Director of External Affairs
Christopher House
Job Information:

Christopher House

Serving Chicago’s families since 1906

Are you a mission driven person who believes that education begins at birth and continues throughout life, with parents as a child’s first teacher? Would you be excited to work for a top-ranking nonprofit organization that’s accredited in early learning, elementary and out of school time programs grounded in research-based curricula and high-quality instruction? Are you a fundraising executive looking for your next challenge?  If so, we’re excited you found us!

We’re in search of a new Director of External Affairs to serve as a key member of our senior leadership team with oversight for all fundraising and broader communications and public relations strategies. The Director of External Affairs will report directly to the Chief Executive Officer and benefit from Christopher House’s outstanding reputation in the education space in Chicago, as well as an extremely talented staff, an engaged board of directors and a deeply passionate donor base.


Founded in 1906, Christopher House began as a settlement house to help immigrants adjust to life here.  Over the last century, our organization has evolved to meet the needs of Chicago’s low-income population:

  • In the 1960’s, we became one of the first Head Start providers in the country.
  • In the 1980’s, we were at the forefront of offering programming for teen parents.
  • In 2013, Christopher House opened its first elementary school.
  • Today, our agency serves children and their families across three locations in Chicago’s North and West Sides: Belmont Cragin, Logan Square and Uptown.

Through our unique and innovative approach, we are effectively closing the opportunity gap through a continuumof personalizededucation with immersive family support starting at birth.

High standards, data-driven decision making and a commitment to continuous quality improvement for students, families and our staff are the driving forces behind all of Christopher House’s work. As almost 100% all of our families have income below 185% of the federal poverty line, Christopher House’s continuum of education directly addresses the challenges of povertyand lack of education in the communities we serve. Our family of schools include:

  • Christopher House Infant School and Pre-School prepare children ages 6-weeks to 5 years for school and stimulates social-emotional and cognitive growth.
  • Christopher House Elementary School, opened August 2013, ensures educational continuity from our pre-school through 8thgrade and builds on Christopher House’s scholar focus, data driven, family-centered approach to educational success.
  • Christopher House After-School helps students develop holistically, achieve academic excellence, and go on to post-secondary education.
  • Christopher House Parent School offers education and supports to allow parents to provide a safe, stable, and nurturing home environment conducive to educational success.

Christopher House offers immersive support services for families—including health assessments for children, mental health services for children and families, parent workshops, emergency financial support, and food pantry services. We use this holistic approach to reach our ultimate goal of breaking the cycle of poverty by fostering stable, self-sufficient families.

Additionally, Christopher House is the project manager for the Chicago Benchmarking Collaborative, launched in 2009, which is an alliance of six education and human service agencies that collectively work with more than 12,000 low-income individuals throughout some of Chicago’s most underserved neighborhoods.

With an extensive track record of success, Christopher House was recently ranked in the top 1% of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for growth scores in the areas of math and reading.  We are known for our thorough program evaluation and results.


Operating with an annual budget of $15 million, Christopher House relies on the generosity of individuals, foundations and corporations to support essential programs not covered by the government, including but not limited to, our family advocates, social workers, the food pantry, the emergency fund, teen parenting, after school programs, among others.  Our donors are passionate about Christopher House, supporting an annual fundraising program of $2 million.  Raised revenue also supports capital projects, and currently Christopher House is in the final phase of a $6.5 million expansion campaign to build a new middle school attached to its grade school in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood. The project broke ground in June 2018 and is expected to open to the students in the fall of 2019.  With the right leader in place and synergies that will be created over time, it is believed fundraising can grow significantly with exciting results.

The future is bright for Christopher House.  We are finalizing our 2020-2025 strategic plan to support our vision tocreate and implement a national model based on a whole child approach with immersive supports to help low-income, at-risk children and their families achieve success in school, the workplace, and life. As philanthropy has played an essential role in the past for Christopher House, it will continue to be a critical success factor in fulfilling our vision, realizing our plans and bringing positive change for the children and families we serve.

Director of External Affairs

Leading by example

If this sounds exciting, it is! We’re hoping to attract a Director of External Affairs who will:

  • Be a dynamic and motivating fundraising leader with oversight for all fundraising
  • Successfully carry a portfolio of major gift donors and enjoy being externally facing with donors
  • Coach, inspire and retain a talented staff of 5 professionals and support them so they achieve their fullest potential
  • Supervise Christopher House’s communications, marketing and public relations efforts
  • Collaborate with the CEO and engage the talented board of directors
  • Serve as a positive ambassador at the organization and throughout community at large

The Director of External Affairs will provide leadership for Christopher House’s cultivation and solicitation efforts among its top-tier individual donors, working to secure major gifts in support of annual programs and operations, as well as other funding priorities as they are identified through the strategic plan.  Additionally, the Director will supervise a team of five with day-to-day responsibility for fundraising and communications, providing guidance information and support that allows them to do their best work.

Responsibilities of the Director of External Affairs include:


Fundraising Leadership – (60%)

  1. Lead the development team to achieve and expand revenue for Christopher House through the creation and implementation of a comprehensive fundraising plan. Christopher House enjoys a diverse set of annual philanthropic revenue streams, including its gala, individual giving, foundation grants, corporate sponsorship and some government support.
  2. Help to bring the capital campaign to successful completion, communicating with campaign donors, ensuring proper administration of gifts, celebrating successes, etc.
  3. Provide strategic direction and management of the organization’s individual major gifts program, including discovery, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of donors.
  4. Successfully manage a major gifts portfolio and engage the CEO and Board in major gifts fundraising as appropriate.
  5. Lead corporate and foundation solicitations for annual support, collaborating with others as appropriate to strengthen relationships with donors.
  6. Solicit gifts for special events, primarily an annual spring gala that is a significant source of annual income, including event sponsorships, table purchases, and auction items.
  7. Create and support the implementation of a plan to support Board Development that can include cultivating relationships with key donors and leaders as a precursor to Board membership.
  8. Attend Christopher House events, dinners and meetings to enhance external relations with stakeholders and support the growth and expansion of meaningful donor relationships.
  9. Attend Board and committee meetings and provide staffing for the development committee of the Board.

Management –(20%)

  1. Lead by example and support a culture of professionalism and philanthropy among the team of five who have day-to-day responsibility for individual, corporate and foundation giving strategies, as well as events.
  2. Offer supportive advice and counsel for those on the team, helping them to problem solve, brainstorm and apply strategic and creative thinking to further fundraising strategies and continual improvement of processes, data management and reporting
  3. As requested, review proposals and materials and provide strategic direction and helpful tips to improve communications with donors.
  4. Advocate for your team and invest time into developing and retaining staff.

Marketing and Communications (20%)

  1. Supervise communications, marketing and public relations efforts in ways that support Christopher House and its annual fundraising, leveraging opportunities to promote the organization and expand its visibility and strong reputation.
  2. Ensure effective messages and timely creation of all communications materials, including newsletters, annual reports, e-blasts, website updates, social media, press releases and other materials designed to educate and engage donors.

 Candidate Qualifications

Christopher House seeks a development professional with a minimum ten years’ post-college work experience, at least five years’ in a development/advancement role, and at least three years’ in a management position in development.  Proven success in managing a development program that relies on a variety of sources and strategies, including major gifts, annual fund, institutional giving, planned giving and special events.

Other attributes of ideal candidates include:

  • A strategic thinker and a doer
  • Ability to write persuasively and concisely
  • Excellent communications skills, including the ability to motivate and build rapport with a variety of stakeholders
  • Team player with a capacity to collaborate effectively with others
  • Ability to make decisions and execute independently and with confidence based on experience
  • Enjoys working in a fast-paced, results-oriented environment
  • Flexible and adaptable when faced with dynamic priorities and needs
  • Supervisory and budgeting experience
  • Proficiencies in Microsoft Office, Raiser’s Edge and wealth screening software
  • Ability to work outside standard work hours, attending fundraising events, Board meetings, and other meetings and events.
  • Bachelor’s degree required
  • Master’s degree or advanced fundraising certificate preferred