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Major Gifts Officer, Academy for Urban School Leadership


POSITION:                          Major Gifts Officer

ORGANIZATION:                Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) (

LOCATION:                         Chicago, IL

REPORTS TO:                    Director, External Affairs



AUSL’s mission is to create schools of excellence by developing highly effective teachers and transforming educational outcomes for students at the lowest performing schools.



AUSL, founded in 2001, is a nonprofit, school management organization transforming historically underperforming schools and serving as a scalable transformation model for Chicago Public Schools and districts nationally.  AUSL’s work is rooted in the belief that all children deserve a high quality education, especially children in challenging neighborhoods.  Today, over 80% of AUSL’s neighborhood Chicago public schools, one the lowest performing in the District, are now in Good Standing.

AUSL manages 31 public neighborhood schools for the Chicago Public Schools serving nearly 17,000 students – 92.5% of which qualify for free or reduced price lunch – who are receiving a high quality education.  The schools that have gone through the transformation process have seen substantial improvements in student performance. All of the schools AUSL manages have seen steady increases in Illinois State test scores. In addition to impressive academic improvements, the schools see significant rises in attendance and decreases in the need for discipline.

AUSL schools operate within the district as it’s own “network” and are built on a foundation of effective instruction and a climate and culture of high expectations.  Teachers are central to AUSL’s theory of action. Year-long pre-service training, induction support, and teacher leadership are all hallmarks of AUSL’s teacher development process. Over 960 new teachers have been trained by AUSL through an intensive year-long residency program that prepares teachers for the specific challenges of urban classrooms. The impressive teacher retention rates at AUSL's schools are attributed to the stellar professional development received before and after the teachers enter the classroom.

The AUSL Institute, established in 2011, has served over 40 organizations across the nation and worldwide with comprehensive consultancy services.  The staff partner with low-achieving schools and districts to set them on a path to educational excellence and transform outcomes for the students they serve.  AUSL partners with clients to offer training, support, and tools to improve school culture, student academic performance, and teach training. 

AUSL raises funding from foundations, corporations, government agencies’ and individual donors.  Some of the leading foundations that have supported AUSL include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation; NewSchools Venture Fund; Boeing, Motorola and other Chicago corporations. The operating budget is approximately $12M and the organization is governed by a 35 person Board of Directors comprised of education, business and civic leaders.



Presently AUSL raises between $5.5M to $6M per year.  The organization is interested in increasing philanthropic support over the next three years to $9M-$10M annually. The greatest growth in funding is anticipated to be generated from private foundations and major individual donors. Currently there are about 1,000 active donors.  There is a successful annual gala that draws about 500 attendees.  Currently a major gift is defined as $5,000 or more.

There is an opportunity to work with the Managing Director, External Affairs and the Director, External Affairs to design and implement a formal major giving program. This could include a formalized structure for increased giving, developing benefits and naming opportunities.

In order to reach the increased goals for giving, the leadership of AUSL has created a new position for a talented, entrepreneurial and mission driven fundraiser to join this exciting and dynamic organization.



Reporting to the Director, External Affairs, the Major Gifts Officer will proactively identify, cultivate, solicit, secure and steward foundation and individual prospects, targeting gifts in the $5,000+ range. Responsibilities include interacting with and soliciting donors and friends for annual gifts, major gifts and planned gifts as appropriate. The Major Gifts Officer also works directly with all other fundraisers, senior staff and AUSL School leadership.


Create and manage a prospect portfolio of approximately 125 prospects.  Management of the prospect portfolio includes:

  • Utilizing existing donor database and original research, identify a portfolio of new donors to cultivate and solicit.
  • Develop written solicitation plans for major gift prospects.
  • Develop relationships with prospects through various cultivation calls, letters and handwritten notes. Develop and write donor cultivation materials, acknowledgements, and produce personalized proposals for individual support.
  • Complete a minimum of 200 quality contacts per year with prospects from portfolio.
  • Coordinate and provide assistance in the design of strategies for cultivating and soliciting donors held in portfolios of senior staff and volunteer leadership.
  • With other External Affairs staff, identify, qualify and research new donor prospects. 
  • Assist in events and other donor meetings for cultivation and stewardship.



We seek a talented fundraising professional that has an understanding of and passion for the mission of AUSL. The successful candidate will show evidence of building strong and sustaining relationships with individual donors resulting in an increase in individual and foundation giving. Creating participation and follow through on contacts and activities is key.  The qualified candidate actively seeks out new prospect and donor relationships, directs the cultivation and stewardship process, and is able to successfully close gifts when appropriate. Personal experience creating and implementing successful gift strategies and tactics is required.  Planned giving experience is a plus.

Entrepreneurial experience that proves the candidate’s ability to drive results, and recognize and act on fund raising opportunities that may be innovative or non-traditional would be highly valued. A broad understanding of all institutional fundraising strategies, particularly major and planned gifts, as well as the proven ability to overcome the barriers to implementing such, is expected.  A proven track record soliciting major gifts and sustaining annual donor retention rates at or greater than national fundraising standards is needed.  Active engagement within Chicago’s philanthropic community is preferred. 

We seek a person of the highest integrity who is a team player, detail oriented yet results-driven and flexible.  Experience working with high-level volunteers, donors and program staff on collaborative activities is sought. A person who is extremely focused and self-confident with a quick mind and high energy level is essential.  We are looking for a mission driven individual who believes deeply that all children deserve a high quality education.

A spirit of inquisitiveness, an ability to think strategically and a strong work ethic are essential.  A self-directed, resourceful person with a sense of humor is also necessary. The successful candidate will be a poised individual who is supportive, diplomatic, personable and able to manage confidential information with discretion. 

Qualified individuals will have a minimum of three to five years of fund-raising, including significant experience in personal solicitation.  Applied for-profit experiences, such as sales, may be considered.  Bachelor's degree or equivalent combination of education and experience is required.  Evidence of continuing professional education in such areas as planned and estate gifts and leadership development would be a plus.  Familiarity with Raiser's Edge is preferred.

For more information, please see our website at or AUSL’s website


AUSL is an AA/EOE/ADA employer.

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