June 6, 2019 – Major gifts officers are among the most vital roles for educational institutions. 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-profits everywhere. And for recruiters, the business of finding major gift officers is booming. Recently, Deerfield Associates Executive Search was enlisted to find a leadership gifts officer for Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME. Doug Cooney, who founded the recruitment firm, is leading the search.
This position calls for building relationships with, and raising major gifts from, individuals connected to Bowdoin College, which is in the planning phase for a multi-year fundraising initiative. Responsibilities include identification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of major gift prospects and donors; maximizing capital and annual gifts to the college; establishing long-term relationships with major donors; working in collaboration with other offices in development and alumni relations, and across campus, to meet the college’s fund-raising objectives. This position is based at the college and will oversee the San Francisco region, an area of significant fundraising potential for the college.
Seeking Diverse Candidate
Academically and culturally diverse faculty and staff are welcomed to apply, as are applicants from diverse backgrounds, and/or who have experience working collaboratively with diverse populations, said Deerfield Associates. Candidates should have more than five years of development/fund-raising or related experience. Bowdoin has a strong preference for experience in leadership gift work.
Bowdoin College is a highly selective liberal arts college, enrolling close to 1,800 students from 50 states and 42 foreign countries. Through a need-blind admissions policy, the college meets 100 percent of students’ demonstrated financial need with no loans.
Wellesley. MA-based Deerfield Associates recruits and places candidates for senior-level administrative positions at colleges, universities and independent schools, both nationally and internationally. Established in 2001, the firm has conducted and completed more than 400 searches. Over 88 percent of Deerfield Associates’ 122 clients return for additional search work, said the firm. Its clients include Yale University, Dartmouth College, Taft School, Deerfield Academy, Mount Holyoke College, among many others.
Mr. Cooney has been involved exclusively in recruitment, talent selection and executive search since 1982. In addition to his leadership role, he serves as an executive search consultant to top-tier educational institutions. Previously, he was an executive recruiter and vice president of Shawmut Bank and Connecticut National Bank, and director of executive search for FleetBoston Financial. Earlier in his career, Mr. Cooney was admissions officer for Vassar College and director of alumni relations for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Recruiting Gifts Officers
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:
Paschal•Murray was retained by Stony Brook University, part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, to lead its search for a major gifts officer. Qualities and experiences that ideal candidates should have include four years of full-time fundraising experience in a higher education…
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.
Aspen, CO-based search firm Aspen Leadership Group was 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.
Tom Rosenwald and Deborah Carroll of executive search firm Buffkin / Baker were tapped to find the next major gifts officer for Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. Buffkin Baker said that the right candidate will have about three to five years of direct fundraising experience, preferably in an academic/medical setting or a comparable environment.
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