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Senior Director, Major Gifts

Location: United States- Arlington, VA
Job Code: 1127
# of openings: 1



Conservation International (CI) has been protecting nature for the benefit of all for over 30 years. Through science, policy, and partnerships, CI is helping build a healthier, more prosperous and more productive planet. 



The world’s most creative, innovative and results-oriented conservation organization, Conservation International, seeks a Senior Director of Major Gifts to take the team to the next level. 


The Senior Director of Major Gifts provides management and strategic oversight to the Major Gifts program, working with the team to develop and implement strategies for their portfolios while coaching and mentoring staff for success as the organization completes its current campaign and designs the next. Reporting to the Chief Development Officer, this is a senior management and fundraising position that will make a significant impact partnering with the offices of the CEO, President and Executive Vice President to increase the pace of fundraising to match the urgency of the mission.


The Senior Director of Major Gifts has a team of four full-time major gifts officers covering our key markets in D.C., New York, Denver and the Midwest, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Two additional team members do some major gifts work and report to other leaders on the team. The Senior Director of Major Gifts also liaises with private fundraisers in Brussels, Singapore, and elsewhere, and with program-based fundraisers in Arlington, VA. In addition, the position will liaise with the Special Events team based in the Brand + Communications Division on all fundraising events and galas, and with the offices of the CEO, the President, and other CI leadership. This role will collaborate closely with the Vice President of Donor Experience on customized donor communications and experiential travel, as well as with the Senior Director of Annual & Planned Giving, whose team is building the major gifts pipeline and focusing on donor stewardship. In terms of support, the Development Division has four coordinators who apportion a high percentage of their time to support the Major Gifts team through research, expense reporting, data entry, event and meeting logistics, and more.


The Senior Director is like a symphony conductor, ensuring the right preparation goes into each performance. They must be gifted at managing in all directions, all while coaching and managing their team for success. They must love brainstorming, developing talent and increasing the organization’s ability to create compelling major gift opportunities. They ought to relish organizational excellence such as team cohesion and productivity, as well as application of major gift best practices.


This position will have very high visibility and enormous responsibility as the organization continues to put the building blocks of a successful major gifts program in place. As part of that, the Senior Director will be the leader responsible for overseeing executive leadership portfolios. This means working hand-in-glove with the offices of the CEO, the President and the Executive Vice President on donor strategy, cultivation and solicitations. This will take the form of weekly sessions to provide status updates and collaborate on donor strategy with the team.


The Senior Director of Major Gifts will manage a small portfolio of 10-15 donors so that they can model for their team the best practices of a sophisticated major gifts shop. At Board meetings and special events, this position will interact with some of the world’s leading philanthropists, foundations, corporations, and thought leaders.


The most successful candidate will have a proven ability to manage and inspire teams, an appetite for learning and engaging on ideas and strategies to address today’s most pressing environmental challenges, and a successful track record of closing major gifts of $100,000 or more, including gifts of $1M. We are looking for someone to take the team to the next level. At the same time, there is room for entrepreneurialism and a high degree of autonomy.



  • Supervise a team of major gift fundraisers located in New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Denver and San Francisco.
  • Provide oversight and guidance for coordinators supporting the Major Gift team.
  • Liaise and coordinate efforts with private fundraisers and program-based fundraisers based throughout the organization.
  • Collaborate with the Special Events team on fundraising events and galas.
  • Direct the development of fundraising metrics reports and review with the Major Gifts team on a monthly basis.
  • Develop and implement systems and processes, in collaboration with the Deputy Director of Development, to improve fundraising efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Manage a portfolio of approximately 10-15 major gift donors/prospects who are capable of giving at least $100,000 over three years.
  • Provide strategic guidance and coaching to the Major Gifts team in developing and implementing donor strategies.
  • Ensure high-quality cultivation and stewardship efforts are underway for all major gift donors, working closely with staff focused on donor stewardship and communications.
  • Participate in the development of programmatic fundraising strategies.
  • Help design and execute the next fundraising campaign, with the Chief Development Officer, the Senior Vice President, and the Deputy Director, Development, and others.
  • Develop multi-year fundraising strategies and goals, evaluating results and developing corrective strategies as needed.
  • Ensure the Development Division complies with all gift-related policies, procedures, and ethics, as defined by the Association for Fundraising Professionals
  • Report up to Development and organizational leadership as needed.
  • Other duties as assigned.

People and Resource Management Responsibilities: 

  • Supervise a team of 4-6 geographically dispersed major gifts officers and direct the work of major gifts coordinators.
  • Ability to inspire and motivate staff over whom there is no direct management authority and collaborate to achieve shared goals.
  • Accountable for managing a fundraising budget and meeting annual revenue goals.
  • Other duties as assigned by supervisor



  • Work is performed in a typical office environment.
  • Ability to work irregular and extended work hours to meet deadlines and attend fundraising events.
  • Anticipated travel 10-20% of the time.
  • The position is based in Arlington, VA.




  • Bachelor’s degree or up to four years of college level work.
  • More than 10 years of fundraising experience, ideally with 8-10 years related work experience closing gifts of $100,000 or more and managing teams of major gift officers or an equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Ability to use fundraising database, metrics, moves management and other relevant systems to hold team accountable and achieve desired results.
  • Strong coaching disposition to develop culture of collaborative donor strategy creation with teams of staff within and outside of Development.
  • Knowledge of current trends in charitable giving, particularly in the areas of capital campaigns, major gifts and planned giving.
  • Ability to discuss assets proficiently and listen for opportunities for gifts of assets or other non-cash gifts, such as planned gifts, and to provide opportunities for donors to receive recognition and increase future giving.
  • A performance-based management approach tempered by an enabling style of team development and coordination along with an ability to promote and maintain an innovative and caring work environment.
  • Strong interpersonal skills, including ability to positively influence and persuade, inspire, motivate, and marshal resources.
  • Ability to design, implement, and direct fundraising initiatives, including individualized cultivation, solicitation and recognition strategies.
  • Ability to work in high-visibility, fast-paced and demanding environment and maintain composure under pressure.
  • Ability to act independently, maintain confidentiality, and make good decisions based on analysis, wisdom, experience and judgment.
  • Strong communication and presentation skills; ability to persuasively convey the mission of CI to diverse groups including donors, board members and others who are important to the organization’s overall prosperity.


To apply please submit your resume and cover letter.


CI Values

We expect that all employees will embrace the values of our organization.

Passion: We are inspired by nature and cherish the diversity of life in all of its forms. 

Respect: We respect and trust each other, and we embrace our diversity of cultures, talents, and experiences.

Integrity: We act with integrity and are accountable for our actions.

Optimism: We are optimistic about the future of life on Earth and are confident that, with our partners, we will achieve unprecedented conservation results.

Courage: We tirelessly pursue our vision, taking bold action and persevering through challenges.

Teamwork: We work together, recognizing that openness, collaboration and cooperation are fundamental to achieving a healthy and prosperous world for all.



Equal Opportunity Employer Minorities/Women/Vets/Disabled




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