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Please submit completed application, cover letter, and resume here, or mail to:

Nancy Steckel

P.O. Box 700
Hockessin, DE 19707


Chief Development Officer

Opportunity Type: Full-time, Exempt


Ashland Nature Center, Hockessin, DE

Organization Description

Delaware Nature Society’s (DelNature) mission is to connect people with the natural world to improve our environment through education, conservation, and advocacy. We envision a healthy and sustainable environment.  Founded in 1964, DelNature, a state affiliate for the National Wildlife Federation, is renowned for our educational programming, conservation, and advocacy. We provide the tools for communities to take action and promote the health of the environment through land preservation, wildlife protection, and watershed stewardship.

We manage over 2,000 acres of land, including four nature preserves, and operates four educational sites: Ashland Nature Center, Abbott’s Mill Nature Center, DuPont Environmental Education Center, and Coverdale Farm Preserve. Our organizational priorities are comprised of three pillars of engagement focused on:  Working & Natural Lands, Healthy Waters, and Protecting Habitats and Wildlife.

DelNature aspires to be inclusive multicultural organization that celebrates the rich dimensions of diversity and is committed to understanding and addressing where we fall short. Diversity creates an awareness of and acknowledges respect for differences and translates into understanding and valuing of each other’s perspectives. We are committed to building a diverse team and strongly encourage all who are qualified to apply.

Covid Requirements

DelNature requires that all staff be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Proof of vaccination (copy of vaccination card) is required prior to hiring. Applicants unable to vaccinate must submit a medical exemption (note) from their doctor, will need to test every 7 days, and will submit their test results to their supervisor.  Based on CDC guidelines, currently, the booster shot is not required to be fully vaccinated.

Job Description

The Chief Development Offer is a Senior Leadership Team member, overseeing the fundraising and event and marketing budget-planning and execution on behalf of the organization.

As the lead fundraiser, the Chief Development Officer provides strategy and direct procurement of gifts, with an emphasis on major gifts from individuals, corporations, foundations, state/government agency grants, and bequests. The annual fundraising goals are set and planned in the fall of each year to coincide with the following year of activities, providing a full calendar of engagement, stewardship and solicitation. From the Annual Fund and Membership campaigns -to event sponsorship, planned giving, and major gifts – the Chief Development Officer leads the goal-setting and fulfillment with support of the Development and Marketing Team, Executive Director, and other leadership team members.

The ideal candidate is a seasoned fundraising professional, adept at a variety of fundraising tools, to meet and exceed annual fundraising goals of $1.2M-$2.3M per calendar year.

This position reports to the Executive Director and oversees a team of 5 marketing and development staff members.


Annual Fund & Membership

  • Plans and executes an Annual Fund Campaign, raising unrestricted operating support, with a minimum goal of $500,000/year.
  • Plans and executes a rolling Membership Campaign, raising unrestricted operating support with a minimum goal of $100,000/year.
  • Works with Associate Director of Development to plan and direct the activities related to the cultivation, stewardship and direct solicitation of individual and major gifts, with special emphasis on the Guardian Donors ($1,000 + up).
  • Works with the Board Fund Development Chair, Executive Director, Board Members, and Fund Development Committee members to steward, cultivate, and solicit individual donors to meet/exceed Annual Fund Campaign goals. Reports on goals, tracks progress and communicates proactively on success and/or challenges.
  • Develops and maintains a list of donors for personal cultivation /stewardship/solicitation (caseload of approximately 125-140 donors/grantors).
  • Supports the Executive Director, Fund Development Chair, and Board Members in the Annual Fund Campaign activities. Works directly with the Associate Director of Development on tracking and reporting on solicitor assignments to evaluate and effectively increase overall giving year-to-year.
  • Collaborates with other members of the leadership team on stewardship and cultivation strategies for donor prospects including Conservation Easement /Landowners, Coverdale Neighbors, Legislators, Event attendees, Market shoppers, and other(s) as identified.

Grants & Sponsorships

  • Plans and executes a calendar of grants for a contributed revenue goal of $500,000-$1,000,000/year from a variety of grant sources including Corporate, Foundation, and Government grants, and multi-year grant commitments.
  • Writes and submits grant applications ($20,000+), grant reports, and works with the department and site staff on development and reporting of the metrics and outcomes provided in those reports.
  • Reviews and approves grant applications and grant reports done by other members of the development team and/or leadership team.
  • Provides strategy and oversight of grant opportunities, including programmatic, annual, unrestricted, and capital requests on behalf of the organization.
  • Works with the Associate Director of Development on identifying, soliciting and managing corporate, and event sponsors.
  • Works with Associate Director of Development, Site Directors, on fundraising strategies to underwrite support of our programs and operations.


  • Oversees development of calendar of stewardship, cultivation and fundraising events, with direct support from the Associate Director of Development, Membership & Events Coordinator, and other development and marketing staff.
  • Provides direct support in organization-wide, fundraising and stewardship events including: serving on event planning committee(s), promotion and attendance of event, securing funding, and supporting event follow-up.


  • Plans, develops, implements, and manages three departmental budgets: Development, Marketing, and Events.
  • Oversees and monitors costs expenditures for department projects and direct reports.
  • Works with the Associate Director of Development and Marketing Manager to develop and implement annual marketing plans to support contributed and earned revenue goals on behalf of the organization including (but not limited to): Annual Fund, Membership, Special Events, Public Programs, Youth Programs, Coverdale Market and Farm, and special projects including Capital.
  • Serves on the Senior Leadership Team, providing strategy, development, and oversight of annual, department, and organizational work plans and priorities.
  • Serves as the staff lead on the Fund Development Committee and serves on other board and organization committees as needed.
  • Oversees Planned Giving materials, solicitations, and processes estate planning and bequests, working in partnership with the Director of Business & Finance, Executive Director, and Board Treasurer as needed.
  • Works with Director of Business & Finance and Finance Committee to oversee and ensure compliance with donor intent for restricted endowments.
  • Works with the Business Office to reconcile restricted gifts and grants on a monthly and annual basis.
  • Utilizes software systems required including: Altru (donor/member/events), SGA (accounting), and PayCom.
  • Manages 2 full-time, exempt direct reports: Associate Director of Development and Marketing Manager, providing leadership, oversight, and evaluation of their duties and job performance.
  • Ensures all DelNature policies and procedures, including health and safety protocols, are implemented, and always enforced.
  • Promotes and supports DelNature’s mission, values, goals, activities, and membership to a wide array of program audiences.
  • Perform other duties as requested by supervisor or leadership staff.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Minimum 10+ years direct fundraising experience with demonstrated success in securing and soliciting individual gifts, grants, and sponsorships.
  • Degree in Business, Marketing, Communications, or related field.
  • Flexible and adaptable style – a leader who can positively impact both strategic and tactical fundraising initiatives.
  • Organized, deadline, and goal driven.
  • Proven ability to manage staff to successfully reach annual fundraising goals .
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and oral .
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office and computer skills including Word, Excel, and donor software experience (Altru preferred).
  • Must possess the following traits and skills: flexibility, dependability, critical thinking, problem solving and decision-making skills, team player.
  • Commitment to and passion for the mission of Delaware Nature Society.

Work Environment and Physical Demands

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • The employee frequently is required to sit and reach and must be able to move around the work environment.
  • The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 20 pounds and be able to carry, move and setup necessary supplies and equipment.
  • Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, and the ability to adjust.
  • The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.
  • Ability to plan, lead, and participate in program activities in a variety of indoor and/or outdoor settings, weather, and terrains.

Salary and Benefits

Salary commensurate with experience. Eligible for full benefits package.

Applicants Must Submit

  • DelNature employment application
  • Cover Letter
  • Resume
  • 2 Writing Samples (including policy statements, grants, and/ or letters to the editor)
  • 3 Professional References