External Relations Officer


Founded in 2002, the Illinois Policy Institute is the leading voice championing personal freedom and prosperity in Illinois. The Institute has a proven track record of using a marketing-centric approach to advance policy solutions that unleash Illinois’ talent and entrepreneurial ability.

Every day, we work to transform liberty principles into marketable policies that become law. We believe that policies based on the principles of individual liberty and free enterprise elevate people, especially the poor and the disadvantaged. We ask our donors and partners to measure us by this standard: Are we changing laws and are people’s lives better because of it?

Our long-term vision is to return Illinois to its former glory, as a beacon of prosperity that shines across the Midwest and the nation. This goal can only be reached through the exceptional effort of exceptional people.

We are seeking an External Relations Officer who can embrace this vision as a personal passion and be motivated by it, bringing their best to work every day.

The External Relations Officer will play an essential role by identifying and cultivating new and current major gift donors. This team member will independently manage a portfolio of current and prospective donors, make requests for major gifts and be responsible for providing a top-notch giving experience.

The External Relations Officer will:

  • Grow a portfolio of current and prospective major supporters and cultivate them using a “moves management” framework.
  • Learn the individual passions and preferences of each donor and customize a personal approach to each, bringing value to every interaction.
  • Routinely solicit five-, six- and seven-figure gifts in face-to-face meetings.
  • Make excellence in customer service a hallmark of your work by anticipating and exceeding the expectations of our team and our donors.
  • Travel to participate in donor meetings, primarily in the Chicagoland area.
  • Participate in the planning and success of donor events.
  • Be pleased with your successes but always working to improve, recognizing that growth in personal performance directly contributes to the organization’s outcomes.

Culture and compatibility:

Success at the Illinois Policy Institute requires more than professional ambition or a particular skill set. It requires sophisticated emotional intelligence and the ability to operate within a culture of mutual support and high expectations. Here are some of the primary beliefs we live out within our offices:

  • We are motivated by personal pride more so than recognition, remuneration, titles or other rewards. All of these are good, but they are not the most important motivator.
  • We are self-accountable. We are honest about our strengths, weaknesses and actual performance.
  • We are curious. This fuels our innovation, creativity and service to others.
  • We are tolerant of others’ personality quirks and idiosyncrasies. We all have them.

The ideal candidate’s compatibility at the Institute can be assessed by considering the following questions. If you answer “yes” to all of them, and your skill set matches the requirements listed below, you may be a fit for the team. The vast majority of those who don’t succeed at Illinois Policy do not share these values.

  • Do you wholeheartedly believe that the principles of personal freedom and free enterprise are the best basis for public policy?
  • Do you believe individuals should have the most power to determine what’s best for their own livelihood?
  • Are you persistent when answers don’t come quickly or when responses to questions seem delayed?
  • Are you creative in developing new approaches to problems when all that you have tried has not worked?
  • Does it motivate you to think about working with a team that holds itself accountable for its results?
  • Are you able to build meaningful relationships and create trust with people from a variety of backgrounds?
  • Do you tend to be the one who reaches out to others with questions, rather than waiting for them to come to you?
  • Do you see your team members as the most important group of people to serve, thinking the best of them and responding to their needs as your own?

The ideal candidate will have:

  • Five or more years’ experience in major gift fundraising or sales
  • Excellent communication skills
  • The ability and desire to travel (primarily local, but regional and some national, on occasion)
  • An entrepreneurial spirit with a high degree of self-accountability
  • A strong appreciation for free market principles
  • The capacity to adjust strategies and tactics quickly in response to new information, with the ability to balance shifting and competing priorities


Commensurate with experience. Compensation package includes health (company-paid medical), vacation and sick days. Flexible work environment and schedule.


The External Relations Officer will live in the Chicagoland area and work primarily from our Chicago office.

To apply

Qualified candidates should submit the following application materials in one PDF document:

  • Résumé
  • Cover letter detailing:
    • Your interest in this position: Explain why fundraising is a passion of yours.
    • An story of your success as a fundraiser (no names, please.)
    • A compelling case about why the mission of Illinois Policy resonates with you.
    • Your salary requirements.

Materials should be emailed to Cinda Pensabene at cpensabene@illinoispolicy.org. The position will remain open until a candidate is selected.

While we thank all applicants in advance for their interest in this position, we are only able to contact those to whom we can offer an interview.  No phone calls, please.