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Director of Development

Director of Development

The Director of Development oversees all aspects of fundraising activity for Steppenwolf and plays an active role in donor cultivation and solicitation. Reporting to the Executive Director, serving as a member of Steppenwolf’s senior management team and working closely with the Board of Trustees, the Director of Development leads a sophisticated team of twelve full-time staff, which creates and executes programs to meet the institutions goals for contributed income.

Working with a committed, prestigious Board of Trustees and the professional staff, the Director of Development oversees philanthropic support from all sectors of the giving public with an emphasis on individuals capable of making major gifts.

The Director of Development assesses how best to optimize the involvement, participation and financial support of current and prospective donors through strategically conceived fundraising efforts. They provide guidance and leadership to ensure that those efforts achieve the best-practice standards.

The theater’s annual contributed income goal is typically $8 million and Steppenwolf is currently 77% of the way towards a $73 million capital campaign goal for their Building on Excellence Campaign. The goal for the ideal candidate would be to stabilize and grow the annual fund, expand the planned giving program and complete the final $17 million raise for the capital campaign by the conclusion of the 2023/24 season.

Areas of Responsibility:


  • Maintain ultimate responsibility for the achievement of contributed income goals for annual operations and capital campaign.
  • Actively participate in the cultivation and solicitation of major donors for both annual and capital campaign gifts and manage a portfolio of major donors and prospects.
  • Coordinate strategies for major gift solicitations to be undertaken by Steppenwolf’s executive leadership, Board of Trustees, volunteers or development staff.
  • Effectively articulate Steppenwolf’s current and future plans and needs to volunteer leaders and major prospects.
  • Publicly represent Steppenwolf in the philanthropic community.
  • Direct and evaluate the effectiveness of all fundraising programs.

Strategic Planning

  • Develop an integrated strategic and operational plan for the growth of Steppenwolf’s fundraising effort with the development team, to be shared and reviewed with executive leadership.
  • Work with executive leadership and the Development Committee of the Board of Directors to motivate and strengthen the Board’s involvement with Steppenwolf.
  • Coordinate the strategies developed with executive leadership and the Board Development Committee for the recruitment of key candidates to the Board of Trustees.
  • Represent a contextual understanding of the role of fundraising in the overall Steppenwolf operations with senior management.
  • Foster collegial relations among the development department and other departments to integrate and maximize fundraising opportunities and procedures across Steppenwolf.
  • Direct the preparation of all budgets for development functions and ensure the optimal return on investment for all fundraising activities.


  • Work with executive leadership, the Board of Trustees and senior development staff on the recruitment of key volunteers for fundraising activities.
  • Work with executive leadership to manage the governance activities of the Board of Trustees and to coordinate Board meetings, committees and communications to keep the Board informed and involved.
  • Oversee a process of donor prospect clearing and creating strategic approaches to prospects within the development department.
  • Manage, mentor and motivate the development staff and set the tone for a positive and equitable working environment.
  • Establish effective procedures for goal setting and evaluation that encourages development staff to stretch their talents, meet fundraising goals and be recognized for their accomplishments.

Successful candidates will be:

  • An innovative and forward-thinking development professional with exceptional interpersonal skills and a high degree of professionalism and integrity
  • A compelling, persuasive leader with the ability to move a team forward—direct reports, executive leadership and volunteers—by inspiring and motivating people with creativity and energy.
  • A person with a track record of successful major gift fundraising combined with both a comprehensive knowledge of Chicago philanthropy and experience managing a development function

Desired Qualifications:

  • A comprehensive understanding of Chicago philanthropy.
  • At least ten years of increasingly responsible and successful experience in development with a proven track record in major gift fundraising.
  • At least five years of progressively responsible and successful experience in managing, mentoring and motivating staff, and the ability to inspire staff toward accomplishing common objectives.
  • Experience in one or more capital campaigns at a level beyond front-line fundraising, such as campaign planning or management, or leadership of a featured component of a campaign.
  • Outstanding interpersonal and communications skills – characterized by the ability to listen, to speak, and to write well – with a strong commitment to donor-centered service.
  • Ability to articulate the role of the arts in the community and has a knowledge of theatre in Chicago.
  • Experience with Tessitura a plus


Salary range: $140,000 – $170,000 with excellent benefit package for full time employees, including medical, dental, vision insurance, short-term and long-term disability insurance, life insurance, vacation pay, paid sick time, personal days, Ventra transit benefit program, employee assistance program and 401(k) matching retirement program.

How to apply:

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and resume by following this link by 12/24.

Contact Info:
Solana Oliver
Job Type: Permanent
Location: Chicago