Director, Donor Engagement and Partnerships

Job Type

Full Time




Big Shoulders Fund
212 W. Van Buren, Suite 900
United States



Big Shoulders Fund is an independent tax exempt charitable organization that serves inner-city Catholic schools which provide a quality, values-based education for Chicago’s children, thereby contributing to stronger communities. We serve students in 61 Catholic elementary schools and 14 Catholic high schools in the city of Chicago. Each school is a vital resource for students and communities, with research showing that when a Catholic school closes, the surrounding area experiences an increase in violence and a decrease in social cohesion. 

For more than twenty-eight years, Big Shoulders Fund has helped Chicago’s children in need achieve their dreams through access to a quality, values-based education. We accomplish this by investing more than $20 million annually in scholarship support and academic enrichment for students, operational improvements for schools, leadership development programs for current and prospective school leaders, and academic programs and professional development for teachers.

Big Shoulders Fund supports schools and programs that ensure students receive a strong academic foundation in elementary school; enroll in quality college-prep high schools; matriculate into and persist through college; and lead productive lives as adults. A recent survey of a sample of alumni of Big Shoulders Fund schools showed African-American alumni graduated from college at a rate more than twice the national average and Hispanic alumni graduated at a rate more than three times the national average.


The Big Shoulders Fund development team is lean but mighty. Passionately committed to our mission, the development team fuels our organization’s work and impact by getting individuals involved in our mission and compelling them to give of their time, talent and treasure. Their efforts over the last decade have doubled the organization’s fundraising and quadrupled our donor base, while simultaneously spearheading and growing volunteerism and engagement to over 2500 supporters. The team’s work has been augmented and strengthened by the development of multiple Next Generation boards which allow our supporters to maximize their impact and grow with Big Shoulders Fund over time. The Chairmen’s Advisory Council (CAC) was founded in 2007 as a Board Development Committee with the goals of growing the base of support for the Big Shoulders Fund and increasing the connection and involvement of prospective Big Shoulders Fund Board members. Today, along with the Auxiliary Board of 250 passionate young professionals and the Big Shoulders Fund Teen Board of 50 altruistic young adults who believe in the mission of Big Shoulders Fund, it comprises the “Next Generation” of leaders who will guide our organization into the future. Additionally, engagement and volunteerism are of great importance to Big Shoulders Fund, and we prioritize efforts which allow our supporters to engage with students as mentors, coaches, instructors, tutors and school board members. Real experiences such as these are what have helped to fuel the passion and investment of our supporters, and we work very hard to ensure that these experiences are well-structured, positive and rewarding for supporters and schools alike. 

As the need for the work of the Big Shoulders Fund in the City of Chicago continues to grow, so must the efforts of our development team. In order to build on the team’s dynamic momentum and to ensure the continued strength of our organization, Big Shoulders Fund is looking for a Director, Donor Engagement and Partnerships. The Director will work closely with the Senior Director, Philanthropy, Partnerships and Engagement to establish goals and objectives for all of our Next Generation boards, and the Director will hold direct ownership of and responsibility for the management and execution of all events and activities pertaining to the Chairmen’s Advisory Council (CAC) as well as relationships with its members. He/she or will provide strategic oversight of the Auxiliary Board, directly overseen by the Assistant Director, Next Generation and Events, as well as the Big Shoulders Fund Teen Board, directly overseen by the Coordinator, Development and Events. The Director will also directly manage our Assistant Director, Volunteerism and Engagement, who manages the experiences of those donating their time to work within our schools. The Director will provide strategic guidance and support for the Assistant Director to make certain that these experiences strengthen our relationship with supporters and schools, and that supporter engagement will last for many years to come. Additionally, the Director will cultivate and solicit gifts from a targeted group of donors and corporations, ultimately focusing not simply on solicitation of gifts but rather on cultivating meaningful relationships now and into the future such that the critical work of Big Shoulders Fund can continue, and students and educators can count on our long-term support.  


-Provide strategic vision, management and execution of the Chairman’s Advisory Council (CAC), and cultivate relationships with its members

-Work with the Auxiliary Board and Teen Board as well as the following committees: CAC Membership, Service Engagement, Development, Networking Speaker and Lend A Shoulder Day

-Grow engagement and fundraising efforts of Next Generation boards; expand Next Generation cultivation and engagement events to grow participation in the boards themselves

-Develop a strategic Next Generation pipeline, including a plan for how individuals move from board to board

-Plan and execute Lend a Shoulder Day; grow the program by increasing participation in the event and cultivating relationships created by it

-Provide management to two direct reports and effectively coordinate with indirect reports to establish, implement and maintain practices which set Big Shoulders Fund’s development team apart as the most effective, efficient, personable and responsive for donors and supporters

-Oversee and provide strategic guidance for planning (as well as hands-on help in the execution of) fundraising events, donor receptions and volunteer/engagement opportunities which advance involvement with and support for Big Shoulders Fund and our partner schools. These include - but are not limited to - events such as “Big Shoulders Fund Ball” and “Bowl for Big Shoulders.”

-Identify prospective individual and corporate donors and strategically cultivate effective relationships

-Meet with and maintain ongoing communications with a portfolio of existing private and corporate donors, and operate proactively and responsively to meet their needs

-Partner with the communications team in the development of even more effective means of telling the story of our Next Generation boards and our volunteerism and engagement opportunities

-Cultivate Next Generation members as well as a portfolio of supporters such that they become active storytellers of our mission and of their personal involvement with our organization.



-Assistant Director, Volunteerism and Engagement

-Assistant Director, Next Generation and Events  


-Perform other duties as assigned

-Attend and support the facilitation of fundraising events, service days, and other programs that further the mission of Big Shoulders Fund through its outreach to donors and schools   


-Bachelor’s degree required, master’s degree preferred

-5+ years of development experience preferred, including at least 2 years of experience effectively managing others toward ambitious goals

-Strong organizational ability with exceptional attention to detail

-Strong critical thinking skills with ability to help conceive of and implement effective strategies for development

-Budget management experience preferred

-Familiarity with Razor’s Edge and Salesforce a plus

-Excellent written, interpersonal and verbal communication skills

-Possess the skills to work with and motivate staff, board members and other volunteers 

-Desire to get out of the office, actively building relationships

-Ability to convey a genuine sense of care in donors and supporters as well as a passion for Big Shoulders Fund’s mission

-Ability to work on multiple projects concurrently

-Cultural sensitivity and ability to work with diverse groups

-Commitment to and passion for improving inner-city education 

-Availability to work some evenings and weekends for Big Shoulders Fund events 


NOTE: This job description is not intended to be all-inclusive. Employee may perform other related duties to meet the ongoing needs of the organization and the students/schools it serves


Professional Level


Minimum Education Required

4-year degree

How To Apply

Please email resume and brief statement of interest to