Senior Director of Annual Giving
Catholic Extension
Location: Chicago, IL
Job Information:

Catholic Extension

A national fundraising organization building faith, inspiring hope and igniting change

 Founded in 1905, Catholic Extension is the leading supporter of Catholic missions in the United States. Catholic Extension serves the pastoral mission of the Church by ensuring that the essential ministries of under-resourced and isolated U.S. dioceses remain intact by helping these dioceses build their capacity for the future. This is achieved by operating as both a fundraising and grant making organization that carries its work out strategically, with a high touch and in a spirit of optimism and innovation.

Over the last 116 years, Catholic Extension has distributed more than $1.3 billion to build strong communities of faith, so that Catholics in these areas have the tools to inspire hope and ignite change. Activities and programs supported include: southern border initiatives, post-hurricane rebuilding in Puerto Rico, support for college campus ministry and youth outreach, construction and renovation of churches and facilities, and funding for the education of lay and ordained leaders.

To support this mission work, the organization raises $20 – 25 million from 40,000 donors via a mature development program that includes annual, major, and planned giving.

Catholic Extension has a full-time staff of 50 employees based at its headquarters in Chicago or in one of its regional offices. Its staff is comprised of talented and experienced professionals working in a dynamic, fast-paced work environment and team-focused culture.

Senior Director of Annual Giving

Reporting to the Vice President of Development, the Senior Director of Annual Giving will serve as a leader on the development team with responsibility for annual giving, stewardship/donor relations and gift processing/data management. This is a leadership position that requires creative strategic thinking, revenue generation, program oversight, process and people management and customer service. Designed for the individual who specializes in direct response fundraising, the Senior Director also will benefit from any experience working in development services, annual giving, or operations in a mid-to-large nonprofit with a mature development program.

The direct response program is an integral part of the overall development program that aims for success year-over-year and is continually evolving. Catholic Extension coordinates and executes 45-50 highly organized direct mail campaigns; renews and upgrades a segmented donor base of more than 40,000; and raises $5 million from annual gifts each year. The organization invests in data analytics for greater segmentation and employs an aggressive mail acquisition strategy (with strong results) when needed. Recent donor acquisition efforts totaled 12,000 new donors per year, and donor retention is at 70% for recurring donors and 37% for newly acquired donors.

In addition to annual giving, the Senior Director oversees gift processing and donor stewardship and donor relations. Maintaining a high standard for thanking donors and keeping them informed of how gifts are used, Catholic Extension recognizes and acknowledges donors through a coordinated and integrated strategy that includes donor direct mail, donor emails, web, and social media efforts.  Other elements of Catholic Extension’s stewardship program include good record keeping, consistent communications, and authentic/nuanced relationships with donors over time.

Catholic Extension looks to build on its past successes in annual giving through continual improvement, incorporating new opportunities, increasing efficiencies, and achieving higher levels of sophistication to promote further growth.  We are recruiting a senior level fundraising professional to fill a recent vacancy and build on new levels of success that we have seen with our program.

Specifically, the Senior Director of Annual Giving will:

  1. Lead strategy and creative direction – (35%)
    1. Guide conversation and planning in collaboration with the Vice President for Development, Chief Operating Officer, Vice President for Mission, external business partners and team members to formulate strategy and creative direction for both the overall program and particular campaigns.
    2. Maintain a working knowledge of Catholic Extension mission initiatives, funding requests, and stories to provide ideas and material for new and existing appeals.
    3. Work with internal and external team members to analyze and understand past performance, formulate results, and apply lessons learned moving forward.
  2. Manage the team and meet annual fundraising goals – (50%)
    1. Work with the Director of the Annual Giving and other team members to implement the program, including identifying and recommending opportunities for improvement and growth of the program.
    2. Provide regular feedback on work progress and employee performance relative to plans and goals.
    3. Manage the departmental budget.
    4. Stay abreast of trends in annual giving, including donor behaviors, technology best practices, and incorporate what’s new and working into Catholic Extension’s fundraising efforts.
  3. Oversee gift processing and stewardship/donor relations – (15%)
    1. Provide oversight and guidance to direct reports to support achievement of the annual donor relations plan and to fulfill gift processing obligations.
    2. Review and edit documents, including letters and reports, to support quality work product and high team performance.
    3. Interact with donors over the phone, fielding various types of questions, customer service and assisting with problem solving where needed.
    4. Provide regular feedback on work progress and employee performance relative to plans and goals.

Additional responsibilities include:

  1. Serve as a valued member of the team, working cooperatively with others.
  2. Be a role model for integrity, fiscal responsibility, ethical behavior, and managerial excellence that supports Catholic Extension’s mission.


Catholic Extension seeks a professional with a minimum of 10 years’ direct or related work experience.  The Senior Director should understand all channels of direct response marketing and fundraising principles, as well as be able to adapt to the Catholic market.    We are open to hiring an individual who has worked in either the for profit or nonprofit space.

Professional and personal attributes of sought-after candidates include:

  • A leader and strategic thinker
  • Excellent manager of people and processes
  • Strong analytical skills and ability to use data effectively to inform planning
  • Team player who is receptive to others’ opinions, collaborates well and is diplomatic
  • Highly organized, creative, and inquisitive
  • Strong communication skills – oral and written
  • Proven ability to work in a fast-moving environment on multiple projects simultaneously with attention to detail, flexibility to respond to shifting priorities and to work efficiently under the pressure of deadline
  • Ability to work with Microsoft Office suite of software
  • Donor database experience important
  • A commitment to and understanding of the mission and teachings of the Catholic Church
  • A sense of humor