October 3, 2017 – The National Museum of Wildlife Art (NMWA) in Jackson Hole has commenced a search for a chief advancement officer. The non-profit recently enlisted Aspen Leadership Group, an executive recruitment firm based in Aspen, CO, to lead the search.
The chief advancement officer, said the firm, will guide NMWA’s advancement strategy, manage day-to-day operations and make fundraising solicitations at a leadership level. The individual will work closely with the museum director, advancement, marketing, program staff, museum staff and the board of directors to help build the museum’s capacity and impact. The executive will also help NMWA connect with donors, build a team, build organizational systems and devise strategies to support the not-for-profit’s next phase of growth. The chief advancement officer is also charged with having a strong presence outside the organization. Fundraising experience and strong management skills are further required.
The successful candidate is expected to build a team of professionals to elevate the museum’s philanthropic successes, said the Aspen Leadership Group. The firm noted that the opportunity for building on the current base of support is considerable: Teton County Wyoming, where the museum is located, has one of the highest per capita incomes in the nation and offers untold opportunities for raising the museum’s financial capacity. These relatively untapped resources provide an exciting opportunity for the right candidate to produce additional financial support, said the firm.
NMWA raises money from individuals, businesses and foundations. The museum relies on a combination of memberships (currently 1,800), major gifts, event sponsorships (currently four to five fundraising events per year) and grants. The chief advancement officer is responsible for overseeing the management of these resources as well as for raising a large part the annual budget. The successful candidate will build the organization’s capacity for the long-term fundraising success, said the Aspen Leadership Group.
The National Museum of Wildlife Art serves a variety of guests, from local families to international visitors, by providing access to outstanding art, and engaging them in enlightening programming. The organization collaborates with other non-profits, employs local and visiting artists, partners with the school district and private institutions, and introduces major works of art. The museum welcomes 65,000 visitors annually, including 8,500 school children. More than 60,000 visitors attend one of the museum’s traveling exhibitions each year, and the museum has 185,000 unique visitors to its website annually.
A bachelor’s degree is required for the role as is a minimum of five years of experience in a related field. A master’s degree and/or seven years or more of experience is preferred.
Why Recruiters Center On Fundraising Skills
Organizations nationwide are under pressure to find leaders who can act as de facto chief fundraisers – and recruiters are in lock step to find talent to satisfy the demand. These leaders need to be strategic thinkers who can motivate the stakeholders whose philanthropy pulls everything together.
Advancement and Fundraising
The economic strength of the non-profit sector has been growing with the expansion of the economy and is now the third largest employer in the U.S. Nearly two million non-profit organizations employ 10.7 million people and produce revenue in excess of $1.9 trillion. That’s leading to some complications for recruiters, who report that non-profits are under varying degrees of pressure to find fundraising leaders.
The field of advancement is an extension of development/fundraising. Over the past two decades, educational institutions and charitable groups have shifted toward more integrated models of collaboration between communications, marketing, branding and development. Advancement represents the full integration of these functions under a single leader, the chief advancement officer. A recent search on LinkedIn of the title generated more than 30,000 results.
According to recruiters who specialize in the non-profit sector, advancement talent is being groomed all around the field and within organizations that understand the direct connectivity between messaging and contributed revenue. The function is only relevant to the non-profit and education sectors. In corporate setting, such executives are commonly referred to as chief development officers or a chief business development officer.
In general, the best training for such roles is experience. Industry conferences and summits can also help one learn benchmarking and best practices. And while the best fit for these roles ultimately depends on the culture of the organization, recruiters say that “tenacity and drive” are two traits always necessary for successful advancement and development officers.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media