Director of Advancement

Posted on 03/13/2023

The Girls’ Middle School

Palo Alto, CA

The Girls’ Middle School (GMS) is an inspiring, mission-driven, independent school serving 200 girls* in grades 6-8. Located in Palo Alto, GMS provides students with a robust curriculum and inclusive learning environment, designed to allow girls to explore a wide variety of interests and academic subjects. GMS helps to develop each girl’s self-confidence and ignite personal passions as students navigate the complex and fragile time of middle school.

GMS now seeks a director of advancement to help the school achieve an ambitious list of annual and long-term fundraising goals. Yearly targets include not just a traditional annual fund, but also a separate fund that supports 15% of families with full-ride scholarships, so that a diverse array of students can experience not just a transformative middle school education but also receive additional support during and after their tenure at GMS. The director of advancement will have the opportunity to build upon an existing culture of philanthropy at the school, and cultivate relationships within the GMS community as well with donors, benefactors, and foundations throughout the Bay Area. This position reports to the head of school and starts this summer. This is an on-site position requiring continued presence in both the school and donor communities to build relationships. However, in the spirit of wanting to find the best possible candidate the head of school is willing to explore the possibility of a hybrid or flexible engagement with some amount of remote work.

What GMS Seeks the Most: 

  • An exceptional ability to visualize and enact forward-thinking advancement strategies and initiatives
  • A willingness to build thoughtful relationships with the head of school, the board of trustees, and GMS staff to enact long-term strategic goals
  • A commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and a deep understanding of the school’s mission and values
  • A genuine desire to learn and build upon an inspiring culture of philanthropy, while envisioning new ideas for fundraising and school-wide growth in the future

Early Work to be Done: 

  • Develop and execute an exceptional strategy for the 23-24 annual fund.
  • Learn the unique philanthropic elements of the Bennett Scholars Program, and oversee this critical development initiative.
  • Identify needs for the open advancement position and make an outstanding hire.
  • Build relationships throughout the GMS community and its benefactors, learn the unique elements of its culture, and become an authentic spokesperson for its mission, vision, and strategic goals.

Specific Duties: 

Community-Driven Philanthropy for Annual Needs

  • Serving as the director of the school’s $750K+ annual fund campaign, work with the board of trustees to develop and implement new strategies for donor cultivation and stewardship, oversee the fund’s marketing through various multi-media channels, and evaluate the fund’s sustainability in alignment with the school’s overall goals.
  • Oversee the strategy and fundraising for the Bennett Scholars Program (1.3M+ per year), identifying and building relationships with new prospects, strengthening relationships with existing donors, and effectively promoting the fund among community members to maximize major gifts and overall philanthropic support.
  • Promote the mission of GMS in the community through special events and partnerships, and work to build strong relationships with various donor constituencies including the Alum Association and Parents’ Association.

Advancement Strategy for Long-Term Sustainability

  • Strategically develop and grow the school’s endowment fund to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Bennett Scholars Program, and the school’s ongoing operational needs.
  • Collaborate with the head of school, board of trustees, and administrative leadership to develop a capital campaign strategy that will enable the school to find and secure a more permanent location for its campus.
  • Oversee and develop the school’s current planned giving program, and build additional streams of non-tuition revenue including soliciting additional foundation support.
  • Develop, coach, and mentor colleagues, key volunteers, and trustees to take an active role in building relationships and fundraising.

General Leadership and Departmental Oversight

  • Work closely and build relationships with the head of school, board of trustees, and the board development committee to promote the role of fundraising and philanthropy at GMS, and develop multi-year plans to ensure that GMS develops an ongoing culture of institutional advancement.
  • Offer outstanding mentorship, feedback, support, professional growth, and guidance to the advancement department, which, in 2023-2024 will include supervising an advancement associate and the communications manager as well as hiring for an open position within the department.
  • Provide ongoing assessment of roles and responsibilities for the purpose of ensuring the advancement department has proper staffing aligned with fundraising goals and needs of the school.
  • Implement best practices in data recording and management, gift acknowledgment and reporting, donor relations, giving policies and confidentiality of information.
  • Remain current with advancement trends and cultivate professional standards and development by participating in educational opportunities, reading professional publications, maintaining professional networks, and participating in local, regional, and national professional organizations.
  • Actively participate in the life of the school, and perform other duties as assigned.


  • Possession of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, graduate degree preferred
  • 5+ years of increasing responsibility in fundraising, scholarship, or annual giving campaigns, preferably in an educational or nonprofit setting
  • 3+ years of leadership team or supervisory experience, overseeing a team of 2+ employees
  • Proven track record of fundraising success, including an ability to cultivate, solicit, and secure major contributions through excellent relationship management skills
  • Experience with capital and endowment campaign planning, implementation and management
  • Comprehensive understanding of advancement best practices and demonstrated proficiency with leading-edge fundraising technology

Qualities and Competencies:

  • Proclivity and enthusiasm for building authentic relationships across different constituencies, including alumni, trustees, parents and guardians, staff and faculty, and friends of the school
  • An excitement about both the mission of GMS and working specifically within a middle school community of passionate and engaged faculty and staff
  • Outstanding collaboration and team-building skills, including the ability to clearly communicate and prioritize team responsibilities and goals in alignment with big-picture objectives
  • A demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and an understanding of the importance of reflecting these principles in all fundraising strategies
  • Ability to create, analyze, and leverage performance metrics, and communicate them to senior leadership and board members
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, including strong attention to detail • Creative, flexible and strategic mindset willing to solve complex problems

How to Apply: 

12M Recruiting is acting on behalf of The Girls’ Middle School to identify exceptional advancement leaders to fill this extraordinary opportunity. Direct inquiries to: [email protected]

Applications will be considered through April 2, 2023.

An application requires submitting four PDFs:

  • Cover letter introducing yourself to The Girls’ Middle 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 described in this document, GMS has two yearly philanthropic drives, one for the annual fund and one for the Bennett Scholars program. Meanwhile, the school is seeking to raise capital for a new home, as well as for an endowment to the Bennett Scholars program. Given all this, what questions would you have for the board or leadership team to help you gain better insight into the school’s philanthropic goals and priorities? Develop a set of questions that you might ask in the early days of your tenure to show your understanding and appreciation for the unique elements of the advancement program at GMS. In one or two additional paragraphs, what early actions would you take to begin to conduct discovery on topics related to your questions?

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