Senior Advancement Writer

Posted on 01/13/2022

University at Buffalo

Buffalo, NY

Position Overview: 

The Senior Advancement Writer is a key team member of UB’s Office Advancement Communications. The Senior Advancement Writer manages and oversees the proposal writing and creation process for the entire division. The writer creates and edits compelling texts for fundraising and alumni campaigns to increase alumni and donor interest in the university and its programs. These activities are intended to foster support for the university’s advancement and alumni engagement efforts. This position requires superior planning, coordination, research, writing, editing, and interpersonal communications skills. 

Duties and Responsibilities: 

Execute, Schedule (70%)

  • Write persuasive fundraising proposals, solicitation letters, remarks etc. as required
  • Meet with divisional leaders, gift officers and others to intake and plan new work
  • Research, collect data, interview subjects (university administrators, gift and engagement officers, deans, faculty members, alumni, donors and others) to inform projects
  • Edit, rework and proofread texts as required
  • Collaborate effectively with advancement communications team members, university communications staff members, school-based alumni communicators as well as freelancers
  • Manage and hold self and other team members and stakeholders accountable to production schedules • Follow editorial procedures and standards, maintain quality control for editorial work
  • Apply established university brand and message platforms for donor and alumni audiences

Plan, Conceptualize and Strategize (20%)

  • Develop in-depth knowledge of all schools and units at the university
  • Adapt project management tools in order to plan and track work; show return on produced materials
  • Contribute to communications strategies to advance the university’s goals
  • Monitor emerging communications trends and strategies and adopt/integrate techniques as appropriate

Other (10%)

  • Provide copyediting and proofreading services and support to the department and division
  • Attend meetings, conferences, events as required to assist in developing persuasive content

Skills Required: 

  • Demonstrated superior writing and editing skills, including persuasive writing techniques, appropriate for donor and alumni audiences
  • Demonstrated evidence of ability to manage complex workflows and take initiative on projects; ability to report project progress and shortfalls to management
  • Excellent organizational, interpersonal, verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to communicate effectively and professionally with donors and alumni, senior university administrators, faculty and staff members
  • Ability to maintain successful relationships with colleagues to ensure efficient and effective communications deliverables
  • Evidence of sound judgment when making decisions
  • In-depth knowledge of AP editorial style
  • Detail oriented and able to prioritize and manage multiple tasks in a fast-paced and goaloriented environment
  • Ability and willingness to learn new software and skills as communications technology changes
  • This position requires high levels of professionalism, collegiality and discretion in working with confidential information


The Senior Advancement Writer reports to the Assistant Vice President, Advancement Communications

Functional Relationships:

The Senior Advancement Writer works very closely with colleagues in the Office of Advancement Communications and interacts on a regular basis with staff in the Division of University Advancement. In addition, the Senior Advancement Writer works closely with colleagues in University Communications as well as communications officers in schools, units and programs on projects that support fund-raising and alumni engagement activities. The Senior Advancement Writer also interacts with alumni, donors, deans, directors, faculty, staff and students. 

Minimum Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in English, communications, journalism, writing or related field
  • Five or more years of effective and relevant experience in writing and editing proposals, cases for support, solicitation appeals and other pieces appropriate for higher education alumni and donor audiences, as demonstrated by portfolio
  • Experience working with project teams and graphic designers
  • Experience effectively overseeing projects start to finish
  • Expert in applying AP style
  • Excellent computer skills including MS Word editing tools and online project management software
  • Successful track record of working effectively with colleagues at all levels

Most Complex or Difficult Duties:

  • Create editorial content intended to motivate and persuade alumni and donors. This is complicated by:
    • Necessity that all donor and alumni communications materials are in sync with larger university messages and visual identity, creative approach; requires constant collaboration with University Communications and communications officers within individual schools/units.
    • Communications work is done working closely with others in the Division, particularly the Vice President, as well as throughout the university, who, in turn, may have a variety of expectations regarding communication materials.
    • Projects are driven by deadlines, multiple priorities; some projects require very rapid turnaround.
  • Write effective motivational solicitation texts. This requires highly-developed skills to interview subjects both in person and over the phone, obtain accurate information from a variety of sources, create compelling texts, and collaborate with design to effectively illustrate texts.
  • Manage multiple projects with competing priorities and deadlines and ensure that all necessary approvals are secured. There is high demand on the Donor and Alumni Communications team, including daily requests from development officers and other staff across the university. The Senior Advancement Writer must maintain editorial production and approval procedures that dovetail with graphic design and production schedules. This is complex because many projects require multiple approvals; all feedback must be accounted for, reacted to, and if appropriate, incorporated into the final product.

Most serious consequences (In order of importance; list at least three.) 

  • Inaccuracy or breach of confidentiality could result in serious consequences (i.e., alumnus/a no longer supports UB as a volunteer or donor as a result) 
  • Poor judgment could negatively impact the reputation of the university, senior leaders or deans, development officers. 
  • Carelessness or errors in communications materials could potentially cause the university to lose gift(s) from donors 

Sensitive or confidential data:

The responsibilities of the Advancement Writer require frequent handling of highly confidential personal and financial information related to the university’s highest-level donors and prospects. The Advancement Writer has access to a wide range of data not known by most employees of the university. A lack of confidentiality on the part of the Advancement Writer could result in serious damage to the institution, failed relationships and significant lost revenue. 

The University at Buffalo is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and, in keeping with our commitment, welcomes all to apply including veterans and individuals with disabilities. The University is dedicated to the goal of building a culturally diverse and pluralistic University community committed to teaching and working in a multicultural environment.

UB offers highly competitive salary and benefit packages for its advancement staff.

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