NOLS seeks a dynamic, collaborative, results-driven Major Gifts Director (MGD) to lead and guide the growth of the major gifts team. A proven major gifts track record is a must, along with five or more years of supervisory experience. The MGD will play a key role in shaping the future of the organization’s philanthropy programs and will serve as a critical member of the Advancement Leadership Team. This is an opportunity to assume a leadership position at NOLS, working with a great Board and terrific staff, who share a passion for creating a positive impact worldwide through strong and resilient programs.

The Opportunity: Major Gifts Director (MGD) is a new position within our organization, providing a powerful platform for the successful candidate to build a comprehensive and innovative major gifts program and team based on experience and best practices. With an emphasis on face-to-face relationship-driven fundraising, the MGD will lead and develop strategies for our major gifts team to secure significant philanthropic resources from individuals, foundations, and corporations to support fundraising goals and create sustainable revenue for NOLS.

Reporting to the Chief Advancement Officer (CAO), the MGD will oversee other major gift functions including helping to build out our planned giving program, help create and manage our upcoming campaign, oversee strategic communications and help strengthen our stewardship efforts. The MGD will work with the NOLS executive team and senior managers, the Board of Trustees, and school-wide staff to develop, communicate, and deliver a philanthropy vision and multi-year fundraising goals while furthering the culture of philanthropy at NOLS.

Qualifications: The MGD should effectively represent NOLS’ mission and philosophy, have high ethical standards and embrace diversity as a strategic advantage.

  • Minimum of 5 years progressive experience in a development department as a front-line fundraiser supervising fundraising and support staff. Proven track record in asking and receiving charitable contributions and the ability to secure financial support from diverse sources.
  • Strong written, verbal, interpersonal, and organizational skills.
  • Flexibility and the demonstrated ability to think creatively and thrive in a fast-paced, complex environment, juggling numerous projects and satisfying varied constituencies simultaneously.
  • Skills to manage and implement change, as well as motivate and mentor staff while increasing performance.
  • Ability to energetically and accurately represent NOLS to a variety of constituents including board, staff, alumni, major donors, parents, and other friends of the school.
  • NOLS graduate and/or familiarity with NOLS programming is valued.
  • Experience in developing and sustaining strong relationships. Ability to interact professionally with board and staff members who have diverse professional skills and perspectives.
  • Experience in planned and estate giving programs, volunteer management and coordination.
  • Proficiency with word processing, spreadsheets and database management software—i.e Raiser’s Edge, SalesForce, etc.
  • Demonstrated deep understanding of organization and cultural philanthropy, using a proactive, innovative, and entrepreneurial approach to fundraising.
  • Passionate and disciplined commitment to develop and execute broader organizational strategies to advance the goals of NOLS.

Key responsibilities and priorities:

  • Work in partnership with CAO to set direction, strategy, and tone, establish metrics and lead a major gifts team, in the execution of fundraising activities, and campaign planning.
  • Work with the Advancement staff to see that plans and goals are implemented and achieved, timely reports generated, and information shared.
  • Evaluate and refine processes to support fundraising success. Monitor fundraising progress and donor stewardship. Provide analytical reports to CAO, Executive Team, President, and the Board.
  • Partner with and support the President, Board, and Senior Leadership in advancing fundraising goals. Work closely with the Board to inspire greater participation in advancement efforts while capitalizing on board members’ resources, talents, and networks.
  • Review and enhance the capacity of the staff and infrastructure to achieve advancement goals.
  • Lead and participate in the solicitation efforts of targeted individuals, foundations, and corporations and demonstrate the ability to close the deal.
  • Work closely with the marketing and communications team to build greater visibility through digital communications, social media, and other cultivation tools.
  • Raise NOLS’ profile and strengthen its reputation among donors, constituents, volunteers, organizational partners, other key stakeholders, and the general public.
  • Develop a strategy to collaborate with key staff and partner closely with program staff to make certain that fundraising requests match program needs.
  • Build a culture of continuous improvement by using data to drive decisions and make course corrections when necessary.
  • Monitor key fundraising trends and issues. Communicate implications to the CAO with suggested action.
  • Track monthly fundraising progress toward goal achievement and distribute informative reports on progress toward goals.
  • Assist with the NOLS BOT Advancement Committee and co-lead the Advisory council.
  • Significant travel is required.

Leadership or Supervisory Duties
Supervise a major gifts team that consists of development officers and planned giving staff. In partnership with the CAO, play a key role in building out annual philanthropy plans in support of the school’s overall strategic vision. Cultivate, solicit, and steward a portfolio of NOLS major gift prospects in support of these objectives while leading a team of collaborative and results-oriented professionals. Work directly with the Board of Trustees, manage volunteers, and understand school-wide issues.

Funds and/or Property
Develop and monitor budgets for areas of supervision, obligate NOLS funds, and track travel expenses.

Equal Employment Opportunity
NOLS is an equal opportunity employer. NOLS is committed to building a diverse community that is inclusive of people from all backgrounds. NOLS does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, genetics information, disability unrelated to job or admission requirements, or veteran status. The school’s nondiscrimination policy applies to all phases of its employment process, its admission and financial aid programs, and to all other aspects of its educational programs and activities. Retaliation directed to any person who pursues a discrimination complaint or grievance, participates in a discrimination investigation, or otherwise opposes unlawful discrimination is prohibited.

Criminal Background Check: A criminal background check is required from all NOLS employees.

E-verify: NOLS Participates In E-verify

Motor Vehicle Record: Applicants must be at least 21 years of age by the position start date and possess a valid driver’s license. Must have a clean driving history and be able to meet the criteria for NOLS vehicle insurance coverage.

COVID-19 Vaccine Policy:
All employees that work at NOLS facilities and who have regular contact with other employees, students, and affiliates are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they meet a medical, disability, or religious exemption and a reasonable accommodation is approved. Any COVID-19 vaccine approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) is an acceptable vaccine for the purpose of this policy. Full vaccination or an approved exemption is a condition of employment for all new employees. Employees that work remotely and do not have contact with other employees, students, or affiliates are not required to be vaccinated or have an approved exemption.

Work Location and Benefits: Preference for a remote MGD to be based in Colorado or Utah. Candidates living in or willing to relocate to any of the following U.S. States may apply: California, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming.

Salary range $64,000 to $103,000 yearly. Other benefits include: 403 B, 403 B contribution after one year, Health Insurance, Dental Insurance, Vision Insurance, Flexible Spending Account, Life Insurance, Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance, Long Term Disability, Employee Assistance Program, Paid Time Off.

To apply, send a cover letter and resume to: Gabi Kilko-Jackson at gabi_jackson@nols.edu

About NOLS

Founded in 1965 and headquartered in Lander, Wyoming, NOLS is an international nonprofit organization that teaches wilderness-based skills with a mission to be the leading source and teacher of wilderness skills and leadership that serve people and the environment. NOLS supports the realistic needs of remote work, and this role can and will most likely be based remotely.

The mission and impact of NOLS reach far and wide, with 14 locations worldwide and operations in all 50 states. In pre-COVID times, NOLS enrolled more than 28,000 students and employed nearly 1,400 full-time and part-time staff with an annual budget of approximately $40 million. With COVID-related shutdowns, the school is operating in limited domestic and very limited international capacity and is on a return trajectory from a dramatic downsizing in April 2020.

Today, there are 360,000 active alumni all over the world who have completed NOLS courses. A student’s experience ranges anywhere from four hours to several months in classroom and/or wilderness settings. Curriculum varies by course type and may include outdoor skills, wilderness medicine, applied leadership, and risk management.

With a new President who joined the organization in 2020, the school is currently having thoughtful and intentional conversations about the evolution of this influential organization. We are in a rebuilding phase of both programs and personnel and are examining the opportunities to re-evaluate long-standing structures and personnel policies to align with current realities and forward-looking goals.

Central to NOLS’ mission is an explicit commitment to growing our understanding and practice of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This commitment is always evolving as a result of feedback and input from engaged alumni and staff worldwide. To learn more about the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), visit www.nols.edu.