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23 Jun 2021

Full-Time Senior Director of Development, Principal Gifts

lyricopera – Posted by lyricopera Chicago, Illinois, United States

Job Description

REPORTS TO: Vice President for Principal Gifts

STATUS:          Full-time, exempt


Through artistic excellence coupled with innovative, relevant programming; initiatives to connect with and grow new audiences; engagement with communities to ignite creativity across Chicago; and a modernized Opera House that is the setting for truly great experiences, Lyric is leading the advancement of opera. This collaborative vision will deliver ever more exciting, thought-provoking and inclusive audience and community experiences – while increasing the gravitational pull of our art form, our company, and our city.

Lyric Opera of Chicago (Lyric) is one of the world’s great opera companies, renowned internationally for its artistic excellence and financial strength. This is a legacy moment in the history of Lyric as we emerge from the loss of performances from COVID-19 and our focus is on raising transformative gifts that bring Lyric back to the stage and secure our future. Front-line fundraisers serve as critical relationship managers with Lyric’s most generous donors, raising their philanthropic sights and generating significant philanthropic revenue for the organization.

The Senior Director of Development, Principal Gifts works with individuals, families, and family foundations to secure gifts of $1,000,000 and greater to capital projects, endowment priorities, multi-year annual commitments, and planned gifts.



  • Demonstrate leadership in accordance with Lyric’s mission and vision.
  • Qualify and maintain a portfolio of 40-50 principal gift prospects, ensuring timely solicitation of regular giving, with a focus on capital and endowment gifts as well as combined asks that include multi-year commitments and planned gifts. Collaborate with research staff in the qualification process.
  • Establish operating, endowment, and capital goals for each donor in the portfolio based on the donor’s history of giving, capacity rating, and areas of interest to secure, retain, and upgrade these donors.
  • Build and execute a relationship strategy for communications and personal contact for each donor, leading to appropriate solicitations to secure gifts at the established goals.
  • Work with senior Lyric leadership as well as Board members and other volunteers to identify, cultivate and solicit Principal Gifts prospects. Participate in face-to-face solicitations together with Lyric leadership and volunteers as appropriate and strategic.
  • Meet with prospective and current donors in person, as often as appropriate, to cultivate, solicit, and steward philanthropic giving, according to metrics established with development leadership.
  • Participate in Lyric’s donor events and opera performances as required to establish and sustain contact with donors.
  • Work with Associate Director, Principal Gifts Communications to create unique proposals and ancillary materials needed to solicit principal gifts.
  • Enter plans, steps, and call reports in the Tessitura database in a timely fashion, to support accurate and timely reporting of fundraising performance.
  • Collaborate with other philanthropy officers and fundraising colleagues to share knowledge and experience on strategy, relationship management, and knowledge of donors, and other areas of best practice.
  • Maintain membership in relevant professional associations to build knowledge, learn methods, and upgrade fundraising skills.
  • As the business evolves, so may this role. These duties may change as Lyric’s leadership identifies the need at any time.



  • Bachelor’s degree required, advanced degree preferred.
  • 5-7 years of experience in fundraising, relationship management, sales, or related work.
  • A passion for the institution’s mission, its traditions, and its long-term success.
  • A strong entrepreneurial drive, combined with the ability to collaborate fruitfully as a member of a team.
  • Outstanding communication skills, interpersonal, verbal and written, with the ability to communicate the mission, goals, and activities of the institution.
  • Strong interpersonal, organizational, and analytical skills in demonstrating leadership and initiative, tact, diplomacy, attention to detail, creativity, and cultural sensitivity.
  • Strong project management and organizational competencies with demonstrated aptitude for multitasking, attention to detail, and meeting competing and overlapping deadlines.
  • Demonstrated ability to meet and exceed goals and performance objectives in the planning, execution, and financial goals and fundraising targets.
  • Understanding of, and commitment to, working in non-profit organizations
  • Ability to work evenings and weekends throughout the opera season required.
  • Experience working with arts and culture organizations.



  • Significant evening or weekend functions, meetings, appointments, or performances.
  • Standing for extended periods of time.
  • Ability to operate a computer keyboard, mouse, telephone, and other office equipment.
  • Moving/lifting objects, boxes, and furniture as needed/allowed, not to exceed 20 lbs.





The Lyric Opera of Chicago is committed to enhancing our diverse work environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. Lyric does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, parental status, veteran status, or any other protected status under applicable laws. We encourage individuals of all backgrounds to apply.

How to Apply

Job Types: Full-Time.

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