Director of Sustaining Fellows

Job Type

Full Time




111 S. Michigan Ave
Employment Services
United States



The Art Institute of Chicago, founded in 1879, is a world-renowned art museum housing one of the largest permanent collections in the United States. An encyclopedic museum, the Art Institute collects, preserves, and interprets works in every medium from all cultures and historical periods. With a collection of approximately 300,000 art works and artifacts, the museum has particularly strong holdings in Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting, contemporary art, early 20th century European painting and sculpture, Japanese prints, and photography. The museum’s 2009 addition, the Modern Wing, features the latest in green museum technology and 264,000 square feet dedicated to modern and contemporary art, photography, architecture and design, and new museum education facilities. In addition to displaying its permanent collection, the Art Institute mounts more than 30 special exhibitions per year and features lectures, gallery tours, and special performances on a daily basis.

Position Summary

The Art Institute of Chicago is a national leader in the visual arts and an important cultural partner in a dynamic city. Founded in 1879, the Art Institute is widely recognized for both its curatorial excellence and its popularity among visitors. Its exceptional collection and important exhibition schedule are complemented by cutting-edge curatorial and scientific research. The Art Institute welcomes 1.6 million visitors annually and has been ranked among the world’s top three art museums on TripAdvisor for the past four years. With a new senior leadership team, the museum is in an enviable position to reaffirm the importance of an art museum in our democracy and the role of the Art Institute in its city. A strong and generous base of members, leadership donors, and major/planned gift prospects support the museum’s operations, exhibitions, and special/capital projects. 

Founded in 1977, the Sustaining Fellows play a central role in museum life. Their legacy of support constitutes the Art Institute’s premier annual giving campaign providing critical unrestricted support from Trustees as well as other leading philanthropists. Each fiscal year, approximately 1,000 Sustaining Fellows contribute more than $7,000,000 with gifts ranging from $2,500 to $250,000. Led by an Executive Committee of renowned civic and cultural influencers, Sustaining Fellows are recognized for their vital support with insider access to the museum’s leadership, curators, and globally acclaimed collection through highly tailored programs and travel, both internationally and domestically.

Basic Function: The Director of Sustaining Fellows oversees fundraising, cultivation, stewardship, programming, and metrics of the Art Institute’s leadership annual giving campaign. The Director of Sustaining Fellows works closely with the Prospect Development, Revenue & Strategy, and Information Strategy teams to identify prospects for new and upgraded Sustaining Fellows support and to move major gift prospects into portfolios. In addition, the Director works closely with the Sustaining Fellows Executive Committee to ensure a rewarding and motivating experience for the Sustaining Fellow membership.  

Specific Duties: This position will be responsible for the following:

  1. Grow, develop, and manage annual Sustaining Fellows solicitation plan to successfully increase unrestricted revenue. Create individual strategies to promote increased support from current Sustaining Fellows, as well as new support from various museum constituent groups, societies, committees, and event attendees, as well as external prospects.
  2. Manage a team of three full-time direct reports.
  3. Oversee a direct response fundraising program in collaboration with Revenue & Strategy focusing on donor retention, acquisition and reactivation via direct mail, telefund, digital, and relationship management.
  4. Embrace metrics for effective tracking of solicitation activity, including qualification and major gifts identification. Ensure accuracy and efficiency of Sustaining Fellows progress reporting.
  5. Write effective acquisition and solicitation templates and custom letters, working closely with Development colleagues to implement the acquisition and renewal process.
  6. Oversee and execute strategies for all online and print communications branded for the Sustaining Fellows.
  7. Oversee and participate in management of key volunteers including the Sustaining Fellows Executive, Membership, Program and Travel Committees.
  8. Ensure the successful implementation of all Sustaining Fellows programs, events, and benefits in concert with Special Events & Affiliates
  9. Participate as a member of the extended Major Gifts team. Manage a portfolio of 20 – 25 Major Gift donors.
  10. Monitor Sustaining Fellows budget.
  11. Build and maintain relationships with curatorial staff and the External Affairs Department including Major Gifts; Membership; Prospect Development & Information Strategy; Institutional Advancement; Special Events; Graphic Design; Marketing; and Communications.
  12. Perform other special projects and duties as assigned.


  • Minimum five to seven year track record of progressively responsible experience in development.
  • Successful experience of developing strategies and managing implementation of premier donor annual giving programs, including solicitation of four and five figure annual gifts.
  • Proven track record of creating proposals and actively soliciting five and six figure gifts for special projects from high capacity individuals.
  • Experience in cultivation and stewardship of high capacity individuals.
  • Staff and volunteer management experience.
  • Excellent writing skills.
  • Adept and persuasive communication skills, including the ability to establish and sustain relationships with donors, co-workers, and museum leadership.
  • Experience navigating a multi-tiered and complex organization, with the ability to work quickly and effectively with senior leaders of the organization, high-level donors, staff, and volunteers.
  • Excellent project and time management, organization, attention to detail, and problem-solving skills.
  • Computer proficiency in Word and Excel required, Raiser’s Edge experience preferred; demonstrated ability to learn new software and databases essential.
  • Bachelor’s degree required.

Professional Level


Minimum Education Required

4-year degree

How To Apply