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Development & Fundraising Associate

AURA/ Kitt Peak National Observatory
Arizona, United States
Competitive Salary
Closing date
Nov 16, 2021

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Position Type
Fundraising, Corporate and Foundation Relations, Fundraising Administration, Grant Seeking, Other Fundraising, Programs, Community Outreach, Administrative, Public Relations and Communications
Community Development, Community Foundations
Salary Band
Employment Type
Full Time
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Come join and be part of our Kitt Peak Visitor Center (KPVC) group that supports the day-to-day operations for the Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) in Tucson, Arizona.  AURA’s Centers enable the next decade of astronomical discoveries through world-class facilities and science.

We seek an energetic development professional to plan and establish our first major fund-raising program. The ideal candidate shares our team’s passion for informal science education, particularly astronomy education and outreach. It is an exciting time for Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO).  Its highly regarded Visitor Center is leading the redevelopment of the McMath-Pierce solar observatory into the unique Windows on the Universe Center for Astronomy Outreach.  Developing a portfolio of supporters for this project is a key aspect of this position.  KPNO is operated by the NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, which is managed under a cooperative agreement with NSF by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).

You will work with the Visitor Center manager to map out a comprehensive development program and set specific goals. There are two areas of emphasis: seeking capital support for some aspects of the Windows project and creating new sources of operating support. Plan and conduct fundraising, membership, and annual fund campaigns. Seek capital and operating sponsorship with businesses and foundations. Work with the Visitor Center team to plan and conduct special fundraising events. Conduct grant research and write funding proposals. Develop and maintain dialogues with individual donors in order to assure their continued engagement. Develop and maintain basic donor databases and organizational tools.  Provide reports on development activities.

Essential Functions:

  • Research viable grant, gift, and sponsorship opportunities. Initiate contact and begin donor cultivation.
  • Acquire capital support for additional features in the Windows Center such as exhibits and a planetarium.
  • Cultivate personal relationships with prospective donors, foundation staff, and sponsors with the goal of securing financial or in-kind support.
  • Prepare successful grant or sponsorship requests or proposals. Shepherd such proposals through the acceptance process and monitor their consideration status with the prospective foundation, corporation, or agency. Promptly respond to requests for additional information.
  • Create and send notes, updates, photographs, or other materials to donors in order to assure continued engagement.
  • Prepare periodic or final reports, as required by grant maker or donor.
  • Plan and conduct appropriate “special events” to introduce potential stakeholders to the observatory, the Visitor Program, and the Windows on the Universe project.
  • Work with our team members to develop memorable visitor experiences, especially those for supporting stakeholders. Energetically network to expand base of contacts for potential cultivation and solicitation.
  • Establish and operate an annual giving campaign to provide revenue for operations, special improvements, new programs and exhibits.
  • Remain up to date on recent developments in philanthropy, IRS rules governing planned giving, and deductibility.
  • Establish a planned giving program to support Visitor Program initiatives, including Windows on the Universe.
  • Reliably and punctually reports to all assigned shifts. Dependability and highly reliable attendance are essential in this position.
  • Consistently adheres to all NOIRlab and Kitt Peak policies and procedures
  • Performs other safety and security functions during shifts at Kitt Peak, as required of all staff.
  • Work well with, and employs open and tactful communication and cooperation with, all team members.
  • Other duties as assigned

Required Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Bachelor’s degree and three to five years demonstrated history of successfully leading a development/fund raising program-effort at a nonprofit organization and delivering results that substantially impacted the organization for the better.
  • Ability to work enthusiastically, cooperatively, and patiently with all guests, volunteers, staff and key program and community stakeholders.
  • Strong and very well-developed engaging public speaking skills.
  • Well-developed, persuasive writing skills, particularly as applied to sponsorship and grant proposals.
  • Up-to-date knowledge of IRS codes and tax laws as they apply to philanthropic giving and estate planning.
  • Although most shifts will occur Monday through Friday during normal office hours, you must have the ability to work a flexible schedule that could include some evenings and weekends, primarily in association with fundraising events and VIP tours. Your primary office will be located in our Tucson-based headquarters building but some shifts will occur at the observatory.
  • Demonstrated ability to meet deadlines.
  • Ability to receive continual training, put training into practice, and accept ongoing constructive feedback.
  • Must have well-developed desktop computer skills.
  • Provide excellent customer satisfaction service to all current and potential supporters, guests, and volunteers. Project a professional image of the Visitor Center team.
  • Ability to remain calm and productive under pressure.
  • Ability to deal effectively and tactfully with the public, fellow employees, managers, and volunteers; and respond professionally to unusual or unexpected situations.
  • Organized, energetic, honest, and outgoing with strong work ethic.
  • Must enjoy working with diverse audiences.
  • Valid State driver’s license.
  • Ability to pass a background check, per AURA policy.
  • CPR and AED certification is required and will be provided by NOIRLab.
  • Satisfactory completion of any other required safety training.

 Preferred Education/Experience/Skills/Abilities:

  • Bilingual English/Spanish.
  • Certified Fund Raising Professional.
  • Active membership in the Association of Fundraising Professionals or similar professional organizations.
  • Some knowledge in astronomy and familiarity with the night sky will be helpful to you as you work to strengthen the base of support for our programs.
  • Experience in designing and writing fund raising materials.
  • Familiarity with the Tohono O’odham Nation would be helpful; willingness to learn about their culture is a must.

Physical Demands:

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

This work is mostly carried out in an office environment. Long periods of sitting may be required.

Given the international nature of AURA’s work, you may need to travel to the various observatory sites (Arizona, Chile, and Hawai’i) and other locations for business purposes.

AURA offers a mix-model workspace (office & virtual) and stimulating environments for all.

We also offer an excellent benefits package and competitive salary. Highlights:

  • Health Benefits – Start first on the month following hire
  • Retirement Options:
    • 401(a) Money Purchase Pension Plan / 10% Employer Contribution
    • 403(b) / Your own retirement contribution
  • Paid Time Off:
    • Vacation / Accrual of up to 24 days per/yr.
    • Paid Sick Leave / 8 hour per/mo.
    • Holiday Time / 10 days per/yr.

And much more so please explore:

AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, is committed to diversity and inclusion. AURA develops and supports programs that advance our organizational commitment to diversity, broaden participation, and encourage the advancement of diversity throughout the astronomical scientific workforce. Learn more at

TO APPLY: Share your experience by uploading a resume and completing an online application. Please list 3 professional references in your application (references will only be contacted later in the recruitment process) and attach a cover letter and CV or resume (PDF files preferred) to your application. Please name any attachments with the following format: LastnameDocname. Application documents that are not uploaded as part of the application may be sent to 

Preference will be given to qualified internal candidates and qualified Native Americans living on or near the Tohono O'odham reservation. 

COVID-19 UPDATE: Effective December 8, 2021, AURA will require all U.S. based employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.  Vaccination will be a condition of employment, with exemptions granted only for valid medical or religious reasons. This is requirement for all employees working onsite or from home (telework or hybrid remote work schedule).  Currently the vaccination requirement does not apply to any future AURA employees working in Chile, regardless of their nationality or type of contract.

AURA currently offers a mix-model workspace (office & virtual) and stimulating environments for all, with most staff working virtually from home during the COVID-19 crisis through December 2021. The safety of our staff and community is our top priority. We will continue to interview and screen candidates in this new virtual landscape and offers of employment can be extended and new hires will onboard virtually. Employees are required to be residents in the Tucson, Arizona, or Baltimore-Washington area within a limited time from their start date.

Preference will be given to qualified internal candidates and to qualified Native Americans living on or near the Tohono O'odham reservation in Arizona.

Veterans, disabled individuals, or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process should request assistance at

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a consortium of over 40 US institutions and three international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories. AURA’s role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research. AURA is responsible for managing the operations of the NSF’s NOIRLab, the National Solar Observatory, and the construction of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory and the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope under cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation and operations of the Space Telescope Science Institute under contracts with NASA.

 As a recipient of U.S. Government funding, AURA is considered a government contractor and is subject to Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action regulations. As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, AURA does not discriminate based on race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender identity expression, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, disability, and/or any other legally protected status under applicable federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws.

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