Director, Major Gifts

GI Research Foundation |

Who We Are:
The GI Research Foundation (GIRF) is a non-profit 501(c)3 dedicated to supporting the physicians and scientists at the University of Chicago Medicine Digestive Diseases Center in their efforts to provide outstanding care, train future leaders and perform innovative clinical and laboratory research in order to treat, cure, and prevent digestive diseases.

Organizational History:
In 1961, two Chicago businessmen, Martin N. Sandler and Joseph E. Valenti, Sr., joined Dr. Joseph B. Kirsner in establishing the Gastro-Intestinal Research Foundation. In the early 1960s, GIRF hosted their inaugural dinner, published the GIRF newsletter and launched a Women’s Division.

In the late 1960s GIRF initiated an “equipment program,” which identified important pieces of medical research equipment that could be purchased by individual members in support of the research. The Center for the Study of Digestive Diseases at the University of Chicago was established, the results of which include an immunology laboratory. In the 1980s, the construction of the Joseph B. Kirsner Center was completed and GIRF contributed $500,000 over a three-year period to develop a new research program on the biology of the intestinal epithelium called The Cell-Tech Research Program. In the early 1990s, GIRF established a research facility to investigate the scientific aspects of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and the Associates Board began raising funds to support young investigators’ research in digestive diseases.

In the late 1990s, GIRF accepted the challenge of developing a research program on the genetics of inflammatory bowel disease. As a result, the first gastroenterology DNA research lab was established where Dr. Judy Cho was responsible for the studies that led to the discovery of the first gene known to be responsible for Crohn’s disease. In the 2000s, GIRF raised over $7 million dollars for equipment and laboratories to further GI research.

Position Overview:
After almost 60 years of growth, GIRF is poised to expand its team to include its first major gifts officer. Under the leadership of a seasoned, dedicated and talented board of directors, the Director of Major Gifts is responsible for the launch, design and implementation of an innovative and sustainable multi-million dollar major gifts program.

The Director of Major Gifts (DMG) will work with the board of directors and scientific advisors from the University of Chicago Medicine Digestive Diseases Center, to build a major gifts program that enhances relationships with existing donors and develops relationships with new institutional and individual funders. Focusing on grateful patients, pharmaceutical partners and influential community leaders, the DMG will create and execute a plan to qualify, cultivate, steward and solicit donors and prospects. S/he will also oversee the tracking and management of a robust prospect pool to ensure an ongoing pipeline of philanthropic support. The DMG will manage their own portfolio of prospective donors including individuals, foundations and corporations.

This unique career-building opportunity to launch and lead a multi million-dollar comprehensive campaign, grow the organization’s fundraising program and partner with a motivated and committed board of directors is designed for a major gifts professional who works independently and can function collaboratively. This position offers a rewarding opportunity to work as part of a team whose commitment and contributions move the world closer to a cure for digestive diseases.

Competitive salary and benefits package available.

Please send resume, cover letter and salary expectations to

Required Qualifications, Characteristics and Skill Sets:

  • Minimum of 8+ years fundraising experience.
  • Bachelor’s degree (master’s degree preferred) in social sciences, nonprofit management or related field.
  • Proven track record of managing a major giving portfolio; significantly growing major gift revenue and securing five, six and seven figure gifts from high net worth donors and prospects.
  • Accomplished relationship builder with a deep understanding of the process required to plan and implement a multi-million dollar comprehensive campaign effort.
  • Ability to motivate board members and volunteers to prospect, cultivate, steward and solicit within their networks.
  • Extensive knowledge of the Chicago donor community; experience in the medical/ healthcare sector a plus.
  • Self-starter with experience managing multiple projects concurrently; comfortable working autonomously.
  • Highly motivated, goal oriented, organized, detailed, collaborative, creative and persistent
  • Proficient use of Microsoft Office Suite and fundraising software.
  • Superior written and verbal communications skills.


  • Experience in a higher education advancement environment or the healthcare sector.
  • Supervisory and team building experience.
  • Informed interest in gastro-intestinal research and/or other health sciences.
  • Knowledge of the pharmaceutical funding sector.
  • Experience partnering with board members toward fundraising success.


  • Create a strategy to build the Foundation’s $100k+ giving program and prepare the organization for a $40 million comprehensive campaign.
  • Identify and cultivate relationships with philanthropists in the healthcare sector, especially those with interest in gastro-intestinal research.
  • Solicit high capacity donors and prospects; manage a portfolio of donors and prospects at the $25k level and above.
  • Partner with leadership to similarly advance board member relationships with individuals, families, foundations, corporations and foundations in their network; formalize the work of the Foundation’s development committee.
  • Create a process by which a moves management process is tracked in the organization’s donor database; coordinate moves with donors and prospects, and engage medical/scientific advisors in donor cultivation and stewardship opportunities.
  • Utilize the Foundation’s special events programming, board meetings and key initiatives as opportunities to deepen major donor engagement.
  • Create opportunities to attract, recognize and steward donors via a major donor recognition program/society; develop giving levels and membership benefits.
  • Research and write funding proposals for foundation, corporate and individual donors and prospects; oversee the development of grant reports and updates to funders as required; steward relationships with institutional funders.
  • Develop and oversee the Foundation’s major giving communications program, including newsletters, e-blasts, and other personalized communications.
  • Oversee gift acknowledgement and gift tracking protocols; ensuring effective, successful daily operations, including:
    • Timely, accurate completion of proposals, pledge agreements and gift acknowledgements.
    • Documentation of cultivation strategies and contact reports.
    • Research and evaluation of new prospects.
  • Prepare reports for executive committee and board meetings as needed; perform other duties as required.

Related Searches

Executive Director

GI Research Foundation

Chicago Director

Israel Cancer Research Fund

Director, Major Gifts

GI Research Foundation