Director of Major Gifts (TNC)


Join and lead a strong team working for a planet where people and nature thrive. Based in Chicago, the Illinois Chapter has both state and global impact and regularly funds work around the planet, from Kenya to Brazil to China. The Chapter is on an upward trajectory with funds raised, board diversity, conservation impact and program growth. This year the team further clarified the case for support through a newly updated IL strategic plan aligned with TNC’s global goals (see: Reporting to the IL Chief Development Officer, the Director of Major Gifts leads the out-the-door fundraising team.  



Founded in 1951, the Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable.  One of our core values is our commitment to diversity. Therefore, we strive for a globally diverse and culturally competent workforce. Working in 79 countries, including all 50 United States, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit http:\\ or follow @nature_press on Twitter.



The Director of Major Gifts works within a team of philanthropy staff to develop and implement a strategic plan for all direct fundraising aspects of a comprehensive fundraising program that includes major gifts, principal gifts and planned giving. S/he manages the out-the-door fundraising team on determining effective strategies and moves for qualified major donors and prospective donors. S/he will join the Development Leadership Team, which will include the IL Chief Development Officer and the Deputy Director for Development Operations. S/he will carry a small, high-level portfolio and is expected to close high six and seven-figure gifts as relationship manager. S/he must be experienced in working from a major donor pipeline in a team atmosphere to effectively build a personal and team portfolio. S/he must be experienced in designing and executing strategies to bring a donor from mid-level to a gift at philanthropic capacity, with demonstrated success in developing substantive donor relationships and at engaging and supporting natural partners in executing donor strategy. 

The Director of Major Gifts is responsible for leading, supervising, coaching and motivating a team of four fundraisers. S/he will work closely with and report to the IL Chief Development Officer to ensure staff objectives and performance measurements adhere to departmental, statewide and regional goals. S/he will lead by example, and thereby create a collaborative and successful team environment. The position will spend upwards of 70% time on the management of a major gifts program, and a minimum of 30% time out-the-door on fundraising activities prospecting and managing a select portfolio of donors, including high net-worth individuals, corporations and foundations.

S/he will raise on average $2,000,000 from a personal portfolio and conduct 35-50 donor visits annually. This will include major gifts, planned and endowment gifts.  Must be able to persuasively convey the mission of The Nature Conservancy as well as key priorities from our global strategic plan: Tackle Climate Change, Protect Land & Water, Deliver Food & Water Sustainably and Build Healthy Cities. See more here:

S/he will work with conservation staff in both local and international programs to engage donors and must display curiosity and self-motivation to learn and communicate conservation goals to donors and prospects. S/he must be curious and self-motivated to learn domestic and global conservation strategies and become adept at linking the two.  A demonstrable commitment to conservation will be a distinct advantage.   



Reporting to and in collaboration with the IL Chief Development Officer, the Director of Major Gifts will be expected to:

  • Develop and manage a robust out-the-door fundraising program specifically focusing on managing a major gifts program, which raises approximately $10-15M annually, includes major gifts, principal gifts, planned and endowment gifts.
  • Lead and manage a team of fundraisers, directly supervising a Senior Associate Director of Philanthropy, two Associate Directors of Philanthropy (ADoP) and a part time ADoP and manage fundraising goals and performance measurements as well as support professional development plans for each direct report.
  • Through targeted prospecting efforts, build and manage a portfolio of select major and principal gift donors, including qualifying and disqualifying high capacity suspects.
  • Collaborate with the Chief Development Officer to oversee the design and execution of the identification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship strategies for all managed donors and key suspects, identifying and orchestrating engagement of natural partners within and outside of the organization.
  • Collaborate with the Deputy Director, Philanthropy Operations to design and execute a meaningful and dynamic donor program. Serve on the Development Leadership Team.
  • In collaboration with the IL CDO, maximize Trustee and volunteer engagement in all aspects of fundraising.
  • Collaborate with Philanthropy Operations on a regular basis to ensure the use of systems and processes that maximize resources and meet fundraising goals. 
  • With the IL CDO and Deputy Director, Philanthropy Operations, develop annual and long-range philanthropy plans, including establishing multi-year fundraising goals for statewide, regional and global initiatives, and be held accountable for the same.
  • Educate others about and institute best philanthropic practices.
  • Understand and comply with all Conservancy gift-related policies and procedures and ensure ethical compliance, as defined by the Association for Fundraising Professionals.
  • Readily take on additional responsibilities as this growing philanthropy program evolves into one of the Conservancy’s leading development teams.



  • Bachelor’s degree in marketing, communications or related field and a minimum of 8 years related work experience or an equivalent combination of education and experience.  Major gifts fundraising experience required.
  • Experience in managing/supervising fundraisers, including ability to motivate, lead, set objectives and manage performance of major gift officers.
  • Experience in managing and tracking multiple prospects and donors.
  • Experience in building a major donor portfolio from a pipeline process.
  • Experience, coursework, or other training in current trends in charitable giving, particularly in the areas of capital campaigns, major gifts and planned giving.
  • Experience in asking for and closing major gifts of $100,000.
  • Experience building and maintaining long-term relationships with fundraising constituents such as major donors and corporations.
  • Ability to travel up to 25%


  • Bachelor’s degree in marketing, communications or related field and 8 - 10 years’ development work experience.  Major gifts fundraising experience required.
  • Supervisory experiences with major gift officers, including ability to motivate, lead, set objectives, and manage performance, including conflict resolution. 
  • Strong collaborative and team working skills; ability to manage up, down and across to achieve results.
  • Ability to use existing technology to achieve desired results.
  • Successful experience in managing a portfolio of major gift donors with a specific emphasis on prospecting to build a major gift portfolio and/or program.
  • Knowledge of current trends in charitable giving, particularly in the areas of capital campaigns, major gifts and planned giving. Working knowledge or ability to learn basics of charitable gift planning.
  • Successful experience in asking for and closing major gifts of $100,000 or more and building and maintaining long-term relationships with fundraising constituents such as major donors and corporations.
  • Ability to inspire, motivate and marshal resources. Strong interpersonal skills, including ability to positively influence and persuade.


This description is not designed to be a complete list of all duties and responsibilities required for this job.



Visit and apply online with required cover letter and resume to job #48667 or apply directly hereAll resumes and required cover letters must be submitted through The Nature Conservancy’s online application system.  The application deadline is April 29, 2020 at 11:59 PM EDT.  If you experience technical problems with the site or application process, please contact [email protected] and include the job opening ID.


The Nature Conservancy is an Equal Opportunity Employer

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The Nature Conservancy is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Our commitment to diversity includes the recognition that our conservation mission is best advanced by the leadership and contributions of people of all genders with diverse backgrounds, beliefs and cultures. Recruiting and mentoring staff to create an inclusive organization that reflects our global character is a priority and we encourage applicants from all cultures, races, colors, religions, sexes, national or regional origins, ages, disability status, sexual orientations, gender identities, military or veteran status or other status protected by law.

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