Blank Park Zoo
Blank Park Zoo

Open Daily, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
$14 adults, $8 children

View All Rates ›

Open Daily, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
$14 adults, $8 children

View All Rates ›

Chief Development Officer

Date Posted
October 12, 2021
Full Time

Job Details

The Blank Park Zoo is currently seeking a dynamic individual with a passion for relationship building, storytelling and fundraising to fill the position of Chief Development Officer. The Zoo is a nonprofit with the mission of conservation, education and recreation. As the only AZA accredited zoo in the state, the Blank Park Zoo serves nearly 500,000 people per year with a budget over $7,000,000. The animals at the Zoo are ambassadors to their wild counterparts. Activities in the Zoo are meant to create unique, tangible, personal connections to endangered animals that inspire action. Small actions lead to big impact when saving animals from extinction. 

The position of the Chief Development Officer will work with the Blank Park Zoo CEO, Board of Directors, development staff and volunteer leaders to plan, research, implement and manage a comprehensive development program including annual fund, capital campaign, membership, sponsorship, fundraising events and planned giving. A successful individual will identify, qualify, cultivate, solicit and steward relationships within our community to enhance and grow the mission of the Zoo specifically related to development and community relations.


The following duties are essential to this position. To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. These are not to be construed as exclusive or all inclusive.  Other duties may be required and assigned.

  • Establish a vision and create a comprehensive plan for the Zoo’s development efforts, relating to fundraising, membership and fundraising events.
  • Assist Blank Park Zoo CEO in guiding Board of Directors, staff and volunteer leadership in planning and implementing successful giving programs.
  • Oversee and manage capital campaign plans, soliciting new gifts and stewarding existing donors.
  • Oversee and manage development timelines, including individual gifts, major gifts, sponsorships, corporate partners and grants.
  • Coordinate creation and production of written collateral for fundraising efforts.
  • Create and follow Blank Park Zoo donor policies and procedures, including general gift acceptance, naming and planned giving.
  • Plan and supervise donor research, stewardship reports and revenue reports.
  • Identify and segment prospective donors.
  • Create gift range charts and gift tables.
  • Write fundraising letters, grant and foundation proposals, donor correspondence and stewardship reports. Supervise team that assists with these duties.
  • Plan and conduct ongoing training program for board members, staff team and other fundraising volunteers.
  • Prepare speaking notes and agendas for CEO, Board and volunteers making calls or presentations.
  • Maintain call reports and donor notes in Donor Perfect.
  • Provide leadership, counseling, coaching and management of development team.
  • Responsible for the development of team members ensuring they have the tools and guidance to achieve their personal and department goals.
  • Coordinate publicity and public relations activities that further development goals with appropriate staff and volunteers.
  • Prepare progress reports and implement regular reporting mechanisms.
  • Oversee pledge payment, gift acknowledgment process and reporting activities.
  • Manage donor recognition activities, celebration events and volunteer recognition.
  • Working with a committee and staff member, oversee the design, planning and execution of fundraising events.
  • Manage a comprehensive planned giving program including policies and procedures, giving society and recognition.
  • Other duties as assigned


Direct reports include Director of Sponsorships & Fundraising Events and Director of Annual Giving & Membership



The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  1. High level of knowledge of fundraising and ethical practices.
  2. Superb writing skills including high proficiency in grammar and spelling. 
  3. Exceptional interpersonal and communication skills necessary for relationship building within the organization and the community.
  4. Proven record of the ability to obtain results and meet fundraising goals.
  5. Previous supervisory experience. Historical success in growing and advancing staff preferred.
  6. Must be able to maintain work hours that will serve the needs of the Foundation (including evenings and weekends).
  7. Storytelling skills to craft messaging and tell the story of the nonprofit Blank Park Zoo.
  8. Proficient in computer skills including donor databases, internet research and Microsoft Office.


  1. Resourceful - Understanding of, or has the ability to, research all applicable topics as they relate to modern zoological management, fundraising in a nonprofit zoo setting, operations of an attraction and customer service.
  2. Flexible - Ability to gracefully manage multiple projects with a variety of assignments and deadlines while also maintaining composure in an environment that can be stressful.
  3. Initiative - Must be self-motivated and exercise initiative to take on projects, solve problems, both independently or with a team and demonstrate capacity for detail and follow-up.
  4. Relationship Building - Must be a positive, effective team leader and be able to establish professional working relationships with co-workers, board members and community supporters.
  5. Clear communication skills - both verbal and written.
  6. Ethical – Abide by honest, transparent and ethical practices in all facets of the job.  
  7. Innovative - Ability to propose creative solutions to areas of concern and assess risk.
  8. Collaborator – ability to bring people of different backgrounds, skills, and personalities together with the common purpose of serving the Zoo.  


  • Bachelor’s degree required, advance degree or professional certificate preferred
  • 5 - 7 years successful fund development experience
  • 3 - 5 years management experience
  • Budget management experience
  • Capital campaign fundraising experience


  • Valid Iowa motor vehicle license (or the ability to acquire)
  • First Aid / CPR training (or the ability to acquire)


Ability to communicate effectively with all ages of visitors, staff, community members, donors and other professionals – both within the organization and the local community.


All normal computer business skills required.


Ability to understand budgets, timelines, and set fundraising goals           


Ability to understand and write employee evaluations, create schedules, set priorities, understand and use goal setting for self and staff, be able to collaborate and prioritize regular work and projects


The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to successfully perform the essential functions.

  • Standing – Approximately greater than 1/2 of on-the-job time.
  • Walking – Approximately greater than 1/2 of on-the-job time (on zoo grounds and offsite meetings)
  • Sitting – Approximately 2/3 of on-the-job time.
  • Driving – Approximately less than 1/2 of on-the-job time.
  • Use of hands to lift or handle – Approximately less than 1/3 on-the-job time.
  • Reaching with hands and arms – Approximately less than 1/3 on-the-job time.
  • Climbing or balancing – Approximately less than 1/3 of on-the-job time.
  • Stooping, kneeling, crouching or crawling – Approximately less than 1/3 of on-the-job time.
  • Talking or hearing – Approximately greater than 2/3 of on-the-job time.
  • Tasting or smelling – Approximately less than 1/3 of on-the-job time.
  • Weight lifted/Force exerted – Ability to bend, twist, lift for all normal office duties and attendance at offsite meetings.
  • Vision – Close vision, distant vision, color vision, peripheral vision, depth perception and ability to adjust focus.


Most activity is limited to indoor space, however the ability to function in all types of weather including extreme heat and cold is important when attending offsite meetings and conducting tours.

Contact Information

To Apply:

Please complete an online application and attach a cover letter and resume.

Click here for online application.

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