Development Program Manager, Principal Gifts

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The Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA)*, the private fundraising and alumni relations organization for UW-Madison, is recruiting for a Development Program Manager for Principal Gifts. The Development Program Manager will report to the Associate Vice President and Director of Principal Gifts and will function as an operations specialist, responsible for developing, implementing and managing standards, procedures, and tools to increase principal giving across the University. Integral to the success of this position is the ability to establish and foster collaborative working relationships with development colleagues, University leadership, and volunteers to achieve principal gift objectives and maximize results. 


The Principal Gift Program serves donors and prospects with the capacity and affinity to make transformational gifts of $5 million or more to the University, with an emphasis on the power of ongoing, high touch relationships. The program is donor centric, with a strong focus on facilitating relationships and driving engagement across the institution to secure principal gift-level commitments in support of institutional priorities.  The Principal Gift Program Manager works closely with WFAA leadership, the Chancellor’s office, campus advancement colleagues, and academic leadership, to drive the creation of informed, long-range strategies for potential donors – strategies that honor their passions and respect their multiple interests, strategies designed to bridge external interests with institutional priorities, and strategies that allow our donors to stretch their philanthropic relationship with the University.   



Who is WFAA?
The Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association is a private, nonprofit corporation that encourages individuals and organizations to make gifts to the university and to connect with the UW. In 2014, the UW Foundation merged with the Wisconsin Alumni Association® to better serve a growing population of UW alumni and donors. We believe that private support grows out of good relationships between campus leaders, faculty and program staff who need support, and the alumni and friends who want to invest in UW–Madison. We provide important engagement opportunities to link UW–Madison alumni to each other and to their alma mater, building a strong community of Badgers.


Diversity and Inclusion:

Just as the university community benefits from differing viewpoints, perspectives, and experiences, inclusion and diversity are imperative for the success of our mission. WFAA values people and the differences that they bring to the organization, and creates an environment in which all staff members and constituents feel respected and have opportunities to thrive.   

Primary Responsibilities

Principal Gift Program Operations and Project Execution 

  • Proactively develop and implement strategies to streamline and improve operations of principal gift program and implementation of its strategic plan to successfully cultivate, solicit and steward high-net-worth individuals who have given, or have the capacity to give, $5 million or more to the University of Wisconsin.  
  • Provide organizational and operational support to ensure timely and consistent activities and projects designed to proactively advance the principal gift program, its strategic plan, and Chancellor engagement plan.  
  • Collaborate with interdisciplinary advancement team deployed towards the principal gift program, including research and prospect management, stewardship, gift planning, marketing and communications, executive support team, and business intelligence.
  • Create and implement consistent standards of practice and procedure that provide exemplary customer service to donors and campus partners.
  • Provide director of principal gifts and chief development officer with materials as requested in preparation for principal gift donor visits in collaboration with Development Program Specialists.
  • Participate in/support executive prospect development/Chancellor office meetings.
  • Help manage/distribute principal gift program resources, including guidelines, tools, templates and other resources.  
  • Assist in creating/distributing presentations and custom dashboard reports that show impact of program.
  • Other duties as assigned.


Principal Gift Pipeline Development and Prospect Management 

  • Working closely with director of principal gifts and managing director of research and prospect management to grow and manage the pipeline of principal gift prospects and donors to generate a minimum of $90 million a year from this pool, and to a level of depth commensurate with a $5-billion campaign by:
    • Assuring that prospect management stages, engagement/stewardship strategies and solicitations are clearly communicated and documented in the CRM.
    • Convening/coordinating timely principal gift prospect meetings with relevant stakeholders designed to move principal gift prospects through the donor continuum, including oversight of follow-through activities associated with principal gift prospect plans to ensure efficient, timely moves management; making recommendations for activity and next steps to start or deepen relationships with these prospects; solicitation strategies.
    • Helping to prioritize principal gift leads for qualification/disqualification.
    • Using independent judgment and established decision making rubrics to elevate prospects to director of principal gifts, initiate stewardship and cultivation activity, track outcomes, and on an as-needed basis, make recommendations for prospect reassignment.
  • Coordinate and manage the principal gift prospect management program.  Organize and disseminate updated prospect information and research in advance of annual strategy meetings. Ensure that agreed-upon strategies are being executed by prospect/plan managers with a sense of urgency.  Coordinate the onboarding/training of prospect managers as needed. Schedule bi-annual best practice idea exchange among prospect managers.  


Donor Relationship Management and Stewardship 

  • Serve as consultant to director of principal gifts, prospect managers, development directors, and stewardship team, and gift planning team to ideate highly personalized stewardship of top principal gift donors and prospects, prioritizing on prospects who have the potential to increase their giving either through outright gifts, or larger estate gifts. 
  • Develop and lead concierge services program/resources designed to deepen affinity among our top donors/prospects, including, but not limited to: maintaining repository of VIP experiences/campus contacts, crafting VIP campus tour itineraries, initiating research, coordinating small tokens and gifts from campus, and additional VIP services.  
  • In coordination with directors of development and the alumni relations and engagement and stewardship teams, assist in planning and supporting VIP events and campus visits designed to cultivate principal gift prospects and build relationships with existing donors (e. Wisconsin Club, Chancellor’s travel, etc.).
  • Collaborate with directors of development on donor visits to campus, including on-site logistics, greeting and hosting guests, and responding to miscellaneous needs as they arise.
  • Serve as ThankView liaison for principal gifts. 
  • Manage special projects with MarComm (video, graphic design, proofreading)  

Requirements and Qualifications

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree is preferred or equivalent combination of education and work experience.
  • 5 + years of relevant professional work experience in higher education, non-profit or fund-raising environment

Other Qualifications:

  • Experience working in the higher education or non profit industries preferred
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills and strong attention to detail.
  • Ability to judge the relative importance of issues and act independently to address them, applying the appropriate level of urgency to achieve results.

WFAA is committed to provide our employees with an environment that is inspiring, creative and respectful. We offer competitive pay and an excellent benefits program, which includes a 10% 401k contribution after 1 year of service!


*The Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association is an Equal Opportunity Employer *The Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association ( is the “doing business as” name of the merged organization comprising the University of Wisconsin Foundation ( and the Wisconsin Alumni Association ( Its legal corporate name is registered as the University of Wisconsin Foundation. 


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