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Associate Director of Development, National Audubon Society

The Organization

Founded in 1905, the National Audubon Society is one of the most venerable conservation organizations in the world. Audubon follows birds to ecosystems, conserving them for wildlife, for people, and for the earth’s biological diversity. Today, Audubon enjoys a widely respected centrist brand, a powerful legacy of conservation success, deep loyalty among its supporters, and the clarity that springs from working for the benefit of birds and the places they need to survive and thrive.

Audubon works to save birds through conservation and advocacy firmly grounded in science. As leaders in applied bird conservation science, Audubon engages in research and analysis to support the development of its programs, to build its authority as a science-led thought leader, and to inform and evaluate the work of Audubon and its partners.

With a membership base that spans the political spectrum – 52% are progressive, 48% moderate to conservative – Audubon is uniquely positioned to make progress in red, blue, and purple states and communities and with federal agencies looking for non-ideological partners at this unprecedented political moment.

Audubon’s powerful distributed network has an unparalleled reach. No other conservation organization matches the size, reach, scale, influence, diversity, and creative energy of its chapters, nature centers, staff, volunteer leaders, and US and international partners. The network has the knowledge and credibility to care for birds, and the places they need, in communities across the country – and it unites to tackle big challenges facing birds that cannot be solved by any single part of the network alone.

One Audubon
Seven years ago, Audubon’s Board charged their new CEO, David Yarnold, with a mission to dramatically change the organization’s approach to conservation, and the organization embarked on the kind of major turnaround that legacy nonprofits generally do not attempt. The first step was to change the way Audubon approached conservation, and the organization’s One Audubon strategy used the flyways traveled by migratory birds as the inspiration for its new organizational alignment. By connecting the work of the Audubon network – chapters, centers, national and state staff, volunteers, US and International partners, and other supporters – along each of the flyways of the Americas, Audubon weaved a seamless web of conservation for birds and other migratory and non-migratory species. By working toward common flyway conservation goals, Audubon can have greater impact, and by coordinating resources and expertise, it can dramatically increase its efficiency across the network.

Today Audubon has an all new executive leadership team in place – many from the for-profit sector – and is putting more than $100 million annually to work on conservation (compared with $73 million just five years ago). This new robust Audubon is a strategic, responsive, integrated organization that can tap people’s passion for bird-centered conservation and translate it into action.

2020 Strategic Plan
With a new shared vision in place, Audubon’s new strategic plan focuses on bringing America’s largest and most effective conservation network to bear on five highly scalable strategic priorities that can make the greatest difference for the future of birds: Coasts; Working Lands; Water; Climate; and Bird-Friendly Communities. These priorities cover the breadth of landscapes that birds need to thrive, including shorelines, lakes, bird-friendly cities, and habitat strongholds that will provide shelter to birds as the climate changes and their old homes disappear. In addition, Audubon is investing in innovative communication strategies to bring birds and nature to a new generation of diverse potential activists and supporters.

Governance and Staff
The National Audubon Society is a nonprofit organization based in New York City. Audubon has 23 state offices and 41 nature centers (the largest network of nature centers owned by a major conservation NGO), and a staff of 660, including 100 in New York and 25 in Washington, DC. Audubon’s network includes 463 affiliated Chapters, each an independent 501(c)(3) organization, aligned to Audubon’s 2020 strategy and engaged in driving Audubon’s community-based conservation work.

Over the past eight years, Audubon has diversified the composition of its Board to reflect the One Audubon vision, and has elevated the overall caliber of its Board members and their ability to contribute to the organization. Audubon’s Board seats are now some of the most coveted in US conservation and further development is anticipated as the organization continues to grow in scale and ambition. Since the onset of One Audubon, Board giving has increased five-fold and continues to increase.

Diversity and Inclusion
Achieving ambitious conservation goals requires authentic representation of all the communities in which Audubon works and, as such, diversity and inclusion are core values and key strategic imperatives for the organization. This is an essential part of Audubon’s culture and values, and to get there, Audubon will be intentional about becoming more diverse and implement an approach that will yield measurable results.

For more information on Audubon please refer to:

For Audubon’s 2016-2020 Strategy:

Position Overview

The Associate Director, Development will play a key part in the creation and implementation of an effective major gift fundraising strategy, and will be a vital part of a Development team who are delivering the next quantum leap in fundraising at Audubon. It will be instrumental in delivering an order of magnitude increase in income from high net worth individuals and grant giving foundations. Role may be located near one of the major airports in the Central or Mississippi Flyways, but ideally would be based out of Chicago.

Climate change and the environment are increasingly urgent philanthropic causes. Birding is second only to gardening as this country’s favorite pastime. There is an exceptional pool of wealthy individuals who have the capacity to make major and transformational gifts to Audubon. In this context, Audubon has the opportunity to develop a universe of support and influence, leveraging individuals’ personal, voluntary, professional, political and business networks in order to support Audubon and to make a positive impact on the quality of life on Earth.

This position is an opportunity for a highly motivated and experienced development professional to build and manage a portfolio of donors capable of making annual gifts of $50,000+. This individual will be responsible for conducting donor qualification visits with Audubon prospects and assume management of current major donors. He or she will be responsible for qualification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of individual major donors throughout the Mississippi and Central Flyways. Key metrics for success include donor engagement (number of personal meetings with donors, prospects, and volunteers) and revenue (value of gifts; number of solicitations; and success rate of closing gifts).

The Associate Director, Development is responsible for best practices of moves management and direct solicitation of supporters. The successful candidate will be an entrepreneurial, result-driven, development professional who has experience closing five and six figure gifts. This position requires up to 50% travel; evenings and weekends are also occasionally required.

After 12 months in post, the successful candidate will have:

  • Contributed to major and principal gifts strategy for the Mississippi and Central Flyways.
  • Helped to create case statements for priority fundraising projects.
  • Successfully identified prospective donors and implemented a cultivation and contact strategy for new major gift prospects.
  • Contributed to the development and implementation of a stewardship program to cultivate and develop donor relationships.
  • Become competent in presenting a wide range of Audubon’s priority projects to prospective supporters.
  • Successfully managed a portfolio of 100-125 prospects and donors.
  • Demonstrated a flexible and ‘can-do’ approach in all elements of daily work.
  • Become a strong, successful and respected member of the National Development team and across the Audubon network.
  • Kept accurate and up to date contact records in the database, and be able to demonstrated progress towards goals.

Essential Functions:

  • Prospect Identification and Solicitation
  • Initiate and build effective long-term relationships with individuals who have the capacity to give $50,000+, prioritizing those able to give $500k+.
  • Help develop a detailed and integrated fundraising strategy that is tailored to the philanthropic motivation, needs, and interests of prospects and donors.
  • Represent Audubon to senior volunteers, potential and existing supporters, and colleagues.
  • Communicate with Audubon state offices, centers, and colleagues to ensure every prospect or donor relationship is supported by relevant staff.
  • Regularly review portfolio and donor strategy with VP of Development and colleagues, to refine approaches, share success and problem solve.

Income Generation and Reporting

  • Maintain donor and prospect records on the database, capturing and sharing relevant donor and prospect information and taking a sensitive approach to confidential material.
  • Define and achieve income targets with VP of Development.
  • Report monthly, quarterly and annually on income against budget and activities.
  • Produce clear, cost-effective expenditure budgets for specific activities (such as production of materials) and be responsible for cost control in order to maintain or improve return on investment.
  • Collaborate with colleagues regarding prospects and donors in order to maximize potential income.

Support for Lead Volunteers

  • Contribute to the development of a pool of donor-volunteers, and work with those volunteers to access new networks and contacts.
  • Provide stewardship for volunteers as primary contact, keeping them informed of developments at Audubon and acknowledging their support.
  • Support volunteers in the recruitment of donors including advising them of cultivation opportunities, drafting letters, and preparing communications.
  • Fully brief volunteers, executives and program staff for all interactions with the donors, including research information, goals of meeting, and talking points.
  • Meet regularly and report back to volunteers on progress with prospects and donors.


  • Steward donor relationships to develop and enrich long-term personal relationships between the donor and Audubon.
  • Maximize funds raised by identifying further opportunities to solicit support (including additional personal gifts, submissions to foundations or approaches to companies), and working with colleagues to develop these opportunities.
  • Create briefs for major donor cultivation and stewardship events.
  • In conjunction with Development team, implement and maintain appropriate donor recognition for major donors.

Project Management

  • Work with colleagues across the Audubon network to articulate priority fundraising projects including seeking and managing expert input into the process of defining projects, drafting proposals and writing accurate and inspirational case statements.
  • Manage timely reporting to donors according to their criteria, interests, and expectations on funded projects.
  • Represent donors’ interests and requirements to colleagues where defined and agreed in funded project proposals, ensuring commitment to the delivery of appropriate and approved benefits or recognition.

Other duties as required

  • Participate in opportunities to engage with leaders and development colleagues across Audubon via in-person and virtual team meetings and training opportunities.
  • Execute other tasks within the Development team as necessary and within established performance standards and office routines (g. database inputting and data protection guidelines).
  • Adhere to all Audubon policies.
  • Participate in meetings, contributing to strategy, discussions, and decisions to achieve the acquisition of new donors and volunteers.
  • The role requires travel within the Flyways and to New York City up to 50% and may require after hours work.

Experience and knowledge


  • Demonstrable track record of building donor relationships and closing five and six-figure gifts. Experience with seven-figure gifts a plus.
  • Experience developing and maintaining relationships with high-net-worth individuals.
  • Proven ability to meet challenging income targets.
  • Ability to manage projects, establish and monitor priorities, maintain flexibility, and meet deadlines with little direct supervision.
  • Experience developing and delivering fundraising strategies (e.g. prospect solicitation plans).
  • Knowledge of stewardship best practice and implementation.
  • Bachelor’s degree required, as well as five to seven years of significant non-profit fundraising in organizations that have a reputation for strategic thinking, organizational excellence and aggressive action.
  • IT literate and experience with fundraising databases; Knowledge of Salesforce a plus.


  • Experience working in a large complex organization, or with multiple stakeholders.
  • Scientific/conservation background.
  • A personal network of donors and influencers.
  • Skills and abilities
  • Excellent organizational skills, and ability to meet deadlines and stay within budget.
  • Highly developed interpersonal skills and ability to influence at all levels through persuasion and negotiation.
  • Capacity for synthesis – finding and summarizing information on a wide range of topics to tight deadlines.
  • Outstanding analytical and communication skills, both written and verbal.
  • Proven ability for strategic, creative and lateral thinking.
  • Ability to handle sensitive information tactfully and maintain strict confidentiality, also ensuring this in others.
  • High degree of personal initiative and ability to work effectively within inter- and intra-departmental teams.
  • Ability to demonstrate an interest in and appreciation of the programs, mission, and ethos of the National Audubon Society.


  • Highly organized and able to manage conflicting priorities.
  • Self-motivated, proactive and diplomatic.
  • Enjoys ‘making things happen,’ with a can-do attitude.
  • Confident and mature approach.
  • Able to remain calm under pressure.
  • Demonstrated commitment to teamwork.
  • Target driven, with a grounding in long-term strategic approach.
  • Flexible and adaptable to changing environment.
  • Persistent and resilient.
  • Strong interest in Audubon’s core activities and commitment to the organization as a conservation leader.
  • Sense of humor and genuine curiosity about, and interest in, people.

How To Apply

To apply for this position, go to Both resume and cover letter are required.

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