February 6, 2018 – For not-for-profit organizations, these are challenging days. Declining support from government sources, increased demand for their services and competition for donor dollars are just a few of the issues that charitable organizations must overcome to stay afloat each year. So it is that roles like the major gift officer become all the more critical.
Simply put, major gift officers are top-level fundraisers. They identify potential donors, cultivate relationships and, above all, raise much-needed funds from key supporters. For many non-profits, MGOs are, in a word, indispensable. Recruitment firms that can find the right person to do the job are among a non-profit organization’s most valued partners. And for recruiters, the business of finding major gift officers is booming.
One such firm, Development Guild DDI, is currently seeking major gift officers for three very different organizations: George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the National Coast Guard Museum Association and the Pine Street Inn.
Mount Vernon, the 18th century home of George Washington, is one of America’s most treasured landmarks. The non-profit’s major gift officer works with a dynamic and collaborative development team, said the search firm, and is expected to play a key role in securing designated and undesignated philanthropic gifts through the development and management of an individual major gift portfolio.
In preparation for a potential comprehensive fundraising campaign, the MGO will help expand the Virginia group’s fundraising capacity, said Development Guild. The individual will be responsible for creating and implementing cultivation strategies for new and existing major supporters to maximize funding potential, soliciting major gifts and consistently stewarding donors.
Other essential duties for the Mount Vernon role include: overseeing development and moves management of an individual portfolio of 125 to 150 donors through quality, strategic contacts and face-to-face visits to identify, cultivate, solicit, and successfully close gifts of $10,000 and up; serving as development team point-person and liaison for one or more volunteer donor groups; and traveling on a regular basis domestically and potentially internationally. Mount Vernon’s MGO may spend 60 percent or more of his or her time out of the office stewarding and cultivating major donor relationships and soliciting gifts.
Among the requirements for the job: a minimum of five years direct fundraising experience, including success in building and managing successful donor relationships that result in philanthropic gifts; excellent verbal and written communication skills; commitment to drive activity that achieves or exceeds individual and team goals; and an ability to collaborate with board members, senior staff, development colleagues and volunteers.
Why Recruiters Center On Fundraising Skills
Organizations nationwide are under pressure to find leaders who can act as de facto chief fundraisers – and recruiters are in lock step to find talent to satisfy the demand. These leaders need to be strategic thinkers who can motivate the stakeholders whose philanthropy pulls everything together.
Development Guild said that prospects must also: be interested in the mission of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, with an eagerness to learn and share its importance with others; show awareness of and eagerness to abide by ethical fundraising standards and practices; have experience using a CRM database; and hold a bachelor’s degree.
A New Museum
The National Coast Guard Museum Association in New London, Conn, meanwhile, is looking for a strategic, experienced development professional for the organization’s $50 million-plus capital fundraising campaign to build the first-ever National Coast Guard Museum. To enhance its forward momentum in making this heritage and discovery center a reality, said Development Guild, the museum association wants a major gift officer who is an entrepreneurial thinker and go-getter, capable of identifying and building a new donor pool.
Reporting to the chief development officer, the MGO must be a results-oriented professional who will identify, cultivate, solicit and steward a portfolio of 125 to 50 donors and prospects, said the search firm. The individual will be responsible for prospecting for new donors in cooperation with the CDO, board of directors and Capital Campaign Committee to build a portfolio of high net-worth individuals and corporate leaders throughout the U.S.
Qualified candidates should have a strong track record of securing six and seven-figure gifts and a history of involvement in large-scale comprehensive campaigns, said the recruitment firm. Frequent travel is required. The MGO will also have the option of working from home with required periodic visits to the headquarters.
The new MGO will also be responsible for: effectively identifying new prospects from the existing database, Coast Guard associated individuals, high net worth individuals, maritime, energy and other industry corporations and executives; strategically engaging new prospects through active outreach; research prospects to determine giving capacity and priorities; and working with the CDO and director of communications as needed to develop strategic communications for cultivation and stewardship, in addition to other duties.
Helping the Homeless
Among the requirements for the position: a minimum of eight years fundraising experience and a history in large-scale campaigns; experience working with boards of directors and capital campaign committees; the ability to write proposals and articulate a persuasive case for support; being a strategic thinker with a metrics-driven, entrepreneurial mindset that informs strategy and work; and a bachelor’s degree.
The Pine Street Inn in Boston, for its part, is New England’s largest non-profit resource for homeless and formerly homeless adults. The organization partners with homeless individuals to help them move from the streets and shelter to a home and assists formerly homeless individuals in retaining housing. The group provides street outreach, emergency services, supportive housing, job training and connections to employment.
The major gift officer will be joining Pine Street Inn at an inflection point in the organization’s 50-year history as it prepares to launch a campaign that will fuel its direction and further solidify its regional and nationally recognized reputation as a trailblazer in ending homelessness, said Development Guild.
Reporting directly to the senior director of individual giving, Pine Street’s MGO will be an externally facing fundraiser, said the search firm. The individual will be charged with working collaboratively and transparently with the executive team, board members, senior leadership, staff, and volunteers to develop relationships with new and existing prospects.
A Top Search Firm
Pine Street’s requirements for the MGO role include: four to seven years of progressively responsible experience in a successful individual giving program; a proven track record in managing individual relationships and securing five-six figure gifts; flexibility, high energy, tenacity and a sense of humor; proficiency in Raiser’s Edge and Microsoft Office, especially Excel and Outlook; and a bachelor’s degree.
Development Guild DDI, which has offices in New York and Boston, focuses on the non-profit sector. Founded in 1978, it helps align leadership around a strategic vision with its planning, executive search, and fundraising services. The firm works with clients nationwide, partnering with leaders in academic medicine, higher education, arts and culture, human service and others.
Development Guild’s clients, which number more than 500, have included: Boston Children’s Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Tufts Medical Center, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Holocaust Memorial Museum, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, Massachusetts Society for the Protection of Animals, College of the Holy Cross, Partners in Health, University of Rhode Island Foundation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Cancer Society.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media