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Job: West Coast Director of Development

posted Jan 25, 2017, 4:43 AM by Eric Eckl
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The American Farmland Trust is preparing to launch a $100 million comprehensive fundraising campaign, and they are seeking a West Coast Director of Development to cultivate and solicit California-based donors.  The Trust says they want "...an energetic go-getter skilled in board collaboration and training, all phases of capital campaign planning, and donor stewardship and solicitation. This is a career-transforming opportunity for a major-gifts fundraiser who is hungry to join a fast-growing organization."

The location of the position is flexible. However, the Director of Development is expected to travel frequently to visit with supporters in Northern and Southern California, and in other Western-US states. Here is the full description:

American Farmland Trust

West Coast Director of Development

Job Description


American Farmland Trust (AFT) is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to saving America’s farm and ranchland, promoting sound farming practices, and keeping farmers on the land. Since its founding in 1980 by a group of farmers and citizens concerned about the rapid loss of farmland to development, AFT has helped save more than five million acres of farmland from development and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more. Additionally, AFT actively works to keep more farmers on the land by linking next generation farmers to farmland, championing women landowners and educating farmers on conservation techniques.

The Position:

American Farmland Trust seeks a Director of Development (“DoD-West”) for fundraising operations on the West Coast, particularly in California, our country’s leading farm state. Reporting to a Washington DC-based Vice President of Development and External Relations, the DoD-West will be responsible for the oversight, planning and implementation of a comprehensive development program for that region and will coordinate national outreach as assigned. Additionally, the DoD-West will secure gifts from individuals and other sources to support AFT’s priorities throughout the U.S.; work with the Vice President to establish fundraising goals; cultivate a select group of prospects (150+) working closely with the development and program team to steward gifts; and plan/execute selective prospect cultivation and stewardship events.  The person who fills this position will be responsible for meeting specific annual revenue goals and contributing to the overall achievement of the organization's revenue goals.


The ideal candidate will be an entrepreneurial professional who enjoys front-line relationship building, soliciting, developing and driving strategies with senior leadership, and demonstrating creativity and relationship-building savvy to make connections and secure in-person appointments.  The candidate must be able to articulate the case to support the vision/mission/goals of AFT for the purpose of securing major gifts and pledges. The DoD-West position requires significant travel with emphasis on numerous face to face donor meetings, particularly in northern California.


Primary Responsibilities 

  • Work with Vice President to lead Development team’s successful implementation of the major gifts plan.
  • Implement programs/activities to identify, cultivate, solicit and steward donors at the major gift level.
  • Oversee movement of donor/prospect visits, solicitation, and gift closure for other staff members, volunteers, AFT leadership and board members.
  • Execute events and other fundraising activities that advance AFT’s relationship with donors/prospects.
  •  Prepare written documents in support of solicitation, cultivation and development events, including correspondence, strategic plans, invitations and reports. Develop highly tailored proposals.
  • Coordinate an effective program for recognition, involvement and stewardship of donors.
  • Manage aggressive personal portfolio of prospects and donors.
  • Design, develop, plan, oversee and evaluate individual donor/prospect identification, cultivation, solicitation, gift closure and recognition for assigned portfolio. Includes renewable gifts and new incremental revenue.
  • Travel throughout assigned region and nationally as necessary to cultivate relationships with donors and prospects.
  • Develop and execute ongoing strategy for qualifying potential donors and moving them to prospect status using tools such as small cultivation events, research and community networking.
  • Conduct individualized responses to donor/prospect contacts with appropriate communications and reporting.
  • information on planned giving opportunities with donors as appropriate.


  • A bachelor’s degree in a related field and 7+ years of relevant professional experience in major gift fundraising, with a demonstrated success in closing major and principal gifts.

The ideal candidate will have:

  • Expert knowledge in planned giving.
  • Proficiency in event planning and campaign management, or any equivalent combination of experience and/or education from which comparable knowledge, skills and abilities have been achieved.
  • Knowledge and related experience in direct mail, public relations, advertising or marketing.
  • Professional skill preparing and presenting proposals and case statements.
  • Proficiency in Raiser's Edge and Microsoft Office.
  • Expert skill with membership databases and moves management systems.
  • Working knowledge of prospect research methodologies, best practices and evolving trends in major and principal gifts philanthropy.
  • Team player with a commitment to the mission, philosophy and values of AFT.
  • Superior organizational skills; creative, proactive, and detail-oriented with a strong ability to prioritize.
  • Sound judgment in maintaining confidentiality of donor information.
  • Excellent oral, written, interpersonal, analytical and organizational skills.
  • Knowledge of tax laws that impact charitable giving.

For more information about the American Farmland Trust, visit www.farmland.org


To Apply:

The American Farmland Trust has retained the services of Harris Rand Lusk to conduct this search. Inquiries, nominations, and applications may be directed in confidence to:

Debbie Farrell

Senior Director, Leadership and Development

Harris Rand Lusk

122 E. 42nd Street, Suite 3605

New York, NY  10168


Please include “AFT, West Coast DoD” in the subject line of the email.