Boston, Massachusetts

Chief Development Officer, Boston Symphony Orchestra

The Organization

Founded in 1881, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is a world-renowned symphonic organization; one of the largest in the country. Comprised of approximately 100 players, the orchestra is now led by the internationally acclaimed conductor Andris Nelsons, who became the 15th Music Director of the BSO in the 2014-15 season. Named Musical America’s 2018 Artist of the Year, Andris Nelsons has re-established the orchestra’s international touring tradition, led the orchestra in a multiple Grammy award-winning cycle of the symphonies of Shostakovich, and created a unique partnership between the BSO and the historic Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, where he also serves as Music Director. The BSO’s yearly schedule of major activities includes a subscription season at Symphony Hall (September–April) and a summer season at Tanglewood (July–August), as well as concerts by the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall during the spring (May–June) and the holiday season, under the direction of Keith Lockhart.

The BSO celebrates its 140th year with a commitment to the dream of “orchestral mastery” of its founder, Henry Lee Higginson. Yet as the organization looks forward, the BSO is eager to embrace its future as the art form evolves in the context of a changing world, new opportunities, and a time of significant disruption for performing arts organizations worldwide.

The BSO has achieved substantial artistic, programmatic, and institutional growth and achievement. At the same time, the opportunity for evolution is significant. The role of music and of symphony orchestras in society is changing, and the BSO recognizes the need for investment in technology and media. These tools, in addition to a deepening commitment to local impact, will enable the BSO to reach out to and engage its communities in new ways, and to diversify its audiences as well as its internal teams and leadership.

The BSO and all arts institutions are called to introspection and action around issues of racism, social justice, and diversity, equity, access, and inclusion. Further, the organization has been adapting in real-time in response to the global pandemic, managing the cascading consequences and impacts of COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 and navigating new outlooks for the future.

Position Overview

The BSO is brimming with energy as it recently welcomed new President and CEO Gail Samuel and returned to live, in-person performances. The BSO will continue to build a welcoming and inspiring environment in which musical mastery, growth, common purpose, and community thrive. At this important moment in its history, the Orchestra is seeking an outstanding Chief Development Officer (CDO) to lead its philanthropic efforts, championing an ethos of partnership and transparency among Board and staff on all development matters. The CDO will be a critical part of the BSO’s senior management team. As a partner to the President and CEO, the CDO role offers a unique opportunity to shape the role of philanthropy in a project of multi-generational impact.

Reporting to the President and CEO, the CDO is responsible for conceptualizing, organizing, and implementing a comprehensive and strategic fundraising program in support of the BSO’s mission and vision for the future. The CDO will collaborate with other senior BSO executives, Development Office staff, Board of Trustees, Board of Advisors, and other volunteers to build a sustainable culture of philanthropy throughout the organization, cultivate transformative gifts, and ultimately elevate and support the BSO’s mission. The CDO will lead a Development Office comprising approximately 40 individuals, currently organized in the following areas: Individual Giving; Planned Giving; Corporate Initiatives; Foundations and Government Relations; Donor and Volunteer Engagement; Development Research, Information Systems, and Analytics; and Development Communications. The CDO will be empowered to examine and evolve all dimensions of the Development program in consultation with the President and CEO and the Philanthropy Committee, including the organizational design and functional alignment of the Development Office.

Philanthropic efforts typically comprise roughly half of the operating revenue each year for the BSO’s budget: 25% through annual fund raising and 25% through endowment income. The BSO had its most successful fundraising year in its history in FY20, raising more than $60 million to sustain the organization through the pandemic.

The successful CDO must be a proven fundraising visionary and strategist. The CDO will be an effective listener and strong collaborator with the ability to build a meaningful and robust network of partnerships. Strong candidates must want to be part of a dynamic and world-class orchestra that is creating a new set of funding models for symphony orchestras.

Given the critical importance of the Tanglewood Music Center and high volume of stakeholder activity there, the CDO will be required to have a physical presence during key portions of the Tanglewood Festival and to develop a strategy for managing the Development team and function on site.

While the BSO will consider a broad range of backgrounds, the ideal candidate will have the following qualifications/experience:

  • Commitment to the BSO’s mission and genuine passion for the arts and its goal of reaching the diverse communities in which it operates effectively. Ability to authentically engage and inspire others as a senior representative of the organization.
  • Ten or more years of proven leadership experience in development, serving in roles with progressive levels of responsibility, including experience with the following: individual giving, institutional giving, major gifts, annual fund/membership, planned giving, stewardship, development operations, and leadership in a major fundraising campaign. Demonstrated success in change management and in setting and exceeding philanthropic goals.
  • Knowledge of and fundamental adherence to the principles, ethics, and best practices of modern fundraising, including the integration of various giving programs to diversify the funding base and cultivate greater donor commitments.
  • Demonstrated commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion; culturally competent with respect to issues such as racial, cultural, religious, sexual, and gender identity. Skilled at delivering solutions in evolving, multi-cultural environments.
  • Ability to lead, recruit, evaluate, and develop a diverse team of development professionals and contribute to the ongoing fostering of a high-functioning, results-oriented, multi-racial/multi-ethnic workforce. Track record of maintaining best practices, clear goals, and shared accountability, as well as conceptualizing and executing development office growth.
  • Demonstrated success in developing a strong and winning case for support, as well as a successful communications plan, and in making strategic, innovative fundraising plans, and executing those plans to grow fundraising and exceed goals. Demonstrated experience cultivating, training, building relationships with, and working in collaboration with executives, senior staff, and volunteer leaders on development-related activities.
  • Successful track record of personally identifying, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding major gifts from individual and institutional donors at the level of six to seven-figures and greater.
  • A working understanding of Boston’s history, culture, and philanthropic networks, as well as trends in regional and national philanthropy and their implications for BSO fundraising.
  • A forward thinker with a track record of utilizing new methods of constituent engagement and connectivity, who will be driven by innovation in developing advancement best practices in the current and post-COVID-19 world.
  • The ability to extract and analyze data to make effective, efficient decisions about donor strategy and process. Working knowledge of modern data management practices and innovations that can streamline advancement processes and contribute to the integration of related functions.
  • Flexibility to travel is required, consistent with public health guidelines, including attending concerts in Boston, Tanglewood, New York, and on tour.
  • Bachelor’s degree required; Certified Fund-Raising Executive (CFRE) certification would be considered highly desirable.
  • The ability to speak a second language will be considered a plus.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is an equal opportunity employer, and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual   orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law. The Boston Symphony Orchestra is committed to building a culturally diverse staff and encourages applications from female and BIPOC candidates.

How To Apply

The Boston Symphony Orchestra has retained the Diversified Search Group to assist in this confidential search process. Inquiries, nominations, and applications (current resumes and cover letters) should be directed electronically to:

Gerard F. Cattie, Jr.
Managing Director
Fundraising & Advancement Practice Leader
Diversified Search Group
The Chrysler Building, 405 Lexington Avenue, 49th Floor, New York, New York 10174 | 212.542.2587

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