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Major Gifts Officer

National Aquarium
Maryland, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Closing date
Dec 11, 2020

View more

Position Type
Fundraising, Major Gifts, Programs, Grant Administration, Grant Making, Administrative, Other Administrative
Philanthropic Advisors
Employment Type
Full Time
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About the National Aquarium

The National Aquarium located in Baltimore, Maryland is a nonprofit organization focused on changing the way humanity cares for the ocean. The Aquarium’s award-winning habitats are home to more than 20,000 animals representing 700 species of fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. More than 300 full- and part-time employees and 700 volunteers drive the Aquarium’s mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. Annually, 1.3 million guests visit the Aquarium, and millions more participate in its conservation, education and engagement initiatives.


Our Culture

The National Aquarium opened in 1981 as a visitor attraction and has evolved into a conservation organization that operates a world-class aquarium. Through unparalleled exhibits, science-based education programs and hands-on field initiatives, staff members strive to create a new community of hopeful conservationists, driven by the mission of inspiring conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. The Aquarium is at the forefront of efforts to increase public awareness of the challenges facing our oceans, and to improve the health of the Baltimore Harbor, Chesapeake Bay and oceans around the world.


Our Mission and Goals

Much of the ocean is mysterious to humans and this is where the opportunity lies. We know that understanding what’s beneath the water’s surface and forging a deeper sense of connection to the ocean can inspire humanity to protect it. The three pillars of the National Aquarium brand—connecting, protecting, and sharing—are designed to instill a sense of hope for the long-term health and well-being of our blue planet in all those with whom we engage.

This is a particularly exciting time to join the team as it boldly steps ahead with leading national and international initiatives in marine animal welfare and global conservation. One of the many strengths of the National Aquarium is its Board of Directors. The Board’s talented members can be called upon to serve as strategic partners with management on specific issues, and they actively serve as stewards and advocates in the community for the Aquarium’s mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. 



2020 will be the year for the National Aquarium’s most ambitious marketing and fundraising campaigns. The Major Gifts Officer is responsible for directing activities that achieve annual general operating, special project and capital individual major donor contribution goals for the National Aquarium. This key philanthropy leader cultivates, solicits and stewards existing donors, and identifies and acquires new major donors from a variety of sources. The Major Gifts Officer works closely with all members of the Philanthropy team to develop and implement a strategic and comprehensive individual giving program, as well as with Board level volunteers, and staff at levels throughout the organization. The Major Gifts officer is responsible for generating new commitments of $1,000,000 and more annually.



Donor Strategy, Relationship Management and Solicitation 

Manage an active portfolio of 125+ major donor prospects of $10,000 and above, and lead efforts to develop and implement cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship plans for each, ensuring plans are complete, strategic, sustainable and effective. Direct activities that support plans, including:

  • Engaging with prospective donors on a personal level, ensuring they have ample opportunity to truly engage with the Aquarium in an innovative and meaningful way
  • Creating and leading efforts around cultivation, solicitation & stewardship events, visits, calls, letters, etc.
  • Devising and implementing comprehensive strategy to solicit prospects based on determination of their experiences with, and interest in, the Aquarium, and their giving capacity
  • Educating and engaging key members of Aquarium leadership and staff to ensure successful and impactful participation in donor activities
  • Achieve activity (calls, meetings, solicitations per month) and financial goals created on an annual basis
  • Develop strategic funding requests based on immediate needs and long-term funding goals of the Aquarium
  • Engage, prepare and support senior-most volunteers and Board members in their ambassadorship on behalf of the Aquarium as necessary to carry out strategies
  • Working with appropriate Aquarium staff, develop and implement strategies to appropriately recognize and steward development volunteers
  • Working with SVP, Chief Philanthropy Officer, identify opportunities and implement strategies to educate current and prospective donors about planned giving opportunities and solicit their participation.
  • Identify new prospects from a variety of sources including donor lists, prospect screening information, and conversations with existing donors and volunteers
  • Working with Annual Giving Director and Director of Membership, identify current annual donors and members who have the capacity to make major gifts; design and implement appropriate strategies

Donor Communication, Cultivation and Stewardship

  • Generate and conduct effective and engaging in-person presentations to high level audiences in support of Aquarium projects and programs.
  • Develop / prepare materials – including letters, proposals, meeting prep, stewardship reports, etc. – to support the major gift development strategies
  • Develop / prepare materials – including contact reports, activity reports, etc. – to support the major gift program
  • Manage and update contact information, plans and actions in Sales Force using identified protocol, complete timely and accurate call and progress reports
  • Ensure consistent and timely communication throughout development department, among Aquarium staff as appropriate, and with volunteers regarding prospect and donor contact and activity


  • Thoroughly understand the National Aquarium, its mission and policies, culture, values, history, key stakeholders, programs, and finances.
  • In all aspects of work, consider and promote the Natonal Aquarium’s impact on and relationships within the community.
  • Work closely and collaboratively with representatives from across the Aquarium
  • Fully engage in Philanthropy department activities, contributing to both overall team and organization wide goals
  • Contribute to long-range planning for the growth and increased overall impact and prominence of the Aquarium’s philanthropy program.
  • Adhere to all organizational and departmental policies and procedures
  • Maintain professional growth and development through seminars, workshops and professional affiliations as well as readings to keep abreast of fundraising trends
  • Other duties as assigned or required


  • Must be creative, driven, and results-focused, and must truly value the Aquarium’s commitment to inspiring conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures
  • Must have a sincere interest in stewarding donor relationships and investments, and a desire to work in a donor centered development culture and produce products of exceptionally high quality.
  • A minimum of eight years in development, with at least five of those years focused on major giving
  • Keen knowledge of and experience with developing and implementing sophisticated strategies for donor and volunteer involvement.
  • Bachelor’s degree is required; advanced degree preferred
  • Strong interpersonal skills, with an ability to effectively present information verbally and to respond to questions from key leaders, donors and the general public is required.
  • Excellent listening, writing, and personal communication skills are required as is high attention to detail.
  • Must be a motivated team player who can engage and inspire fellow managers and volunteer leaders in the organization.
  • Must demonstrate proven success in soliciting and closing major gifts
  • Must have ability to work occasional evenings and weekends and be proficient with office computer equipment and standard office software


Compensation for the Major Gifts Officer includes a competitive base salary, and an excellent package of health and other employee benefits



The Major Gifts Officer reports to the Senior Vice President, Chief Philanthropy Officer


Direct Reports

No direct or indirect reports


The National Aquarium is committed to diversity and invites individuals who bring a diversity of culture, experience and ideas to apply. The National Aquarium is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Direct all Inquiries to:

The Ramsay Group

Diana Ramsay, President

(410) 828-0160
LinkedIn: Diana Ramsay


Anne Walton, Managing Partner

(310) 750-5748

LinkedIn: Anne Walton



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