Job Board
McMaster University

Executive Director, Advancement Communications and Donor Relations

Posted On: February 28, 2024
Closing On: April 12, 2024

Location: Hamilton, ON
Employment Type: fulltime
Level: senior
Salary Range: $134474.00 - $201712.00 (annual)

Founded in 1887, McMaster University is a research-intensive, student-centered university dedicated to advancing human and societal health and well-being and has achieved an international reputation as a center of excellence for teaching and learning, innovation, and creativity. Currently, McMaster is home to over 37,000 students, 13,000 staff and 1,000 full-time faculty.

As an institution, McMaster is committed to creating a brighter world for all. This starts at home as McMaster University is one of 27 Canadian Institutions who have signed the Okanagan Charter, signifying a commitment to integrating health and well-being into all aspects of campus life. McMaster has been selected as a Hamilton-Niagara Top Employer for the past five years in a row and has also been recognized as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for the past seven years.

Position Profile

Now, on behalf of McMaster University, we are seeking the Executive Director, Advancement Communications and Donor Relations. As a critical leadership role within the University’s Advancement executive team, and reporting to the Vice-President University Advancement, the Executive Director is responsible for providing visionary leadership and devising, leading, and implementing the strategy for all cross-University donor communications and relations as well as Advancement-related communications and marketing programs. This role is key to the delivery of McMaster’s enterprise-wide strategy to maximise philanthropic income from, and engagement with, key external audiences, in support of McMaster’s goals.

Working in partnership across Advancement, the Executive Director, Advancement Communications and Donor Relations will play a pivotal role in ensuring the creation and delivery of a strong, compelling narrative for both philanthropic fundraising and alumni engagement. It will ensure the embedding of a strong culture of philanthropy and engagement across McMaster University that builds effective and impactful relationships with the University’s alumni population of over 227,000 graduates in over 147 countries as well as donors at all levels, up to those giving the largest multi-million-dollar gifts.

This is an exciting time for a strategic advancement communications and donor relations leader to join McMaster University as they engage in ambitious campaign planning. It is a key role leading the development of multi-year campaign strategies that frame McMaster’s unique strengths and opportunities. It reinforces alignment with the university-wide campaign structures and practices, integration of alumni and development strategies, maximizing support and rallying the community around a compelling vision for McMaster’s longer-term goals.

The Executive Director, Advancement Communications and Donor Relations provides exemplary leadership, strategic direction and technical subject-matter expertise for cross-University communications and marketing programs related to fundraising and alumni engagement including the donor relations activity. The position’s primary goals are:

  • to lead the creation, implementation, oversight of all University Advancement communications, including those relating to the campaign;
  • to provide strategic advice and the delivery of integrated communications strategies that will support the Advancement program’s delivery against fundraising goals by enhancing the recruitment, retention and upgrading of donors;
  • to develop a cohort of high-performing communication and donor relations teams that operate cross-University;
  • to implement best-practice donor relations and communications programs that support fundraising goals;
  • and to support the embedding of a strong culture of communications and engagement in ongoing fundraising and alumni relations activities by complementing and reinforcing university-wide messages, engaging audiences in new ways, and encompassing all digital and traditional media and channels.
  • Oversees the Advancement Communications team as well as the Director, Donor Relations


Education and Experience:

  • Completion of a Bachelor degree at minimum. A Master’s degree would be considered desirable.
  • 10-15 years of progressive communications experience with a wide range of clients in agency and/or in companies or non-profit organizations. Experience building fundraising communications and campaigns is a major asset.
  • A proven track record of achievement in large-scale advertising programs, brand development, direct marketing, as well as development and implementation of marketing plans, communication plans, collateral materials and PR programs.
  • Experience executing campaigns in print, broadcast and digital media is required.

Knowledge and Skills:

  • Superb personal communications skills, both written and oral; strength in persuasive communications
  • A superior strategist with a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of communications and how best to deploy media and channels to reach a wide variety of audiences.
  • The ability to work with many internal stakeholders and partners, understand their various priorities, and craft appropriate strategies and programs that communicate often complex messaging in a compelling way to diverse external audiences.
  • Experience working closely with a President, Vice-President, or senior executive leader is required.
  • Working knowledge of the post-secondary sector and current trends in North American Advancement.
  • Experience in strategic planning and leading annual planning in a complex organization, bringing a creative and strategic approach.
  • Demonstrated success in leading and executing change.
  • Extensive people and relationship management skills demonstrated through past responsibilities.
  • Deeply familiar with and responsive to the priorities and motivations of academic leaders and researchers in a university setting.
  • Exercises excellent diplomacy and judgment while navigating difficult situations.
  • Ability to listen, compile learnings from, and influence key stakeholders.
  • Comfortable in international settings and working with a variety of cultures – second language is an asset.
  • Sophisticated and adaptable interpersonal and communication skills
  • Exceptional presentation and public speaking skills – comfortable and able to adjust speaking style to different sizes and types of audience.
  • Strong organization skills and proven track record of succeeding in managing complex and competing deadlines in a fast-paced role and environment.

If you are intrigued and invigorated by the details of this opportunity to bring your experience to a new, important, and key role with McMaster University, we would love to have a conversation.

To express interest in this opportunity please apply online by clicking:

For more information about this exciting opportunity please contact Mark Gillis, Partner, at or Natalie Lagace, Recruitment Specialist, at If you require accommodation to participate in the recruitment process, please let Mark or Natalie know.

Meridia Recruitment and McMaster University invite applications from all qualified individuals; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority. As one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers, McMaster is committed to advancing inclusive excellence and employment equity in the workplace. We especially encourage qualified candidates from the Indigenous (First Nations, Métis or Inuit), Black and racialized communities, persons with disabilities, women, persons who identify as members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and others who reflect the diversity of Canadian society.

Employment Equity Statement
McMaster University is located on the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee and Mississauga Nations and within the lands protected by the “Dish With One Spoon” wampum agreement.

The diversity of our workforce is at the core of our innovation and creativity and strengthens our research and teaching excellence. In keeping with its Statement on Building an Inclusive Community with a Shared Purpose, McMaster University strives to embody the values of respect, collaboration and diversity, and has a strong commitment to employment equity.

The University seeks qualified candidates who share our commitment to equity and inclusion, who will contribute to the diversification of ideas and perspectives, and especially welcomes applications from indigenous (First Nations, Métis or Inuit) peoples, members of racialized communities, persons with disabilities, women, and persons who identify as 2SLGBTQ+.

As part of McMaster’s commitment, all applicants are invited to complete a confidential Applicant Diversity Survey through the online application submission process. The Survey questionnaire requests voluntary self-identification in relation to equity-seeking groups that have historically faced and continue to face barriers in employment. Please refer to the Applicant Diversity Survey – Statement of Collection for additional information.

Job applicants requiring accommodation to participate in the hiring process should contact:

to communicate accommodation needs.

Hybrid Work Language
To ensure an ongoing and vibrant University community that meets the needs of our students, staff and faculty and supports the University mission, ability to work on-site continues to be a requirement for most University positions. The University is supportive of exploring flexible work arrangements that effectively balance operational needs and employee interests.