Senior Director of Principal Gifts


The Senior Director of Principal Gifts oversees all aspects of cultivation, stewardship solicitation and strategy related to San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance's (SDZWA) most critical donors and prospective donors ($1 Million and above). Reporting to the Chief Philanthropy Officer, this position works closely with the CPO, Chief Executive Officer, Trustees, Philanthropy staff and other key SDZWA executives and volunteers. The incumbent serves as a member of the SDZWA Philanthropy Leadership Team.


  • Develop cultivation and solicitation strategies for a portfolio of high net worth prospects and donors and manages network of relationships with these donors 
  • Identify and engage new, highly philanthropic individual prospects who are unaffiliated with SDZWA 
  • Explore opportunities with high net worth individuals in the national and international community of supporters of efforts to safe species 
  • Evaluate various gift opportunities and giving vehicles and recommends the most suitable for a particular donor 
  • Interact with internal contacts such as directors, researchers and scientists, CEO and COO to formulate strategies to promote prospect engagement with SDZWA


San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is seeking an individual who is inspired to be a part of an organization that is committed to protecting wildlife around the globe. This key position shall provide active oversight and design of overall and donor specific strategies to maximize principal gifts of $1 million and above. This position is responsible for maintaining and coordinating an active prospect portfolio of 50-70 top level prospective donors, working closely with the Chief Philanthropy Officer, SDZWA CEO, Senior Director of Philanthropy and Philanthropy staff among others to build strong donor pipelines, strategies for advancing solicitation, cultivation and stewardship activities


  • Minimum of eight (8) years of related professional experience in a fundraising/development unit or department within a complex non-profit organization 
  • Previous experience specific to major and/or principal level gift fundraising is required  Experience working within a complex environment, including academic and health sciences institutions with multiple units and programs


  • Bachelor's Degree in related field required 
  • Advanced degree in related field preferred


  • Must have a demonstrated record of successful fundraising in a complex organization closing major gifts of seven and eight figures 
  • Evidence of the ability to plan and execute a fundraising plan from conception to realization 
  • Appreciation and understanding of the mission of SDZWA and the ability to articulate organizational values internally and externally 
  • Understanding of proposal development and writing, fundraising principles and techniques; project management skills; and relevant event planning 
  • Demonstrated success in proposal writing and submission 
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills, demonstrating the ability to establish and maintain internal and external relationships 
  • Proven experience motivating and managing individuals and teams for maximum performance
  • Proven ability to support employee inclusion and professional development


  • Location: San Diego Zoo
  • Duration: Year round
  • Exempt position: Salary commensurate with experience (range $150,000 - $200,000)
  • Candidates must be available for an interview if contacted. Full job description will be provided upon request.

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