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Director, Development- Advancement

About CIFAR:

CIFAR is a Canadian-based global research organization that convenes extraordinary minds to address the most important questions facing science and humanity.

By building long-term, interdisciplinary, global communities of collaboration, we provide the world’s top researchers with an unparalleled environment of trust, transparency and knowledge sharing. Our time-tested model inspires new directions of inquiry, creating a culture of risk-taking, accelerating discovery, and yielding breakthroughs across borders and academic disciplines

Through knowledge mobilization, we are catalysts for change in industry, government and society.

In 2017, the Government of Canada appointed CIFAR to develop and lead the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy, the world’s first national AI strategy.

Our community of researchers includes more than 400 researchers from 161 institutions in 18 countries. Our fellows, chairs, scholars, and advisors are among the most highly cited researchers in the world. Twenty Nobel Prizes have been awarded to CIFAR-affiliated researchers.

We are generously supported by the governments of Canada, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec, Canadian and international partners, as well as individuals, foundations and corporations.

Purpose of the Position:

Our organization is seeking a Director, Development to oversee our donor relations program and manage our fundraising initiatives. We are looking for an experienced Major Gift fundraiser with a track record of success in identifying, cultivating, soliciting and stewarding individuals, foundations and corporations in the six-figure range. The successful individual thrives on taking the initiative in reaching out to build relationships with donors and volunteers – finding and articulating just the right opportunity to ignite their passion. This role requires an individual who is equally comfortable discussing endowment and planned giving vehicles. Working collaboratively with your colleagues in Advancement and across the organization to secure or delight a donor is particularly gratifying to you.


Manage portfolio of donors and prospects and meet financial and relationship objectives in support of departmental and organizational goals: 

  • Build and manage a portfolio of major gift donors and prospects with the capacity to make six-figure gifts
  • Complete donor visits to identify, cultivate, solicit, steward and build relationships on an ongoing basis, being equally comfortable acting on your own, or with a colleague, researcher or volunteer
  • Actively identify new prospects through personal knowledge of the donor base and working with volunteers, colleagues and researchers, and provide leadership in assessing capacity and connections to the organization to grow the prospect pipeline
  • Demonstrate meticulous attention to detail for follow up and stewardship of donors, including ensuring that information is accurate and up-to-date in our database
  • Employ imaginative and innovative approaches in developing new giving opportunities to inspire donor support in CIFAR for the first time or at an increased level
  • Develop and implement annual and multi-year plans and strategies to achieve transformational growth
  • Effectively engage and coach senior level volunteers to identify prospective donors, secure meetings, close and steward gifts
  • Provide direction to and work collaboratively with colleagues in the development of all necessary materials for cultivation and stewardship of donors (e.g. proposals, cases for support, letters, reports)
  • Liaise with colleagues in Advancement and across the organization to ensure that Major Gift fundraising is coordinated with broader initiatives
  • Support VP, Advancement’s work to advance a portfolio of principal gift prospects

Develop and implement a Planned Giving program:

  • Develop and implement a planned giving program, including strategies for acquisition, stewardship and collateral materials
  • Possess a solid working knowledge of soliciting and securing planned gift commitments such as charitable bequests, beneficiary designations, gifts involving retirement plan assets and life insurance policies, charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, and other outright and deferred planned gifts
  • Actively engage donors to understand their charitable and financial goals, and prepare proposals for the planned gift vehicle(s) that will best accomplish those goals

Oversee the Manager, Annual Giving and the development and implementation of the Annual Giving Plan:

  • Direct the Manager in the development and implementation of the Annual Campaign Plan that includes donor, staff, Fellows and Board campaigns
  • Provide exemplary leadership, direction, and mentorship to the Manager to increase their impact and effectiveness in advancing donor support of CIFAR
  • Oversee recruitment, retention, development, and performance management of the Manager
  • Maintain a deep understanding of CIFAR’s mission, approach and impacts to creatively relay benefits to donors and prospective donors:
  • Communicate regularly with colleagues in Advancement and beyond to be well-informed of donor interests and needs
  • Build relationships and work collaboratively with the Research, Knowledge Mobilization and Communications teams to gain and maintain a thorough understanding of existing and emerging work to convey the impact convincingly and appropriately to donors

Maintain a deep understanding of CIFAR’s mission, approach and impacts to creatively relay benefits to donors and prospective donors:

  • Foster productive working relationships across the organization and act as a conduit for information sharing
  • Actively identify opportunities to share relevant information with donors in a timely and appropriate way by contributing to the donor communications and engagement calendar
  • Stay up-to-date with industry best practices and innovations in donor identification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship

Participate as a key member of the Advancement Team to contribute to departmental and organizational success:

  • Uphold established best practices in managing donor information in the database, especially timely updates on donor interactions and upcoming or completed activities
  • Contribute to building a culture of philanthropy
  • Responsible for the accurate and timely flow of information as appropriate – within the team, across departments, and with the database.
  • Take initiative when an opportunity presents itself
  • Assist or lead other fundraising projects and perform other duties as assigned


Education/Experience required:

  • University degree/college diploma or equivalent combination of education and experience, in a related field
  • Progressive experience in fundraising, especially in a major gifts role with a demonstrated track record of success in cultivating, closing and stewarding six-figure gifts
  • Experience with planned giving donors, strategies and giving vehicles
  • CFRE designation is an asset

Core Professional/Technical Knowledge & Skills required for the position:

  • Dynamic communicator with the ability to create compelling communications that build relationships and generate revenue
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and very strong person-to-person relationship-building skills
  • Success as a motivating coach and manager of direct and indirect report(s)
  • Knowledge of the philanthropic community and best practices in major gift fundraising
  • Demonstrated integrity and a commitment to the AFP Code of Ethical Principles and Standards
  • Highly proficient in Microsoft Office and Google suites of products
  • Comfort with databases as a key tool for building relationships; experience with Salesforce is an asset
  • Keen understanding of current finance and accounting principles and regulations in the not-for-profit sector

Core Competencies:

  • Ability to understand complex scientific information and translate into clear and inspiring explanations and messages that will garner donor support
  • Collaborative team player focused on contributing to departmental and organizational objectives
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and diplomacy with an ability to interact effectively with individuals internally and externally
  • Flexible and adaptable with the ability to work under pressure, meet deadlines and handle conflicting priorities with ease
  • Exemplary attention to detail and accuracy, with excellent planning, organizational and time management skills
  • Strong work ethic, professional integrity, initiative-taker
  • Discretion and tact in handling highly-sensitive or confidential information
  • Passion for science and/or experience working with the scientific community is an asset


To explore this key leadership position at CIFAR further, please contact Jane Griffith at

We thank all applicants for their interest, however only those candidates selected for interviews will be contacted.

CIFAR is an equal opportunity employer. In accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, upon request, accommodation will be provided by both Leaders International and CIFAR throughout the recruitment, selection and/or assessment process to applicants with disabilities.

One of CIFAR’s core cultural values is Diversity – we value diversity and aspire to be inclusive in all aspects of our work.  CIFAR is an equal employment opportunity employer and is strongly committed to removing systemic barriers and biases, and by promoting the practice of inclusivity, so that all individuals have equal access to and benefit from the work we do.  We encourage applications from visible minority group members, women, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, members of sexual minority groups, and others who may contribute to diversity within our organization.

CIFAR frequently communicates in both official languages and our preference is to hire employees who are fluent in both English and French where possible.  Other languages are also considered an asset. For a French version of the job posting, please visit

We thank you for your interest in working at CIFAR. All applications will be reviewed however, only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted via email.

Support Us

CIFAR is a registered charitable organization supported by the governments of Canada, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec as well as foundations, individuals, corporations, and international partner organizations.

MaRS Centre, West Tower
661 University Ave., Suite 505
Toronto, ON M5G 1M1 Canada