August 20, 2018 – For non-profit organizations, major gift officers are among the most vital of roles. The position involves identifying potential donors, cultivating relationships and, above all, garnering much-needed contributions from key supporters. Recruitment firms that can find the right person for this top-level fundraising position are much-valued partners of not-for-profit everywhere. And for recruiters, the business of finding major gift officers is booming.
Aspen, CO-based search firm Aspen Leadership Group was recently selected by Ithaca College to lead its efforts to find a new major gifts officer. Principal and founder partner Ron Schiller is heading the assignment.
Ithaca’s major gift officer is expected to be a front-line fundraiser with the responsibility of managing a portfolio of prospects made up of alumni, parents and friends with the giving potential of $100,000 or more. This executive is required to travel extensively to develop and strengthen prospect relationships and will develop written annual work plans as well as visit and solicitation goals in conjunction with the associate vice president for individual giving, said Aspen Leadership Group. The individual will be responsible for ensuring the integrity of information in the college’s advance database relevant to assigned prospects, including visit reports, stages, strategies and tasks.
Candidates should have a strong commitment to higher education and specifically to Ithaca College’s mission. They must also have “a demonstrated ability to cultivate relationships including gift solicitation and experience working with volunteers and a proven track record of collaboration in a team environment,” said the search firm. A bachelor’s degree is required, as is four years of extensive experience in educational fundraising or a related field/equivalent combination of related education and experience.
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Ithaca College is a coeducational, nonsectarian private college located Ithaca, NY. The school was founded in 1892 as a conservatory of music. It has a strong liberal arts core, but also offers several pre-professional programs and some graduate programs.
Aspen Leadership Group, which was established five years ago, conducts searches for board members, presidents, executive directors, chief development and advancement officers, and development and advancement professionals. Founder Ronald Schiller has 26 years of experience in executive search, fundraising and administration of non-profit institutions. Mr. Schiller is a nationally recognized advisor to presidents, board members and other leaders in higher education, arts and cultural organizations, healthcare and social and community services. His focus is executive search and strategic consulting. In this capacity, he draws on his long experience as a fundraising leader, executive team member, board member and search consultant.
Unique Role, Growing In Prominence
Major gifts are the largest donations an organization receives. Major gift officers lead all major giving areas for non-profits and fundraising organizations. From identification to cultivation to solicitation to stewardship, they build relationships with prospective donors.
Major gift officers at a large non-profit are likely to be part of a team of officers, whereas a smaller organization might have an existing staff member take on the responsibilities.
Here is a sampling of a few search firms that have been tapped to find new major gift officers for organizations from the Hunt Scanlon Media archives:
Development Guild DDI recruited Peter Trainor as the major gifts officer for the Pine Street Inn in Boston. Pine Street was looking for an executive with four to seven years of progressively responsible experience in a successful individual giving program as well as a proven track record in managing individual relationships and securing five-six figure gifts.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation of Massachusetts has retained Boston-based recruitment firm Lois L. Lindauer Searches to spearhead its hunt for a new major gifts officer. This is an opportunity for a seasoned development professional to join a highly-respected organization in which development plays a critical role.
Executive search firm Myers McRae has recruited Barbara Steadman as the major gifts officer for Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC. Kenny Daugherty, president for the Macon, GA-based recruiters, led the assignment. Ms. Steadman has 20 years of experience in fundraising, board governance, alumni relations, media relations web development and marketing.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media