Director of Direct Response Marketing

Posted on 09/20/2022

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN

The Director of Direct Response is the lead of the Direct Response team in Marketing within the Communications and Marketing team at Vanderbilt University and is responsible for providing direction and operational support for the central direct response solicitation plan for the overall University. The Director has primary responsibility for the development and execution of all central solicitation plans and has oversight and project management responsibility for both central Direct Response appeals and key projects, such as Giving Day.

This position works closely with Development and Alumni Relations, Marketing & Communications, and the individual schools/business units to ensure strategic alignment and executional excellence. In addition, the Director of Direct Response manages the planning process and consults stakeholders in the schools/units to develop an optimal outreach plan that engages each area; utilizes resources in DAR and MarComm to accomplish executional tasks; and ensures on-time and on-budget delivery of the overall solicitation plan throughout the year.

Reporting directly to the Senior Director of Brand Marketing, this position has supervisory responsibility of three professional staff members. This role requires a high level of accountability, proactive and open communication, gathering input from others, expecting, and delivering excellence, the ability to manage multiple projects without becoming overwhelmed, and a commitment to continuous improvement. This role requires the ability to report to work in-person on the Vanderbilt University campus as needed as part of a hybrid model.

The Communications and Marketing team at Vanderbilt is a dynamic and collaborative group. The division serves as the institution-wide center of excellence for communications and marketing, developing, and executing strategies that inform, engage and inspire others to participate in Vanderbilt University’s global academic and research mission. The division is a key strategic adviser and partner for the mission-based work of the university, providing comprehensive communications and marketing plans and thoughtful analysis on messaging opportunities and constraints. The Communications and Marketing team delivers impactful marketing and communications results across key audiences to serve the larger mission, values, and priorities of the university.

Duties and Responsibilities: 

  • Lead the development and shape for overall Direct Response appeals plan at Vanderbilt University to encompass the university schools, colleges, and athletics; ensure messaging and content fidelity relative to the schools and units and their constituency groups.
  • Oversee the continued development of the direct marketing program, reviewing and applying systems, processes, and procedures to build and diversify individual giving to achieve or exceed revenue targets
  • Create an integrated multi-channel direct marketing program focused on retention, reactivation, acquisition, upgrades, engagement, and stewardship; integrate diverse outreach plans into one coherent comprehensive strategy that minimizes audience overlap.
  • Develop and execute an annual learning plan for both central direct response, as well as school and unit specific. Includes A/B tests, pilot audiences, as well as best practices research.
  • Serve as the day-to-day liaison with Development and Alumni staff members, including in individual schools and units, to leverage each area’s strengths and expertise is critical to fundraising success that directly impacts VU’s mission.
  • Create effective segmentation strategies that employ direct response best practices and improve donor participation and engagement.
  • Develop, lead, and serve as project manager for the cross-functional annual Vanderbilt Giving Day campaign.
  • Mentor and supervise a team of three professional staff members responsible for the design and execution of a set of solicitation plans and/or operational functions.
  • Review and approve all phases of the Direct Response appeals
  • Guide idea creation, data preparation and vendor management.
  • Create direct marketing fundraising plan forecasts, review actual outcomes, and apply lessons learned to improve future outreach strategies based on goals and past performance
  • Manage the Direct Response and Giving Day budgets.
  • Adhere to confidentiality and business ethics; demonstrate outstanding judgment and discretion.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the university’s mission, values, goals and priorities and an ability to ensure that all are considered in developing communications strategies.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion and the importance of equity as an organizational operating principle.
  • Communicate and collaborate effectively with a wide range of audiences—including students, faculty, coaches, staff, families, leadership, alumni, donors, and vendors.
  • Efficiently and effectively manage multiple, complex, and results-oriented projects with both quick turn-around requirements and long lead times.
  • Operate in a highly organized fashion with attention to detail on all projects.
  • Work outside regular business hours as needed in order to perform job responsibilities.
  • Provide overall support as needed and assigned for department priorities.
  • Perform other relevant duties as assigned.


  • Bachelor’s Degree, or the equivalent, is necessary.
  • An MBA or master’s degree in Marketing is preferred.
  • Five or more years of progressively responsible experience in developing and executing multi- channel direct marketing plans in support of fundraising goals is necessary.
  • Familiarity with direct response best practices is necessary.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Strong project management skills and attention to detail.
  • Demonstrated ability to work with internal partners to develop action plans that are consistent with message, tone, and overall advancement programming associated with different schools and units.
  • Ability to work independently, take initiative, manage multiple projects simultaneously, meet deadlines and adapt to changing priorities.

Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: 

At Vanderbilt University, we are intentional about and assume accountability for fostering advancement and respect for equity, diversity, and inclusion for all students, faculty, and staff. Our commitment to diversity makes us who we are.  We have created a community that celebrates differences and lets individuality thrive. As part of this commitment, we actively value diversity in our workplace and learning environments as we seek to take advantage of the rich backgrounds and abilities of everyone. The diverse voices of Vanderbilt represent an invaluable resource for the University in its efforts to fulfill its mission and strive to be an example of excellence in higher education.
Vanderbilt University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer. Women, minorities, people with disabilities and protected veterans are encouraged to apply.
Please note, all candidates selected for an offer of employment are subject to pre-employment background checks, which may include but are not limited to, based on the role for which they have been selected: criminal history, education verification, social media review, motor vehicle records, credit history, and professional license verification.

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