Director of Institutional Advancement

Posted on 04/17/2023

Chinese American International School

San Francisco, CA


Founded in 1981 as the first Mandarin immersion school in the United States, the Chinese American International School (CAIS) educates 500 students from two-years-old through grade eight. Over the last four decades, CAIS has been recognized globally as a leader in bilingual education and an innovator for its commitment to immersive, cultural education through the study of language. CAIS currently operates three separate, divisional campuses in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. A recent, once-in-a-lifetime, major property acquisition has set the stage for CAIS to unify its students and teachers onto a single, five-acre campus in 2024. Having already secured long-term financing to pay for the purchase of this new campus, the school recently began a development campaign to raise funds for the renovation and redesign work. The quiet solicitation phase for major gifts is well underway and on-track, thanks in large part to a dedicated, mission-aligned advancement department that has built a culture of philanthropy within the CAIS community over the last decade. The current director of institutional advancement, who has been at the helm since 2013, will be leaving this summer to move back to the East coast. The next director will come at an important time for CAIS, a few months prior to when the campaign prepares to enter its final, public stage. But other goals are on the horizon once the school moves into its new home. Some of these ideas could involve expanding programming, additional campus renovations, or deepening external ties to the surrounding Chinese community and culture. The next director of institutional advancement will oversee the school’s advancement department, which includes four direct reports when fully staffed. This position, which reports to the head of school, starts later this summer, or in the early fall by mutual agreement.

Specific Duties: 

Mission-Aligned, Strategy-Driven, Community-Centered Philanthropy: 

  • Promote the role of philanthropy in the long-term sustainability of CAIS as a missiondriven school to the board of trustees, the administrative team, and the parent and guardian community. 
  • Establish and execute strategies to build outstanding relationships between CAIS and its varied constituencies, and develop, coach, and mentor colleagues, key volunteers, and trustees to take an active role in building relationships and fundraising.
  • Implement best practices in donor management, reporting, relations, acknowledgment, and confidentiality.
  • Continue to support the current advancement practices to strengthen long-term philanthropic strategy and process efficiencies at CAIS.

Major Gift Giving and Capital Campaign Management: 

  • Oversee the strategy and high-level execution of all capital and major gift campaigns, including the capital campaign that the school is currently undertaking as it prepares to move to a new home in 2024.
  • Provide direction and support to the head of school and the board of trustees to ensure the success of all major advancement initiatives.
  • Identify, cultivate, solicit and steward major gift prospects, both independently when directed and collaboratively with the head of school and board of trustees.
  • Work with the head of school, the board of trustees, and leadership team to identify needs and opportunities for future major fundraising, and develop multi-year plans to ensure that advancement strategy is aligned with programmatic and operational goals.

Communications, Marketing, and Branding: 

  • Work in partnership with the director of communications to develop an outstanding communication and marketing strategy.
  • Align advancement and development initiatives to the school’s ongoing devotion to Mandarin immersion, both within the local community as well as in the broader educational landscape.
  • Ensure that outreach initiatives, publications, social media marketing, and other external messages are aligned with communication guidelines and brand identity.
  • Collaborate with other leadership team members on marketing and communication initiatives to expand and enhance the school’s visibility and reputation as a national leader in Mandarin immersion.

Departmental Oversight and General Leadership:

  • Oversee the advancement department, which includes four other professionals: the assistant director of advancement, the director of communications, the capital campaign and events coordinator, and an open position currently being filled.
  • Provide outstanding mentorship, feedback, support, professional growth, and guidance to all members of the advancement department.
  • Work closely with the admissions department and educational leadership team to streamline long-term advancement initiatives.
  • Remain current with trends in educational philanthropy, and maintain professional networks by participating in local, regional, and national professional organizations.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Qualifications and Qualities: 

Professional Qualifications: 

  • Multiple years of increasing responsibility in fundraising, preferably in an educational setting
  • Comprehensive understanding of advancement best practices
  • Proven track record of fundraising success, including an ability to cultivate, solicit, and secure major contributions through excellent relationship management skills
  • Experience with capital campaign planning, implementation and management
  • Experience with digital media campaigns for fundraising, capital campaigns, alternative giving programs, alumni giving programs, and marketing and event management
  • Immersion in diversity and inclusion work — both in training and in implementation — and an ability and commitment to aligning principles of DEI to a school’s advancement strategy
  • Demonstrated proficiency with fundraising technology
  • Demonstrated success in supporting and supervising the work of colleagues to identify and achieve strategic organizational goals and individual employee goals
  • Possession of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, which is a minimum requirement, though preferably possession of a graduate degree

Leadership and Personal Qualities: 

  • Organized, systematic approach to running a mission-critical department
  • Ability to create, analyze, and leverage performance metrics
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Desire to work collaboratively with other leaders throughout the school community
  • Commitment to the mission and values of CAIS, and an ability to align the operations of an advancement office to a school’s mission and values
  • Extreme discretion, attention to detail, and commitment to excellence
  • A creative and strategic mindset, and a willingness to solve complex problems
  • Proclivity for relationship-building across different constituencies, including alumni, trustees, parents and guardians, faculty, staff, and friends of the school
  • A genuine excitement for promoting and advancing Mandarin culture, language, education, and immersion

All applications must include: 

  • Cover letter introducing yourself to the Chinese American International School search committee
  • CV or résumé
  • A list of four references (include each person’s name, organization, title, phone number, email, and connection to you — though we will not contact any references without obtaining your permission first)
  • A response to the following prompt: As the next director of institutional advancement of CAIS, you would begin right in the middle of the current capital campaign, which as of this printing has reached more than 50% of its goal, is on-schedule, and has yet to enter its public phase. The outgoing director, who after ten successful years is moving to the East coast with her family, will be more than happy to answer any and all questions in the coming months from the next director. With this in mind, what are a few key questions that you would be eager to ask the outgoing director, and what are a few essential discovery topics that you would want to explore in depth with both the head of school and board leadership?

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