Organization: National Aquarium

Location: Baltimore, MD

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As a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, the National Aquarium (Aquarium) champions environmental initiatives by engaging with visitors, volunteers, students, and citizens from around the world to actively participate in the preservation of our natural resources and living systems. The National Aquarium has been a key contributor to Baltimore’s urban renewal since its opening in 1981 and is widely considered to be one of the top aquariums in the country, with over 1.5M visitors per year.

The Major Gifts Officer is responsible for directing activities that achieve annual general operating, special project, and capital individual major donor contribution goals for the National Aquarium. This key development leader cultivates, solicits, and stewards existing donors, identifying and acquiring new major donors from a variety of sources. The Major Gifts Officer works closely with all members of the Individual Giving team to develop and implement a strategic and comprehensive individual giving program, as well as with Board Members and staff throughout the organization. The Major Gifts Officer reports to the Vice President, Individual Giving and is responsible for generating new commitments of at least $1M annually.

The growing Development team has an eye toward innovation and seeks a seasoned development professional who can contribute to the Aquarium’s ambitious new fundraising strategy.

This is a full-time position located in Baltimore, MD. For more information on the National Aquarium, please visit

Candidate Profile:

The Major Gifts Officer of the National Aquarium will possess the following attributes and competencies:

Donor Strategy, Relationship Management, and Solicitation

  • Manage an active portfolio of over 125 major donor prospects of $10K and above, and lead efforts to develop and implement cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship plans for each, ensuring plans are complete, strategic, sustainable, and effective. Direct activities that support plans, including:
    • Engaging with prospective donors on a personal level, ensuring they have ample opportunity to truly engage with the Aquarium in an innovative and meaningful way
    • Creating and leading efforts around cultivation, solicitation & stewardship, including events, visits, calls, and letters
    • Devising and implementing comprehensive strategy to solicit prospects based on determination of their experiences with, and interest in, the Aquarium, and their giving capacity
    • Educating and engaging key members of Aquarium leadership and staff to ensure successful and impactful participation in donor activities
  • Achieve activity (calls, meetings, solicitations per month) and financial goals created on an annual basis
  • Develop strategic funding requests based on immediate needs and long-term funding goals of the Aquarium
  • Engage, prepare, and support senior-most volunteers and Board members in their ambassadorship on behalf of the Aquarium as necessary to carry out strategies
  • Develop and implement strategies to appropriately recognize and steward development volunteers, in partnership with appropriate Aquarium staff
  • In collaboration with the Vice President, Individual Giving, identify opportunities and implement strategies to educate current and prospective donors about planned giving opportunities and solicit their participation
  • Identify new prospects from a variety of sources including donor lists, prospect screening information, and conversations with existing donors and volunteers
  • Work with Annual Giving Manager and Director of Membership to identify current annual donors and members who have the capacity to make major gifts; design and implement appropriate strategies

Donor Communication, Cultivation, and Stewardship

  • Generate and conduct effective and engaging in-person presentations to high-level audiences in support of Aquarium projects and programs
  • Develop / prepare materials – including letters, proposals, meeting prep, stewardship reports – to support the major gift development strategies and program
  • Manage and update contact information, plans, and actions in Salesforce using identified protocol; complete timely and accurate call and progress reports
  • Ensure consistent and timely communication throughout development department, among Aquarium staff as appropriate, and with volunteers regarding prospect and donor contact and activity


  • Thoroughly understand the National Aquarium, its mission and policies, culture, values, history, key stakeholders, programs, and finances
  • In all aspects of work, consider and promote the Aquarium’s impact on and relationships within the community
  • Work closely and collaboratively with representatives from across the Aquarium
  • Fully engage in members / development departmental activities, contributing to both overall team and organization-wide goals
  • Contribute to long-range planning for the growth and increased overall impact and prominence of the Aquarium’s development program
  • Adhere to all organizational and departmental policies and procedures
  • Maintain professional growth and development through seminars, workshops, and professional affiliations as well as readings to keep abreast of fundraising trends
  • Other duties as assigned or required


  • Creative, driven, and results-focused work style, and must truly value the Aquarium’s commitment to inspiring conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures
  • Demonstrate success in soliciting and closing major gifts
  • Keen knowledge of and experience with developing and implementing sophisticated strategies for donor and volunteer involvement
  • Sincere interest in stewarding donor relationships and investments, and a desire to work in a donor-centered development culture and produce products of exceptionally high quality
  • Strong interpersonal skills, with an ability to effectively present information verbally and to respond to questions from key leaders, donors, and the general public
  • Excellent listening, writing, and personal communication skills; high attention to detail
  • Motivated team player who can engage and inspire fellow managers and volunteer leaders in the organization
  • Minimum of eight years in development, with at least five of those years focused on major giving
  • Bachelor’s degree is required; advanced degree preferred
  • Ability to work occasional evenings and weekends and be proficient with office computer equipment and standard office software

Compensation & Benefits:

Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience.


The National Aquarium has engaged Koya Leadership Partners to help in this hire. Please submit a compelling cover letter and resume to Melissa Madzel here.

The National Aquarium is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBT applicants.

About National Aquarium:

National Aquarium is a nonprofit aquatic education and conservation organization. Our living collection includes close to 20,000 animals from more than 700 species of fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals all residing in award-winning, naturalistic habitats. Transforming experiences reach far beyond Aquarium walls. Education programs reach thousands of students each year with activities in schools and in the field. The Conservation team and volunteers restore habitats and preserve species throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed and around the world. National Aquarium continues to act as an economic engine for tourism in the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland. The Aquarium’s commitment to serving the surrounding community is a key part of its mission.

For more information on the National Aquarium, please visit

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with nonprofits and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit