Director of Foundation Relations, Boston University

Boston University in Massachusetts

Deadline Open until filled
Date Posted August 28, 2014
Type Executive
Salary Not specified
Employment Type Full-time

The Opportunity


Boston University, one of the nations premiere educational and research institutions, is seeking a Director of Foundation Relations to develop and execute an aggressive strategy for expanding foundation support of institutional priorities and faculty projects.


Working with the President, Provost, and the Deans of BUs 16 schools and colleges, s/he will have leadership responsibility for aligning foundations funding interests with the Universitys remarkably broad range of disciplines, and developing alliances for interdisciplinary proposals.


The Director will report to BUs Associate VP of Development, and will play a lead role in securing foundation revenues for their current $1B Campaign for Boston University."


BU is seeking candidates with institutional or principal gift fundraising experience securing 7-figure grants or gifts. Additional profiles demonstrating exceptional transferrable skills and experience will also be considered. The ideal candidate is a collaborative leader who will thrive in an entrepreneurial and fast-paced environment, and welcome the challenge to meet ambitious revenue goals and build an impactful program.

About Boston University 


Boston University (BU) -- one of the worlds largest urban, research universities -- is a rapidly evolving and broad institution that encompasses the liberal arts, sciences and engineering, the fine arts, and the professions. With more than 3,800 faculty members, 33,000 students and 300,000 alumni, BU offers bachelor's and master's degrees, doctorates, as well as medical, dental, business, and law degrees through 16 schools and colleges.


Founded in 1839, Boston University is the nations fourth largest private university with two urban campuses in Boston, and operations throughout the world.


In the 2014 U.S. News & World Reports annual National University Ranking, Boston University jumped 10 positions, from 51 to 41. Additional top-tier rankings reflect the remarkable diversity and strengths of BUs academic programs: 


  • U.S. News & World Report designated BUs national standing as #2 in Occupational    

         Therapy, #11 in Health Care Management, and #12 in Biomedical Engineering

  • Bloomberg Businessweek ranked BUs undergraduate business program as #23 nationally
  • Forbes recognized BU as #28 among research universities


The Universitys past and present graduates and faculty include 2 Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, Poet Laureates, and Academy Award winners. BUs celebrated alumni and faculty are also Sloan and Guggenheim Fellowship holders, as well as members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.  Their MacArthur Fellows included the first biomedical engineer ever to receive a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award.


With faculty dedicated to a creative, interdisciplinary approach to problem solving, BU has emerged as a leading global research institution. BU was recently invited to join the Association of American Universities, an elite organization of 61 leading research universities. 


The Campaign for Boston University

The Campaign for Boston University, the University's first-ever comprehensive campaign, was launched in September of 2012 with the goal of reaching a $1B target by 2017.  No other university has ever set so high a target for an inaugural campaign.


This historic effort depends upon a dedicated, creative, and diverse staff. BUs Development & Alumni Relations top leadership includes outstanding individuals recruited from some of the best institutions in the world, led by Senior Vice President Scott Nichols. 


Campaign funding will support BU's preeminent faculty and researchers, provide for its diverse student body, and further build its vibrant campus.


Despite an original timeframe of five years, the campaign passed the halfway mark in 2013, less than a year after its public launch. With over three years remaining, the University has raised in excess of $700 million, exceeding projected expectations and the campaign continues to gain momentum - a function of a global alumni engagement strategy.


While BU has more than 300,000 alumni around the world, they had not formally solicited this natural consistency. When President Robert A. Brown joined BU in 2005, he spearheaded the development of a communication network, identifying and networking with university alumni around the world. BU especially enjoys the generosity of its international alumni community, whose campaign gifts account for 16 percent of contributions, compared with an average of 2 percent for most universities.


All gifts made to Boston University during the life of the campaign are credited to it. As of May 2013, campaign revenue breakdown reflected: 28% from alumni, 25% from friends, 14% from corporations and 33% from foundations/organizations.


Click here to learn more about The Campaign for Boston University


Office of Foundation Relations


Boston Universitys stature as a top flight global research institution is propelled forward by over $400M in grants and contract awards annually, secured through the collaboration of BUs Office of Sponsored Programs, Office of Corporate Relations and Office of Foundation Relations.


The Office of Foundation Relations is a part of Boston Universitys Office of Development & Alumni Relations (DAR) which garners University support across all constituencies (e.g., foundations, corporations, government, alumni, and the general public).


BUs Office of Foundation Relations works closely with the Universitys Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP). As the steward of the Universitys externally-funded research portfolio, OSP supports the development and submission of proposals as well as the management of funded research projects to all external sponsors, including federal, state, and local agencies, foundations, and corporations.


In 2012, BU restructured their Corporate & Foundation Relations Office, separating this function to create an Office of Corporate Relations and Office of Foundation Relations. While realigned to reflect the two different markets, there is continued collaboration between both offices, especially with regard to corporate foundations.


Philanthropic and nongovernmental grant support specific to foundation revenues topped $25M last year, and included, among others, the Lilly Endowment, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Open Society Foundations and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.


The Position

Determined to build on their success, BU is seeking a Director of Foundation Relations (DFR) to serve as the lead development officer for top university foundation prospects.  Reporting to the Associate Vice President of Development, Steve Witkowski, the DFR will work with the President, Provost, and the Deans of BUs 16 schools and colleges to design, orchestrate and execute strategy for expanding private foundation funding of their most important institutional priorities, programs of national and global prominence. 


Structured as a high profile and externally focused position, the DFR will initiate and expand relationships with decision makers at the countrys premier foundations, strategically aligning foundation funding interests with BU priorities and faculty projects. In this context, s/he will also play a lead role in securing foundation revenues for the Campaign for Boston University.


The Director of Foundation Relations will join an ambitious, entrepreneurial and successful fundraising team, in an advancement culture that is highly collaborative. S/he will collaborate with faculty and development officers across the BU system, engaging them in the identification and stewardship of new potential foundation prospects.


Additionally, s/he will lead an Assistant Director of Foundation Relations and administrative staff in promoting faculty grant-seeking from foundations, and assisting individual BU faculty members with prospect identification, proposal development and submission. In this capacity, s/he may collaborate with the Office of Sponsored Programs, the Office of Corporate Relations and the Office of Research. 


Consistent with BUs enterprising and results-driven culture, they have made a commitment to re-define how they engage with foundations -- moving towards a frontline principal gift model.


Given this unique approach, the desired candidate experience may extend beyond the established foundation relations profile, to include principal/major gifts officers as well as foundation funders, nonprofit development officers, or former faculty.  For both the traditional and alternative model, the ideal candidate will possess the drive, initiative and strategic perspective necessary to proactively position BUs broad research and academic reach to funders, successfully solicit 7- and 8-figure foundation grants, and accelerate the foundation relations program to new levels of success. 


The Director of Foundation Relations will conduct an initial 3-month assessment of BUs current foundation situation to include meetings with academic leadership and key donors, as well as a review of the donor prospect portfolio. In this context, s/he will identify the programs potential for short-term and long-term growth, shaping realistic goals and plans to build on BUs accomplishments.


Ideal Candidates should demonstrate the following:

  • 10+ years of demonstrated fundraising success, with experience in foundations, principal/major gifts, or a combination of both  
  • Experience initiating, maintaining and expanding strategic, proactive relationships with foundations as well as identifying foundation interests and matching them with institutional priorities
  • Evidence of ability to collaborate, motivate and lead as well as partner successfully with university and academic leadership, faculty and staff, board, and high level donors in creating new giving opportunities across a broad range of academic disciplines;
  • Ability to translate and shape complex research projects and university priorities into compelling fundraising proposals 
  • Exceptional analytical, and written and verbal communication skills
  • Experience working on/securing 6, 7- and 8- figure grants/gifts
  • Additional profiles demonstrating exceptional transferrable skills and experience -- former faculty members, funders, corporate relations officers, nonprofit foundation officers, and out of the box backgrounds will be considered


Added value qualifications- preferred but not required:

  • Campaign experience
  • Experience managing and growing a foundations program
  • Principal/major gift experience
  • Previous supervisory/mentorship experience
  • Knowledge of program design and budget creation
  • Relevant advanced degree preferred


Interested candidates are encouraged to submit resumes and cover letters in confidence to:

William Weber, President or Laura Oaksmith, Senior Consultant,

 Development Guild/DDI at