Director of Development, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

The Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA)*, the private fundraising and alumni relations organization for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is seeking an experienced Director of Development to help develop and implement a major gifts program benefitting the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. While employed by WFAA and reporting to a Vice President and Managing Group Leader at WFAA, the Director of Development will work closely with the Director of the Nelson Institute, as well as its Director of Advancement and Donor Relations, coordinating efforts with the Institute and WFAA staff as appropriate.

The Nelson Institute, named after former Wisconsin Governor and U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2020. Similarly, Earth Day, founded by Senator Nelson and celebrated annually by the Nelson Institute with a large, public conference event, will also celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2020. These joint anniversaries, as well as UW-Madison’s and the State of Wisconsin’s strong history of environmental leadership, provide a strong foundation for fundraising success. This Director of Development position is newly created and presents an enormous opportunity for organizational and professional growth at an exciting time for the Institute. The Director of Development will function as a member of the Nelson Institute’s Earth Day 2020 Legacy Campaign Team. This team is comprised of the 1) Nelson Institute Senior Leadership Team, 2) Nelson Institute Board of Visitors, and 3) 2020 Legacy Advisory Committee. Learn more about the Nelson Institute at

Essential Functions

The Director of Development will work collaboratively to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Work with the leadership of the Nelson Institute and WFAA to identify priorities and design, implement, and manage strategic plans for a comprehensive major gifts program.
  • Self-direct prospect identification, cultivation, solicitation and management of a portfolio of potential and current donors, with a focus on leadership annual and major gifts that advance the Nelson Institute’s strategic priorities.
  • Plan and conduct visits and other ongoing contacts that link potential donors with the Nelson Institute’s programs and development needs.
  • Develop and maintain strategies to enhance donor stewardship.
  • Practice effective and consistent internal and external communications.
  • Effectively navigate relationships with and between the Nelson Institute, WFAA, other UW-Madison programs, and the Madison community.
  • Participate in Nelson Institute meetings, public lectures, and events.


  • Minimum of a bachelor’s degree; master’s degree in marketing, communication, non-profit management, government, or higher education preferred.
  • Familiarity with and a passion for environmental issues and/or experience working with environmental organizations is highly desired.
  • Two or more years of fund development experience, with focus on major gifts.
  • Appreciation of the role played by the Nelson Institute and the University of Wisconsin, and an interest in promoting its programs.
  • Strong organizational, interpersonal, oral and written communication skills.
  • Self-directed, team player who has a strong, results-oriented, work ethic.
  • Willingness and ability to meet travel requirements (approx. 25%).

Final appointment will be made at the Director or Senior Director level depending on experience and qualifications. This is a full-time position involving travel. We offer a competitive salary and an excellent benefits program. Current WFAA Directors of Development at any level are eligible to transfer laterally, maintaining their current job title and salary.

The Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association, alongside the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, is committed to building an inclusive community free of social bias and exclusion. WFAA and the Nelson Institute recognize the value of diversity in persons and in perspectives; value people and the differences that they bring to the organization; and strive to create an environment in which all staff members feel respected personally and professionally, and have opportunities in which to thrive. As an equal opportunity employer, we encourage all qualified individuals to apply.

Apply Today

Please contact Human Resources if you have any questions at To be considered in the first round of resume review, please submit materials by November 26. However, applications will be accepted until the position is filled.