Position Overview:  The Associate Vice President of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving is responsible for the development, management, and integration of programs that engage alumni and donors in creative and relevant ways as resources for the College and for each other. This newly created position will report to the Senior Vice President and be part of the Office of Development and Alumni Relations (ODAR) senior leadership team.

This position currently has three direct reports, the goal will be to assess staffing needs and grow the department by two to five additional staff. The AVP will play a pivotal role in growing alumni and annual giving and creating and leading a unified, new strategy and outreach effort to create and sustain commitment and engagement among Merrimack College’s alumni and friends from various generations in the College’s history.

In conjunction with College leadership and other key stakeholders, the Associate Vice President will be tasked with building a program based in best practices in the field and utilizing a market informed approach to alumni relations and annual giving segmentation and messaging. Currently the Merrimack Fund receives nearly $1 million annually through the support of 8.6% of alumni.

Primary Responsibilities  

Management and Strategy

  • Design, lead, and direct the development of annual goals and objectives, operating plans and budgets, staffing, and volunteer management plans for the Alumni Relations and Annual Giving programs. The Associate Vice President will develop measurable and applied metrics for success, maintaining an on-going evaluation and reporting system for annual giving and alumni activities.
  • In collaboration with Alumni Relations and Annual Giving staff, this position will oversee the execution of a robust direct marketing program for the College that will leverage the integration of alumni relations and annual giving programming.
  • Work with the Director of Marketing and Communications to develop a marketing and strategic communications plan for engaging a broad array of alumni and parents in key activities at the College through the incorporation of social media and social media marketing ¾ and leverage such media to advance annual fund goals, where appropriate and impactful.
  • Conduct annual performance reviews for each staff member and work with his/her directors on their performance review processes.
  • In collaboration with Advancement Services and research teams, ensure the accuracy and regular maintenance of current alumni information, data entering of class notes, career information, etc.
  • The ideal candidate will demonstrate initiative and must be strategic, well-organized, and goal-oriented, with an enthusiastic and positive personality, strong interpersonal skills, the ability to manage complex projects, and a collaborative work-style.

Annual Fund Leadership

  • Assist in the identification and cultivation of alumni and parent donor prospects and have his/her own portfolio of donors. The AVP will coach and mentor annual fund officers and ensure measurable goals for visits and gifts asks are implemented and consistently communicated.
  • Responsible for the strategic direction and implementation of The Merrimack Fund and The Warrior Fund in an effort to dramatically increase unrestricted and restricted annual support for the College, especially to increase the number of alumni donors.
  • Build giving metrics and infrastructure into Merrimack’s traditional programs such as Reunion, Homecoming/Family Weekend and the Christmas Celebration, as well as regional and affinity programs.
  • Work with students and other key campus partners to enhance the culture of philanthropy and expand the senior class giving campaign and staff and faculty giving.
  • With the Director of Marketing and Communications, the Associate Vice President will coordinate collaborations with the Office of Communications, especially in regard to direct mail and marketing, email communications, and newsletters.

Alumni Relations Leadership

  • Leverage alumni engagement programming into Merrimack’s strategy for annual giving and overall development goals.
  • Work with Director of Special Events and the Director of Stewardship to create a schedule of alumni programs and activities that promote engagement with Merrimack alumni locally and nationally.
  • Work directly with the O’Brien Center for Career Development to plan and execute an alumni engagement strategy to expand professional career opportunities for students.

Campus Leadership

  • Work closely and collaboratively with colleagues in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations and O’Brien Center for Career Development, as well as with programs in other offices of the College, notably the Office of the Provost, Admissions, Communications, Athletics, the Dean of Students Office, and the five academic schools to ensure the integration of alumni into campus programs.
  • Leverage new ideas and research outside higher education to enhance and improve Merrimack’s alumni relations and annual giving programs.
  • Serve as the contact person for alumni, parents, and others interested in information, services, and programs related to alumni.
  • The Associate Vice President will work closely with the Associate Vice President of Campaigns and Major Gifts in coordinating the activities of a comprehensive campaign.


  • Bachelor’s degree in public relations, communications or related field.
  • Minimum of 7 years’ experience in alumni relations and annual giving within higher education.
  • Exceptional communication, interpersonal skills and the ability to establish and develop long-term relationships with alumni, donors, internal and external constituencies.
  • Superior organizational skills and attention to detail.
  • Experience managing a portfolio of annual donors, closing giving society level gifts as well as a demonstrated ability to collaborate with major and leadership gift teams to move people up the giving ladder.
  • Ability to work well both independently and collaboratively with other team members and colleagues across campuses, prioritizing time, and managing multiple projects, priorities and deadlines.
  • Supervisory experience, particularly with developing a staff of young talent; ability to motivate and support team members.
  • Familiarity with development software and database applications.

Must be able to travel and work nights and evenings as needed

Information for Applicants

Review of application materials will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Nominations, inquiries, and applications, including letter of interest and curriculum vitae, should be forwarded, in confidence, to:

Anthony Cernera
Search Consultant
Annual Giving Network

About Merrimack College

One of only two Catholic Augustinian colleges in the U.S., Merrimack College is a coeducational institution with more than 4,000 undergraduate, continuing education and graduate students from 34 states and 36 countries, comprising schools of liberal arts, science and engineering, health sciences, education and social policy, and business. The College’s 220-acre campus is approximately 25 miles north of Boston in North Andover and Andover, Mass. Merrimack is a Master’s Colleges & Universities/Medium Programs institution in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

The implementation of the College’s ten-year strategic plan, the Agenda for Distinction, has led to renewed energy and sense of community, combined with growth of faculty and the student body. The strategic plan is supported by the college’s current $50 million campaign, Together for Good. This is an essential time for Merrimack College and the Associate Vice President of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving will play a role in sustaining the College’s positive momentum.

About the Office of Development and Alumni Relations

Merrimack’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations (ODAR) builds, cultivates and stewards relationships toward distinctive engagement and meaningful philanthropy that strengthen the college community and advance the institution’s mission.

The office is comprised of nearly forty professionals supporting development, alumni relations, advancement and career services. This team engages an alumni base of 26,000 alumni primarily located in New England. Annual fundraising has tripled in the past five years largely due to a focused major gift strategy, launch of the Together for Good Capital Campaign and new alumni engagement programming.

In 2015, The O’Brien Center for Career Development began reporting to ODAR to increase career opportunities for students through alumni and parent connections. The O’Brien Center for Career Development empowers students to pursue professional opportunities and forge meaningful connections to launch successful careers.

The connections that are made at Merrimack College last a lifetime. Underscoring this unique bond, Together for Good epitomizes the positive impact that can be made when we work together to advance Merrimack College’s goals. Publically launched in fall 2016, Together for Good has successfully reached the $50 million goal to fund priorities identified in the College’s strategic plan, The Agenda for Distinction. Scheduled to conclude in September 2019, we anticipate exceeding the original goal by 20% with the involvement of alumni, parents, faculty, staff, corporations, foundations and friends. Over ten, seven-figure gifts have been secured during the Campaign – the largest number in our history.

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