Director, External Relations

  • Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • San Diego, CA, USA
  • Apr 19, 2021
Full time Biology/Biotechnology/Life Sciences

Job Description

 Application Instructions:

 Employment History Include your last ten (10) years of employment history, or length of your employment history if less, including all positions (even those that are not relevant to this position) and periods of unemployment. Incomplete information could disqualify you from further consideration.

Job location is in Salk North (Torrey Pines)


Reporting to the Senior Director, External Relations (SDER), the Director, External Relations (Director) oversees the Institute's President's Club (raising gifts in the $2,500-$24,999 range) and Salkexcellerators fundraising programs. Provides leadership in formulating and implementing effective goals, strategies and activities to secure annual gifts for the Institute. Acts as the liaison for the Salk Institute Council (IC) and organizes annual IC event in support of the program's specific priorities. In addition, incumbent maintains a portfolio of individual and corporate prospects for the annual Symphony at Salk gala (raising $1 million annually). Director prepares written and oral presentations to potential donors and coordinates approaches as defined by Salk policy and procedures; develops gift opportunities consistent with the Institute's priorities and initiatives; and collaborates with Communications, Foundation Relations, Planned Giving and Development Services. Works collaboratively with Salk departments to support donor initiatives and events. Overall, incumbent will potentially raise gifts up to $100k each, depending on the program or event connected to that specific fundraising initiative.


1)     Fundraising & Program Management (60%)

  • Provides management and direction for assigned fundraising programs, including President's Club ($2,500-$24,999) and Salkexcellerators.
  • Provides project management, direction and fundraising expertise for assigned areas, including prospect identification, qualification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship. Designs appropriate strategies to achieve goals and provide reports on fundraising for specific projects.
  • Identifies new prospects; develops cultivation and solicitation plans potentially up to the $100k level, depending on the specific initiative's focus.
  • In coordination with SDER, identifies funding priorities and potential funding sources; develops strategies to secure philanthropic support.
  • With SDER, builds a personal prospect portfolio and establishes annual fundraising benchmarks and goals by which achievement can be measured.
  • Develops extensive knowledge of Institute research programs which can be matched with donor interests and priorities. Works closely with faculty, staff and administration to identify viable programs that have development potential within the priorities outlined for the Institute's initiatives.
  • Works in collaboration with all Development Officers to coordinate individual and corporate programs and prospects.
  • Coordinates development activities and events with appropriate departments and conducts them in accordance with department and Institute fundraising policies.
  • Assists faculty in proposal and program development for the benefit of the Institute.
  • Develops persuasive written and oral presentations for presentation to corporate and individual donors, adhering to campus policies and procedures governing gifts.
  • Provides leadership in formulating effective goals, objectives, strategies and activities for a comprehensive program to build and grow the Annual Giving program.
  • Participates in organized and thoughtful prospect coordination and management; files timely and appropriate contact reports, opportunities and proposal information in Salesforce database; coordinates and collaborates with colleagues on prospect strategy development, etc.
  • Establishes and maintains an efficient records management system.
  • Supervises programs to enlist community interest and involvement of corporate and individual donors.
  • Plans and executes individual and corporate donor visits and ensures appropriate staffing and attendance, including faculty and members of the Development team.
  • Ensures Annual Giving staff are appropriately managing assigned Annual Giving programs and are integrating current donors into a Planned Giving, Foundation Relations or Major Gifts portfolio strategy. Proactively leads annual giving initiatives for developing the pipeline though President's Club.
  • Oversees local Salkexcellerators program, including managing a fundraising portfolio and organizing and leading various cabinet meetings, tours, lectures and/or site visits throughout the year.
  • Attends weekly Portfolio Meetings with Development Services team to develop fundraising strategies that use database reports/lists in the most effective way. Attends monthly Frontline Fundraisers meetings to coordinate fundraising efforts with Development Officers.
  • Engages in committees, work groups and task forces as required, for Development as part of the responsibility to the larger Salk community.
  • Working with the External Relations Administration unit, prepares and manages annual operating budgets for Annual Giving and Salkexcellerators programs.

2)     Symphony at Salk Fundraising (25%)

  • Serves as primary fundraiser for annual Symphony at Salk gala, focusing on sponsorships from individuals and corporations ($3,000-$100,000, with an annual $1 million goal). Plans and implements coordinated strategies to identify and qualify new individual and corporate prospects.
  • Designs and implements annual plan to achieve goals within budgetary framework. Monitors progress toward overall fundraising goals. Responsible for timely entry and updating of contact reports and pledges in Salesforce.
  • In coordination with Development Services unit, provides timely reporting to the Development department on the status of sponsorships and ticket sales.
  • Collaborates with Public Programs unit to secure a guest artist each year. Provides input on event logistics, including but not limited to featured artwork, menu and décor.
  • Works with Communications team to develop Symphony-related collateral, including the sponsorship brochure, invitation, program and website. Ensures all pieces are consistent with established Institute branding and themes.
  • Working closely with the VP, External Relations, strategically manages table seating to provide faculty and leadership with meaningful opportunities to cultivate relationships with donors and prospects whose priorities align with current research projects.
  • On the day of the event, serves as primary liaison for all sponsor- and seating-related matters.
  • Oversees proper and timely event follow-up and stewardship activities.

3)     Institute Council Management and Portfolio (15%)

  • Creates and implements a comprehensive development plan for the IC program. Addresses current funding priorities and new initiatives, and establishes programmatic strategies for moving prospective IC members and donors to solicitation and closure. Potentially raises gifts up to $100k.
  • Acts as primary liaison for yearly IC event and various meetings throughout the year. Works with Events teams to ensure coordination is complete, timely and accurate.
  • Develops talking points for VP, External Relations, relevant faculty including IC faculty liaison and leadership including Salk president and board chairman.
  • Recommends appropriate staffing for IC event and meetings on the various initiatives (self, SDER, administrative leadership and faculty). Prepares meeting briefings, drafts correspondence as needed and ensures appropriate reporting and follow-up to these meetings.
  • Creates philanthropic communications for IC members and prospective donors. Ensures that messages and communications are consistent with the Institute's fundraising priorities and initiatives.
  • Working with Communications, ensures that all relevant collaterals are consistent with established Institute branding and themes, while best supporting the IC program's specific needs.



  • 5+ years of experience in the full spectrum of development including prospect identification, qualification, cultivation, gift solicitation, stewardship and donor recognition.
  • Demonstrated success at fundraising by developing and implementing strategic fundraising plans that incorporate a concise definition of goals, targeted audiences and strategies in line with Institute goals and closing gifts ($2,500-$25,000+) from individuals, corporations and foundations.
  • Demonstrated experience with Annual Giving Program management, strategic planning and analysis.
  • Proven record of writing proposals for a significant project or gift directed to individuals, foundations and/or corporations.
  • Proven success as a frontline fundraiser in a highly sophisticated, donor-centric fundraising environment.
  • Proven experience in writing/editing general correspondence and miscellaneous documents as well as experience with drafting and editing briefings, donor profiles and stewardship documents in a fundraising context.
  • Demonstrated experience utilizing online databases and other software to create, retrieve and compile up-to-the minute documents and historical information for reports.
  • Experience with and ability to develop and use computer applications and capabilities to create and maintain databases and produce correspondence, reports and tools for analysis and review (i.e. MS Office suite).


  • Prior experience in a larger (500+) nonprofit organization.
  • Knowledge of foundational research and experience in fundraising for biomedical or health-related research.



  •  Bachelor's degree in a related field or equivalent years of education and experience.



  • Ability to secure gifts of $25,000-$50,000+.
  • Demonstrated ability to develop and implement persuasive cultivation ideas and techniques for prospects and donors. Ability to think critically and strategically when developing plans and programs for a development program, using successful collaboration with faculty in gathering information.
  • Proven ability to provide critical analysis, using sound judgment with realistic expectations for prospects and donors.
  • Ability to set strategic directions and goals and implement successful giving programs. Persistence and initiative in pursuing goals and objectives of the Development office on behalf of the Institute.
  • Ability to learn and comprehend Institute priorities and guidelines and apply appropriate processes.
  • Strong demonstrated organization skills with ability to prioritize daily operations and projects in order to meet rigid deadlines ensure smooth workflow and handle multiple tasks simultaneously, often working under pressure and with frequent interruptions.
  • Strong written and oral communication skills that demonstrate correct grammar usage, syntax and format, with the ability to make oral presentations and/or interpreting various related programs to potential donors, while representing the Salk Institute.
  • Ability to write acknowledgement letters, proposals to prospective donors and other communications.
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills to communicate and interact in a courteous, politically correct and effective manner, using tact and diplomacy while exercising good judgment with individuals at all levels in person, in writing or by telephone.
  • Ability to make excellent decisions and to employ mature judgment under demanding conditions and/or when confronted with frequently changing priorities.
  • Demonstrated ability to problem solve or make recommendations or independent decisions for creative solutions to general issues/problems.
  • Proven ability to work with high level on independence, maintain confidentiality, prioritize assignments and departmental need to meet deadlines and use discretionary practice in all interactions.
  • Ability to work with a diverse group at all levels of the organization, including senior management, faculty, staff and external components.
  • Ability to research, gather and organize information to produce concise reports using relational databases. Experience using the internet and web browsers; ability to research topics and summarize findings.
  • Demonstrated skill in using personal computers and a wide variety of software packages for presentations, written communication, data processing and electronic communication (MS Word, Excel, www, Outlook).
  • Demonstrated understanding of the philosophy of quality service and group process, with proven aptitude for working as part of a team.
  • Demonstrated ability to continually strive to foster a working environment of fairness, cooperation and professionalism as it relates to Salk policies and priorities. Promotes open expression of individuality and diversity within the bounds of courtesy, sensitivity, confidentiality and respect.


  • Must be willing to work in an animal-related research environment.
  • Must have access to reliable transportation and a valid California Driver's License.
  • Occasional evening and weekend work is required to attend donor events.
  • Occasional travel is required.
  • Satisfactory completion of the Institute's background investigation.
  • Must be willing to sign a confidentiality agreement.


This position requires constant adjusting focus, grasping, hearing, keying, seeing, talking, analyzing, calculating, communicating, reading, reasoning, writing and working inside. 

Application Details

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 Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities


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