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Director of Principal & Major Gifts, Development

Who we are:

The Vera Institute of Justice, founded in 1961, is a nonprofit criminal justice organization that strives to build just government institutions and safe communities free from the scourge of racism, white supremacy, profit, and inequity that is pervasive in this country’s legal systems. We are an “inside” lane organization that drives change at scale with ambitious public sector leaders who share our commitment to building anti-racist, reparative systems that deliver justice. We leverage our access to government to transform these systems and work collaboratively with stakeholders across many movements—including advocacy, grassroots, and grasstop organizations. Our role is to pilot solutions that are transformative and achievable, harness the power of evidence to drive effective policy and practice, and use advocacy and communications to change narratives and norms.

Vera has a staff of 300 people and offices in New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. We are an equal opportunity employer with a commitment to diversity in the workplace. We expect our staff to embody respect, independence, collaboration, commitment, anti-racism, and equity—both in our outward-facing work and the internal culture of our workplace. We value a range of experiences in people’s educational backgrounds and encourage people who have been directly impacted by the criminal justice system to apply.

Who you are:

The Director of Principal & Major Gifts will work with the Vice President of Development to create and execute the strategy to expand support from HNWIs and UHNWIs, leading a national team of frontline fundraisers to reach annual fundraising goals and build a robust pipeline for future growth. In addition to team leadership, the Director will collaborate with colleagues on adjacent teams to build resources to support frontline fundraising, will partner with Vera program leads and principals on relationship management, and will manage a focused personal portfolio of existing high level donors and prospects.

What you'll do:

Strategy Development 

  • Partner with Vice President of Development on the creation and implementation of annual and multi-year principal and major gifts plan including pipeline development, annual engagement strategy, frontline messaging strategy, and portfolio development.  
  • Create and lead the expansion of philanthropy from individuals, particularly HNWIs and UNHWIs. 
  • Help create and follow processes to maintain best fundraising and operational practices, utilizing clearly defined goals, objectives, and transparent methods. 

Team Leadership 

  • Manage and mentor a team of frontline fundraisers (currently hiring west coast Senior Philanthropy Officer and east coast Philanthropy Officer) - support burgeoning portfolio work within this cohort and ensure clear expectations around messaging, donor engagement, solicitation strategies, legal compliance, and fundraising priorities are understood and adhered to. 
  • Provide oversight for gift officers in meeting annual fund goals centering organizational priorities and goals, with an emphasis on donor retention and growth.  
  • Establish expectations for a robust discovery program and support frontline fundraisers in the continuous execution of discovery churn.  

Cross-team Collaboration 

  • Collaborate with colleagues to formulate strategies to promote prospect engagement, to identify prospective donors, and to build collateral materials to support frontline outreach work. 
  • Provide Vera’s program and leadership team members with effective strategies for approaching donors and prospects.  
  • Generate talking points and outreach materials for program and leadership team members and guide them through donor contact and follow up.  
  • Contribute to an organizational environment where teamwork, collaboration, passion for the mission, and dedication are expected and valued.

Portfolio Management 

  • Develop and enact cultivation and solicitation strategies for a targeted portfolio of prospects and donors with an affinity for Vera and capacity to make principal level gifts. 
  • Build and manage a network of relationships with prospective donors involving Vera Institute volunteer leaders and staff. Facilitate and coordinate all communication with these prospects and the prospects’ Vera relationships. 

What qualifications are we looking for?


  • Bachelor’s degree required 
  • Minimum of 7 years of principal and major gifts fundraising experience. Candidates must have ability to close 6 and 7 figure gifts and experience securing gifts from prospects.  
  • Minimum of 3 years of team management experience 


  • Advanced degree preferred 

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities you'll bring: 

  • Strong passion for and demonstrated commitment to Vera’s mission.  
  • Extensive knowledge of principal and major gifts fundraising and demonstrated ability to provide strategic direction and daily management for fundraising initiatives, resulting in significantly improved performance.  
  • Demonstrated track record of successful solicitations, including the ability to proactively identify, build, and manage a portfolio of major gift prospects where the donor constituency is not immediately apparent.  
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills (both written and oral) and the ability to listen and target communication to specific interests of varied audiences.  
  • Experience developing sound donor strategies and qualifying and disqualifying prospects using research and instincts.  
  • The ideal candidate will be an exceptional fundraiser – you come ready to take on and elevate a portfolio with emerging potential and know how to hit the ground running.  
  • Gravitas paired with the professional integrity and ambition to effectively represent and promote Vera Institute externally at the highest levels.  
  • A motivated, unflappable team player with exceptional communication skills along with interpersonal savvy.  
  • Commitment to the highest standards of professionalism, integrity, excellence, and diversity.  

Additional eligibility requirements:

  • Driver’s License 
  • Ability to travel 25-40% of the time 

Technical knowledge we need you prepared to use:

  • Comfort in online fundraising toolsets and databases. 


Please note this role will report to our Brooklyn, NY or Washington, DC office. Vera employees adhere to a hybrid schedule and are in-office on an alternating schedule that generally amounts to 10 days per month.

Compensation and Benefits:

The compensation range for this position is $170,000 - $185,000.00. Actual salaries will vary depending on factors including but not limited to experience and performance. The salary range listed is just one component of Vera Institute’s total compensation package for employees. As an employer of choice in our field, supporting Vera staff—both personally and professionally—is a priority. To do this, we invest in the well-being of our staff through other rewards including merit pay, generous paid time off, a comprehensive health insurance plan, student loan repayment benefits, professional development training opportunities and up to $2,000 annual for education costs and fees relevant to Vera work, employer-funded retirement plan, and flexible time.  To learn more about Vera’s benefits offerings, click here.

Applications may also be faxed to:

ATTN: People Resources / Director of Principal & Major Gifts, Development
Vera Institute of Justice
34 35th St, Suite 4-2A, Brooklyn, NY 11232
Fax: (212) 941-9407
Please use only one method (online, mail or fax) of submission.
No phone calls, please. Only applicants selected for interviews will be contacted.

As a federal contractor, and in order to ensure a healthy and safe work environment, Vera Institute of Justice is requiring all employees to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccine before their start date. Employees who cannot receive the vaccine because of a disability/medical contraindication or sincerely-held religious belief may request an accommodation (e.g., an exemption) to this requirement.

Vera is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.  All qualified applicants will be considered for employment without unlawful discrimination based on race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, prior record of arrest or conviction, citizenship status, current employment status, or caregiver status. 

Vera works to advance justice, particularly racial justice, in an increasingly multicultural country and globally connected world. We value diverse experiences, including with regard to educational background and justice system contact, and depend on a diverse staff to carry out our mission. 

For more information about Vera, please visit

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