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Principal Gift Officer / Development Officer III

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Back to search results Apply now Job no: 793972
Work type: Support Staff
Pay Grade: 15
Major Administrative Unit / College: University Advancement
Department: Asc Vice Pres For University Development 10069230
Sub Area: AP- Professionals
Salary: Salary Commensurate with Experience
Location: East Lansing
Categories: Administrative/Business/Professional, Education/Training, PR/Media/Graphics/Comm/Fund Raising, Administrative Professionals- AP, Full Time (90-100%), Union, Remote-Friendly

Working/Functional Title

Principal Gift Officer

Position Summary

Michigan State University seeks an experienced and collaborative fundraiser to join the University Principal Gifts Program. The Principal Gift Officer will play a key role – individually and collectively – in cultivating long-term relationships with donors who have the capacity to make transformative gifts, while leveraging the relationships and vision of university leaders to secure support for strategic university priorities and initiatives. The Principal Gift Officer will be a seasoned and exceptional team-oriented fundraising professional with a demonstrated successful track record in securing multi-million-dollar philanthropic gifts.

The Principal Gift Officer at Michigan State University reports to the Executive Director of Principal Gifts in University Advancement. The individual will provide creative and visionary leadership and coordination of fundraising endeavors for university-wide programs. They will convene campus partners and advise on the development of coordinated strategies aimed to maximize the life-time engagement and support of a portfolio of high-net-worth households. They will help assemble key university members together with prospects around cross-cutting strategic funding priorities.

This role has three defining dimensions-
- The disciplined management of approximately 50 relationships with consistent focus and high-touch engagement, cultivation and stewardship that leads to successful solicitations strategies.
- The ability to work closely with academic leaders, fundraising colleagues, faculty, and volunteers to shape compelling ideas that will attract transformational gifts based on institutional initiatives and presidential priorities. 
- The ability to work in tandem with colleagues in the University Principal Gifts program and with officers of other schools to coordinate cultivation and solicitation of prospects where there are multiple interests.

Principal gift work requires understanding the university’s overarching strategic priorities, as well as the programs and aspirations of the colleges and units where Principal Gifts are needed. Consultation, coordination and collaboration with regional and unit-based colleagues is essential.

The Principal Gift Officers major areas of responsibility include, but are not limited to, the following:


  • Working with approximately 50 high potential individual prospects through the identification, qualification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship cycles. Forge long-term relationships with these individuals to cultivate their interest in MSU that will lead to eight and nine-figure solicitations
  • Actively maintain a portfolio of principal gift level prospects, particularly where there are multiple complex university relationships and the opportunity exists to have university-wide impact that requires thoughtful, experienced, prospect management
  • Oversee the preparation of funding proposals, talking points and scripts, assessments of potential support, briefings, gift agreements, endowments and stewardship reports for assigned prospects. Ensures that all interested parties are involved in key efforts focused on specific prospects
  • Promotes deferred giving and has an understanding and expertise in deferred vehicles and the role they can play in supporting visionary gifts.
  • Advise key university officers on opportunities for their involvement with specific fundraising and engagement events and initiatives with top prospects
  • Provide staff assistance to President, Deans and other university leadership in direct solicitations and interactions with top donor prospects
  • Travel as necessary to meet with donors/prospects and execute strategic moves

Strategic Management 

  • Strong ability to maintain confidentiality and set pace around donor moves
  • Model a collaborative style of leadership to facilitate and guide creative principal gift level donor relationship strategies in concert with colleagues
  • Develop and execute a thoughtful plan to ensure that MSU can rely on an increasing and sustainable flow of philanthropic support from the highest level of donors/prospects
  • Support the work of the Executive Director of Principal Gifts and Vice President for Advancement
  • Foster diversity at all levels of the organization, including the professional staff, the volunteer corps and the constituencies served


Unit Specific Education/Experience/Skills

Knowledge equivalent to that which normally would be acquired by completing a four-year college degree program in Communications, Public Relations, Marketing and/or Business; five to eight years of related and progressively more responsible or expansive work experience in professional and higher education fundraising, public relations, marketing, development of budgets, preparation and presentation of case statements and analysis of operations; or an equivalent combination of education and experience. 

Desired Qualifications

A Bachelor’s degree in any rigorous academic field and a minimum of 8 years of progressively responsible experience as a proven fundraising leader in a complex, decentralized, comprehensive university environment is preferred. An advanced degree or professional fundraising certification is valued. Experience with high-net-worth individuals, planned giving or wealth management, work in CFR or work in STEM highly valued. Experience managing a major/principal gift portfolio utilizing metrics, systems, and relationship building skills to maximize strategic cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of $5 million plus donors and transformational gifts. A deep understanding of and commitment to an integrated advancement program; and experience in a complex major research university environment. Keen understanding of the natural tension that exists when working with a multitude of colleges, departments, and programs with varying priorities is essential. Experience working to sustain strong working relationships with staff, donors, faculty, volunteers and academic leadership is imperative. A strong ability to develop sincere, productive relationships and to build trust both with internal colleagues and external constituencies is a must. Clear and effective written and oral communication and presentation skills, including individual and large groups. Keen sense of requirements necessary to foster a team-centric culture and environment. Proven success at developing and implementing creative solicitation strategies for transformational philanthropic gifts in a team-oriented and collaborative environment. Superior interpersonal and listening skills and exceptional negotiation skills and proven ability to make independent decisions.


  • Ability to assess risk combined with a willingness to take calculated risks
  • A tolerance for the inevitable ambiguity that typifies a large university
  • Proven ability to drive performance and execute for results; strategic and agile thinker to develop opportunities and strategies for organizational success toward objectives
  • Ability to lead peers and collaborate with staff in a manner that instills confidence and empowers staff to achieve through challenges and tough decisions and situations; helping them to achieve full potential and attain high individual and team performance and goals
  • High integrity, judgement, and courage of convictions
  • Maintain self-awareness, understanding impact of self on others
  • Strong evidence of ability to function in an environment of complexity, uncertainty and change management
  • Natural sense of curiosity regarding individuals and industry, with a skill to uncover connections, networks and interests


Equal Employment Opportunity Statement

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, citizenship, age, disability or protected veteran status.

Required Application Materials

Resume & Cover letter

Together-we-will Statement

The university is requiring all MSU students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with limited exceptions. Learn more at:

Work Hours

8 AM to 5PM with some nights and weekends


Remote Work Statement

MSU strives to provide a flexible work environment and this position has been designated as remote-friendly. Remote-friendly means some or all of the duties can be performed remotely as mutually agreed upon.

Bidding eligibility ends July 5, 2022 at 11:55 P.M.

Advertised: Eastern Daylight Time
Applications close: Eastern Daylight Time

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