Chief Development Officer

February 2020 | Boston/Falmouth, MA
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Woods Hole Research Center seeks nominations and expressions of interest for the role of Chief Development Officer to be based in Woods Hole or the greater Boston area.

Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) is seeking candidates for the position of Chief Development Officer (CDO). The new CDO will oversee a comprehensive fundraising program that includes an annual fund, major gifts, campaigns, and foundation and corporate giving, ensuring sustainable philanthropic support for WHRC’s mission and programs. The CDO will report to and partner with President and Executive Director Philip B. Duffy, Ph.D. and will serve on the senior leadership team.

About Woods Hole Research Center

Testing waterLocated on a 10-acre campus near the village of Woods Hole, MA, the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) is a private, nonprofit research organization and acclaimed leader in addressing global environmental issues, especially climate change, through science and policy.  A recognized leader in its field, Woods Hole Research Center has 70 staff members, and attracts some of today’s top experts on global climate change science and policy.

WHRC was founded in 1985 by a visionary scientist who foresaw the far-reaching consequences of climate change and created an institution not only to improve understanding of those consequences, but also to use that understanding to inform societal policies and decisions related to climate change. Throughout its history, WHRC has functioned as both a world-class research institution and one that uses science to inform climate-related decisions in the public and private sectors—typically through the use of strategic partnerships. Historically, WHRC focused on involvement in the United Nations climate process and on working with national governments to help them to measure and/or reduce their contributions to climate change. Recently WHRC has initiated partnerships with leaders in the world of business and finance to help them to understand the implications of climate change for their companies and for the societal context in which they operate, and thereby to induce them to become part of the solution to climate change.

WHRC is distinguished from academic research institutions by its mission to bring science to impact “in the real world.” At the same time, WHRC is very careful to keep a distance from advocacy and lobbying in order to maintain its reputation as an independent and objective scientific authority. WHRC’s scientists are involved in policy processes ranging from international climate negotiations to decisions at the community level in developing countries. WHRC scientists helped to launch the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in the early 1990s, have contributed to every Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report, and were part of the IPCC team awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. WHRC scientists are called to testify in Congress, and frequently serve on committees of the National Academy of Sciences.

About Philanthropy at Woods Hole Research Center

The new Chief Development Officer will join WHRC at an exciting and pivotal time in its history and impact. Climate change is in the news more than ever, public attitudes about it are changing, and there is rapidly growing interest on the part of philanthropists and the private sector in becoming part of the solution. At the same time, WHRC is ready institutionally to step up its level of impact and ambition.

WHRC has an annual operating budget of $12M, the vast majority of which is raised from philanthropy or competitive government grants.  While sources of revenue support have increased and diversified greatly in recent years, competitive grant awards from agencies such as NASA and the National Science Foundation still comprise 35% of WHRC’s annual revenue. Further reducing dependence on these grants is a top priority.

Priorities for development include:

  • Growing unrestricted donations to support vital organizational initiatives;
  • Completion of a campaign to raise a $10M Fund for Climate Solutions to help ensure that resources will be available over the next ten years to invest in the most innovative research and promising policy solutions;
  • Substantially growing the number of contributors to the annual fund; and
  • Designing and overseeing a targeted campaign to support urgent work in the Amazon and developing subsequent targeted campaigns for other areas of WHRC’s work.

Fundraising at WHRC benefits from highly committed Board members who are eager to help broaden the base of support from their own networks, as well as an engaged current donor base with a passion for the work and impact of WHRC on climate change issues. Additionally, the scientific staff at WHRC is accustomed to working closely with the development team and appreciates the value of that partnership.

About the Position

Woods_Hole_HikingThe new CDO will manage the development team of four and oversee a comprehensive engagement and fundraising program. With a focus on growing major and annual giving, and on targeted campaigns, the CDO will provide leadership to and staff a dedicated President and Board of Directors in securing philanthropic support and all constituent communications. As a leader in a collaborative and nimble organization, the CDO will work collegially with administrative and scientific staff, demonstrating flexibility, creativity and teamwork in pursuit of success.

WHRC is deeply committed to the professionalism and success of its philanthropic efforts and is well-poised for accelerated growth. The new CDO will be able to “hit the ground running,” partnering closely with the President and scientists to develop cultivation and solicitation strategies for ongoing fundraising priorities. The CDO will also work with the Board of Directors and the Development Committee in broadening the base of support for WHRC and the Nominating Committee of the Board of Directors to help identify and cultivate prospective new Board members. As an accomplished frontline fundraiser, the CDO will personally identify, cultivate, solicit, close and steward gifts in the 5-7+ figure range.

Key Responsibilities

  • sheltersLead and oversee all aspects of the development program including the Fund for Climate Solutions and other campaigns, annual fund, major giving, gift planning, corporate and foundation support and database management
  • Partner with the President to plan and execute strategies for prospect/donor cultivation and solicitation, and joining him on visits
  • Steward relationships with major donors and board members
  • Collaborate with internal leadership including scientists and administrators
  • Develop, execute, track and evaluate all annual development plans, ensuring targets are met
  • Identify, cultivate, solicit, close and steward gifts from current and prospective donors, with an emphasis on growing major donor support
  • Work with the Board of Directors and the Development Committee of the Board of Directors in identifying and securing philanthropic prospects and gifts
  • Supervise four-person development team, providing strong leadership and opportunities for professional development
  • Work closely with Nominating Committee of the Board of Directors to identify and cultivate potential new Board Members
  • Oversee and grow a nascent planned giving program
  • Expand foundation support by identifying and pursuing grant opportunities
  • Grow the base of donors to the annual fund

Key Qualifications

  • Passion for WHRC’s mission and knowledge of and/or deep intellectual curiosity about environmental sciences, especially climate change
  • Ability to develop a deep understanding WHRC’s work and its value, and act independently in representing WHRC to potential donors
  • 10+ years’ development experience with a track record of identifying, cultivating, soliciting, closing and stewarding 6-figure+ major gifts
  • Ability to engage new donors around a mission and broaden the base of support
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including the ability to understand and translate complex scientific concepts into layman’s terms
  • Ability to manage and forge positive relationships with staff, volunteer leadership, prospects and donors
  • Demonstrated success creating, communicating, executing, measuring and monitoring annual fundraising plans
  • Excellent supervisory skills that demonstrate ability to mentor staff and build a strong team
  • Experience with Raiser’s Edge and fundraising research tools
  • Exceptional interpersonal, presentation, and communication skills, with the ability to interact with a wide range of constituents, including scientific experts and donors
  • Ability to work well independently and as part of a dynamic team in a constantly evolving environment, with people of diverse backgrounds, cultures, and nationalities
  • Bachelor’s degree required; Master’s degree desirable

For more information about Woods Hole Research Center please visit

All qualified candidates will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Please email your cover letter and resume in confidence to:

Tracy Marshall
Senior Vice President, Principal
Development Guild DDI

Interested in this position or other new career opportunities?