Fernwood Botanical Garden is a special property situated
on the beautiful St. Joseph River in southwest Michigan.
Berrien County is famous for its fruit production,
wine country, and lakeshore communities. Only minutes
from South Bend and the University of Notre Dame and
just 90 minutes from Chicago, Fernwood has been a popular
destination for more than 55 years. Fernwood’s mission
is to enrich people’s lives by awakening and deepening
their appreciation of nature. Now more than ever, Fernwood
Botanical Garden and other public gardens across the
country play an important role in offering a safe place
of beauty, healing, reflection, and celebration.
Fernwood comprises 105 acres of gardens and natural
areas and is a birder’s paradise. The property features at
least 10 unique ecosystems and 36 plant species that the
Michigan Department of Natural Resources has deemed
threatened, endangered, and plants of special concern.
Visitors may enjoy Fernwood’s natural areas with miles of
walking and hiking trails, garden paths that wind throughout
special botanical collections, and a visit to the Sims Education
Center for drop-in educational features and a bird viewing
area at the wooded edge of the preserve. New garden
features are on the horizon.
Emerging from the pandemic of the past three years,
Fernwood has its sights on furthering and strengthening
its educational programming for all ages in the areas of
sustainable practice, art, and gardening in response to
climate change. Under the careful planning of visionary
Executive Director, Carol Line, Fernwood is poised for
significant growth over the next decade with a Master Plan
that encompasses not only the garden but the philanthropic
landscape as well. The Master Plan is a comprehensive
blueprint to take Fernwood into the next decade, and the
new Director of Development will play an integral role in
raising capital to execute the goals. Several key areas include
strengthening and expanding programming and special
garden features to attract young children and families,
and improving earned income by focusing on and enhancing
venue rental space. The successful candidate will have
the opportunity to cultivate and expand on a dynamic
development program to assist Fernwood in reaching
its envisioned potential with the full support and
encouragement of the Board of Directors and
In this newly redefined and expanded role, the Director
of Development (DOD) will identify, renew, and strengthen
key relationships for Fernwood within the community.
This externally focused leader will explore and present
compelling opportunities for interested individuals,
foundations, and corporations to support the organization’s
mission and subsequent outcomes. In year one, the DOD
will be tasked with envisioning, organizing, and implementing
a comprehensive and diverse philanthropy program. It will
be of utmost importance for the DOD to increase/renew
funding and to ensure consistent support for Fernwood
through various means including the garden’s annual fund,
membership, and events. These means provide general
support for Fernwood to remain an important community
asset and magical place for all to visit, learn, and connect
with gardens and nature.
Reporting to the Executive Director, the DOD will be an
enthusiastic, relationship-focused team member who will
work with Board and staff leadership to encourage donor
engagement resulting in maximum philanthropic investment
in the organization’s mission and programs. As the sole
development professional for Fernwood, the DOD will have
a strong understanding of all elements of the development
pipeline and will have the freedom to both create and
implement their ideas with strong support from Board
and staff leadership.
● Serve as the primary face and subject expert for all things
relative to fundraising for Fernwood.
● Collaborate with the Executive Director and Board
Members to assess current fundraising goals and create
attainable but ambitious goals for the next 3-5 years.
● Develop and implement a substantive, actionable, and
measurable strategic development plan. Implement and
monitor progress toward short- and long-term fundraising
strategy and goals. Maintain accurate progress reports of
revenue and expenses towards goals.
● Steward a culture of philanthropy at all levels of the
organization, including staff, leadership, volunteers,
and the Board of Directors.
● Foster a culture of teamwork and collaboration among the
Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, and the community.
Donor Relations and Stewardship
● Develop a consistent pipeline of donors who have the
capacity to give annually at a level of $5,000 or higher.
Create and implement strategies to grow the donor
pipeline at all gift levels.
● Identify and cultivate the next generation of major donors
with recommendations from stakeholders and other
means to identify and qualify donors for solicitation and
● Partner as appropriate with leadership volunteers to
identify and secure visits with those in their peer networks
and other stakeholders and groups.
● Establish a thoughtful and consistent stewardship plan
for donors at all levels. Ensure excellent customer service
is provided to donors through accessibility to staff and
leadership (when appropriate), timely responsiveness,
quality in all interactions, and personalized communications.
● Maximize relationships with current and former Fernwood
members and volunteers in the area.
External, Community, and Partner Relations
Together with the head of marketing and community
● Serve as a passionate and visible spokesperson for
Fernwood, ensuring the organization is known as
a trusted community organization dedicated to preserving
its natural beauty through education, enrichment,
● Maintain a strong presence in professional organizations,
community groups, and other spaces relevant to the work
of Fernwood and its mission.
● Act as a liaison to local businesses, government, and public
entities. Develop a network of organizations in the local
community that can contribute volunteer and financial
support for years to come.
● Work with the local counties’ funding entities and
foundations, representing the organization at meetings
and presentations and provide impact and other reports
throughout the grantmaking cycle.
● Network at regional Chamber events and with other
service groups to be familiar with area organizations
and to place Fernwood’s work and image in the forefront
of these community groups.
Administration and Management
● Support all organization fundraising events’ strategy,
including coordination of board committees, staff, and
ensuring other relevant partners are included, invited,
● Assist all major events to help guarantee success including
Fernwood’s LIGHTS holiday show. Be a strong player in the
functions and logistics of all special events with support
from the Special Events Manager and select Special
● Create a system and structure for effective grants/grants
management. Support the Executive Director, directly or
through outsourced support, on governmental and large
● Become familiar with and adapt a thorough
record-keeping process using the ALTRU CRM
system and make certain donor records are
updated and maintained.
Fernwood seeks an experienced and strategic Director
of Development to spearhead the development of a
comprehensive fundraising plan that will ensure long term
sustainability and support for Fernwood’s mission.
The successful candidate will be adept at both “big picture”
strategic development and successfully implementing and
fulfilling plans to meet goals. A skilled relationship manager,
the DOD will spend the majority of their time in the field
identifying opportunities to diversify Fernwood funding
by matching the interests of high-profile donors,
foundations, businesses, and local organizations to the
needs of Fernwood.
Specific Requirements Include:
● Proven ability to build strong relationships with a variety
of volunteers, public leaders, partner organizations, and
other stakeholders and leverage those relationships for
partnership and fundraising opportunities.
● Demonstrated commitment to accountability, measuring
outcomes, and a results-oriented culture.
● Familiarity with donor tracking systems, such as
Blackbaud’s CRM product suite.
● Ability to engage with diverse audiences, including donors,
board members, volunteers, youth, staff, executives, etc.
● Established track record of increasing revenue through
diverse fundraising streams, e.g., individual giving, grants,
corporate partnerships, planned giving, etc.
● A track record of stable tenures in previous roles.
● Knowledge of and connections to funding communities in
Michigan’s Berrien, County and South Bend desirable.
A minimum of 5 years of progressive experience in
fundraising, public relations, and leadership, with the
ability to work collaboratively in small teams.
Compensation will be determined based on experience
and skills. Full-time employees are eligible for health, dental,
and vision insurance, generous PTO, sick days, select
holidays, a 401(k) plan, and professional development.
Fernwood is an equal opportunity employer and does not
discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, religion,
age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability,
marital status, veteran status, or any other occupationally
To assure confidential tracking of all applicants, no applications
will be accepted via email. ALL INQUIRIES WILL BE HELD IN
STRICT CONFIDENCE. All candidate submitted materials and
credentials will be reviewed for consistency and accuracy.
Candidates can expect that KEES will verify employment/
academic/background information both in the screening
process and for the finalist(s) in a formal background check.
This search is being managed by Heather Eddy (President)
and Stacy Harker (Consultant) of KEES. Questions may be
addressed to email@example.com.