Posted On: 2019-07-08
Closing On: 2019-08-08
Location: Toronto
Employment Type: Full-Time
Level: Senior

Job Description


Vancouver Opera is seeking a new Director of Development to oversee all fundraising activities. This leadership position will sit at the senior leadership table of the Opera, playing a key role in strategy-development and execution for the Opera’s future growth and celebration of its 60th anniversary.

This is an exciting time to join Vancouver Opera and to help shape the future direction of the company. With our new opera delivery model combining the best features of the European festival with year-round performances, the operas themselves are world-class. Vancouver Opera’s community outreach and education programs are bringing the art form to new audiences, expanding what opera is, does, and can be.

With a 60 year history and the credibility of being one of Vancouver’s arts leaders, Vancouver Opera is poised to build on these successes and further-establish a foundation for a great opera for the next 60 years. Our strategic planning process has identified our priorities to 2021, and the Director will have the opportunity to operationalize our key objectives.

Reporting directly to Kim Gaynor, General Director, the Director of Development will collaborate closely with leaders in the Opera’s marketing, artistic, finance, and education/community engagement areas, and lead a devoted team of five fundraising professionals.  

The Director of Development’s fundraising oversight will include the annual drive, festival capital campaigns, grants, sponsorships and underwriting, public funding and government relations, planned giving, capital and multi-year project giving. The Director will manage their own pipeline of key donors. Additionally the Director will ensure effective donor relations and lead fundraising efforts for the Vancouver Opera Foundation, building its endowment capital.



Vancouver Opera is a dynamic, progressive charitable organization and the second-largest opera company in Canada. After 60 years of presenting exceptional opera productions in a traditional season, the company is in a period of creative growth in its new model of both mainstage productions and a festival. 

Vancouver Opera’s mission is to be the destination performing arts organization that entertains, stimulates and enriches British Columbians, driven by programming that redefines “Opera” and revolutionizes its accessibility and community value.

Profile & History

Vancouver Opera is regarded worldwide for its fine mainstage productions; its country-leading education programs which have reached more than 1.6 million children and their families; its innovative and award-winning community programs; and for forging ground-breaking, cross-cultural creative partnerships that have brought opera to new generations of Canadians.

Vancouver Opera is at the centre of the city’s and region’s cultural life and has remained there ever since. In recent years, the company has intensified and broadened its role as a major creative, educational, and collaborative resource in the community.

Education Programs

Vancouver Opera leads the community and the country in its enriched education programs. Vancouver Opera In Schools (VOIS), which began in 1972 as an initiative of the Vancouver Opera Guild, is the largest touring program of its kind in Canada. Each season, VOIS introduces the power and beauty of opera to about 50,000 school children and their families across B.C. and beyond. More than 1.6 million children have enjoyed specially adapted short operas performed by an energetic cast of professional young singers.

Mainstage Productions

Since the company’s inaugural production of Carmen in the 1960’s, Vancouver Opera has been admired around the world for presenting exciting high-quality productions, for the estimable playing of its orchestra, and for attracting internationally acclaimed singers and artists.

One of Vancouver Opera’s strengths is its continual investment in enhancing the quality of physical productions to match and support the musical excellence. The company has also developed its artistic capacity by creating new productions, by investing in co-productions, and by commissioning new works. Vancouver Opera presents a balance of traditional and innovative productions of established repertoire along with newer operas and less frequently produced works by master composers.

Its operating model includes four mainstage productions per year in a combined Season and Festival format, performed with world-class singers and Vancouver Opera’s own orchestra. Music Director Emeritus Jonathan Darlington has been with the Vancouver Opera for 15 years, and it is undertaking an exciting search for a new music director, whom may further refine the company’s artistic direction.

In the Community

Fulfilling and broadening the vision of the company’s founders, Vancouver Opera has developed an ongoing series of community programs that explore meaningful issues and themes that arise from each season’s operas. The inaugural project was a “community forum,” a series of community events leading up to the 2002 production of Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men. The events addressed poverty, life with disabilities, and the role of art in effecting social change.

In January 2007, Vancouver Opera unveiled its new production of The Magic Flute, created with a team of First Nations artists and designers. This landmark production was developed during three years of exploration with First Nations communities, advisors and elders – an unprecedented creative collaboration across cultures. It featured costumes inspired by the traditions of many coastal nations, dance and movement that echoed ancient sources, sets and properties designed in consultation with First Nations artists, and some words and phrases from the language, with permission of the Musqueam Band (Coast Salish). The production was remounted in 2012.

More recently, in 2015, the Vancouver Opera commissioned the creation of, Stickboy, based on a novel in verse written by world-renowned spoken-word artist Shane Koyczan and composer Neil Weisensel, a moving and meaningful new opera confronting fear, insecurity, and bullying. In 2018, the Vancouver Opera commissioned the creation of Requiem for Lost Girl, which explored themes of homelessness, poverty, mental illness, addiction and the plight of missing and murdered women. Requiem for a Lost Girl was created and performed in partnership with the Kettle Society, where member of the chorus were directly or indirectly impacted by homelessness.

Enhancing Accessibility

In 2013, VO announced a bold long-term strategy aimed at broadening and deepening its connection with the communities it serves, while building a new generation of opera goers. The strategy included offering new opera experiences in new venues, such as the world premiere of Stickboy at the Vancouver Playhouse, and special “Opera’s Greatest Hits” concerts in communities south of the Fraser River.

For several years, VO has offered preview talks about our productions to residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside at the Carnegie Community Centre, along with dress rehearsal tickets.


For more information about Vancouver Opera, please visit:


Vancouver Opera relies on the generosity of our supporters to enable us to bring the beauty of opera to attendees, the community at large, school groups, and other constituents. Contributions from our donors and supports typically make up about half of our operating budget. This includes government grants (comprised of Municipal/Regional Grants, Provincial Grants, and Canada Council grants); individual giving; sponsorship and event revenue; bequests; foundation funding and lotteries.

These contributions play a crucial role in Vancouver Opera’s ability to maintain the highest artistic standards and to expand our many ground-breaking education and community activities.

In addition, the Vancouver Opera Foundation is pleased to have approximately $13 million in endowments, whose net investment income also support Vancouver Opera.



The Director of Development will be a highly successful and credible fundraising expert. The ideal candidate’s generalist background will include a record of achievement across program areas, including special events, sponsorships, annual fundraising, major gifts, and stewardship activities, ideally gained from working in a performing arts organization.

With a dynamic personality, the new Director will lead by example and be a transparent and engaging communicator. The ideal candidate will be collaborative at every level, a supportive and helpful team player, and adept at managing change.

With an authentic passion for the performing arts, the Director will strive to strengthen relationships with key donors, stakeholders and strategic partners alike. The new incumbent will leverage Vancouver Opera’s strong brand and will identify and translate program strengths into meaningful donor engagement opportunities. The Director will have the adaptability to thrive in the ebb and flow of an absorbing arts organization, and the versatility to a work with a myriad of people and styles. The ideal candidate will bring an understanding of Vancouver’s philanthropic landscape, and the region’s dynamic ethnical and cultural profile.

As a clear and unambiguous communicator, the new Director will have experience managing staff and volunteers alike with a direct coaching and mentoring style. Focused on delivering results, the successful candidate will bring a disciplined approach to the achievement of the annual financial goals. A friendly and approachable leader, the Director of Development will inspire and motivate the team to achieve goals and elevate the program. The new incumbent will foster, cultivate, and demonstrate loyalty across the organization.

Solutions-focused, with an optimistic attitude, the Director will have proven experience developing and leading the implementation of strategic plans. Ambitious yet pragmatic, the successful candidate will be a resilient and persistent fundraiser, with a relentlessness to keep the organization moving forward. A progressive and critical thinker, the ideal candidate will push boundaries in a tactful and diplomatic way.



Strategic Development

Strategic Planning

  • Collaborate with General Director and senior leadership team, and other appropriate senior staff, in the development of strategic goals, objectives and metrics, including budgets and goals for all programs.
  • Determine contributed revenue needs for long-term programs and projects.
  • Plan and execute long term fundraising activities in support of the company’s strategic goals.
  • Develop and oversee appropriate tracking and reporting mechanisms and systems.
  • Identify opportunities amongst the VOA activities for attracting contributed revenue.
  • Research and identify potential supporters and sources of support.
  • Propose, participate in and direct supporting activities such as committees and consultants.
  • Evaluate, revise and improve programs and goals on an ongoing basis.
  • Participate in the broader community to further the mission and goals of Vancouver Opera.

Opera Festival, Capital, and Endowment Fundraising

  • Work closely with campaign consultants and volunteers on Opera Festival campaign.
  • Develop case statements, materials, database and prospect lists.
  • Identify and implement strategies for prospect and donor research, identification, cultivation and stewardship.
  • Solicit major annual operating and endowment gifts; manage a person pipeline of donors and prospects.
  • Work with the development team to create appropriate donor and sponsor recognition activities.
  • Oversee special events and participate in all relationship-based events.


Annual Campaign & Individual Giving

  • Prospect, cultivate, and solicit donors at all levels to meet targets.
  • Implement Board and major individual giving components.
  • Oversee the development and maintenance of donor acknowledgement procedures.
  • Ensure effective systems and accurate donor records and reports are captured in the Tessitura database, and useful reports are generated for analysis.
  • Provide leadership in developing donor retention strategies.
  • Strong collaboration with the Marketing team, for identification and cultivation of donors, and to develop conversion and activation programs for each donor where appropriate.
  • Cultivate, solicit and follow up with key planned and foundation giving prospects and their legal advisors and financial planners.
  • Develop understanding of target donor base and offer unique experiences to attract new donors.
  • Implement Board and major individual giving components.
  • Oversee the development and maintenance of donor acknowledgement.
  • Implement and oversee programs to acknowledge and thank donors on an ongoing basis.

Corporate and Foundation fundraising

  • Develop corporate and foundation funding strategies and prospect management.
  • Ensure timely application, reporting and compliance with grant requirements.
  • Ensure fulfillment of sponsorship benefits.
  • Provide direction in the production of effective presentation materials, customized proposals, case statements and solicitation materials as needed.
  • Collaborate with Finance for the preparation of grants, proposals, deeds of gifts, and all significant contracts.
  • Implement and oversee ways to provide reports and thank corporate sponsors.

Public Funding

  • Establish budget and goals.
  • Ensure timely and appropriate grant requests to the Canada Council for the Arts, funding agencies of the Province of British Columbia, Metro Vancouver, the City of Vancouver, and other local municipalities; ensure compliance and timely reporting to same.
  • With the General Director, establish and maintain relationship with public funders, develop and implement advocacy, public information and government relations strategies.

Volunteer & Staff Leadership

  • Lead, mentor, and supervise development staff and inspire to success.
  • Develop performance plans based on metrics and industry best practices.
  • Evaluate, hire, and lead staff on ongoing basis.
  • Ensure the structure of the development team is optimal and able to rebalance and make changes as appropriate.
  • In collaboration with other departments as appropriate, identify training requirements for Development staff; provide training and pro-D.
  • Cultivate, recruit and motivate the Board of Directors in fundraising efforts.
  • Attend meetings and report regularly to the Board of Directors.
  • Organize and foster volunteer participation, and build strong relationships with volunteer leadership in the following areas:
  • Development Committee
  • Vancouver Opera Foundation
  • Special Events Committees
  • Annual Campaign chairs and volunteers

Administrative and Financial Accountabilities

  • Accountable for ownership of the Development budget and projections.
  • Create, manage, and monitor the annual development budgets and cash flow projections in collaboration with the Chief Financial Officer and the General Director. 
  • Develop and monitor department expense plans; set and achieve annual contributed revenue goals.
  • Provide timely and reliable information to Finance to ensure accuracy of projections.
  • Collaborate with Finance on tax receipting requirements for special events and individual giving to ensure compliance with CRA.
  • Act as key sponsor for the Tessitura database in the Development department.
  • Encourage and ensure the use of Tessitura to its fullest capacity, working towards accurately consolidating all fundraising related data and reporting.
  • As appropriate, create reporting templates in collaboration with the IT Director that support analysis and decision making on a timely basis.
  • Participate in the broader community to further the mission and goals of Vancouver Opera.
  • Assure legality and maintain confidentiality of all solicitations.
  • Attend performances and other events throughout the year and as needed.



Education and Experience

  • Significant professional experience in fundraising, including the development of plans and budgets.
  • Proven success in annual fundraising including events, grants, sponsorship, individual giving and other gift solicitation strategies.
  • Experience in prospect development and management with a record of excellence in stewardship.
  • Superior knowledge of fundraising systems, structures and procedures.
  • Proven experience managing and motivating high-profile volunteers, Board members, consultants and donor/prospects.
  • Proven strong leadership and supervisory experience of development staff.
  • History of successfully making presentations for the purpose of soliciting donations.
  • Knowledge of the BC and Vancouver fundraising environments and the philanthropic market; ability to stay up to date on philanthropic trends and best practices.
  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent related education and experience.


  • Exceptional interpersonal skills with the ability to develop strong working relationships with persons at all levels within and external to the organization.
  • Comfortable and confident in working with senior community and corporate level volunteers.
  • Persuasive ability to inspire the confidence and trust of donors, volunteers and staff.
  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills.
  • Ability to work with a high degree of discretion and tact in handling confidential matters.
  • Detail oriented and accurate in execution; ability to work well under pressure and with minimal supervision.
  • Thrives in a fast-paced work environment, maintains a positive frame of mind and sets an example of professionalism for other employees.
  • Demonstrated analytical, organizational, and problem-solving skills.



KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.) has been retained to conduct this search on behalf of Vancouver Opera. For more information about this leadership opportunity, please contact Christoph Clodius, Vice President at

To apply, please send a resume and letter of interest to the email address above.

To view the full Executive Brief, please visit:

Candidates will be evaluated on an ongoing basis so early submissions and enquiries are greatly encouraged.

All inquiries and applications will be held in strict confidence. Vancouver Opera is an equal opportunity employer.