February 15, 2018 – Museums are increasingly turning to specialist recruiters to help fill critical, senior-level leadership roles. The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston recently tapped executive search firm Isaacson, Miller to lead its search for a chief development officer. Vice president Jack Gorman is heading the assignment along with senior associate Becky Wei Piper, associate Sarah Hecklau and senior search coordinator Billy Parker.
The incoming leader is expected to foster a culture of philanthropy to ensure the museum’s success in fundraising. The individual will be a member of a collaborative leadership team and will be expected to contribute to the strategies and direction of institutional decisions and priorities, in accordance with the museum’s strategic plan, said Isaacson, Miller. The CDO will work closely with the museum’s director in setting museum-wide fundraising strategies and priorities.
The ideal candidate will have a minimum of 10 years of significant non-profit fundraising experience in a leadership position with a demonstrated track record of meeting fundraising goals and working successfully with volunteer boards, said Isaacson, Miller. Prospects should have extensive knowledge of fundraising principles, strategies and approaches that span capital and endowment campaigns, as well as annual giving, planned giving and gifts of art.
The museum wants a CDO who is a creative, sophisticated and strategic fundraiser accustomed to working with a complex fundraising portfolio. The candidate should have proven success in building strong and lasting relationships as well as personal experience in strategizing, presenting, negotiating and closing high-level gift arrangements, said the search firm.
As one of the world’s renowned art museums, the MFA’s collection spans nearly all cultures and time periods, ranging from the art of ancient Egypt to French Impressionism to contemporary. The original MFA opened on July 4, 1876, the nation’s centennial. The museum also offers concerts, films and lectures while also serving as an important community and learning resource for schools, families and visitors.
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.
A nationally recognized search firm focused on recruiting transformational leaders for mission-driven organizations, Isaacson, Miller has conducted some 5,600-plus placements over its more than three decades in business.
Mr. Gorman, who joined Isaacson, Miller in 1995, has spent his tenure building and broadening the firm’s advancement practice, which has grown from a two-person team to its current size of 12. It focuses on cabinet-level advancement roles for clients in a range of sectors including higher education institutions; independent schools; research institutes; associations; foundations; and advocacy, conservation, healthcare, and visual and performing arts institutions. Mr. Gorman has also led searches for CEOs and senior-level roles in communications and finance. He is a member of Isaacson, Miller’s executive committee and is active in the leadership of the firm.
Ms. Wei Piper has supported and led searches in institutional advancement for Isaacson, Miller since 2015. Her placements include several senior-leadership positions, such as vice president for college advancement at Wheaton College, CEO of alumni agencies at Virginia Military Institute and vice president for development at the UCONN Foundation.
Ms. Hecklau has specialized in advancement and communications since joining Isaacson, Miller two years ago, supporting competitive searches, such as the vice chancellor for communications and public affairs at the University of California, Berkeley, and others.
Mr. Parker joined Isaacson, Miller’s advancement practice in 2016. He works closely with Mr. Gorman and the advancement team to provide organizational and logistical support throughout the search process.
Chief Development Officers
Virtually every industry needs top-drawer chief development officers. CDOs play a key role in planning, coordinating and administering capital campaigns, corporate giving and galvanizing new donors while keeping old funders content. Implementing funding strategies that “keep the lights on,” according to recruiters specializing in the function, is job one.
Recruiters continue to reports that CDOs are in high demand as fundraising prowess and having an ability to drive growth is becoming an essential part of the skills required of nearly every competitive organization today. A recent search on LinkedIn of the title generated more than 140,000 results.
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