Managing Director / Managing Senior Director of Stewardship & Donor Relations

Join us in moving the UW forward. The Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA)*, the private fundraising and alumni relations organization for UW-Madison, is recruiting for an experienced strategic Managing Director / Managing Senior Director of Stewardship & Donor Relations professional. This critical role is responsible for leading the strategy and operations of a comprehensive stewardship and donor relations program in support of WFAA development goals. The Director manages all central WFAA stewardship processes and programs and collaborates with development teams and campus partners in a collective effort to ensure consistent, impactful stewardship communications and meaningful donor recognition at all giving levels.

Essential Functions

Leadership of Central Stewardship Program

  • Provide programs and guidance to WFAA and campus partners on all matters of stewardship and donor relations, including gift acknowledgements, gift impact reporting and storytelling, donor recognition, and coordinated activities for VIP and university-wide donors.
  • Partner with WFAA development leaders to identify stewardship priorities, goals and activities. Oversee implementation, management and evaluation of these priority stewardship initiatives.
  • Advise on stewardship and donor relations initiatives related to the All Ways Forward campaign conclusion to ensure campaign donors at all levels are appropriately thanked and inspired to make future gifts. Partner with development leaders on targeted stewardship / cultivation strategies for emerging top tier prospects in the next campaign.
  • Provide innovative, strategic vision for university-wide donor recognition programs and ensure they are effectively administered.
  • Ensure the central stewardship team provides a robust set of stewardship best practices, tools and training opportunities for WFAA and campus colleagues.
  • Oversee the effective administration of business processes, reports and software in support of WFAA central stewardship systems. Collaborate with Gift Processing, Finance, Business Intelligence and other WFAA teams to implement/enhance stewardship systems. Coordinate necessary training for appropriate WFAA and campus advancement staff. Stay abreast of industry best practices and advise on opportunities for new or enhanced systems to improve stewardship outcomes.
  • Lead the endowment financial reporting process and partner with Finance to produce annual financial reports to donors of all endowed funds.
  • Ensure WFAA and campus advancement staff receive regular updates and are well-informed about stewardship expectations, guidelines, tools and training opportunities.
  • Conduct periodic donor surveys to assess donor satisfaction with WFAA and UW-Madison
  • Initiate and maintain ongoing and proactive networking and benchmarking with internal and external constituencies.
  • Develop a stewardship metrics dashboard and protocols for assessing ROI on stewardship initiatives

Strategic Partnership and Consulting Support to WFAA and Campus Teams

  • Advise and support WFAA development units and campus partners on gift beneficiary impact reporting for major donors to their unit funds. Provide resources and guidance to support unit-based stewardship and donor relations activities.
  • Partner with Principal Gifts and Medical Principal Gifts teams to coordinate gift impact reporting and high-touch donor experiences for VIP donors to multiple UW areas.
  • Foster and maintain productive relationships with key campus advancement staff to ensure coordination and collaboration in stewardship matters.
  • Serve as a stewardship consulting resource to campus partners.

Stewardship Team Management

  • Lead, manage, empower and support a team of stewardship professionals in meeting team and individual goals.
  • Determine staffing needs, design jobs, write/update job descriptions, allocate staff and assign/delegate duties accordingly, consistent with WFAA budget and organization structure.
  • Recruit, interview and select highly talented and qualified staff for open positions.
  • Orient, train, mentor, coach and develop staff members, encouraging an appropriate level of independence and supporting professional growth.
  • Establish, delegate, communicate, monitor, and reinforce staff assignments, accountabilities, performance expectations and goals.
  • Collaborate with staff on their work, providing guidance, problem solving, and insight to support their success.
  • Provide ongoing feedback and recognition as well as periodic formal performance appraisals to staff as part of a comprehensive performance management system intended to inspire accountability, success, continuous improvement, and professional growth.
  • Identify the current and long-term development/training needs of individuals and provide or facilitate access to appropriate development experiences.
  • Communicate, support and apply WFAA policies and procedures in collaboration with Human Resources and other management team members.
  • Effectively lead change initiatives affecting staff.
  • Foster a positive work environment, characterized by open communication, collegiality, support, accountability and motivation to optimize staff performance, satisfaction/morale and retention.


  • Bachelor’s degree preferred, or equivalent combination of education and work experience;
  • 7 + years of relevant work experience, preferably in development with a focus on stewardship / donor relations / customer service;
  • Demonstrated ability to build manage, mentor and motivate an effective team;
  • Expertise in strategy development and proven ability to develop and execute on plans;
  • Ability to navigate a complex academic community and to build bridges and effective, collaborative relationships with internal colleagues and external stakeholders.
  • Other: Results-oriented leader with ability to successfully manage multiple and competing priorities; strong project and process management skills; exemplary interpersonal and oral / written communication skills; strong negotiation, conflict resolution, and consensus building abilities. Innovative, creative strategist dedicated to continuous improvement.



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