Senior Director, Major Gifts

Higher Achievement

Posted: 9/4/2019

Position Type: Full-Time (Paid)

Function: Fundraising/Development

Primary domain: Education

City: Washington

Postal code: 20009

State: Washington, DC

Country: United States

Organization Information:


$3M - $10M


Mission statement:

Higher Achievement closes the opportunity gap during the pivotal middle school years. By leveraging the power of communities, Higher Achievement’s proven model provides a rigorous year-round learning environment, caring role models, and a culture of high expectations, resulting in college-bound scholars with the character, confidence, and skills to succeed. 

Position Details:

Job Description:


Higher Achievement believes that talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. It works to close the achievement gap for motivated - yet underserved - students from low-income communities. Higher Achievement intervenes during the critical transition to middle school by providing year-round, multi-year support for students in the 5th – 8th grades. As students prepare to graduate from its program in the 8th grade, Higher Achievement helps them transition successfully to advanced high school programs that keep students on track for college. As a result, 95% of Higher Achievement scholars graduate high school on time.

Founded in 1975 in Washington, DC, Higher Achievement has impacted the lives of more than 10,000 young people and currently operates achievement centers in Washington, DC, Alexandria, VA, Baltimore, MD, Pittsburgh, PA, and Richmond, VA. Higher Achievement’s award-winning model of rigorous academic mentoring, individualization of services, and comprehensive academic support is guided by leading research for effective out-of-school time programs. More information about Higher Achievement, including recent press mentions, may be found at:


Reporting to the Chief Development Officer, the Senior Director, Major Gifts (SDMG) will lead major donor fundraising to support Higher Achievement’s impact on scholars across the country. Working closely with the CEO, CDO, and DC Metro ED and Development Director, the SDMG will manage a portfolio of existing supporters as well as prospect and cultivate new donors passionate about Higher Achievement’s mission. The SDMG’s work will be extremely donor facing, spending much of their time meeting with donors to understand their interests and connect them with funding opportunities that align with their philanthropic interests. 


A newly created position, the SDMG will play a critical role in implementing part of Higher Achievement’s strategic plan, to diversify its $11M in annual revenue by boosting support from high networth individuals. To achieve this objective, the SDMG will build a comprehensive major donor program that includes an annual fundraising event and donor recognition strategy, creating a network of supporters passionate and engaged in Higher Achievement’s work. Importantly, the SDMG will work closely with the DC Metro ED and Development Director to cultivate, steward, and upsell the many current and lapsed donors in the DC area, where Higher Achievement has operated for more than 40 years.


This is an ideal opportunity for a development professional passionate about building lasting relationships with donors to strengthen major gifts fundraising within a national organization that has changed the lives of 10,000 young people.  

Key responsibilities include: 

  • Support raising Higher Achievement’s annual fundraising target of $11M by stewarding a portfolio of major donors contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual support
  • Meet the $1 million annual major donor goal for the DC Metro office, through fundraising for the annual event and other ongoing individual major donor gifts
  • Implement key strategies to broaden the base of new major donors and increase donor engagement through a variety of tactics including e-campaigns, giving circles, and events
  • With support from the national development operations team, manage and track cultivation, stewardship, upgrades, and recognition of an existing portfolio of major donors 
  • Oversee the development and moves management of a portfolio of individual and special event donors through quality, strategic contacts and face-to-face visits to identify, cultivate, solicit, and successfully close one-time and multi-year gifts
  • Coordinating meetings and cultivation strategies that engage the Higher Achievement’s national and local leadership teams; write briefings and proposals for prospect meetings and align stakeholders as needed to lead and close significant gifts 
  • Initiate and analyze prospect research with a working knowledge of moves management and portfolio management
  • Implement the Benevon model for individual giving including the ongoing stewardship, upgrade strategy and renewal of multi-year giving society members
  • Partner with the CEO, CDO, DC Executive Director and Development Director, and members of the Board executive committee to support the prospecting of new potential Board members and local DC advisory board members who enrich the fundraising capacity of the Board. 
  • Develop and maintain a thorough understanding of Higher Achievement’s program and funding priorities to effectively connect supporters to funding needs. Effectively communicate these priorities face-to-face with donors and in writing to successfully match a donor’s philanthropic interest to funding needs.
  • Collaborate with development staff at Higher Achievement affiliate and national offices to share best practices and resources and to ensure alignment of donor engagement efforts.


The ideal candidate will possess the following qualifications: 

  • Commitment to the mission and work of Higher Achievement
  • Ability to compellingly convey Higher Achievement's mission, impact, and needs across the community in an authentic way that honors our scholars and their families
  • Minimum of 7 years overall experience strongly preferred; minimum of 5 years of experience stewarding individual donors
  • Experience contributing to the development of department strategy, with the ability to execute and delegate effectively
  • Experience working with high-level volunteers and engaged Boards, highly preferred
  • Experience with The Raiser’s Edge NXT or similar database systems, highly preferred
  • Ability to build strong, long-term relationships with donors and prospects; strong listening skills, and ability to converse with donors and prospects in a thoughtful, engaged manner
  • Strong skills in planning, organizing, attention to detail, and oral and written communication, including strong presentation skills
  • Strong analytical and critical-thinking skills with a solutions-oriented approach to addressing challenges
  • Exceptional oral and written communication skills, including strong editing skills and a high attention to detail
  • Extremely organized with the ability to manage individual and supervisory responsibilities in a fast-paced environment
  • High energy, dynamic, positive personality
  • Knowledge of current issues influencing public education and the youth development field


Salary and benefits will be competitive and commensurate with experience.  Higher Achievement offers generous benefits, including: company-paid insurance (medical, dental, vision, life, and long and short-term disability insurance); eleven paid holidays; five weeks paid time off; commuter benefits with company match; retirement plan with company match; tuition reimbursement and professional development funds.


Commensurate with Experience

Posting Expiration Date:


How to Apply:


Higher Achievement provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants without regard to race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, ancestry, gender, sex, gender identity or expression, age, medical condition, sexual orientation, marital status, citizenship, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, genetic information, veteran status, military status, caregiver or family status, political affiliation, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local laws.

Posted By: On-Ramps


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