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Chief Development Officer

McDowell Sonoran Conservancy
Arizona, United States
$95,000.00 - $110,000.00
Closing date
Oct 17, 2021

View more

Position Type
Fundraising, Annual Fund, Corporate and Foundation Relations, Donor Relations, Fundraising Administration, Planned Giving
Employment Type
Full Time
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Are you looking for a strategic opportunity to shape a thriving and growing development program and its team? Are you proactive, passionate, and creative – along with prioritizing accountability? Are you confident in building relationships with individuals and organizations who have the capacity to make a significant impact? If so, the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy wants to talk to you about being our next Chief Development Officer. The Conservancy is a growing nonprofit in Scottsdale dedicated to preserving the Sonoran Desert through science, education, and stewardship. We have an increasingly strong base of potential major donors which we seek to grow to fuel our aspirational initiatives.  Working in partnership with our CEO and Board of Directors, you will play a key role on the Conservancy’s leadership team, helping us ensure a positive future for the Sonoran Desert!


Position Summary

The Chief Development Officer (CDO) role has been created as a result of the Conservancy’s considerable philanthropic support and growth over the past 2 years. This CDO is the lead for securing private support, with proven ability to anticipate challenges and create innovative solutions to ensure current fundraising targets and future growth are achieved. Responsible for the planning, development, implementation, and management of all fundraising strategies and activities. The CDO will partner with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on their fundraising priorities and donor and prospect portfolios, and support and oversee fundraising activities and donor/prospect portfolios of the Board of Directors.  The CDO will manage their own portfolio of individual and institutional major gift donors and prospects and will ensure that other Development staff are accountable to their fundraising goals and other responsibilities.  The CDO also enables and inspires other leadership colleagues and staff across the Conservancy, and among its volunteers, to help meet development objectives.

Responsibilities Include


  • Cultivate a strong and transparent working relationship with the CEO and ensure open communication.
  • Serve on the External Affairs Committee of the Board. With the Committee Chair, develop schedule and agenda for meetings. Train and motivate committee members to assist in meeting revenue goals and provide any needed administrative support.
  • As a member of the Leadership Team, participate in regular meetings to understand Conservancy activities, ensure consistent messaging, maximize use of resources (volunteer, staff, material), and collaborate on long-term strategy.

Personnel Management

  • Manage a 4.5-person Development team including hiring, onboarding and professional development.
  • Establish annual financial and professional goals for direct reports; create metrics-driven accountability and monitor results. 

Fund Development

  • Accountable for all fundraising revenue goals including the creation of new and innovative fundraising strategies to overcome challenges that arise.
  • Implement the Strategic Development Plan; review and modify as needed.
  • Ensure that fundraising revenue is projected accurately and grown consistently. Prepare and improve monthly reports that highlight and analyze fundraising progress with transparency. Attend and present fundraising progress and Development team activities at regular Leadership Team meetings, staff meetings, Board of Directors meetings, and Committee meetings, as requested.  
  • Coordinate closely with the CEO and Board members to identify and prioritize the cultivation and solicitation of new and past individual, foundation, and corporate donors with major giving capacity over $10,000 with a focus on $25,000 and higher.
  • Collaborate closely with the CEO and Board members to develop action-focused cultivation and solicitation strategies for each major giving prospect assigned to the CDO, CEO, or Board member.
  • Personally initiate and oversee regular prospect tracking meetings with the CEO, Board, and Development team members, to determine and review cultivation/solicitation next steps and timelines for assigned potential donors to ensure maximum funding.
  • Individually and with the Development team, provide the CEO and Board support needed to cultivate, solicit, and steward their assigned prospects and donors; including arranging meetings and tours, and creating or adapting reports, analyses, promotional publications, prospectuses, letters of inquiry, proposals, and presentations.
  • Build personal relationships with individual, corporate, and foundation major donors and prospective donors.
  • Create and grow a planned giving program that prioritizes “blended gifts” to maximize donor commitments with combined current and planned major gifts.
  • Support the Senior Development Managers managing the annual fund and managing the growth of foundation and corporate grants, and unrestricted corporate and event sponsorships.
  • Partner with the Director of Communication to ensure high quality, compelling and customized electronic and print content designed to advance Development’s priorities.
  • Work with other staff to review Conservancy partnerships to lead and pursue joint funding opportunities.
  • Other duties, as assigned.



Essential Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree and CFRE are strongly preferred.
  • Five or more years of experience in fundraising management at a nonprofit organization.
  • Proven track record of meeting and exceeding personal and organizational fundraising goals.
  • Demonstrated experience creating and implementing development strategies and in displaying the flexibility and resourcefulness needed to quickly modify approaches and revenue channels to overcome challenges.
  • Proven excellence in managing and mentoring Development team members, including meeting and exceeding their fundraising goals as well as other development objectives.
  • Demonstrated excellence in supporting an organization’s CEO and Board Members, to help advance fundraising.
  • Proven ability to prospect, cultivate, and solicit major gifts and manage major donors; experience with six- and seven-figure level donors preferred.
  • Demonstrated knowledge and use of prospect management tools, reports, and CRM database to create and monitor metrics for fundraisers, regularly reviewing their progress with prospect cultivation and next steps.
  • Proven ability to organize, manage, and grow an annual fund operation, including accurate data management, analytics and reporting, prospect identification, creative and engaging print and electronic mail development, effective calling program management, annual fund solicitations to upgrade donors, social media fundraising across multiple platforms
  • Well organized, results-oriented, and capable of detailed execution.
  • Enjoys meeting in person, virtually, and by phone with donors, business, and community leaders.
  • Excellent writing skills; exceptional, persuasive communications and presentation skills.
  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively in a diverse, fast-paced environment that encourages collegiality and teamwork.
  • Proficiency with fundraising database software, especially Kindful and Raiser’s Edge, and Microsoft Office suite.
  • Demonstrated, personal commitment to preserving and expanding ecological natural resources is strongly preferred – especially the protection and understanding of the Sonoran Desert and arid environments.

Like all of our team members, the Chief Development Officer will contribute to a culture based upon respect, teamwork and collaboration. Adaptability, creativity, and a passion for the environment and the Conservancy are a must.


Instructions – How to Apply


A comprehensive resume or curriculum vitae with a single-page cover letter and at least 3 references should be attached to an email message and sent to


Items should be saved together in one PDF (.pdf) or Word document (.doc or .docx), and saved with a file name in the following format:  LastnameCDOApplication.pdf or LastnameCDOApplication.doc or LastnameCDOApplication.docx

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