Posted On: 2019-02-08
Closing On: 2019-03-06
Location: Toronto
Employment Type: Full-Time
Level: Management
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Job Description


The Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy is the new charitable organization formed for the purpose of fundraising that will ultimately benefit Toronto Zoo programs and initiatives, in order to help sustain the Zoo as a living centre for education and science, providing compelling guest experiences and inspiring passion to protect wildlife and habitats.

The Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy is seeking a passionate and collaborative Executive Director to provide strategic and operational leadership to the Conservancy’s growth and activities. The Executive Director will maximize existing individual, corporate, and foundation philanthropic relationships, and will actively identify and seek out new donors to help build an organization that is fiscally and environmentally sustainable for the long-term.

This role is an exciting opportunity for an experienced professional fundraiser, team leader, and development operations manager to play a leadership role in an entrepreneurial environment as we build the Conservancy and its revenue generation program through various streams such as major gifts, capital projects, and special events. Currently, the Zoo fundraising team – a Senior Development Officer and two support staff - is raising about $1.5 to $2 million per year, and our goal is to significantly and sustainably increase this.  The Executive Director will also serve as a resource on government relations in the pursuit of additional capital and operating funding to help increase our impact.

Reporting to the Board of Directors of the Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy, this newly created position will work very closely with the Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto Zoo, to fulfill the main purpose and mission of the Conservancy in support of the Toronto Zoo as a living centre for education and science, providing compelling guest experiences and inspiring passion to protect wildlife and habitats.

The Executive Director will play a key role in shaping the Conservancy Board through the identification, recruitment, and support of Board members. The Executive Director will also have the opportunity to build and oversee a growing staff team, including the current development staff at the Zoo who will transition over to the Conservancy. Future staff additions will be aligned to the plans for evolving and growth of the Conservancy.

A major focus for the Executive Director will be to work closely with the Board of the Conservancy to successfully conceptualize, plan, and launch a multi-million dollar capital campaign. The scope of the campaign will align directly with the Toronto Zoo’s Strategic and Master Plan, and will require senior leadership and expertise in all key aspects of fund development, donor relations, government relations, as well as research and database management.



The Toronto Zoo is one of the top zoos in the world, with 1.2 million guests annually. It is home to over 5,000 animals representing more than 450 species, many of which are threatened or endangered species. The Zoo has 273 full-time employees, over 330 part-time or seasonal employees, and a team of over 500 volunteers. The Zoo offers learning experiences for all ages through its Zoo Programs which are an excellent way to enhance your visit to the Zoo and gain additional knowledge about the many species of animals and their habitats that call the Zoo home.

The Toronto Zoo is guided by a Strategic Plan that outlines the mission of the Zoo as a living centre for education and science, committed to providing compelling guest experiences and inspiring passion to protect wildlife and habitats. Its vision is to be Canada’s national leader in saving wildlife to ensure the rich diversity of nature for future generations. In 2018 and beyond, the Zoo is also implementing its Master PlanSecuring a Sustainable Future”, reflecting a balance of modernization, transformational, and innovative initiatives to transform the Toronto Zoo over the next 15-20 years.

Opened in August of 1974, the Zoo is fully accredited through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums. The Toronto Zoo is an agency of the City of Toronto. The Board of Management of the Toronto Zoo is the governing authority of the Zoo, responsible for its policies, operations and assets. The Board currently has 11 members, three are City Councillors and eight are citizen representatives. All Board members are appointed by the City of Toronto and serve without remuneration.



In 2018, the Toronto Zoo raised over $2 million through a variety of different avenues including special programs like Adopt-an-Animal, gifts-in-kind, direct mail, major gifts, special events, and planned giving. We were privileged to have a total of 3532 donors who supported the Zoo last year, including individuals, corporations, and foundations.

Philanthropic revenue is in addition to sponsorship revenue, which is handled by the Marketing, Communications & Partnership team, which works in collaboration with the Fundraising team.


Sponsorship & Partners:

Our sponsors are rewarded with multiple benefits that will increase awareness of the product or service, enhance brand equity, drive retail traffic and help educate consumers. We achieve this through on-site activations, diverse media platforms (including print, online and broadcast), intellectual property rights and a wide range of hospitality options. These tactics are then integrated with specific sponsorship opportunities at the Toronto Zoo. These can include exhibit areas, special events and a wide range of education and sustainability programs. All of this adds up to a great return on investment for the sponsor or donor. And one final benefit is the knowledge that sponsorship dollars go towards Toronto Zoo ecological and environmental stewardship programs. And this success story can be fully leveraged by the sponsor.


Capital Projects:

A major focus of the Conservancy’s fundraising efforts will be on raising capital funds in support of the Master Plan. While the Toronto Zoo has maintained its position as one of the top zoos in North America for more than 44 years, we now stand at a critical crossroads. Our modern times present urgent new challenges that call us to develop and grow in new ways. With significant revitalization of our facilities underway, our WILD for Life fundraising effort gives us the chance to become a global force in addressing one of the most critical issues of our times - the survival of species locally and globally through education, scientific research, breeding and conservation programming.



The ideal candidate will mirror the core values of the Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy, demonstrating an immediate commitment to excellence, an innovative and collaborative nature, a reputation for integrity and kindness, and perhaps most important of all, a deep, personal passion for the protection of nature and wildlife. With a desire to make an impact from the outset, the incumbent will have courage, conviction and resilience, and will embrace the opportunity to play a part in the critical work of conservation and species protection through this unique leadership opportunity. Collaborating closely with the CEO and Zoo staff, the Executive Director will share ideas and work in partnership to build the Conservancy.

Fulfilling all of the expected qualifications for a role of this caliber, the Executive Director will report directly to the Conservancy’s Board of Directors, and will be accountable for the results and operations of the Conservancy. Strongly knowledgeable about the local philanthropic landscape and experienced in connecting people through conversation, the Executive Director will utilize creative and imaginative skills to positively harness big-picture thinking into tangible results. Fiscally responsible with an eye for detail, the Executive Director will manage the administrative aspects of the role with excellent business acumen, and sound judgement.

As the face of the Conservancy, the Executive Director will be outgoing and enthusiastic, direct and honest, with a sophisticated ability to listen to people and respond thoughtfully and appropriately. An animal-lover and committed conservationist, the Executive Director, will embrace the responsibility and moral obligation of this role and will feel strongly that this role aligns with their lifestyle and beliefs. The incumbent will understand and be committed to the critical role that modern, accredited zoos, play as places of engagement to affect the conservation of the natural world, and will be an adaptable, team player, who can easily pivot as challenges arise; feeling at ease in front of and interacting with a variety of stakeholders such as individual, corporate and foundation donors, the Board, the media and all levels of governments.

Open, engaging and collegial with staff, volunteers, and donors alike, the Executive Director will have the expertise and confidence to manage expectations, set realistic goals, give clear directions, and leverage existing partnerships such as community and family foundations. Demonstrating a “go-getter” attitude, the Executive Director will be excited to build the Conservancy into a successful revenue generating entity over the long-term, which will have a transformative impact on conservation efforts not only at the Zoo but beyond.



  • Direct and manage the operations of the Conservancy, developing goals and objectives for the organization based on the Toronto Zoo Strategic and Master Plan while ensuring efficient utilization of their limited human and financial resources to achieve established performance objectives.
  • Lead all fundraising initiatives for the stated purposes of the Conservancy and the Toronto Zoo including annual giving, capital campaign and ongoing funding programs.
  • Plan for the expansion of fundraising activities including the evaluation of staff and Committee performance.
  • Collaboratively engage with committees and staff in promoting the Toronto Zoo in the private sector and advise on best practices to achieve success.
  • Develop targeted, donor-centred proposal packages in collaboration with Zoo staff for donors in the private sector.
  • Lead staff in the development and implementation of various donor recognition programs.
  • Engage with staff of the Toronto Zoo in seeking out private donors to the Conservancy.
  • Develop, manage and implement the annual fundraising budget in consultation with the CEO of the Toronto Zoo.
  • Recruit, mentor and coach senior volunteers from the corporate, professional and private sectors to act as fundraising ambassadors for the Conservancy in seeking funds from the community.
  • Advise the Conservancy Board and Zoo staff on all matters dealing with fundraising including Committee structure and responsibilities, aspects of the collective agreement, and supervision of fundraising staff and volunteers.
  • Direct special projects and prepare reports as required by the Board on an ad-hoc basis.
  • Confidentially advise the Board Chair on matters of staff and fundraising performance.
  • Serve as a resource to the Board Chair, and the CEO of the Toronto Zoo on government relations with regards to fundraising.
  • Represent the Conservancy as a key participant with other members of the Toronto Zoo Senior management team for weekly meetings and planning initiatives.
  • Develop, implement and maintain sound operating policies and procedures for the Conservancy and ensures that all such policies and procedures are uniformly understood and properly administered.
  • Oversee the work of the administrative team regarding the maintenance of donation records and the processing of all contributions, preparation of bank deposits, bookkeeping, letters of thanks, official receipts for Income Tax purposes.
  • Liaise closely with Toronto Zoo membership, marketing, communications and partnership staff to ensure consistency of approach and message, leveraging each teams audiences, skills and experiences.
  • Advise donors on any legislation pertaining to giving; particularly in the area of planned giving.
  • Ensure that appropriate procedures are instituted and followed to safeguard the well-being of staff and volunteers.
  • Be familiar with managing staff in a unionized environment and understand the policies and procedures associated with unionized staff.



  • Strong commitment to conservation of wildlife and the mission of the Toronto Zoo to saving wildlife to ensure the rich diversity of nature for future generations.
  • Significant senior management experience with demonstrated achievement and leadership in all key aspects of fund development including Major Gifts, Capital Campaign, Annual Fund and Gift Planning; Donor Relations and Communications; Research and Database Management; Volunteer Relations; Measuring Fund Development Performance.
  • Strategic thinker with a strong sense of vision.
  • Proven track record of successful solicitations and closures in the field of major gifts.
  • Demonstrated leadership and team building skills including experience in goal setting, motivating, leading, evaluating and developing a capable team of professionals.
  • Possess strong managerial/operational skills.
  • Understanding of and experience with best practices in financial accountabilities and reporting requirements as it relates to fundraising.
  • Excellent communications skills both written and orally.
  • Well-developed interpersonal skills.
  • Proven ability to prepare and present brief but accurate and comprehensive reports or presentations to a variety of audiences.
  • Previous experience in budget preparation and administration.
  • Previous experience in a non-profit sector desirable.
  • Solid knowledge of computer programs, including fundraising databases, spreadsheets, word processing and presentation software.
  • Possess an undergraduate degree from a recognized post-secondary institution in a related field of discipline or the equivalent amount of experience and training.
  • CFRE designation preferred but not required.
  • Able and willing to work weekends and occasional evenings.



To learn more about this opportunity at the Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy, please contact Tara George, Partner / Lead, Search + Talent or Joanna Gray, Search Consultant, via email at

To view the full Executive Brief, please visit:

All inquiries and applications will be held in strict confidence. To apply, please send a resume and letter of interest, to the email address listed above by March 6, 2019. Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis so early submission is encouraged.          

Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes and encourages applications from people with disabilities. Accommodations are available on request for candidates taking part in all aspects of the selection process.