Director of Major and Planned Gifts

Helen Keller International
  • Location
    New York, New York
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career / Advanced
  • Posted
    Jul 23

Position description

Helen Keller International (HKI), co-founded in 1915 by our namesake, is committed to saving and improving the sight and lives of the world’s vulnerable by combating the causes and consequences of blindness, poor health, and malnutrition. We envision a world where no one suffers from malnutrition, disease, preventable vision loss, or blindness. HKI is well known and respected in the global health and development sectors for our expertise in translating science and research into innovative, effective programs. Our programs empower millions of people to achieve their potential through the delivery of preventative and curative solutions in eye health, nutrition, and neglected tropical diseases. Headquartered in New York City, Helen Keller International works in 19 countries across Africa and Asia, as well as in the United States.


As part of an External Relations Department which also includes dynamic Direct Marketing, Operations, and Communications teams, the Major and Planned Gift unit plays a critical role in achieving a $5 million+ target from individuals, family foundations, legacy gifts, and events, including an annual gala. HKI’s donor-centric fundraising approach recognizes the lifetime value of our supporters and drives our efforts to build long-term relationships.

Scope of the Position

Reporting to and working closely with the Vice President of External Relations, the Director of Major and Planned Gifts will be responsible for building and deepening engagement with leadership gift prospects and donors and driving broader awareness and philanthropic support for HKI’s programs. Providing expert guidance to an experienced team of three with responsibilities for donor and prospect research, cultivation and stewardship, planned gifts, and events including the annual gala, the director will model best fundraising practices and be a committed team player who collaborates with all department directors to maximize efforts and results. S/he will also work closely with the Vice President of External Relations to plan and execute strategies associated with annual fundraising goals, manage a portfolio of donors and prospects with the capacity to give five-figure plus gifts, and participate in cultivation and solicitation strategies for the CEO and lay leadership.


  • Direct a comprehensive program for raising support, with a focus on unrestricted, from major donors, estates, and events, including budget development and management;

  • Define targets and deliver on strategic multi-year objectives to increase revenue from bequests, CGAs, and deferred gifts; assure regular stewardship of Legacy Society members;

  • Identify leadership giving prospects and donors and create and implement thoughtful strategies to attract multi-year transformational gifts, annual support, revenue for the gala and other fundraising events, and planned gifts;

  • Conduct face-to-face solicitations and gift negotiations, working both independently and collaboratively with staff leadership, Board, and other volunteers;

  • Provide support to the CEO and other organizational and lay leaders for meetings and interactions with key major donors and prospects;

  • Collaborate with department and organization colleagues on cross-cutting activities and projects;

  • Oversee the planning and execution of the annual gala and other fundraising and cultivation events in the New York metro area; build and staff the Gala committee; assure collaboration with External Relations peers on program, materials, and logistics;

  • Initiate and direct new donor and prospect engagement activities beyond the New York metro area to deepen connections with HKI’s mission and to diversify and expand the donor pool;

  • Provide direction for all leadership donor communications and annual messaging calendar;

  • Work with program colleagues as needed to create compelling solicitation and cultivation materials;

  • Assure accurate comprehensive data capture toward actionable moves management, reporting, and analysis for all major, planned, and event giving efforts against key performance indicators; champion unit’s compliance with CRM usage.

  • Mentor, supervise and evaluate unit staff and contribute to an atmosphere conducive to professional growth and development.

  • Oversee/manage special projects as assigned. 


  • A Bachelors’ degree with a minimum of (10) ten years directly related experience, or equivalent combination of education and experience.

  • Strategic thinker with entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to embrace and execute a multi-channel approach to fundraising.

  • Experience closing solicitations from new and long-time donors, including 6-7 figure gifts.

  • Proven success in raising significant unrestricted support through annual giving, galas, capital campaigns, and/or endowments.

  • Demonstrated leadership, fundraising, communications, and team management skills.

  • Experience working with senior leadership, Board members, and other volunteers.

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills, including the ability to communicate complex ideas to diverse audiences, and to write, edit and produce compelling solicitation and cultivation materials.

  • Excellent team building/management, and coordination skills.

  • Diplomacy, patience and flexibility in managing diverse external and internal relationships.

  • Collaborative team player who excels in a highly dynamic environment and works cross- functionally.

  • Excellent organizational skills, including the ability to prioritize multiple responsibilities and meet deadlines.

  • Solid computer skills, including high level proficiency with Raiser’s Edge or equivalent.

  • Driver’s license preferred; ability to travel (approx.15-20%) within the US and occasionally to HKI field programs.

  • Commitment to HKI’s mission and goals; knowledge of international affairs and global public health a plus.

  • Sense of humor; big heart. 

Application instructions

Qualified candidates should submit a cover letter and resume to [email protected] noting the job title in the subject line. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. 

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