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The Lab - Symposium 2019



Head and Heart

Based in Stratford, Ontario, the Stratford Festival is one of the world’s foremost repertory theatre companies. It operates year-round, presenting a season of about a dozen plays each year between the months of April and November, a rich stream of digital content and hundreds of Forum events, designed to deepen understanding of the plays. For every person a theatregoer sees on stage, there are seven people working behind the scenes, some of the world’s most dedicated and experienced arts workers. At the moment they are undergoing a culture shift to support anti-racism and anti-oppression and ensure a respectful, equitable and inclusive environment in which all staff, artists and audience members can feel a true sense of belonging.

What makes the Stratford Festival the largest and most popular repertory theatre in North America?

The simple, immediate, and very human connection between actor and audience. In a world tightly filtered by electronics, constrained by screens, and controlled by hidden interests, the Stratford Festival consistently surprises, delights, and challenges.


Four magnificent theatres. The Festival mounts at least a dozen productions annually, in four distinctive venues. With Shakespeare at the foundation of each season’s playbill, it explores every theatrical style and period imaginable, from new works to the Greeks, from comedy to tragedy, from shameless farce to jaw-dropping musical theatre.

Thanks to the unique repertory model, in any single day an audience member can choose from up to eight different productions and from a vast array of Forum offerings. Such rich variety is one reason why Stratford is an annual theatre and holiday destination for thousands from across North America and beyond.

Above all, the Festival’s artists are among the finest there are – and the work of its actors, dancers, musicians, designers, and directors is supported by the unparalleled talent, drive, and creativity of extraordinary craftspeople behind the scenes.

No wonder that the Stratford Festival is one of the most treasured and influential theatre companies anywhere in the world.

The City of Stratford

The city of Stratford got its name in 1835, long before it became associated with Shakespeare or the theatre.

As vibrant as the Festival itself, Stratford offers its 30,000 residents:

  • An affordable range of lifestyle options and real estate choices
  • Excellent shopping, from distinctive boutiques to big-box convenience
  • First-class public elementary and secondary schools, as well as four private schools
  • The Stratford campuses of the University of Waterloo and Conestoga College
  • The Stratford Chefs School
  • A stunning array of top-flight restaurants
  • Weekend farmers’ markets
  • Passenger train service by VIA Rail/GO train
  • Direct buses to downtown Toronto (operated by the Festival during the performance season) and Pearson International Airport
  • The beautiful Avon River – and of course those iconic swans!
  • Stratford Summer Music and Spring Works Indie Theatre & Arts
  • Stratford General Hospital
  • A full range of sports facilities
  • Thriving local industries in agriculture and auto parts manufacturing
  • Two local radio stations and the daily newspaper, The Beacon Herald


Position Overview

Organization: Stratford Festival
Title: Senior Director, Advancement
Reports to: Executive Director and Artistic Director
Location: Preferred location is Stratford, Ontario or commuting distance to Stratford. There is some flexibility on the location provided the successful candidate can be in Stratford to host patrons, connect with staff and attend leadership meetings as needed – 2 days per week between November and April and 3 or 4 days per week between May and October.
Team: Two Major Gift Directors
Membership Director
Playwrights’ Circle Director
Planned Giving Manager (currently in search)
Playwrights’ Circle Administrator
Membership Administrator
Membership Co-Ordinator
Key Relationships Board Chair and Board of Governors
Chair of the Advancement Committee
Chairs, other fundraising committees and special campaigns
Stratford Shakespearean Festival Endowment Foundation
Executive Director
Artistic Director
Stratford Festival Executive Team

Festival Theatre 2

The Organization

Embracing a 70-year heritage of tradition and innovation, the Stratford Festival seeks to bring theatre alive for increasingly diverse audiences, pursue new artistic avenues, and expand the scope and reach of work beyond the stage itself. As part of this effort, the theatre also presents The Meighen Forum, a season-long program of events and activities that complement the playbill; conducts an artistic R&D program entitled the Laboratory; and is midway through a ten-year project – unique in North America – to film all of Shakespeare’s plays.

With an annual budget of $65 million, the Festival earns 95% of its revenue through ticket sales, fundraising, and ancillary activities, making it one of the most self-sufficient cultural organizations on the continent.

Festival Audience

The Festival has weathered the recent public health crisis remarkably well. It undertook a special relaunch campaign, which has raised $13 million to support the return to the Festival’s stages. The Festival is in the midst of a multi-year recovery arriving at an important inflection point. It’s Artistic Director and Executive Director have committed to continuing with the organization for the next few years and leading an ambitious strategic planning process to map out the priorities for the Festival’s next great stage.

A registered charity, the Festival has built an $100-million endowment fund to support operating activities, including training, education outreach, play development, and capital projects.

The $100-million Spirit of the Tent campaign (concluded pre pandemic) supported the construction and operation of the new Tom Patterson Theatre.This 600-seat state-of-the-art facility will both affirm and vastly enhance the Festival’s position as a dynamic world leader in the development and production of live theatre.

TPT Render

By attracting the finest talent from Canada and around the world and by providing the conditions and training that enable artists to achieve their most courageous work, the Festival immerses audiences in a theatregoing experience that is innovative, entertaining, and unsurpassed anywhere in the world, one that is deeply relevant to, and reflective of, our lives and communities.

The Opportunity

This is a rare chance to advance the financial and reputational strength of one of the most important arts organizations in the English-speaking world. With the successful conclusion of the $100-million Spirit of the Tent campaign and a new strategic plan to be developed, the Senior Director, Advancement will have the rare opportunity to work with the Board Executive Team and colleagues in assessing evolving needs and challenges, setting goals, devising appropriate approaches, and developing a new Strategic Advancement Plan.

You will bring a passion for the performing arts to the Stratford Festival’s vibrant senior leadership team, where you will report to and work closely with the Executive Director and Artistic Director. The Senior Director, Advancement will oversee the fundraising plan for the Stratford Festival including the annual fund, long term fundraising (endowment), major gifts special appeals, membership, special events, and major campaigns.

With responsibility for setting fundraising goals and development plans, the Senior Director will work closely with the Board Chair, Chair of the Advancement Committee, other committees related to fundraising, and with the Executive Director and the Artistic Director.

In addition to special campaigns, the Advancement team raises $14 million annually as well as several million directed to the Endowment Fund.

Key Areas of Responsibility

  1. Participate in strategic and operational planning for the Festival, with an eye to relationship-building and fundraising opportunities.
  2. Establish, implement, and evaluate short- and long-range departmental objectives, policies, and operating procedures to ensure goals are met or exceeded in all aspects of Festival advancement, including the annual fund, long-term fundraising (endowment), major gifts, and special events
  3. In association with the Executive Director, establish the annual fundraising goal and develop a specific plan and budget to attain this objective. Identify, recommend, and implement strategies that can be realistically employed to reach established goals. Assemble measurement criteria for each fundraising team. Report on revenue achievement at Board and Advancement Committee meetings.
  4. Direct and assist members of the Festival’s Board of Governors and other fundraising volunteers in meeting revenue goals. In association with the Chair of the Advancement Committee, schedule regular meetings of the Committee and staff to ensure alignment and achievement of these goals. Attend related meetings and present reports as required to the Board of Governors, the Finance Committee, the Executive Team, and the Endowment Foundation
  5. Support the work of the Nomination Committee of the Board by identifying prospective Board members and helping to cultivate candidates and orient new Board members.
  6. Spearhead stewardship and cultivation efforts with the Festival’s donors and potential donors. Serve as the primary steward of the Festival’s major donors. Manage the “moves management” matrix and support the Board and staff in building donor relationships.
  7. Promote a culture of high performance and continuous improvement, develop Advancement staff using a supportive and collaborative approach, and provide direct guidance and supervision in the execution of department activities. The Senior Director will be responsible for staff performance and development goals, establishing priorities, and conducting annual performance reviews.
  8. Develop and update fundraising policies, including gift acceptance, naming, and acknowledgements, among others, and ensure adherence to these policies. Ensure compliance with the Canada Revenue Agency and Internal Revenue Service in executing fundraising activities.
  9. In coordination with the Festival’s Administrative Director, pursue government grant opportunities such as the Endowment Incentives Component of the Canada Cultural Investment Fund and others as appropriate.
  10. Develop fundraising materials for both the promotion and solicitation of fundraising needs. Collaborate with the Marketing department on the development of the annual communication/solicitation plan.
  11. Co-operate as required with members of the Festival’s management and staff to achieve the Festival’s goals. Attend management meetings of the Festival’s senior staff.
  12. Represent the Festival in a dignified and professional manner at all donor-related activities. This includes attending opening night performances, fundraising events, and other Festival functions as required.
  13. Ensure that all program standards are met or exceeded and that all program opportunities are maximized. Develop procedures with staff to ensure all programs are implemented in a productive and efficient manner. This includes technological advances and upgrades, as well as office procedures. Monitor and evaluate these procedures.
  14. Perform other duties as assigned.

    Festival Theatre 3

Candidate Competencies

  • Demonstrated passion for the arts and an alignment with the Stratford Festival’s mission, which is to ensure that the Festival is the premier classical theatre destination renowned for both excellence and innovation
  • Exceptional interpersonal and communication skills that foster meaningful relationships with donors and prospects. Experience in making in-person solicitations with prospective donors and proven success in forging relationships with majordonors
  • Organizational skills that allow for the successful management of a portfolio of several hundred prospects and donors
  • Experience with both Canadian and American fundraising models, trends, and innovative techniques. Understanding of differing approaches and attitudes toward giving in each country and of multi-generational approaches to philanthropy
  • Strong attention to detail and ability to manage complex events
  • Excellent writing and proposal skills
  • Imaginative and innovative approaches to the development of new giving opportunities
  • Strong financial ability to develop budget and manage expenses
  • Excellent staff management skills and team leadership
  • Clear understanding of the relationship and synergies between marketing and advancement activities
  • Ability to work well with the Executive Director, the Artistic Director, and the Board of Governors
  • High professional standards, with an acute attention to detail.

Candidate Qualifications

  • Minimum 10 years’ relevant and progressive senior leadership experience with a mature fundraising team within a not-for-profit environment, preferably in the arts and campaign experience
  • Extensive experience in managing a complex portfolio of hundreds of prospects at various stages of relationship with an organization
  • Experience in working with prospects, donors, and senior volunteers from both Canada and the United States
  • Interest in innovative approaches to fundraising that reflect changing practices, preferences, and demographics of diverse prospect spheres
  • Proven track record in setting and reaching financial goals
  • Strong communication skills – oral and written
  • Strong financial acumen
  • A practical, calm, and creative problem-solver and strategic thinker, with the flexibility to react nimbly to the unexpected
  • Results-oriented personality with a collegial management approach and high level of integrity
  • Disciplined, accepting ownership with a hands-on approach


Application Instructions

This role will appeal to an accomplished leader, someone with sophisticated relationship skills, experience leading a high-performing team with full accountability and impressive fund development experience, particularly at the transformational level ($1M+).

Applying for this role starts with your own – objective – personal analysis. Do you have the top-flight success in major gifts, the zeal for business excellence, and a creative leadership style that inspires the very best of your team? You have held accountability for a P&L. The Senior Director Advancement role demands clear objectivity, quick intelligence, the highest degree of organization, and tireless commitment to results. You are collaborative, excited by new engagement practices, and have a deep understanding of reputational dynamics in philanthropic success.

If you are looking for an outstanding challenge, working with a great Board and leadership team for a very important, focused and successful organization. Please submit your CV, a covering letter explaining why you are a serious candidate and a major gifts chart (see below) to:

PRESTON HUMAN CAPITAL GROUP via email: by Friday May 6th, 2022.

The Stratford Festival is working diligently toward a safe and healthy workplace for everyone. We welcome applicants of every identity, and encourage applications from Indigenous, Black, People of Colour, Deaf, disabled and 2SLGBTQ+ folks. We are committed to accommodating people with disabilities throughout the recruitment process and beyond. If you require accommodation (including, but not limited to, an accessible interview site, alternate format documents, ASL Interpreter, or Assistive Technology) during the recruitment and selection process, please let us know.

Please note all inquiries and applications will be held in strict confidence and only qualified respondents will be contacted.


This document will be kept in total confidence. A sample first row has been filled in here. Please do not share any confidential information.

Your Name:

Time Period:

Donor Name

(only if public)


Gift Level



Focus or Purpose of Gift

Your Role & Roles of others



Gift Details


Key Learning

John Smith or anonymous


XYZ Foundation


Primary donor manager: identified, cultivated, and closed.

2-year pledge given 2021

Zoom calls kept donor ‘engaged’ and didn’t’ use the pandemic as a reason not to



*Please only reveal donor name if the donor has granted consent, otherwise please leave anonymous