Director of Advancement Communications

Posted on 03/08/2023

Rhode Island School of Design

Providence, RI

Rhode Island School of Design is actively seeking a Director of Advancement Communications to join its Institutional Advancement Department (IA). Institutional Advancement cultivates and stewards relationships from a variety of sources to support the priorities of the college. IA understands that art and design drive human progress and produce innovations that shape our world. It is deeply committed to building an inclusive community enlivened by a determination to address the most important challenges of our time. We seek a culturally competent candidate who will thrive in a campus environment that is committed to advancing the principles of social equity and inclusion, environmental and climate justice, and equal access to resources and opportunities.

With an in-depth understanding of RISD’s strategic priorities, the Director of Advancement Communications drives and coordinates the efforts of all communications initiatives to advance Institutional Advancement’s (IA) work to foster lifelong relationships with alumni, parents, friends, donors, and organizations to strengthen goodwill and philanthropy. The director is a key member of the Donor Engagement team who drives the external visibility of RISD’s fundraising and engagement efforts comprising Advancement Communications, Donor Relations and Special Events. This role collaborates with IA colleagues within the Donor Engagement team and across the division, including the RISD Fund, Major and Planned Giving, Alumni + Family Relations and Advancement Services, to oversee the execution of coordinated digital and print communications initiatives. The director leads the Advancement Communications team to develop and execute compelling and inclusive written and visual communications across print, website, email, video, and social media platforms. This position also ensures cohesive, timely and impactful messaging across the division and oversees the execution of an integrated communications strategy necessary for the implementation of responsive, multi-channel communications for RISD’s fundraising and alumni and family relations efforts.

Essential Functions: 

  • Develop, direct and project manage annual and long-range strategic multi-channel communications plans and initiatives in partnership with the Executive Director of Donor Engagement and in alignment with institutional messaging and branding.
  • Lead a growing team of advancement communications professionals who develop and execute writing, design and data analytics for digital and print communications. These include promotional materials, storytelling, fundraising opportunities and case statements, publications, three websites, email communications, e-newsletters and social media. Coaches and manages the team, assess staffing workloads and needs, hires new staff and/or reallocates project assignments as needed.
  • Direct all content production assignments, maintenance and workflows associated with all projects and initiatives developed and executed by the Advancement Communications team. Liaise with appropriate stakeholders to manage the editorial review process for all external and internal communications and collaborate with RISD Marketing and Communications and other campus partners to cross-promote content beyond IA’s channels.
  • Identify, draft and/or direct the creation and maintenance of internal communications guidelines, internal communications newsletters, resources and talking points for IA colleagues and volunteers.
  • Assign, or execute as needed, the writing needs of the Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of Donor Engagement, including crafting news announcements, scripting event talking points and speeches for college and volunteer leadership and other high-level communications that require discretion.
  • Serve as editor of IA’s biannual Momentum magazine and other donor publications as needed. Collaborate with the Executive Director of Donor Engagement, the Alumni Magazine Editor and members of the Senior Management Group to identify donor, volunteer and student stories that convey the impact of philanthropy and volunteerism. For each issue write and/or assign all content writing and photograph coordination within the Advancement Communications team and manage the planning, production and distribution of the magazine with outside graphic design firms.
  • Ensure all visual and written communications are cohesive, inclusive and aligned with institutional branding and editorial guidelines. Assess and advise on the cadence of IA’s communications deliverables to RISD’s constituents.
    • Contract with and manage creative vendors to execute communications deliverables as needed, including but not limited to website development, graphic design, writers, marketing photography and videography for a variety of strategic needs.
    • Partner with the RISD Fund and Planned Giving colleagues and their direct response marketing vendors to advise on visual and content development.
    • Oversee Advancement Communications budget in consultation with the Executive Director of Donor Engagement.
  • Partner with key campus stakeholders, including faculty and senior leadership and communications staff in other offices on communications that require collaboration and discretion.

Additional Functions: 

  • Serve as liaison to the RISD Marketing and Communications team and as IA’s representative on the RISD Communicators Network to align institutional communications efforts across campus.
  • Provide editorial guidance on printed and electronic fundraising materials and communications to ensure materials are of highest quality and greatest appeal.
  • Complete other duties as required.


  • Superlative diplomatic and communication skills, including an ability to work and communicate effectively with a broad spectrum of internal and external constituents, within a broad range of cultural environments.
  • Demonstrated commitment to social equity and inclusion, including experience/ability to identify and emphasize diverse perspectives in communications, and strategy.
  • Five-plus years of experience managing a professional communications team.
  • Extensive experience developing and implementing strategic communications plans that use communications research and analysis to drive decision-making.
  • Proven ability to write persuasively.
  • Strong writing, editing and proofreading skills with expertise in use of English grammar, punctuation and syntax with proficiency in the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Demonstrated expertise in the use of Google Apps (G Suite), Microsoft Office, CRM/Databases, Adobe Creative Suite and Asana, or similar project management collaboration tools. Ability to manage complex projects, oversee rounds of revision, and resolve editorial feedback from multiple stakeholders.
  • Experience directing the work of writers, graphic designers, photographers and videographers.
  • Ability to manage multiple projects, priorities and deadlines. Capability to work independently and collaboratively with moderate supervision. Ability to occasionally work evenings and weekends.
  • Bachelor’s degree in English, Communications or related field or equivalent combination of education and experience. Master’s degree is strongly preferred.
  • Ten-plus years of experience in fundraising and/or marketing communications, and/or a related field.

Work Schedule: 

35 hours/week; 12 months/year

Documents Needed to Apply: 

  • Resume (required)
  • Cover Letter (required)
  • Writing Samples (required)

Incomplete applications will not be considered. Please upload all required documents.

The successful candidate will be required to meet our pre-employment background screening requirements.

RISD recognizes diversity and inclusivity as fundamental to its learning community and integral to an art and design education. We welcome candidates whose experience has prepared them to contribute to our commitment to diversity and excellence. RISD is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Employment decisions are made without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetics, or any other protected characteristic as established by law.

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