Job Listings

Associate VP for Principal Gifts

Virginia Tech
Job Location:
Blacksburg, 24061
Development and Fundraising

Job Description

Virginia Tech's principal gifts program plays a pivotal role in fundraising success at Virginia Tech, with responsibility for 30-50% of the new gifts and commitments raised each year. The program addresses the need for a high touch, strategic approach in the discovery, cultivation, and solicitation of prospective and current donors with capacity for gifts of $5 million or greater. More than four hundred individual, corporate, and foundation prospects are currently rated at this level with an expectation for the pool to grow considerably based on alumni demographic shifts and additional discovery through research. The principal gifts program responds to the forward thinking, highly ambitious vision for Virginia Tech's future that is being articulated by the university's most senior leaders. The role of Associate Vice President for Principal Gifts (Associate Vice President) provides dedicated leadership to this critical area of focus for the university's development efforts and will be a central figure in securing the highest levels of donor support for Virginia Tech.

Reporting to the senior vice president for advancement and serving on his/her senior leadership team (SLT), the Associate Vice President will closely collaborate with the senior vice president for advancement, president, provost, other SLT colleagues, and college deans and their assistant deans for advancement to devise and execute strategies for optimal cultivation and solicitation of principal gifts from individual and institutional sources. The Associate Vice President will play a key role in the development of prospect strategies across the university that maximize overall institutional impact - taking into account strategic campaign, university, and/or college priorities and structuring solicitations or a series of solicitations accordingly. They will advise and support unit and college-based leaders in building their principal gifts capabilities, challenging them to think ambitiously and aspirationally in identifying visionary projects for principal-level donors. A sustainable principal gifts program requires ongoing discovery work, and the Associate Vice President will collaborate closely with other colleagues within the Division of University Advancement, including the senior associate vice president for advancement, associate vice president for innovation and partnerships, associate vice president for advancement and campaign director, and the assistant vice president for advancement - colleges and units, to continually add new prospects to the pipeline. The Associate Vice President leads a team of principal giving professionals, including five principal gifts officers and an operations team that supports the principal gift officers in donor relations and administrative functions. The Associate Vice President will balance strategic coordination and management with their own frontline fundraising activity to secure maximum philanthropic support. They will staff the highest levels of university leadership, including the senior vice president for advancement, president, provost, college deans, and volunteer leaders, among others, in managing and soliciting their respective prospect portfolios, while also managing her/his own portfolio. The Associate Vice President's role regarding these activities may vary based on existing relationships between prospects and university or college-based leaders.

This position must be able to:
- Effectively strategize and engage various groups and constituents.
- Think strategically and to shape messaging in order to move individuals and institutions across the spectrum of prospect development, culminating in significant and potentially game changing solicitations appropriate to organizational priorities and donors interests.
- Provide management oversight, leadership, and direction.
- Understand and distill complex academic and scientific topics and projects for development audiences.
- Extract and analyze data to make effective, efficient decisions about donor strategy and process.

Required Qualifications

Bachelor's degree and experience or Master's degree.

A minimum of 10 years of experience in progressively responsible development leadership positions, preferably within an institution of higher education, nonprofit organization, or other environment of similar complexity with multiple stakeholders.

At least five years of supervisory experience.

Experience with individual, corporate, and institutional principal gifts.

Particular strength in developing the case for support and strategic and complex fundraising plans, and executing against those plans to achieve goals and objectives.

Experience working directly with the most senior levels of an organization and its transformational donors is critical, as is a sophisticated, nuanced understanding of the confluence of relationships that facilitate principal gifts discussions and propel them forward.

A track record of personally closing gifts at seven figures or greater and staffing organizational leadership in soliciting seven and eight figure gifts. The ability to penetrate the most elite philanthropic networks seamlessly and with aplomb is a must.

Experience identifying, nurturing, and motivating volunteers, and an appreciation for their role in building an effective fundraising network.

Experience identifying and coaching project spokespeople.

A working knowledge of modern data management practices and techniques, including database information systems, data modeling, and analysis.

Preferred Qualifications

Advanced degree and strong academic credentials that will be credible to donors.

Previous work experience in a hybrid centralized decentralized fundraising model or similar structure involving many units, departments, and/or teams.

Participation in a major capital campaign.

Comfortable with philanthropic networks, particularly in the fields of education, arts, culture, science, technology, and various charitable initiatives, and familiar with the current culture and trends in these circles.

Experience in international fundraising and the cultural sensitivity it requires; knowledge of strategies and trends in global philanthropy. Direct experience working with institutional and individual donors on a global scale.

Pay Band


Appointment Type


Salary Information

Commensurate with experience

Review Date


Additional Information

Cavan Executive Search is assisting Virginia Tech in this search.

To apply for this position, candidates must submit a Virginia Tech faculty application online at and send resume, cover letter, and references to:

Lucretia A. Cavan

Cavan Executive Search

48 Wall Street, 25th Floor

New York, NY 10005

Phone: 646/378-3780

Fax: 646/731-6900

  • Regional and national travel required for the purposes of conducting field research, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship, which may include overnights and weekends.
  • Must have the ability and willingness to travel utilizing standard, commercial, and/or personal modes of transportation.
  • Ability to work nights and weekends, and participation in college or university programs when possible.
  • Safe Driving Record

  • Unable to Sponsor Work Visas

  • Routine Travel or Telework - (50% or more travel)

  • The successful candidate will be required to have a criminal) check.

About Virginia Tech

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech pushes the boundaries of knowledge by taking a hands-on, transdisciplinary approach to preparing scholars to be leaders and problem-solvers. A comprehensive land-grant institution that enhances the quality of life in Virginia and throughout the world, Virginia Tech is an inclusive community dedicated to knowledge, discovery, and creativity. The university offers more than 280 majors to a diverse enrollment of more than 36,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in eight undergraduate colleges, a school of medicine, a veterinary medicine college, Graduate School, and Honors College. The university has a significant presence across Virginia, including the Innovation Campus in Northern Virginia; the Health Sciences and Technology Campus in Roanoke; sites in Newport News and Richmond; and numerous Extension offices and research centers. A leading global research institution, Virginia Tech conducts more than $500 million in research annually.

Virginia Tech does not discriminate against employees, students, or applicants on the basis of age, color, disability, sex (including pregnancy), gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or military status, or otherwise discriminate against employees or applicants who inquire about, discuss, or disclose their compensation or the compensation of other employees or applicants, or on any other basis protected by law.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Advancement HR at during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to the event.

HigherEd360 is part of the HigherEdJobs network.