Reporting to the Head of School, the Chief Advancement Officer (CAO) is responsible for leading and managing the fundraising program and advancement staff at Mercersburg Academy. The CAO also directly supports the Governance Committee of the Board of Regents. The CAO is a member of the executive team of the school.
Leadership and Governance
- Maintain a highly collaborative working relationship with the Head of School, the Director of Development, and other senior administrators to ensure that the Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations (“AAR”) effectively advocates for the school’s strategic priorities and engages the external community in helping to advance these priorities.
- Provide leadership, foster initiative, ensure professional development, and provide clear feedback for growth to the leadership giving and alumni and parent relations teams.
- Shape and advocate for strategic priorities that differentiate Mercersburg Academy among the nation’s leading independent schools.
- Support the School in staffing the Board of Regents, the various committees, the Governance Committee specifically, and ad hoc task forces as needed.
- Provide recommendations to the HOS regarding Board membership and committee leadership.
- Serve as the school’s chief fundraising officer, responsible for managing 75-100 of the school’s leading prospective and/or historic donors; actively engage in the cultivation, direct solicitation, and stewardship of these individuals.
- Working collaboratively with the Director of Development, provide strategic direction and ensure the resources required to deliver best-in-class annual and capital giving programs that seek broad participation in the Annual Fund and gifts totaling $12-$16 million each year.
- Lead a fundraising team responsible for regional engagement and reunion programs with a current staff of nine.
- Work closely with the Head of School to develop long-range strategic plans and with other external directors to execute strategic and operational plans.
- Lead team to plan and implement targeted and effective outreach and communication activities to expand the size of the potential donor prospect pool and to increase the level of financial support for the school.
- Assist the Head of School in carrying out and following up on their solicitations.
- Lead capital development efforts in support of strategic priorities, including supporting the work of comprehensive campaigns.
- Help guide and support the campaign strategy and campaign messaging.
- Identify key potential donors and develop individualized engagement strategies.
- Assign key potential donors to leadership giving officers and other staff.
- Ensure access to key resources, personnel, and support staff before and during the campaign.
- Provide leadership and guidance to AAR staff. Assist directors in providing structure, discipline, organization, and collaborative and consistent implementation of Advancement goals and priorities.
- In conjunction with the Director of Development,
- assist in organizing workflow and delegation of assignments;
- ensure maximum coordination among AAR’s internal (advancement services and operations) and external (development and constituent relations) teams;
- support constituent programs that advocate for alumni and parents’ interests, provide effective volunteer platforms (e.g., Alumni Council and White Key), offer compelling special events (e.g., class reunions and regional gatherings), and succeed in involving alumni and parents in the curricular and co-curricular life of the school as mentors and resources to students and faculty;
- support regional outreach to alumni and parents that directly engages constituents efficiently and effectively in enrollment and advancement priorities;
- provide leadership, training, and oversight of individual volunteers and committees as necessary;
- assist in sharing the key messages and message training for staff and volunteers.
- Other duties as assigned.
The Chief Advancement Officer must have an understanding of and passion for the mission and strategic design of Mercersburg Academy and a strong commitment to a co-ed independent boarding school education. The ideal candidate is an experienced fundraising strategist and relationship builder with a history of innovation in fundraising and donor development to support the future of Mercersburg Academy. The ability to effectively articulate specific fundraising goals and mentor and manage a team to achieve those goals will be essential to the success of the incoming CAO. The new CAO will be a visionary, collaborative leader and outstanding communicator who clarifies goals, builds teams, and cultivates trust while at the same time demanding accountability.
- Minimum of 15 years of progressively responsible administrative and fundraising experience, preferably in an educational setting.
- Visionary and strategic planning capabilities to be applied toward the development of an innovative fundraising program and the leadership necessary to ensure its successful implementation.
- Strong management skills, marked by a collaborative leadership style, a desire to innovate, and the ability to develop and mentor a staff and set an example for others.
- Broad exposure to all facets of development, including annual giving, major gifts, planned giving, capital campaign planning and implementation, and data management and analysis.
- Demonstrated record of accomplishment with major gift solicitations, donor relations, stewardship, and campaigns.
- Experience managing volunteers, including members of governing boards.
- Exceptional interpersonal skills demonstrated by the ability to interact effectively and appropriately engage with all the constituencies of the school community: Head of School, senior administration, staff, faculty, the Board of Regents, alumni, parents, and friends of the school.
- Appreciation for the rich history and tradition of Mercersburg Academy. Knowledge of how to effectively market and communicate the values and mission of the school both internally and externally to all constituencies.
- A well-organized, results-oriented individual who has a high energy level together with an accompanying sense of urgency.
- Exceptional written and verbal communication and public speaking skills to effectively represent the school.
- Ability to work independently, as well as part of a team.
- Integrity, warmth, confidence, a positive outlook, a good sense of humor, and an outgoing and engaging personality.
- Bachelor’s degree; advanced degree preferred.
- Ability to travel extensively and work extended hours, including frequent overnight trips.
Founded in 1893, Mercersburg Academy is a dynamic, forward-thinking, independent, coeducational secondary school with a strong tradition of devoting the necessary resources to attract and retain the best students and faculty, and to develop and maintain first-class facilities. In its second century, Mercersburg has continually supported its commitment to excellence with significant advances in physical plant improvement, personnel development, curricular innovation, and the growth of its endowment.
Mercersburg is located in historic south-central Pennsylvania, approximately 90 miles northwest of Washington and Baltimore. The Academy enrolls 435 boarding and day students (85 percent boarding) in grades nine through twelve and a post-graduate year, hailing from 30 U.S. states and 40 nations.
For additional information, please visit their website at https://www.mercersburg.edu/