well as moderate physical effort on a daily basis such as walking, bending, stooping, and standing for an extended period of time. The Director of Individual Philanthropy must be able to use the telephone and computer, and be able to lift and move up to 20 pounds. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable qualified individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the job.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:


  • Bachelor's Degree in Philanthropic Studies, Communications, Public Relations, Journalism, English, or related field and ten years of fundraising or comparable experience.
  • Demonstrated record of accomplishment in fund development using sound fundraising principles and techniques.
  • Ability to think strategically while executing tactically in order to meet growing funding needs.
  • Superb written and verbal communication skills, with proven ability to represent DZS publicly and passionately to potential donors in person and through written communications.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work with diverse constituencies and engage high level volunteers and donors
  • Strong organizational and time management skills; good decision making and problem solving skills; excellent listening skills.
  • Initiative and independence in carrying out responsibilities, with the ability to thrive in a mission-driven environment with strong culture and values.
  • Detail oriented, with strong organizational skills.
  • Aptitude for the management and effective use of information systems and technology in support of a major gifts program.
  • Computer proficiency in Word and other Office products, as well as a complex donor database.


  • Seven years' experience in coordinating and managing a charitable major gifts program, including the use of a prospect management system.
  • Experience in major gifts fundraising with a zoo, museum, cultural or educational institution.
  • Fundraising experience in metropolitan Detroit.
  • Professional writing experience in fund development.
  • Advanced expertise in using the Raiser's Edge or other advancement software.
  • Passionate commitment to the DZS mission, vision and strategic growth goals.