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Development Director, Major Gifts

District of Columbia, United States
Competitive Salary
Posted Date
Sep 1, 2023

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Position Type
Fundraising, Major Gifts
Other Fields
Employment Type
Full Time

Organization: Optica Foundation

optics (äp-tiks) noun. The branch of physics that studies the behavior and property of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of instruments that use or detect it.

photonics (fō-tä-niks) noun. The science and technology of generating and controlling light. Photonics underpins the technologies of daily life, from smartphones to laptops, medical instruments, light technology and even the Internet. The 21st century will depend as much on photonics as the 20th century depended on electronics.

Are you passionate about shaping the future of science and technology? Join us at the Optica Foundation, where we are on a mission to make optics and photonics the career choice for undergraduate (bachelor's), graduate (master's), and postgraduate (Ph.D.) programs while supporting early-career professionals and postdoctoral researchers in this exciting field.

 At the Optica Foundation, we believe that by attracting, supporting and retaining the most capable young scientists and engineers in optics, we can drive breakthroughs that shape our future. We celebrate innovation, discovery and the profound impact that photonics has on our world.


Key Responsibilities:

As the Major Gifts Director, you will be pivotal in securing major gifts from individuals,  companies, and private foundations who share our vision for advancing optics and photonics. Your strategic approach to fundraising will be critical in ensuring that we have the resources needed to support talented students and early-career professionals in the field.

  1. Develop and implement a comprehensive major gift fundraising strategy that aligns with our mission and objectives.
  2. Identify, cultivate, and steward relationships with potential major donors, including companies, private foundations, and individuals.
  3. Collaborate with the key collaborators to create compelling funding proposals that showcase the impact of optics and photonics on our world.
  4. Lead fundraising initiatives, including donor cultivation events, campaigns, and targeted outreach efforts.
  5. Manage a portfolio of 100-150 major gift prospects, maintaining regular communication and building lasting relationships.
  6. Provide strategic guidance to the board and staff on major gifts fundraising, helping to shape our funding priorities and strategies.
  7. Proactively contribute to the robustness and accuracy of donor information and relationship history by tracking meeting notes and prospect strategies and by updating donor contact information regularly.



  1. Proven experience in major gift fundraising, with a track record of securing significant donations from high-net-worth Individuals, companies, and foundations.
  2. Passion for science, technology, and the role of optics and photonics in shaping our future.  Demonstrated experience translating science for a non-science audience.
  3. Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to build and maintain relationships with diverse stakeholders. Demonstrated experience engaging scientists, engineers, and innovators in conversations about philanthropy. 
  4. Excellent written and verbal communication skills, with the ability to craft compelling funding proposals and presentations.  Strong organizational skills with a track record of success with cultivation events, campaigns, and targeted outreach efforts.
  5. Demonstrated commitment to maintaining accurate and complete donor information including meeting and strategy notes, and contact information.  Basic prospect research skills to support major gift work.
  6. Strategic thinker who can develop and execute fundraising strategies that drive results.
  7. Collaborative team player who can work effectively with colleagues, donors, and partners.

Join us in making a difference:

By joining the Optica Foundation as our Major Gifts Director, you'll be at the forefront of advancing optics and photonics, and you'll be instrumental in attracting and retaining the brightest minds in the field. Your work will have a direct impact on the future of science, technology, and innovation, and together, we can shape a world where optics and photonics drive meaningful change.

Apply now and help transform the future through optics and photonics.

Located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC, Optica, formerly OSA, offers a competitive salary and excellent benefits. Send resume, cover letter, and salary requirements to

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