Posted On: 2020-05-01
Closing On: 2020-05-24
Location: Toronto, ON
Effective: June/July 2020
Employment Type: Full-Time
Level: Intermediate

Job Description


About CIFAR:

CIFAR is a Canadian-based, global charitable organization that convenes extraordinary minds to address science and humanity’s most important questions.


By supporting long-term interdisciplinary collaboration, CIFAR provides researchers with an unparalleled environment of trust, transparency and knowledge sharing. Our time-tested model inspires new directions of inquiry, accelerates discovery and yields breakthroughs across borders and academic disciplines. Through knowledge mobilization, we are catalysts for change in industry, government, and society. CIFAR’s community of fellows includes 19 Nobel laureates and 400 researchers from 22 countries. In 2017, the Government of Canada appointed CIFAR to develop and lead the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy.


CIFAR has had a significant impact on the way the world understands such critical issues as early child and brain development, artificial intelligence, building stronger societies, and many others. Our impact comes both from our long-term commitment to leading edge research and our efforts to connect stakeholders with the knowledge our programs produce.


CIFAR is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion. We recognize that bringing together individuals from multiple backgrounds, perspectives and experiences is integral to advancing excellence and increasing the impact of our organization. Ensuring that every person feels valued and welcome is vital to achieving our mission, and embodies our values of diversity, excellence, respect and collaboration.


Purpose of the Position:

As the Advancement Team’s chief storyteller this position is adept at understanding and articulating the impact of complex scientific discoveries, ideas and approaches to engage individual, foundation and corporate donors at every stage and level. This role writes creative communications that will engage prospective donors in the mission. This position produces compelling funding proposals that appeal to the donor’s passions. Stewardship reports and letters are meaningful and make donors feel special knowing they are truly helping to address the most important questions facing science and humanity. To achieve all this, this role also requires sound project management skills and how to collaborate to get the most out of subject matter experts from across the organization.



Write compelling communications to engage existing and prospective donors in the mission of CIFAR:

  • Research and develop inspiring funding proposals, grant applications and cases for support to secure giving, predominantly in the six-figure range, demonstrating a high degree of sensitivity and ability to adapt writing style for different audiences and authors
  • Work closely with fundraisers to develop communications for annual, major gift and planned giving donors in every stage of the cycle to increase their commitment over time
  • Write appeals and letters for the Board, Staff, Fellows and other campaigns
  • Collaborate with Communications team on content creation for key vehicles (i.e. annual report, REACH magazine, website, videos, etc.) ensuring the donor perspective is represented and ensuring all messaging is on-brand
  • Conduct final review of briefing notes to ensure clarity and accuracy, enabling senior leaders to approach every donor meeting with confidence
  • Write correspondence, speaking notes and speeches for Vice President and CEO
  • Articulate the features and impacts of new programs and initiatives, and integrate content into new and existing vehicles

Develop impactful stewardship communications and ensure our commitments to donors are honoured:

  • Work with Research and Knowledge Mobilization leads to develop and write the content for impactful stewardship reports
  • Proactively manage upcoming commitments and inputs from colleagues to meet all deadlines, ensuring there is ample time for design and approvals
  • Develop a process for managing the workflow to deliver high-quality communication pieces on deadline (research, collaboration, writing, contributors’ work, editing, approval, design)
  • Work closely with the Stewardship Manager to develop innovative, meaningful stewardship communications that will surprise and delight donors of all levels and types
  • Write annual thank you letter templates, highly customized thank you letters and announcements/updates on an ongoing basis with quick turnaround

Maintain a deep understanding of CIFAR’s mission, approach and impacts to creatively relay benefits to donors and prospective donors:

  • Maintain close relationships with Advancement colleagues to be well-informed of donor interests and needs
  • Build relationships and work collaboratively with the Research, Knowledge Mobilization and Communications teams to gain and maintain a thorough understanding of existing and emerging work to convey impact convincingly and appropriately to donors
  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge of CIFAR’s strategic directions, programs, issues and initiatives to accurately inform writing/editing of materials­
  • Foster productive working relationships across the organization and actively identify opportunities to share relevant information with donors in a timely and appropriate way
  • Build and maintain a donor communications and engagement calendar, and work with colleagues on overall strategy
  • Stay up to date on industry best practices and innovations in donor and prospective donor communications

Participate as a key member of the Advancement Team to contribute to departmental and organizational success:

  • Provide skilled editing for your colleagues
  • Uphold established best practices in managing donor information in the database
  • Contribute to building a culture of philanthropy
  • Take initiative when an opportunity or issue presents itself
  • Assist with other projects and perform other duties as assigned



Education/Experience required:

  • Diploma or degree in communications, marketing, journalism or other related field, or acceptable combination of education and experience
  • 2-4 years in a fundraising environment with a proven track record of success in donor communications, especially proposal and grant writing; experience in a marketing or advertising environment would be considered, too


Core Professional/Technical Knowledge & Skills required for the position

  • Highly proficient writer for a range of audiences, vehicles and channels, with an exceptional command of grammar, punctuation and syntax
  • Knowledge of the philanthropic community and best practices in major gift fundraising and donor stewardship at all levels
  • Highly proficient in Microsoft Office and Google suites of products
  • Comfort with databases as a key tool for building relationships; experience with SalesForce is an asset
  • Knowledge of InDesign is an asset



  • Ability to synthesize complex scientific information and translate into clear and inspiring communications and cases for support
  • Collaborative team player focused on contributing to departmental and organizational objectives
  • Excellent interpersonal skills with an ability to interact effectively with individuals across the organization
  • Flexible and adaptable with the ability to work under pressure, meet deadlines and handle conflicting priorities with ease
  • Highly organized in managing and planning own work, and ensuring others meet deadlines as inputs to the completion of your assignments
  • Highly detail-oriented and accurate
  • Strong work ethic, professional integrity, initiative-taker
  • Discretion and tact in handling highly sensitive or confidential information
  • Passion for science and/or experience working with the scientific community is an asset


Position reports to:  Senior Director, Advancement


Term of position: Permanent, Full-Time              


Start date:  June/July 2020


Contact:  Please send resume and cover letter in confidence to quoting “Advancement Writing Specialist” in the Subject Line.  The deadline for submitting your application is May 24th at 11:59pm.


To find out more, please visit our website:


One of CIFAR's core cultural values is Diversity - we value diversity and aspire to be inclusive in all aspects of our work.  CIFAR is an equal employment opportunity employer and is strongly committed to removing systemic barriers and biases, and by promoting the practice of inclusivity, so that all individuals have equal access to and benefit from the work we do.  We encourage applications from visible minority group members, women, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, members of sexual minority groups, and others who may contribute to diversity within our organization.


ACCESSIBILITY FOR APPLICANTS WITH DISABILITIES - CIFAR is committed to providing accommodations throughout the recruitment and selection process to applicants with disabilities, in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, and the Ontario Human Rights Code. To request a reasonable accommodation, please email and include the term 'Accessibility' in the Subject Line, or call 416-971-4251. Please provide your name, preferred contact method, and a detailed description of the nature of any accommodation that you may require. Please include any materials or processes that may be used to ensure your equal participation.


CIFAR frequently communicates in both official languages and our preference is to hire employees who are fluent in both English and French where possible.  Other languages are also considered an asset. For a French version of the job posting, please visit


We thank you for your interest in working at CIFAR. All applications will be reviewed however, only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted via email.