The Emily Dickinson Museum seeks a Senior Director of Development to oversee and grow all aspects of the museum’s fundraising and philanthropic programs.
Located in the picturesque New England town of Amherst, Massachusetts, the Emily Dickinson Museum (the Museum) is a destination for artists, writers, feminists, historians, environmentalists, and more. The Museum is a vital contributor to the community of the Pioneer Valley, a culturally rich region located less than two hours west of Boston and three hours from NYC, and home to the Five Colleges — Smith College, Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and the University of Massachusetts. The vibrant social, cultural, and recreation scene that has grown around these schools makes the area one of the most lively in the whole state.
The Museum’s work begins with “the place she called home” – the Dickinson Homestead, where she lived her whole life and penned nearly 1,800 poems. On the property immediately adjacent to the Homestead is The Evergreens, the home of Dickinson’s brother and his family. Occupied by The Dickinson family from 1856-1988, the property houses the Museum’s collection of more than 8,000 original Dickinson family possessions, which pay homage to Emily as a powerful and enigmatic American poet.
Together, these homes trace the lives of an extraordinary Amherst family, centered around renowned poet Emily Dickinson whose work continues to influence cultural icons such as Taylor Swift, Andrew Bird, Phoebe Bridgers, and Poet Laureate Ada Limon.
Until 2003, the Homestead and The Evergreens were owned and managed separately, by Amherst College and the Martha Dickinson Bianchi Trust, respectively. That year, Amherst College assumed ownership of The Evergreens and combined both properties into the Emily Dickinson Museum. While Amherst College owns and oversees maintenance of the properties, the Museum is independently managed and provides most of its operating expenses through earned revenue, grants, and fundraising.
In 2019, long-time board member and Amherst College alumnus William (Bill) McCall Vickery passed away and left a significant gift for the maintenance and improvement of the Museum’s buildings, grounds, and collections. With the investment income from Vickery’s restricted endowment gift of $25 million, the Museum completed restoration of a major portion of the Dickinson Homestead interior, including original architectural features and decorative details that have been hidden for more than a century.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Museum pivoted to virtual programming, and connected with global audiences representing all 50 states and 80 countries. When the Museum reopened in the summer of 2022, its first tour guests hailed from countries such as Mexico, Hungary, and Italy, signifying the immeasurable reach around the world of Dickinson’s revolutionary poetic voice.
To grow engagement and philanthropic support to ‘amplify Dickinson’s revolutionary voice,’ the Museum has a dedicated staff that offers guided tours of the Homestead and The Evergreens to immerse visitors in Dickinson’s biography, poetry, and the context of her remarkable life. The Museum’s roughly 75 public annual programs are quite varied, examining features of nineteenth-century New England life through the Museum’s collections, considering new developments in Dickinson scholarship, sharing readings of Dickinson’s poetry, and celebrating the contemporary creativity that Dickinson’s legacy continues to inspire.
Now in its 11th year, the New Tell it Slant Poetry Festival, a signature program for the Museum, features established and emerging poets who represent the diversity of the contemporary poetry landscape. The Tell it Slant Festival fosters community by placing poetry in the public sphere both virtually and in person at Emily Dickinson’s home. Past headliners include Tracy K. Smith, Ada Limón, Jericho Brown, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Adrian Matejka, Kaveh Akbar, and Ocean Vuong. The Museum is launching a new education plan designed to serve the needs of K – 12 students and teachers, college students and faculty, and lifelong learners. The goal is to develop on site and remote curricular resources and experiences that serve a national and international education community.
Emily Dickinson’s continuing relevance today has driven tremendous growth in audience engagement and philanthropic opportunity for the Museum, which has presented a clear and sustainable path forward for the Museum to become the premier center for the study and celebration of her life. To quote Emily herself: the Museum aims to be twice as bold.
In 2023, as part of the Museum’s 20th anniversary, the Museum launched its Twice as Bold campaign. This campaign aims to raise $8 million for programmatic support and capital projects as well as $5.5 million in endowment by 2026. This ambitious campaign will allow the Museum to prioritize four main goals:
Reporting to the Jane and Robert Keiter Family Executive Director, Jane Wald, the Senior Director of Development (Senior Director) will be a key member of the Museum’s leadership team. Managing a team of two, and carrying a major gift portfolio, the Senior Director will be responsible for increasing individual giving and the Museum’s operating fund, conceiving and executing special fundraising events, and will be the internal and external expert on all development and philanthropic strategy, activity, and messaging.
The Senior Director will work closely with the Executive Director, Board of Governors, senior staff, volunteers, museum partners, and the community to strengthen existing donor relationships, attract new support to meet ambitious goals, and ensure that development activities are deeply embedded in the mission, work, and culture of the Museum. With support from the Board of Governors and other senior leaders of the organization, the incoming Senior Director of Development will be charged with designing a strategic philanthropic plan to meet the short- and long-term philanthropic and organizational priorities – an expanded, fully restored, and accessible campus, leading-edge educational programs and resources, a singular visitor experience both onsite and online, and increased operational capacity for the Museum’s long-term at the center of the organization’s vision for the future.
The Senior Director will be responsible for securing five- to seven-figure major gifts and corporate partnerships and identifying new institutional and private foundation grant opportunities that may provide seed money for existing priorities. They will also oversee and implement the museum’s Twice as Bold fundraising campaign to ensure that goals are met and that the philanthropic program is well positioned for future growth and new donor engagement.
The current development team includes the Director of Annual Giving and Donor Relations and the Prospect Researcher/Development Operations Manager. In keeping with Amherst College’s efforts to create a respectful, inclusive, and welcoming work environment, the Senior Director will take appropriate actions to support a diverse workforce workplace.Key Responsibilities
Strategy and Fundraising Responsibilities
Team and Relationship Management
Amherst College, and the Museum is offering a salary of starting at $125,000, plus benefits, commensurate with experience.
Amherst College and the Emily Dickinson Museum continues to give special importance to inclusion within our student body, our faculty, and our staff of talented persons from groups that have experienced prejudice and disadvantage. Amherst College and the Museum do so for the simplest, but most urgent, of reasons: because the best and the brightest people are found in many places, not few; because our classrooms and residence halls are places of dialogue, not monologue; because teaching and learning at their best are conversations with persons other than ourselves about ideas other than our own.”
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Executive Director, Search Practice
Development Guild DDI
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