Director of Development

CURE Epilepsy


Chicago, IL


Who We Are:

One in 26 Americans will develop epilepsy in their lifetime. For many of them, that means uncontrollable seizures, stigma and discrimination in their communities, and sharply increased risks of health complications and death. They need much more than efforts to manage their seizures – they need a cure.

For more than 20 years, Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) has been on an unrelenting search for that cure. Founded in 1998 by Susan Axelrod and a small group of fellow parents, CURE was born out of their shared frustration over the current state of epilepsy treatment. While the focus at that time centered on treating seizures and symptoms, that approach offered little relief for the 30% of epilepsy patients who don’t respond to treatment. Axelrod and her fellow founders knew it was time to change the conversation from treating to curing epilepsy – and they dared to believe a cure was possible.

As the nonprofit leader in epilepsy research and the only organization solely dedicated to finding a cure for epilepsy, we’ve worked to shift the focus from merely managing symptoms to understanding the causes of this complex condition. With 3.4 million Americans and 65 million people worldwide living with epilepsy, CURE is committed to furthering patient-focused research that can ultimately deliver the answers they need.

Position Overview:

The Director of Development reports to the Chief Executive Officer and will manage a development operation consisting of one Major Gifts Officer, two management level positions (Annual Fund and Community Outreach/Research Engagement) and a Development Coordinator. The Director of Development will develop and lead the strategy as well as oversee the execution of CURE’s signature fundraising events to ensure revenue goals are achieved. The Director of Development will work closely with Chief Scientific Officer and Director of Marketing and Communications to drive the organization’s fundraising and communications strategy as it relates to tying its research initiatives into revenue generation. The organization’s total revenue last year was 8 million. One of the primary responsibilities of this position is to grow this revenue and team over time.

A successful candidate will have a strong track record of success in creating thoughtful annual campaign strategies focused on expanding the organization’s base of institution and individual philanthropic support. S/he will be charged with building strong relationships with volunteer leaders, philanthropic partners and colleagues. Along with the Major Gifts Officer, this position will act as one of the organization’s primary gift officers for top donors and prospects and will work closely with the CEO, founder and key board volunteers to enhance donor stewardship across the organization.

As part of this role, the Director of Development will work closely with the Director of Marketing and Communications and the CEO to identify the organization’s top philanthropic and marketing priorities each fiscal year. Together with the Director of Marketing and Communications, the Director of Development will be responsible for crafting all internal and external communications efforts and the development of the key messaging strategy to support philanthropic growth.

Candidates must have a minimum of 10 - 15 years of experience with a proven track record of major gift solicitations and excellent leadership skills. S/he must also have an entrepreneurial spirit and be comfortable navigating complex, fast-paced working environments. The selected candidate will be a highly motivated, numbers-driven individual with strong project management skills, creativity and keen attention to detail. A bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree or CFRE is preferred.

This full-time position is based in Chicago with an immediate start date.

Compensation Range

To apply

Please send resume and cover letter to

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Key Responsibilities

Annual Campaign Plan (including Major Gifts) – 50%

  • Design and implement a comprehensive development strategy to expand and diversify CURE’s funding base and set growth-oriented revenue goals.
  • Personally, manage a portfolio of 25-50 of the organization’s top donors and prospects; build and implement individual cultivation, solicitation and stewardship plans.
  • Provide positive, collaborative support to the CEO, founder and key board members and volunteers; oversee their solicitation and stewardship activities.
  • Act as the primary organization liaison for the Board of Directors. Leverage their relationships to identify and develop relationships with donor prospects.
  • Oversee CURE’s efforts to maximize corporate and foundation support as a means of annual campaign revenue generation.

Communications and Awareness – 10%

  • Collaborate with the Director of Marketing and Communications to ensure the integration of consistent philanthropy-themed messaging throughout CURE’s external communications and identify opportunities to enhance CURE’s image and promote the CURE brand.
  • In partnership with the CEO, develop and implement a strategy to increase CURE’s visibility across the Epilepsy community.
  • Serve as an effective spokesperson and storyteller to promote CURE’s mission, initiatives and research.
  • Develop and enhance organizational relationships with existing and prospective Chicago-based and national corporate partners.

Development Operations – 20%

  • Oversee and motivate CURE’s development team with an emphasis on collaborative goal setting and individual accountability toward qualitative and quantitative objectives.
  • Lead a team of development professionals responsible for the following:
  • Creation of mission driven annual campaigns
  • Acquisition, cultivation and stewardship of major gifts
  • Expansion of corporate and foundation support
  • Refinement and promotion of a planned giving program
  • Management of all aspects of fundraising and awareness events.
  • Advocate and advance best practices in fundraising and relationship management.
  • Model solicitation best practices for staff and key volunteers to ensure a comfort level of all those individuals involved in development.
  • Ensure the consistent and effective maintenance of development operating systems including gift acknowledgement, stewardship obligations and list generation.
  • Perform other related duties, as required.

Event Oversight – 15%

  • Oversight, strategy development and execution for CURE’s signature fundraising events including:
  • CURE’s Annual Gala (Chicago)
  • Out-of-state fundraisers.
  • Oversee and mentor the staff team managing logistics for all other events including:
  • Peer-to-peer fundraisers
  • Cultivation events
  • Days of Science
  • Disney Days.

Planning and Reporting – 5%

  • Create and manage the department’s annual budget and revenue goals. Provide regular updates to the CEO, Director of Finance and the Board.
  • Work with the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Science Officer to identify new funding opportunities with an eye toward the intersection between donor interests and organizational needs.
  • Provide routine updates to major gift donors, corporate sponsors and funders, specifically as research findings or measurable outcomes are publicized.

Qualifications & Skills

  • A minimum of ten years of progressively responsible fundraising experience with stronggeneralist knowledge as well as the ability to build excellent donor relationships and solicit major gifts.
  • A minimum of seven years of management experience preferred. Previous experience at a voluntary health organization and/or a national non-profit a plus.
  • Strong knowledge of the principles, ethics and practices of successful fundraising
  • concepts and appropriate solicitation techniques including planned giving.
  • The ability to create and implement a detailed annual fundraising plan that includes specific revenue goals and other key performance indicators.
  • Experience and comfort working with corporate leaders, high-level donors and philanthropists. Candidates should have a track record of successful five- and six- figure major gift solicitations.
  • Excellent written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills; strong presentation and public speaking abilities.
  • Proficient technology skills and demonstrated ability to create an efficient, data-driven development operations plan. Some experience with Raiser’s Edge is required.
  • A natural aptitude for building highly effective, results-oriented teams, leading by example with a strong work ethic.
  • Deep knowledge of the Chicago-area philanthropic landscape with a focus on broadening the organization’s reach internationally.
  • Passion for CURE’s mission and the ability to promote and communicate the philosophy, values and impact of the organization to external and internal stakeholders.
  • Familiarity with and knowledge of other voluntary health organizations and their fundraising practices.
  • A bachelor’s degree; an advanced degree or CFRE would be preferred.

Key Responsibilities

Qualifications & Skills

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