Director of Development

Website Bell Museum

Minnesota’s official natural history museum and planetarium

The Director of Development will lead the full range of fundraising efforts for the Bell Museum, Minnesota’s state natural history museum and planetarium and the gateway to the sciences at the University of Minnesota. This work is both strategic and hands-on. The Development Director will oversee the Museum’s significant and growing portfolio of philanthropy, including individual giving, annual fund, membership, and corporate/foundation giving in the forms of sponsorship and philanthropic grants, in partnership with the University of Minnesota Foundation (UMF) corporate and foundation relations team. They will also serve as an architect and principal leadership gift officer for Bell Museum fundraising efforts. They will lead a current team of four and directly supervise three full-time staff (Associate Development Officer, an Annual Giving Manager, and a Membership Manager). The Director of Development will serve as a member of the Bell Museum’s Executive Leadership Team. This dynamic role has a dual reporting structure to the Chief Development Officer of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS), the Bell’s home college, and the Executive Director of the Bell Museum.

This individual is an entrepreneurial and seasoned fundraising professional with a passion for public education and cultural institutions. They embrace and represent the mission and vision of the Bell Museum, and inspire others with their enthusiasm, knowledge, and integrity.


Front-line Fundraising and Strategy (70%)

– Identifies and qualifies a personal portfolio of 100 major gift prospects and donors with primary focus on qualifying prospects and closing major gifts of $50,000 to $1,000,000+
– Performance expectations include: 15 solicitations per year at $50,000+ and total annual gift production of $2,000,000 to $4,000,000 and above
– Leverages the resources of the University of Minnesota Foundation (UMF) with the public face and reach of the Bell Museum to expand the potential of museum fundraising and pipeline development
– Serves as the primary architect and guide for Bell fundraising, including the development of case materials and collaboration with UMF on future campaign efforts
– Leads with a strong commitment to a high-touch, donor-centered approach to fundraising that embraces collegiality and procedures of UMF
– In coordination with the CFANS Chief Development Officer and Bell Executive Director, sets fundraising goals and objectives and develops and executes strategies for cultivating and soliciting major gifts, planned gifts, and corporate/foundation gifts
– Identifies and expands opportunities for collaboration with the CFANS development team centered around donor stewardship
– Manages a blended portfolio of prospects (individual, corporate and private foundation) with a focus on developing and implementing effective strategies to move donors through the pipeline (cultivation, solicitation, stewardship)
– Participates in trips to key geographic areas as assigned to qualify and cultivate donors, and collaborate with regional development officers, other university development colleagues, and CFANS leadership as appropriate to maximize results, approximately 2-3 times per year
– In collaboration with the CFANS stewardship coordinator, prepares and delivers progress reports for donors regarding the impact of their gifts/grants
– Clears and coordinates prospective donors through appropriate UMF procedures to ensure effective solicitation of the donor that maximizes the gift to the University and the donor’s satisfaction with the institution
– Updates regular reports on progress and results of the prospect solicitation process and portfolio in the donor management system (DMS). Completes and files thorough reports of all contacts in a timely manner. – Review research reports and information from DMS on assigned donors and prospects
– Ensures a cohesive and nuanced annual giving strategy
– Ensures the Bell Museum membership program has a clear acquisition and retention strategy
– Partners with the University of Minnesota Foundation’s staff and services, as necessary


Collaboration, Coaching and Supervision  (30%)

– Supervise, coach and evaluate development team members within the Bell Museum with a focus on professional development and team growth

– Serve on the Bell Museum’s Executive Leadership Team, advising the Executive Director and playing a role in institutional decision-making, policy, budget, and strategy
– Work collaboratively across museum departments – particularly Public Engagement and Science Learning, Statewide Engagement, and Research and Collections – to develop fundraising proposals and strategies that advance the museum’s programmatic and scientific initiatives
– Serve as a liaison to the Bell Museum Community Advisory Board Nomination and Development Committee, leveraging networks, relationships, and corporate ties.
– Support museum-wide initiatives related to diversity, equity, access and inclusion, ensuring these values are integrated into all aspects of the museum’s internal and external work.
– Collaborate with the Bell Marketing team and external vendors on the development of materials and coordination of events that support fundraising objectives and donor recognition

Required Qualifications:

– Bachelor’s degree and five years demonstrated ability to successfully solicit major gifts; or experience in marketing, sales, public relations, financial advisement or related field with emphasis on relationship cultivation and solicitation of individuals/businesses
– Demonstrated track record of securing gifts of $100,000 and above
Supervisory experience with demonstrated ability to lead, motivate, and/or coach a team in a professional or volunteer setting
– Demonstrated ability to promote and successfully solicit gifts, manage a prospect portfolio, design and implement cultivation and solicitation strategies, and ensure follow-up activities and stewardship
– Proven ability to work effectively and tactfully with a diverse group of internal and external constituents
– Ability to work independently and with excellent judgment and attention to detail
– Master storyteller – excellent written and oral communication skills
– Impeccable and detail-oriented organization, planning, and problem-solving skills
– Thrives in a collaborative environment
– Operates with integrity and discretion
– Willingness to participate in  occasional regional travel and attend approximately 1-2  evening and 1-2 weekend events per month
– Access to reliable transportation and ability to travel for donor visits is required

Preferred Qualifications:

– Fundraising experience in cultural or nature/environment/science-based institutions
– Capital campaign experience
– Events development and management experience
– Experience working with advisory or other board structures and members

For more information or to apply:

UMN Job Board ID: 361399

In addition to the online application, we ask that you submit a CV and a cover letter.

Questions about the position can be directed to Kate Sigurdson,


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