Organization: Union for Reform Judaism

Location: New York, NY

Express Interest

About Union for Reform Judaism:          

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) builds community at every level—from the way they collaborate with congregations, organizations, and individuals to how they make connections across North America to advance contemporary and inclusive Jewish life. Providing vision and voice to transform the way people connect to Judaism, URJ helps congregations stay relevant and innovative, motivate more young Jews to embrace Jewish living, agitate for a more progressive society, and foster meaningful connections to Israel.

Founded in 1873, URJ has grown into the largest and most powerful force in North American Jewish life, with nearly 900 member congregations and work that inspires, connects, and educates an estimated 1.5M Jews. URJ’s legacy, reach, leadership, and vision enable them to unite thousands of years of tradition with a modern, evolving Judaism to strengthen Jewish communities today and for future generations.

The URJ’s key strategic priorities are:

The organization has a budget of $93M, which comes from member congregations, programming, and philanthropic efforts that are initiated by the URJ, its camps, and other entities. More than 300 individuals are employed by the URJ year-round, and that number grows to thousands during the summer, when its 15 camps and most of its youth travel programs are in session.

The URJ is working toward an ambitious strategic plan that focuses on aligning each part of the organization toward the URJ’s bold and exciting vision for the future of Reform Judaism. Entitled 2020: A Clear View of Our Future, the plan is driven by the organization’s key values, as well as a commitment to ensure a strong Jewish future.

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The Opportunity:

URJ is seeking a senior-level development professional with an outstanding track record who is eager to shape the future of an evolving institution by implementing a thoughtful growth strategy. The organization is excited to welcome a partner who can support an audacious strategic vision and lead a pivot to a more diversified funding model.

Looking forward, the URJ aims to increase flexible funding, while building on congregational member dues and programmatic fees. URJ continues to fortify congregational life as a top priority, but is also moving beyond the congregations to engage people in innovative contemporary Judaism. Increased program funding will enable growth in the URJ’s strategic priorities. This is an excellent opportunity to be at the forefront of change in Judaism’s largest denomination.

The Vice President of Philanthropy is a member of the Executive Team, and works closely with the Philanthropic Leadership Advisory Group (to be created in partnership with the Board Chair), Oversight Committee, Board Members, and colleagues on the Executive Team to foster a successful development and donor program. The Vice President will also build effective partnerships with the Communications, Finance, Program, and IT Departments. The Vice President will formulate plans and implement best practices and innovative approaches to increase philanthropic support—both current unrestricted as well as greater investment in key programmatic priorities. URJ is eager to prioritize and centralize development, breaking down organizational siloes and making donor engagement and fundraising operations more cohesive.

The Vice President will lead the efforts being made throughout the organization to maximize funds, including URJ’s Annual Campaign. This also includes fundraising for programmatic initiatives and capital projects that are in alignment with the strategic goals of URJ and the key interests of major donors, ranging from several hundred thousand dollars to $16M per year.

The Vice President of Philanthropy’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

Resource Development and Strategic Marketing

  • Provide the collaborative leadership to implement and grow a comprehensive strategic approach to philanthropy, with the goal of expanding the donor base
  • Establish and foster a culture of major gift philanthropy at all levels of the organization
  • Serve as a partner to the CEO to solicit and steward top donors and prospects
  • Utilize exceptional relationship management to identify, cultivate, and solicit major and principal gift prospects; Maintain and manage a portfolio of high-level prospects
  • Develop a marketing-focused planned giving program with a focus on deferred giving vehicles
  • Align all development activities with organizational priorities and strategic direction
  • Lead the effort to learn the values of donors and their interests and drive the effort to ensure donor-centric marketing in all fundraising materials
  • Oversee a more coordinated, efficient, and thoughtful approach to broad-based direct marketing
  • Oversee operations of database, reporting, and metrics evaluation

Donor and Board Engagement Strategy

  • Create a high-level Philanthropic Advisory Group that will work in congress with the President and the Board Chair
  • Leverage the greater giving of the Board to increase engagement
  • Identify and recruit top-tier philanthropic leaders and provide guidance in training future Board Members and other institutional leaders
  • Engage with current Board Members and committees to help maximize their commitment to and involvement with the organization and its development
  • Take an active role/provide leadership for the orientation, support, and “onboarding” process for new Board Members in support of fundraising activities
  • Provide advice/counsel and support for Board Members and other key stakeholders in their fundraising activities

Management and Leadership

  • Recruit, train, lead, and motivate a team of professionals and support staff that currently includes a donor stewardship coordinator, researcher, major gift officers, and regional and programmatic-focused fundraisers
  • Set goals and objectives for and review professional development of team members
  • Serve as an ambassador and advocate for the Development Department within the organization
  • Establish collaborative relationships and engage meaningfully with colleagues to ensure philanthropic programs align with current and anticipated URJ programs, innovations, and strategic direction
  • Position the Development team as a central resource for the entire organization
  • Marshal the full resources of URJ’s passionate and engaged Executive Team, program and administrative staff, lay leadership, and strategic partners
  • Create, develop, and foster collaborative working relationships with URJ’s external partners
  • Serve as an active, resourceful, and contributing member of the Executive Team

Candidate Profile:

Desired qualifications include the following:

Skills and Experiences

  • Significant track record of transformative success in institutional advancement in a high-profile Jewish communal, higher education, cultural arts, government, NGO, or other not-for-profit setting
  • Extensive knowledge of and success with the New York and broader North American Jewish philanthropic community
  • Demonstrated success in change management and revamping a fundraising program to drive a culture of philanthropy
  • Comfort and success as a frontline solicitor
  • Experience in capital campaign planning and implementation
  • Up-to-date on established and emerging tactics in philanthropy, including, but not limited to, e-philanthropy and applications of digital and social media
  • Reputation as an innovator and for implementing best practices in institutional advancement
  • Ideally, experience in marketing and communications and a commitment to a team approach in creating a coordinated advancement initiative
  • Substantial management/mentoring experience
  • Deep experience working effectively with trustees, volunteers, and lay leadership
  • Knowledgeable about local, national, and global cultural, business, social, and philanthropic communities
  • Persuasive writing and presentation skills; Able to communicate to diverse audiences

Personal Qualities

  • Genuine interest in the shared goals and values of the Reform Movement
  • Vibrant, passionate, creative with an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit
  • Exceptional judgment, maturity and a capacity for leadership
  • Positive energy, enthusiasm, a “can-do” attitude, and a strong work ethic
  • Big picture thinker who appreciates and understands details
  • Collaborative, inclusive, team-driven style
  • A teacher/trainer/motivator; stellar interpersonal skills, with the ability to motivate and engage others
  • Ability to work diplomatically and effectively within an intricate, multifaceted organization
  • Willing to roll-up sleeves to address change management and operational issues
  • Superior organization and time-management skills
  • Willingness and ability to regularly participate in evening or weekend events and to travel, as required


Compensation will be competitive and commensurate with experience and accomplishments.


Molly Brennan and Melissa Madzel of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role, please submit your materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with nonprofits and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit