Manager of Individual Giving and Special Events

Openlands, a Chicago based non-­­profit environmental organization, seeks a skilled individual to oversee special events and annual giving through maintaining and cultivating valued relationships with supporters who invest in Openlands’ efforts to preserve the natural open spaces of Illinois.

About Openlands:

Openlands was among the first urban conservation organizations in the country, beginning in 1963. The organization protects the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region to ensure cleaner air and water, protect natural habitats and wildlife, and help balance and enrich our lives. Openlands’ vision for the region is a landscape that includes a vast network of land and water trails, tree-­­lined streets, and intimate public gardens within easy reach of every city dweller. It also includes parks and preserves big enough to provide natural habitat and to give visitors a sense of the vast prairies, woodlands, and wetlands that were here before the cities. Working at both a regional scale and within Chicago’s neighborhoods and utilizing a number of conservation tools—land acquisition, ecological restoration, community engagement and education, technical assistance and planning, and policy and advocacy―Openlands adopts and implements long-term solutions that balance the growth of our region with the responsibility to protect and care for our open spaces and natural resources for generations to come. In its 50+ years of work, Openlands has preserved thousands of acres of landscapes; Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, I&M Canal National Heritage Corridor, the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve, and park spaces of all sizes in Chicago and the suburbs.

With 30+ professionals and an annual operating budget of $7M+, Openlands has an ambitious programmatic agenda. In Chicago we offer a range of programs that engage communities in creating green and vibrant schoolyards, and tree planting and tree care throughout many neighborhoods. Across the region we acquire and restore land in Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, continue our years of work in the Calumet region and advocate for and protecting Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

Position Summary:

The Manager of Individual Giving and Special Events partners with the VP of Development and Director of Development to develop strategy and oversee day-to-day activities to sustain and grow a robust annual giving program, which includes membership and leadership giving.  S/he carries a small portfolio of annual prospects and donors with the goal of cultivating and soliciting renewed or increased support and building a pipeline of new individual gifts prospects.  S/he also oversees all aspects of the Annual Luncheon, Openlands’ largest fundraiser, and other events, as directed.

This position reports to the Director of Development and works closely with the Development Coordinator & Board Liaison on reporting needs and membership.

Essential Functions:


  • In partnership with the Director of Development, contribute to the development and implementation of Openlands’ annual fundraising plan for membership, annual, and leadership giving.
  • Increase the number of members in the Leadership Circle (LC), which recognizes gifts of $1,000 or more, through cultivation and stewardship activities, including events, personalized letters, and one-on-one solicitation meetings.
  • Create individualized plans for LC members, including one-on-one meetings; management plans; and/or a formalized stewardship structure that includes multiple strategic touches with each donor throughout the year.
  • Execute stewardship, renewal, and upgrade processes for existing LC donors.
  • Develop annual appeals, including year-end appeals, e-appeals, and lapsed donor appeals to meet annual giving goals; liaise with the Department of Communication as needed.
  • Ensure excellent relationship management/donor stewardship for individual contributors to Openlands.


  • Serve as the primary project manager for Openlands’ largest fundraiser of the year, the Annual Luncheon. Oversee all aspects of the event with assistance from Development Coordinator & Board Liaison and other members of the development team.
  • In partnership with the Director of Development, set overall revenue goal for the Annual Luncheon and develop an expense budget. Monitor progress to goals monthly and/or weekly, as needed.
  • Outline and manage the annual calendar of development events, including the Leadership Circle Luncheon and all other events to cultivate and/or steward individual donors.
  • Implement pre- and post-event planning and communication to ensure effective results and donor relations.


  • Support the Board of Directors’ fundraising activities by providing contact reports and preparing solicitations to their contact lists on a quarterly basis; update and refresh individual Board member’s contact lists on an annual basis.
  • Support the Director of Development in creation of the annual fall Board appeal.
  • Coordinate strategic messaging with the Communications Department – work in close partnership to ensure effective donor communication and web-based fundraising platforms.


  • Perform other development duties as assigned in collaboration with development team to foster progress towards the organization’s development goals.
  • Adhere to and foster Openlands’ employee values:  Communication, Support, Respect, Equity and Strategic/Intentional.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • Bachelor’s Degree required (i.e., arts administration, public relations, journalism).
  • Three to five years of experience in fundraising, i.e. membership, events, annual and/or individual giving.
  • Experience working with Board members and event volunteers to identify, cultivate, solicit, and steward donors.
  • Knowledge and training in donor database program required.
  • Exceptional planning and organizational skills.
  • Strong interpersonal and special events planning skills.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Ability to attend offsite events and activities outside traditional office hours.
  • Event budget management preferred.

Search and Application Process:

The search process will reinforce Openlands’ belief that achieving diversity requires an enduring commitment to inclusion that must find full expression in our organizational culture, values, norms, and behaviors. Throughout Openlands work, they support diversity in all forms, encompassing, but not limited to age, ability, economic circumstance, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation.

To Apply:

This position is open until filled. Interested applicants should send a resume and cover letter explaining why your skills and experience would complement this position to Please include “Manager of Individual Giving and Special Events” in the subject line.


Salary range is market competitive. Benefits include health, life, and disability coverage, a 403(b)-retirement plan, paid holidays, and vacation time. This is a full-time, exempt position.

Openlands is an equal opportunity employer and seeks to employ qualified individuals based on individual merit. Openlands does not discriminate against any individual with respect to the terms and conditions of employment based on that individual’s race, sex, age, religion, color, national origin, disability, genetic information, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, housing status, or any other non-merit factor protected under state, local or federal laws. Equal Employment Opportunity applies to all personnel actions such as recruiting, hiring, compensation, benefits, promotions, training, transfer, termination, and opportunities for training. Openlands is committed to a fair and equitable workplace where everyone is a respected and valued member of the team.

Work Environment

  • Loop office is ADA accessible.
  • This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, and scanners. Employee is regularly required to talk, hear, see, and communicate effectively via computer.
  • Smoke- and drug-free environment.