Director of Major Gifts

Breakthrough Greater Boston

Posted: 7/5/2019

Position Type: Full-Time (Paid)

Function: Fundraising/Development

Primary domain: Education

City: Boston, Cambridge and Somerville

Postal code: 02238

State: Massachusetts

Country: United States

Organization Information:


$1M - $3M


Mission statement:

Our mission at Breakthrough Greater Boston

is to inspire excitement for learning, create paths to college and promote careers in education.

Breakthrough Greater Boston prepares low-income students for success in college and trains the next generation of urban teachers using a unique Students Teaching Students model. Through our six-year program, students gain a passion for learning and the perseverance and tools to succeed in college and beyond. Teaching Fellows gain intensive in-classroom experience, expert training and 1:1 coaching.

Through six years of intensive, tuition-free, out of school time programming, we change students’ academic trajectories and support them along the path to college. We are building the next generation of teachers through competitive recruitment, research-based training, and coaching from master teachers.

Founded by MacArthur Genius Award winner Angela Duckworth in 1992 in Cambridge, we expanded into Boston in 2013, followed by Somerville in 2018. With the 2024 completion of our growth plan, Breakthrough will serve 900 students and 200 teachers annually.

Position Details:

Job Description:


About Us and Our Philosophy

Breakthrough Greater Boston (BTGB) is a transformative college access and teacher training program. BTGB offers six years of academic enrichment and college preparation to middle school and high school students with high potential but limited opportunities. Simultaneously, BTGB recruits, trains and inspires a diverse cohort of high achieving college students to become the next generation of urban teachers. Leveraging a Students Teaching Students model, BTGB provides engaging, tuition-free academic programming during the summer and after school. Our students gain the skills and motivation to succeed in rigorous high school courses and, ultimately, in college. Meanwhile, our teachers gain hands-on experience, research-based training and coaching from professional educators.

Over the past eight years, 97% of our graduating students have matriculated to college, and 82% of them have persisted through their undergraduate years. On average, more than 70% of our graduating teachers have gone on to pursue careers in education. After two decades of success at our original Cambridge site, BTGB embarked upon a significant program expansion and opened a second site in Boston in the summer of 2013 and a third site in Somerville in 2018.  As an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit, Breakthrough Greater Boston is part of a national educational movement called The Breakthrough Collaborative working to improve educational outcomes for youth across 25 U.S. cities. 

With a deep commitment to our mission, BTGB operates with the highest standards of integrity and best practices, while also enjoying the ability to be innovative and flexible to meet the evolving needs of our students, families, and teachers.  Our team is diverse, high-performing and dedicated.  We continue to build an organizational culture that emphasizes our core values for every member of our community:

  • Spirit: We cherish and embody the youthful energy and spirit of our students and teachers
  • Continual Learning: Everyone in our community has something to learn and something to teach
  • Team Together: We all chip in to accomplish whatever is needed for our teammates and the broader organization
  • Student Centered: Our students are our first priority and our decisions center around what benefits our students
  • Equity and Opportunity: We value diversity of identity, background and thought. We treat everyone with dignity and respect
  • Excellence in Everything: We maintain high expectations for ourselves


Breakthrough Greater Boston encourages individuals of all backgrounds to apply for this position, and we do not discriminate on any basis prohibited by applicable law. We celebrate the diversity of our world and our community, and we seek to build a team that reflects that diversity in every way. We welcome and encourage all qualified applicants who share that same vision, as we wish to engage all those who can contribute to our work and this mission.


Reporting to the Executive Director, the Director of Major Gifts is responsible for the creation and execution of a strategic major gifts program to ensure continued growth and expansion for Breakthrough Greater Boston.  The Director of Major Gifts will oversee the identification, cultivation and solicitation of major gifts from a robust and diverse donor base.  They will be an integral member of the development team and work closely with the Director of Development and Partnerships and other members of the BTGB team and Board to develop and execute the organization’s short- and long-term fundraising strategies for high-level individual giving.



  • Become an expert in Breakthrough Greater Boston’s programming and be able to speak passionately and compellingly about the impact of the organization; partner with members of the Program team to stay current and fluent on all successes, impact data, and programmatic innovations
  • Create and execute a more formalized and strategic major gifts program
  • Manage a portfolio of donors and prospects; work both independently, as well as collaboratively, with other team members
  • Identify, evaluate and cultivate individuals capable of contributing to the different tiers of BTGB’s major gifts pyramid from $1,000 through to 6-figures
  • Ensure that BTGB is continually deepening relationships with donors to ensure a rewarding donor experience and increased giving annually
  • Support the development and execution of a planned giving program
  • Prepare meaningful and effective customized collateral and messaging for individual donors and prospects
  • Schedule, manage and attend donor meetings regularly
  • Attend Board meetings, as required, and frequently represent Breakthrough Greater Boston at events
  • Provide briefing materials in advance of meetings for the Director of Development and Partnerships and Executive Director, as needed
  • Create, plan and execute strategic events to attract prospective donors and engage them with Breakthrough Greater Boston
  • Lead strategy for engaging the Board, Advisory Board, Trustees for Life (retired board), Educators Circle (one of a few giving circles) and other key stakeholders in order to create lasting relationships with BTGB
  • Manage all information relating to current major donors and prospects in the development database, eTapestry



As the incoming Director of Major Gifts, you will possess many, though perhaps not all, of the following characteristics and qualifications:

  • Passion for the mission of BTGB, closing opportunity gaps, and training the next generation of urban teachers
  • Significant experience and demonstrated success with strategically identifying, cultivating and soliciting new prospects for major gifts
  • Experience in supporting and promoting the engagement of nonprofit board members and other senior organization leaders in creating a culture of philanthropy
  • Ability to understand the needs and interests of the organization and make meaningful connections between BTGB leadership and prospective donors
  • Enthusiasm and facility for relationship building and interpersonal interactions
  • Excellent listening, verbal and written communication skills, including the ability to speak compellingly about our mission
  • Ability to stay organized and demonstrate persistence, in order to consistently follow through on long-term strategy
  • Familiarity with donor databases; experience with eTapestry preferred but not required
  • Bachelor’s degree


Not Specified


Commensurate with Experience

Posting Expiration Date:


How to Apply:


If you are interested in learning more about how your passion and experience can help Breakthrough meet its mission and grow its impact, please submit your resume and a thoughtful and targeted cover letter outlining how your skills and experience meet the qualifications of the position and stating how you heard about this opportunity.  Applications can be submitted to Elissa Spelman, Executive Director, at [email protected].

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Learn more about Breakthrough Greater Boston at


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