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Major Gifts Manager

Institute for the Study of War
District of Columbia, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Closing date
Aug 21, 2021

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Position Type
Fundraising, Annual Fund, Corporate and Foundation Relations, Donor Relations, Major Gifts, Planned Giving
Academic Centers, Education, Other Fields, Research
Employment Type
Full Time
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Job Details

About ISW

ISW is a watchtower for US national security; it aims to improve America’s ability to formulate and execute sound strategies for our nation’s defense. Military and civilian decision-makers, US armed forces, humanitarian organizations, and journalists regularly use ISW’s outstanding real time analysis of ongoing conflicts. ISW also educates the next generation of national security leaders.

ISW is fully independent, accepting neither funding nor contracts from US or foreign governments. Rather, it relies on the generous investments of individuals, foundations, and corporations who embrace ISW’s independence and research integrity policy.

ISW has grown its donor base and revenues annually for five consecutive years. This position is an excellent opportunity to build career-defining experience for the long-term … come for the job and stay for the challenge!

The Position

The Major Gifts Manager will formulate, plan, and execute an effective strategy to sustain and increase ISW’s annual revenues by cultivating, growing, and diversifying ISW’s donor base. He or she will focus on fostering ISW’s individual, corporate, foundation, planned, and online giving.

The Major Gifts Manager reports to the Director of Business Development and works closely with ISW’s distinguished Board of Directors as well as the ISW President, CFO, and its wonderful staff. The Major Gifts Manager will cultivate and manage relationships with current and prospective donors, including major donors, corporations, and foundations.


  • Support the Director of Business Development, CFO, and President in strategic planning and revenue forecasting by executing plans of monthly, quarterly, and annual benchmarks aligned with the organization’s strategic goals;
    • With the Director of Business Development, report on the planning and execution of the development strategy and goals to ISW’s Board of Directors;
  • Identify, research, cultivate, solicit, and steward donor relationships in ISW’s major gifts program using fundraising best practices to ensure prospects and donors are moving through the appropriate cycle;
    • Design discrete, annual, and special fundraising campaigns/events, and disseminate outreach;
    • Maintain relationships with donors, including cultivating major gifts, grants, corporate memberships, and individual contributions throughout the fundraising cycle to achieve ISW’s development goals;
    • Develop proposals and other fundraising and stewardship materials, with the assistance of ISW staff;
    • Maintain ISW’s segmented development outreach lists;
      • Maintain the donor and prospect database and ensure it is correctly updated, with the assistance of ISW staff and use it to track donor cycle activity and progress;
    • Serve as an ambassador for ISW and attending external events to help cultivate ISW’s network of supporters;
  • Engage current, lapsed, and prospective donors, including individual, corporate, and foundation supporters and prospects, to cultivate strong relationships and solicit major gifts and grants;
    • Support the Director of Business Development and/or President through planned and targeted communication (phone calls, written communications, events, and in-person meetings), foster personal relationships with active, lapsed, and prospective donors;
    • Plan and schedule meetings with potential prospects, prospects, and traditional donors in key cities (virtually) that ISW prioritizes, including Washington DC, New York City, San Francisco, Chicago;
    • Utilize research and wealth-screening to create individual cultivation, solicitation and stewardship plans.
    • Write, prepare, and compile fundraising collateral materials for key meetings as needed with support from the Development Intern or ISW staff;
    • Acquire and maintain a thorough knowledge of ISW’s product lines and events, and communicate their value to our donors and prospects.


The ideal candidate will have 7+ years of fundraising and/or relevant nonprofit experience, including experience directly cultivating a large caseload of donors, routinely making four-, five-, and six-figure asks, preferably having a proven track record of raising $1M+ annually; a high level of maturity, initiative, and integrity; excellent interpersonal, relationship building, and communications skills; experience with grant writing at the highest level; proficiency with e-Tapestry, Raiser’s Edge or other databases; the ability to travel (post-COVID); and be personally aligned with the mission and programs of ISW. Candidates must also demonstrate:

  • Commitment to ISW’s mission and the ability to communicate its urgency;
  • A track record of managing major donor relationships and of planning and executing successful fundraising campaigns for a non-profit;
  • Able to grasp complex ideas and communicate them effectively to a broad array of audiences;
  • Ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing, especially under deadlines;
  • Excellent judgment, discretion, integrity, and grace under pressure;
  • Ability to effectively and quickly journal conversations and record detailed notes of donor engagements;
  • Motivated self-starter with initiative, drive, and the ability to work independently in a fast-paced environment to advance the organization’s mission;
  • Excellent time-management and organizational skills;
  • An entrepreneurial spirit;
  • Willingness to learn and innovate;
  • Planned Giving experience and MOVES Management skills a plus;
  • The ability and commitment to developing staff and collaborating with others;
  • Knowledge of e-Tapestry database or similar style donor database software.

ISW will consider applications on a rolling basis. 

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