Manager, Major Gifts

Helen Keller INTL
May 21, 2021
New York, New York
Job Type


Helen Keller


Manager, Major Gifts

NYC metro area.

(All staff currently working from home due to pandemic)


Helen Keller International is a global health organization dedicated to eliminating preventable vision loss, malnutrition and diseases of poverty.  Cofounded by Helen Keller – and guided by her fierce optimism and belief in human potential – the organization delivers life-changing health solutions to vulnerable families where the need is great but access to care is limited.  In the US, Africa, and Asia, Helen Keller’s proven, science-based programs empower people to create opportunities in their own lives and build lasting change.


We are seeking an experienced Major Gifts professional to join our External Relations team. The Major Gifts team is at a pivotal moment in which the organization is intentionally growing our community of major donors, and both Board members and staff are energized in the effort.


Functional Relationships

Reporting to the Director of Major Gifts, the Manager, Major Gifts will work directly with the Office of the President, the Vice President for External Relations, and External Relations colleagues. This role will interact directly with donors.


The External Relations department is structured in such a way that the work of each unit supports and reinforces the work of every other unit.  Regular communication and a spirit of teamwork among colleagues, both hierarchically and laterally, are essential to make this structure thrive.


Scope of the Position

The Manager, Major Gifts is a lead member of the major gifts team, managing a portfolio and also creating cultivation and engagement ideas that the rest of the team will use. The Manager has four primary roles. First, this position will manage a portfolio, mostly of $25,000+ donors and prospects; the Manager will cultivate, solicit, and steward this portfolio, optimally meeting in person (or zooming as the case will be for a while) with and soliciting increasing numbers of donors in person annually. Second, the Manager will create cultivation, engagement, and stewardship ideas that the rest of the team could use and evolve for their own portfolios; third, the Manager will deploy and collaborate with Helen Keller staff and volunteer leaders in interacting with major donors and prospects. Finally, the Manager will engage donors through events and occasional trips to the field and bring donors and prospects to intimate conversations and gatherings and events of all sizes.





  • Manage a portfolio of existing donors and prospects, with a focus on those with giving and potential for giving $25,000+ gifts and some who give starter $5,000+ gifts.
    • Oversee lifecycle of giving including identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship.
    • Personally meet and engage organizational leaders in meeting with 50-150 donors and prospects a year, growing the number of donors met with over time.
    • Solicit increasing numbers of donors and prospects in person annually or by helping other staff and Board leaders solicit, optimally through face-to-face meetings.
    • Analyze when donors are ready for solicitation or larger gifts. Initiate and sustain a steady pace of solicitations, timing them intelligently. Solicit independently and deploy analysis and emotional intelligence to perceive when soliciting collaboratively with leaders, key staff, and Board members would bring about a greater likelihood of success.
    • Create donor profiles using research tools, craft meeting objectives, help convene and prepare others to interact fruitfully with donors and prospects.
    • Thank donors compellingly and personally.
    • Help Board and staff leadership engage the portfolio through creative and sustained efforts.
    • Play a pro-active role in suggesting donors as potential, future Board and Committee members.
    • Track efforts in database of record.
  • Develop and execute new ideas for effective cultivation, engagement, and stewardship strategies and share ideas that work with the team for their use.
  • Craft and share compelling messages for donors and prospects through phone, in-person exchanges, emails, letters, proposals, reports, newsletters, follow up correspondence, and thank you letters.
    • Share most effective new messaging with the team for their use.
    • Occasionally craft proposals and reports for specific donor needs, liaising effectively with the Business Development Unit, program and finance colleagues, and others to develop strong ideas and cases for support and evidence of effectiveness. Share effective proposals and reports for others’ use.
    • Proactively learn Helen Keller’s programs.
    • Visit with US- based field programs and occasionally visit internationally or staff international donor visits and use these opportunities to deepen knowledge to share with donors and prospects.
    • Develop a depth of relationships with staff and Board in order to share their work with donors and prospects, and where helpful, to make introductions.
  • Staff the Spirit of Helen Keller Gala and intimate conversations and gatherings.
    • Collaborate with Special Events staff and others throughout Major Gifts and External Relations to create, build, and implement effective, inspiring engagement opportunities for donors and prospects.
    • Research attendees, prioritize guest lists, and help staff and volunteer leaders to interact with donors and prospects.
    • Host donors and prospects at events, introduce them to members of the staff and Board.
    • Identify and solicit hosts for more intimate events in their homes. Liaise effectively with hosts so that they have strong experiences that tie them more intimately to Helen Keller’s mission.
    • Help Board members build their tables for larger events.
  • Contribute to overall culture of philanthropic values and donor-centric service.


  • College degree plus six – eight years major gifts experience, or equivalent combination of education and experience. Master’s degree a plus.
  • Experience in identifying and securing gifts at at least the four- and five-figure levels or staffing membership, annual fund, events, or other aspects of fundraising strategies that directly ask individual donors for gifts.
  • Superior interpersonal skills and ability to form warm and strategic relationships with high net worth individuals.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Experience dealing with sticky situations with donors or other key constituents and a kind, clear, calm temperament that would lend itself to handling tough conversations autonomously with confidence.
  • Detail-oriented including administrative skills required to manage own portfolio.
  • A proven track record of closing gifts.
  • The ability to work independently and efficiently in solving problems within a fast-paced and deadline-driven environment.
  • Ability to work as a team player.
  • Diplomacy, patience and flexibility in managing diverse external and internal relationships.
  • Ability to exercise an appropriate level of professionalism and discretion when dealing with information of a highly confidential nature.
  • Computer literate, including Word, Excel, Outlook, research tools, and proficiency in Raiser’s Edge and/or other fundraising CRM software.
  • Passion about Helen Keller Intl’s mission and goals; some knowledge of international affairs and global public health a plus.
  • Position requires regular office hours as well as some evening and weekend work.
  • Ability to travel for major donor visits approximately 20% of the time, including ability to travel independently outside of the NYC-metro area, once conditions allow.


Please note that Helen Keller’s offices are closed due to the ongoing pandemic and that all External Relations staff are working remotely until the office reopens. Helen Keller commits to accommodate our employees during this unprecedented time, via remote work and flexible scheduling, as needed, as well as to our duty of care and ensuring appropriate health and safety measures are followed as staff return to the workplace.


To Apply

Qualified candidates should submit a cover letter and resume to [email protected] Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.



In the spirit of our founder and namesake, Helen Keller

is dedicated to building an inclusive workforce where diversity is fully valued.


We are an Equal Opportunity Employer where all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, disability, or protected veteran status.

We are committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual with a disability and need to request an accommodation during the application or interview process, please contact us at the email above or call:  +1 646-356-1789.