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John Ball Zoo

Development Director


Reporting to and supporting the objectives of the Chief Development and Community Engagement Officer, the Development Director is responsible for directing the strategies, planning, and implementation of John Ball Zoo’s fundraising and membership programs.  Supports and provides leadership for all functions of fundraising such as annual appeal, events, major gifts, planned giving, corporate giving and sponsorship, and special campaigns as well as membership. Supports Capital Campaign efforts both directly and through the implementation and growth of sustainable advancement efforts.


ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES include the following, other duties may be assigned



  • Works in conjunction with John Ball Zoo’s Resource Development Committee and Chief Development and Community Engagement Officer to develop, implement and monitor progress on a comprehensive fund raising plan.
  • Actively prospects and cultivates major gift donors. Carries a portfolio of individual, corporate, foundation, and planned donor prospects.
  • Staff and support the work and overall fund development goals of the Chief Development and Community Engagement Officer and Zoo CEO.
  • Oversees planning and successful execution of fundraising events. Recruits, motivates and provides leadership to the volunteer planning committees that support these events as needed.
  • Works closely and collaborates with staff throughout the Zoo to execute donor visits and other events.
  • Works closely and collaborates with staff throughout the Zoo to understand, articulate, and solicit for fundraising needs and initiatives.
  • Formalize and oversee comprehensive major and planned giving, annual giving, and corporate giving programs that utilize the principles of moves management, drive revenue, and create robust pipelines for sustainable growth.
  • Build and develop advancement services functions that support and enable these programs. Includes gift and data services, prospect research and analysis, donor acknowledgment and stewardship.



  • Directs and oversees strategy and plans for robust membership program that generates revenue and nourishes a pipeline of current and future donor support.
  • Partners with the Membership Manager to successfully lead all facets of membership program; sales (acquisition, renewal, upgrade), member communications, service, collateral materials, promotions and events.



  • In conjunction with Chief Development and Community Engagement Officer, recruit, hire, develop, and manage staff, providing leadership and direction that empowers, enables, and leads to the successful attainment of program goals and objectives.
  • Oversees the administration of the Raiser’s Edge database. Institutes policies and procedures that help foster strong donor relationships and excellent stewardship. Develops reports and analyses that provide actionable insights, planning and strategy. Interface with Zoo’s Finance and Accounting department to ensure reliable data and information that serves both accounting and donor stewardship needs.


Other Responsibilities

  • Work with outside partners: designers, writers, mail house, direct marketing companies, etc. as appropriate to create strong partner relationships, drive revenue goals, and maintain expense budgets in support of departmental and institutional objectives.
  • Partners with Marketing Manager to produce the Zoo’s annual community report; includes the compiling of donor lists for publication.
  • Assists with donor and member communications plan and creative strategies.
  • Works with Marketing Manager to coordinate promotion (including social media) for events, appeals and special campaigns.
  • Works with families to coordinate memorial donation and recognition.
  • Responsible for grant research, writing, review and reporting.
  • Works with board of directors to assist and encourage the fulfillment of each directors’ fundraising expectations.
  • Supports Capital Campaign efforts as necessary by informing strategy and campaign materials, as well as cultivation of select donors and volunteers.
  • Contribute as a writer to Zoo News.



  • Ability to interact positively and proactively with donors and prospective donors
  • Ability to interact positively and objectively with co-workers, Zoo and park patrons, volunteers, contractors and members of the general public from a wide range of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds and with widely divergent levels of educational attainment and social skills.
  • Demonstrated passion for conservation
  • Experience working with nonprofit boards
  • Experience working with volunteers and committee driven projects
  • Excellent organizational, multi-tasking and communication skills
  • Strong attention to detail and ability to meet deadlines
  • Knowledge of Raiser's Edge


  • A bachelor’s degree with 5–10 years of progressive fundraising experience; CFRE certification or willingness to complete certification within two years is preferred.
  • Proficient in Excel, Word and other computer software applications; Familiarity with Raiser’s Edge is preferred.



  • While performing the duties of this job, the associate is regularly required to sit; use hands to finger, handle, or feel; and talk or hear.  The associate is often required to stand, walk, and reach with hands and arms.  The associate must occasionally lift and/or move up to 10 pounds. 
  • Must have sufficient mobility with or without assistive devices to access all areas of outdoor and indoor attractions at the Zoo.
  • Must be able to work in somewhat close proximity to exotic and domestic animals and tolerate exposure to animal dander, animal wastes and other zoonotic contaminants as well as dust, dirt, pollen and other airborne contaminants and occasional exposure to inclement weather, high humidity, and to extreme hot and cold temperatures.



  • In large part, the incumbent will work in a climate controlled office environment with no excessive noise
  • Incumbent may also work outside (assisting with zoo events) and may occasionally be exposed to inclement weather; pollen, mold, dust, dirt and other airborne contaminants; and temperature variations. 

How to Apply

John Ball Zoo
1300 W. Fulton Street Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Phone: 6163365062

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