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General ManagerFull-Time
Gift Planning Associate

POSITION:       Gift Planning Associate

REPORTS TO:  Senior Director of Gift Planning

STATUS:          Full-time, non-exempt 

Through artistic excellence coupled with innovative, relevant programming; initiatives to connect with and grow new audiences; engagement with communities to ignite creativity across Chicago; and a modernized Opera House that is the setting for truly great experiences, Lyric is leading the advancement of opera. This collaborative vision will deliver ever more exciting, thought-provoking and inclusive audience and community experiences – while increasing the gravitational pull of our art form, our company, and our city.

The Gift Planning Office is part of the Development Department at Lyric Opera of Chicago (Lyric). The office’s core function is to secure, maintain, and facilitate legacy gift commitments from donors and patrons. Legacy gift commitments are gifts that are only received upon the passing of the donor. The Gift Planning Office also supports strategic lifetime giving initiatives, the acceptance and liquidation of unique gifts, the creation and oversight of endowments, and other legal and compliance issues that arise related to charitable gifts to Lyric.

The Gift Planning Office at Lyric is seeking to hire a new Gift Planning Associate. The Gift Planning Associate enables the Gift Planning Office to run smoothly and seamlessly by aiding the team’s ongoing efforts in working with legacy gift prospects and existing legacy society members. The Gift Planning Associate’s efforts will provide senior Gift Planning colleagues greater availability to personally steward and cultivate donors interested in a legacy gift.

Under the supervision of the Senior Director of Gift Planning, the Gift Planning Associate will be responsible for implementing and refining systems to ensure: the appropriate stewardship of legacy society members; the management and tracking of existing/ongoing legacy gifts; and the administration of open estates.

The Gift Planning Associate is also responsible for the management of all gift planning specific communications, prospecting and stewardship event planning (in collaboration with the Development Events Team), and the processing and documentation of new gift plans, in addition to providing general administrative support to the Gift Planning Office.

The ideal candidate is detail- and systems-oriented, dedicated to managing and following through on projects, and able to work comfortably in a fast-paced development environment.


  • Demonstrate leadership in accordance with Lyric’s mission and vision.

Lead Generation

The Gift Planning Associate will work with the Development Department, Marketing, and third-party partners to create a pipeline of new legacy gift prospects. All the following will be done in close consultation with the Senior Director of Gift Planning.

  • Work with Operations to identify likely legacy gift prospects in database and pull current lists as needed.
  • Coordinate with Marketing to draft and send email campaigns to target legacy gift prospects.
  • Develop a strategy to leverage social media that incorporates existing Lyric presence online and entices people to consider legacy gifts.
  • Coordinate with Donor Records and Fund for Lyric to target donors who contribute to Lyric through a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) and IRA’s and send annual customized communication to inquire if they have considered naming Lyric as the beneficiary of their DAF/IRA.
  • Coordinate and manage projects with third-party vendors.
  • Manage the interoffice proofing/approval of all gift planning letters/publications through approved online procedures.


Stewardship of legacy society members ensures that we do not lose legacy gift commitments we have already secured.

File Management

  • Manage the acknowledgment of confirmed legacy gifts, including sending appropriate letter and packet to donor.
  • Record and establish new physical and electronic files internally, assigning legacy gift into correct stewardship tier.
  • Annually review all legacy society accounts to verify and document each legacy gift commitment. Correct files/Tessitura accounts and identify missing information and prioritize files/donors in greatest need of additional information on their legacy gift.
  • Identify files that need immediate follow up either to ensure legacy gift still exists or to get necessary information to ensure the legacy gift can be easily facilitated when the donor passes.
  • Digitize documents in the physical file for upload to Tessitura.
  • Work closely with Senior Director of Gift Planning to gather historical knowledge about donors within the legacy society. Identify donor files that require clarification due to inconsistency in files or important elements of their legacy gift that is not documented.

Individualized Stewardship 

  • Execute tiered stewardship strategy for the legacy society based on each individual’s involvement and commitment to Lyric.
  • Track, report, and evaluate engagement with individual members of the legacy society.
  • Identify legacy society members who may have become inactive and develop personalized stewardship strategy with Senior Director of Gift Planning. Ensure all tracking information is in donors’ Tessitura Planned Giving Page and Plans.
  • Assist Senior Director of Gift Planning in scheduling stewardship meeting and phone calls to legacy society members and manage all follow up steps and information
  • Work closely with members of the legacy society and provide assistance with ticketing or other service needs.

Group Stewardship

  • Incorporate group/broad stewardship strategies (emails, newsletters, holiday cards, etc) in tandem with individualized stewardship plans into the tiered stewardship strategy for the legacy society.


  • Set up automated system to prompt, execute, and track stewardship efforts for each tier.
  • Work with digital fundraising colleagues to create and implement strategy for developing a digital community and social media presence for the legacy society.
  • Coordinate and manage projects with third-party marketing partners, acting as liaison between vendor and Marketing, Operations, and Annual Giving teams.
  • Manage the interoffice proofing/approval of all Gift Planning Office letters/publications through approved online procedures.

Existing Gift Management

Some legacy gifts need ongoing attention to ensure Lyric is fulfilling its obligations to the donor and to guarantee the legacy gift is not unintentionally lost.

Charitable Gift Annuity

  • Coordinate with Finance Office and Northern Trust to track the health and status of the Charitable Gift Annuity pool.
  • Update Charitable Gift Annuity report quarterly to reflect status of CGA pool balance.
  • Track CGA gift outcomes – after a CGA has been established, track how the donor has become more engaged with Lyric.

Insurance Policies

  • Document policy, premiums, and how/when the donor needs to be notified to send Lyric a cash donation to cover the expense of that insurance policy.
  • Coordinate all communication to donors so that they receive notification of the pending premium dues and any past due payments.
  • Set up automated system to prompt, execute, and log insurance premium dues.
  • Track and confirm all other insurance plans still under the ownership of the donor – confirm that policies are still current. See if donor would like to gift ownership to Lyric.

Estate Administration

When a donor passes away, the legacy gift does not always come to Lyric without proactive outreach from Lyric. It sometimes takes years for an estate to close. Therefore, it is necessary to closely track the legacy gift donors who have passed away, their executors/attorneys (who close the estate), and the timeline of the closing of the estate.

  • Track the status of all open estates (date donor passed away, pending legacy gift).
  • Identify the name and contact information of the executor, trust officer, or attorney responsible for closing the estate.
  • Build files documenting Lyric’s proactive efforts to receive estate gifts due to it, archive files once estates are closed.
  • Maintain monthly report that lists all open estates and the estimated value of the legacy gift.
  • Work with Donor Records and Operations to develop a system to document, log, and easily pull legacy gift expectancy reports.
  • Track funeral arrangements for deceased legacy society members, notify Senior Directors of Gift Planning, and other appropriate senior staff and Development staff of funeral details for deceased legacy society members, and arrange for flowers and/or condolences letter if appropriate.
  • Work with Donor Records and Fund for Lyric Team to run semi-annual obituary audit of the legacy society and update Tessitura accounts as appropriate.

Project Management

The Gift Planning Office has several projects that require the building of timelines and coordination of efforts with the Development Department at large.

  • Help facilitate the acceptance and liquidation of special or unique gifts.
  • Manage Gift Planning Office resources and records on the shared Development Department drive.
  • Coordinate the design of the legacy society section within the Season Programs and update content and lists as needed throughout the year.
  • Create legacy gift advertisements for the Season Programs.
  • Work with gift officers to confirm proper documentation for new endowment fund gifts that are established. Coordinate with Operations and Finance to update endowment records to capture current endowment values and expected future contributions.
  • Update the Gift Planning Office website as needed.


Coordinate with Development Events Team to annually produce a number of special events for current and prospective planned givers, including some out-of-state travel.

Schedule and organize event logistics including: generating invitation lists, writing copy for event invitations or digital landing pages, maintaining RSVP lists, making follow-up calls to confirm attendance, book location, and handle other related meeting details. Provide liaison with event planning personnel for all gift planning special events. Input event follow ups and plans for new leads, sharing leads with Gift Officers and the Senior Director of Gift Planning.

Other Administrative Duties

  • Manage Gift Planning Office Intern program.
  • Manage Gift Planning Office supplies and mailing.
  • Track Gift Planning Office budget.
  • As the business evolves, so may this role. These duties may change as Lyric’s leadership identifies the need at any time.


  • Bachelor's Degree from an accredited college or university.
  • Three or more years of professional experience in non-profit management, fundraising, alumni relations, communications, public relations, marketing, sales, or related professional work experience required.
  • Proficiency in using and leveraging CRM software (Tessitura experience is a plus).
  • Working knowledge of the Microsoft Office suite of products required.
  • Knowledge of financial products and estate planning vehicles is a plus.
  • Outstanding written, oral, and interpersonal communication skills including the ability to interact effectively in person, by email, and over the phone with a wide variety of constituents.
  • Excellent organization and time management skills including the ability to work on multiple projects concurrently, set priorities, and successfully complete tasks in a timely manner.
  • Previous high-profile customer service experience helpful.
  • Ability to manage confidential information with discretion, maturity, and diplomacy.
  • Ability to work and think independently, a motivated self-starter who also works well in a larger team.


  • Ability to oversee evening or weekend functions, deployments, or performances and work occasional nights and weekends to assist with department/company event needs; some out-of-state travel included.
  • Seek training necessary to remain current in knowledge of deferred giving issues and vehicles.
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment and successfully handle shifting priorities.
  • Ability to sit for an extended period of time.
  • Ability to operate a computer keyboard, mouse, and to handle other office equipment.

The Lyric Opera of Chicago is committed to enhancing our diverse work environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. Lyric does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, parental status, veteran status, or any other protected status under applicable laws. We encourage individuals of all backgrounds to apply.

Questions about Membership or this application? Please contact Vincent Covatto, organizational membership manager, at VCovatto@operaamerica.org or by calling 646.699.5237.
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