Bryant Group Seeks Two Key Development Leaders for Western Michigan University

December 17, 2021 – Irving, TX-based Bryant Group is conducting two key development searches for Western Michigan University (WMU) and its partner, the Western Michigan University Foundation. The first assignment is for a senior director of principal gifts. The other is for a senior director of gift planning.

WMU wants an experienced, passionate, and highly successful fundraising professional for the principal gifts position, said Bryant Group. This individual will be charged with identifying and promoting relationships with principal donors with an emphasis on gifts of $5 million or more while simultaneously achieving and modeling the highest levels of performance with regards to prescribed performance standards.

Major duties include developing and promoting relationship strategies for principal gift prospects in assigned portfolio; coordinating university strategies with principal gift prospects, including determining the interest and affiliation with the university; working with university leadership to facilitate forward motion with multi-unit transformational gifts; building relationships with donors and assisting in coordinating strategies and personal visits for the involvement of institutional partners; and writing principal gift proposals and agreements.

A bachelor’s degree in a related field from an accredited institution is required for this role; CFRE certification is preferred. Candidates should have experience closing (or participating in closing) several gifts at the $1 million to $10 million level, as well as in stewarding gifts at this level. They must also have demonstrated ability to work independently, among other requirements.

Senior Director of Gift Planning

The senior director of gift planning position, meanwhile, provides leadership to all aspects of WMU’s estate, trust, and gift planning program. “The senior director of gift planning holds primary responsibility for gifts of estates, trusts and various other instruments that reflect financial planning and deferred giving opportunities,” said Bryant Group. The individual will also provide leadership to all aspects of Western Michigan University’s estate, trust, and gift planning program.

The senior director of gift planning will be expected to grow WMU’s planned giving constituency through strategies designed to inform prospective and current donors about planned giving options and create and execute a comprehensive planned giving stewardship and marketing plan, said the search firm.

This individual will be charged with leading WMU’s comprehensive planned giving strategy, supports development of colleagues; creating and leading an annual and focused planned giving acquisition campaign for the development team, reporting on progress and goals; and identifying, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding prospects for planned and outright gifts involving estate plans, or gifts of complex assets, in addition to other responsibilities.

A bachelor’s degree in related field from an accredited institution is required. Prospects must have at least five years of successful professional experience, preferably in higher education development. A demonstrated record of success in a related field such as law, accounting or financial planning is also required. Comprehensive understanding of higher education fundraising is desirable. Candidates should embrace the concept and attitude of teamwork in a complex organization, among other qualifications.

High Research Activity

Founded in 1903, WMU offers about 250 academic programs to more than 19,000 students pursuing degrees through the doctoral level. Graduate coursework includes disciplines that range from geosciences and atomic and nuclear physics to medieval literature and blind rehabilitation. Of the 114 graduate offerings available, 35 lead to a doctoral degree. Classified as a “high research activity” university by the Carnegie Foundation, WMU is ranked in the top 11 percent of all universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report. The university received a $550 million gift in June 2021, the largest gift ever given to a public university in the U.S.

In 1976, a dedicated group of Western Michigan University alumni and established the WMU Foundation. The organization is an independent, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation that operates to raise funds for WMU. The WMU Foundation maintains private fund accounts from one fiscal year to the next, as well as keeps the confidentiality of donor information.

Bryant Group specializes in advancement, fundraising, and leadership for universities, hospitals, and other nonprofits. Its services include recruiting, talent development and leadership coaching. The organization’s higher education clients include Stanford University, Harvard University, Michigan State University, Baylor University, the University of New Mexico, and others. Its healthcare clients include UCLA Center for the Health Sciences, the Mayo Clinic in both Minnesota and Arizona, Henry Ford Health Systems, Betty Ford Center, to name just a few. Its other non-profit clients include the American Heart Association, March of Dimes in both California and New York, the J. Paul Getty Trust, and more.

Top Leaders

Bryant Group is led by president and CEO Sally Bryant. She joined the search firm in 2007 and brings 30 years of experience in advancement management, consulting and recruiting, as well as achievements from the corporate sales arena and success in other entrepreneurial activities.

Bryant Group founder Chris Bryant is a leader in the recruitment of advancement, development and fundraising professionals. In 1988, he co-founded what the firm describes as the country’s first executive search firm to specialize exclusively in philanthropy recruitment. Bryant Group is the successor firm, established in 2002.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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