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Vice President for Advancement 

Location Museum of Life and Science  
About the Organization The Museum of Life and Science is one of North Carolina's top family destinations, located less than five miles from downtown Durham. Situated on 84-acres, our interactive science park includes a two-story science center, one of the largest butterfly conservatories on the East Coast and beautifully landscaped outdoor exhibits which are safe havens for rescued black bears, lemurs, and endangered red wolves. Other popular attractions include over 60 species of live animals, Dinosaur Trail, Ellerbe Creek Railway, and Hideaway Woods. Our mission is to create a place of lifelong learning where people, from young child to senior citizen, embrace science as a way of knowing about themselves, their community, and their world.  
Full-Time/Part-Time Full-Time  
Exempt/Non-Exempt Exempt  

Supports the Museum mission by overseeing its development activities, acting as a member of the Executive Team, and serving as liaison to the Board Development Committee. The VP develops, executes, and assesses revenue-generating opportunities, including philanthropic, special projects, and governmental funding, raising approximately 11% of a $9.6M operating budget and additional funds for capital and special projects. Despite the pandemic, MLS development revenues have grown by 20% over the past three years. The Advancement VP provides creative, energetic, and strategic leadership for development efforts and supports a culture of equity, integrity, inclusion, and transparency.


Introduction to the Museum

The Museum of Life and Science (MLS), one of North Carolina’s top family destinations, has been serving Durham for 75 years. The Museum features 84 acres of exhibits, experiences, and outdoor exploration, including one of the East Coast’s largest butterfly conservatories and a two-story science center. As an accredited zoo, the Museum is home to lemurs, black bears, endangered red wolves, and more than 140 species of live animals, butterflies, and insects. Readers of Durham Magazine, Indy Week, and Carolina Parent have repeatedly named MLS the top Museum in the Triangle. Charity Navigator rated the Museum, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, 100 out of 100—the highest possible score.

Our mission is to provide a place of lifelong learning where people of all ages embrace science as a way of knowing about themselves, their community, and their world. The Museum serves our increasingly diverse community with interactive and accessible experiences that build and develop lifelong connections with science, nature, and critical thinking. The Museum has a national reputation as a leader in accessibility and partners with NASA, NOAA, the National Science Foundation, Duke University, NC State University, and the University of North Carolina on many research projects and programs.

MLS offers competitive compensation commensurate with experience, as well as a full array of employee benefits including a generous 403b retirement plan with employer contributions, health, dental and vision insurance, an FSA plan, life insurance, long-term disability insurance, paid vacation and sick leave, 9 paid holidays annually, employee appreciation events, and Museum membership.




  • Advance the mission, vision, and goals of MLS in all phases of advancement leadership activities through maintaining working relationships with the CEO, Executive team, members of the Board of Trustees and key donors
  • Serve on the Museum’s Executive and Leadership Teams and staff Board Development Committee
  • Build a culture of philanthropy, maintaining collaborative relationships with VPs and directors, whose cooperation is essential to effective cultivation and fundraising
  • Partner with Finance to establish and maintain Development & gift-processing policies and procedures, ensuring detailed and accurate record keeping
  • Cultivate positive relationships within the civic, philanthropic, and business communities



  • Create and execute fundraising plans leveraging best practices in annual, major, and planned gift programs to meet annual and long-term fundraising goals
  • Identify, facilitate, and secure gifts and grants to ensure capital, endowment, and operating budget needs are fulfilled, developing a diverse base of financial support
  • Develop a program that cultivates long-term relationships, converting members to donors
  • Maintain a dynamic portfolio of high net-worth individuals and secure major, capital, and planned gifts, as well as annual gifts and endowment support
  • Generate unrestricted support for operations and restricted support for programs and exhibits
  • Lead a results-orientated team to increase contributions for expanded programs and capital projects outside the scope of annual operations



  • Hire, mentor, and lead Development team toward goal-oriented outcomes and job satisfaction
  • Manage the Development department including budgeting and monthly reporting
  • Participate in cross-departmental efforts as needed, including supporting the annual audit
  • Monitor trends as well as legislative and regulatory developments at the federal, state, and local levels that affect cultural and nonprofit institutions, and philanthropy in general
  • With Executive Team, coordinate 75th Anniversary fundraising event
  • Perform other related duties incidental to the work described herein or as assigned by CEO

Staff Oversight: Director of Development, Development Manager, Development Associate.

Position Requirements


  • B.A. required; advanced degree preferred
  • At least seven years’ dynamic responsibility in development leadership, with significant success in individual giving, planned giving, stewardship, events, corporate/foundation/board relations, and grant-writing
  • At least five years’ significant supervisory experience, including crafting and managing budgets, with success in leading a team to achieve short- and long-term objectives
  • History of securing major gifts, including cultivation through solicitation and stewardship, as well as experience in annual-giving strategies
  • Systematic, and innovative leader, skilled in integration of modern advancement-related functions such as relationship-driven fundraising strategies
  • Able to work in concert with CEO on strategy, as a top advisor, knowing when to engage CEO to close a major gift
  • Genuine dedication to MLS' mission and to the value of science to the community and the world
  • Strong communication skills: respectful, insightful, and consensus-building
  • Able to develop communication plans that complement advancement initiatives
  • Skilled at setting and assessing goals, with agility to pivot when vital, prioritizing MLS’s long-term sustainability. Able to extract, analyze, and present data to support quality decision making
  • Familiar with pertinent software applications (ideally Microsoft 365 and Blackbaud Altru)
  • Able to successfully pass background check prior to employment


  • Previous Museum experience
  • Membership in relevant professional organizations
  • 10+ years successful fundraising experience
  • Knowledge of local, regional, and national donor base of relevant individuals, foundations, and corporations
  • Experience in winning Federal grants
  • Experience in a member-centric organization with an understanding of the member-to-donor pipeline
  • Experience working in a sophisticated nonprofit environment
  • Experience nurturing and motivating a CEO and Board of Directors to build a strong advancement network and develop strategic fundraising plans
  • Success in one or more comprehensive capital or endowment campaigns
  • Demonstrated ability to work with external partners including community leaders


We encourage you to apply even if your experience is not a 100% match with the position. We are open to candidates with relevant skills and experience and a commitment to our mission, not simply someone who “checks all the boxes.” We want to help you grow and in return, have you help us grow into a stronger, more inclusive organization.

Shift -not applicable-  
Pay Range $95,000-110,000  
EOE Statement The Museum of Life and Science is committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment regardless of race, color, religion, creed, age, national origin or ancestry, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, military or veteran status, or any other category protected by federal, state, or local law. As an equal opportunities employer, we recognize that diversity is a positive attribute and we welcome the differences and benefits that a diverse culture brings. Come join us!
Category Fundraising  

This position is currently accepting applications.

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