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Director of Major Gifts - Make a Wish CT

Company: Make a Wish CT
Date Posted: May 9, 2018

Make a Wish

Executive Search – Director of Major Gifts 

Position Overview

Sterling Search Inc. has been exclusively retained to recruit for the new Director of Major Gifts for Make-A-Wish Connecticut.

In 1980, everyone who knew seven-year-old Chris Greicius also knew he wanted to be a policeman when he grew up. Concerned that Chris' diagnosis with leukemia might prevent that dream from coming true, officers from the Arizona Department of Public Safety decided to create that dream for him. They pulled together people from all over the Phoenix community to grant Chris’ wish to be an Arizona State Trooper.

Any child between the ages of 2½ and 18 who has a critical illness may be eligible for a Wish, with a local Make-A-Wish® chapter serving every US community.  Each year, approximately 27,000 children in the United States are diagnosed with a condition that potentially qualifies them for a Wish. 

Make-A-Wish now operates in nearly 50 countries and has granted more than 334,000 Wishes worldwide since 1980. In the United States and its territories, Make-A-Wish America fulfills its mission through 62 separately incorporated chapters.  Make-A-Wish America was one of the nation’s first recipients of the Council of Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance Seal, signifying adherence to charitable accountability, and was honored in a recent edition of “America’s Greatest Brands.” 

MAW Connecticut (MAWCT) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and is governed by a local volunteer Board of Directors. Founded in 1986, MAWCT has granted the wishes of more than 3,000 children with critical medical conditions in the local community and believes that a wish experience impacts a child’s life and his/her family forever. This one belief guides Make-A-Wish in everything they do.        

MAWCT has a strong infrastructure, an impressive Board of Directors and is positioned for success.   From the Evening of Wishes Gala, to Walk for Wishes, MAWCT has varied streams of revenue and is now ready to strengthen its major gifts program with this newly created position.

The current budget for MAWCT is $5 million with a goal of granting 250 wishes. Under the well tenured fiscal management of CEO Pam Keough, the Chapter receives 4 Stars from Charity Navigator. MAWCT has an engaged and committed Board of Directors with 22 members, representing an average give/get of $30,000.

The President and CEO is seeking a Director of Major Gifts who will collaborate with the Chief Development Officer to build and grow a major gifts program.   He/she will be expected to carry a portfolio of major gift prospects while also helping to coordinate and offer feedback as to individual donor strategy and tactics for all major gift prospects including those carried by the CEO and CDO.  The Director of Major Gifts must bring an entrepreneurial spirit and a demonstrated track record of successfully managing and implementing all aspects of a major gifts fundraising program.  

The new Director of Major Gifts will be visionary, naturally persuasive and accountable. He/she will lead based on core ethics of collaboration and the drive for excellence, to ensure that the best services are being delivered to the children MAWCT serves.

Specific Duties and Responsibilities            

The Director of Major Gifts reports to the Chief Development Officer. He/she is visionary and able to execute a successful major gifts strategy focused on connecting the interests and passions of donors with organizational funding opportunities. He/she will identify, engage, cultivate, solicit and steward current and prospective major gift donors. This newly created position will be responsible for managing and developing a portfolio of major donor prospects with a focus on securing gifts of $10k+, bringing new donors to the organization and cultivating individuals to make extraordinary (six and seven figure) gifts. He/she will also create and implement a robust system of moves management. The Director of Major Gifts will:

Collaborate with the CEO and CDO to build and implement an effective and successful major gift strategy.

  • Identify, qualify, cultivate, close and steward major gift donors who have a capacity of       $10k+.
  • Create individual financial goals and a strategic cultivation plan for each donor based on donor’s history of giving and organization’s knowledge of donor’s potential.
  • Work with development, program, and communications staff to secure appropriate information, including budgets that will be used with donors in your portfolio to solicit and secure gifts and report back on how their giving is making a difference.
  • Perform other major donor activities as required by management, including creating monthly reports that accurately reflect portfolio activity and performance.
  • Continue to raise the public profile of MAWCT by serving as a spokesperson and advocate for the organization, as well as being a visible and influential leader and fundraiser in the community.
  • Ensure compliance with all relevant regulations and laws, maintain accountability standards to donors and ensure compliance with code of ethical principles and standards of professional conduct for fundraising executives.
  • Use Raiser’s Edge database to track and maintain accurate, concise and timely records including biographical data and donor actions.
  • Assure sound fiscal operation of development function, including timely, accurate and comprehensive reporting.
  • Execute all other reasonable duties as assigned by the CDO. 

Professional Experience and Qualifications

As with all members of Make-A-Wish Connecticut staff, the Director of Major Gifts must believe in the mission and vision of Make-A-Wish as well as the Association of Fundraising Professionals Code of Ethical Standards. He/she must model integrity, work to inspire colleagues and contacts and strive to build a solid base of loyal donors. In addition, the Director of Major Gifts should have:

  • Passion for the mission of Make-A-Wish.
  • Imagination, leadership and integrity.
  • A minimum of 5 years demonstrated experience in successfully creating, managing and growing a major gifts program and effectively using the moves management process.
  • Broad knowledge of the principles of fundraising, including the ability to direct and participate in all aspects of the major gifts cycle.
  • Significant experience and demonstrated knowledge of the Connecticut donor community. Capital campaign experience strongly preferred.
  • A demonstrated ability to plan and operate strategically, build public support, strengthen infrastructure, inspire staff and the Board of Directors and to develop effective programs.
  • Exceptional financial, organizational and administrative skills.
  • The ability to plan, set goals and objectives, organize and follow through.
  • A strong interpersonal and communication skill set, and demonstrated ability to work effectively with and gain the respect and support of varied and changing constituencies, including staff, Board members, potential donors and volunteers.
  • Ability to juggle many responsibilities at once, and to operate both independently and hands-on, with the flexibility to be part of a team.
  • Computer literacy; knowledge of Raiser’s Edge preferred.
  • Bachelor’s degree preferred.
  • Strong relationship-building skills and the ability to get along with peers, subordinates and management and maintain a positive and constructive attitude while solving problems.

A competitive compensation package will be offered to attract an outstanding candidate.


Please send resumes to:

Sterling Search, Inc.

Sterling Search

Phone: 310-774-0099


Direct all correspondence emails and telephone calls to Sterling Search, Inc.

Any resumes sent or telephone calls made to Make-A-Wish Connecticut will be redirected to Sterling Search, Inc.


Make-A-Wish Connecticut is an Equal Opportunity Employer