Principal Gifts Officer

With world attention on both the environment and the economy, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is where policymakers and business leaders turn for win-win solutions. By focusing on strong science, uncommon partnerships and market-based approaches, we tackle urgent threats with practical solutions. We are one of the world’s largest environmental organizations, with more than two million members and a staff of approximately 700 scientists, economists, policy experts, and other professionals around the world. We operate in 22 geographies with unique projects running across four programs. You will be part of a vibrant workplace where innovation and results are a way of life.


EDF envisions a world in which people from all backgrounds and experiences feel connected to the environmental challenges we face and are engaged in creating durable, equitable solutions. We seek talented candidates who share our Core Values of Respect, Results, Innovation, Optimism, and Integrity, and support our Commitment to Diversity.  

Overall Function 

This is a unique opportunity for a development professional with success in individual major gifts fundraising to become part of the development team at one of the nation’s premier environmental organizations.

S/he will be responsible for managing a portfolio of between 25 and 50 donors and prospects nationally. Working closely with Senior Development professionals, Research, Events, Communications, Stewardship and Program staff, the Principal Gifts Officer is expected to identify, cultivate, solicit, and steward individuals in support of Environmental Defense Fund’s national and international agenda.


The Principal Gifts Officer will report to the Vice President, Major and Principal Gifts. This person would ideally be based in one of EDF’s major U.S. offices in either New York City, Washington, DC, or San Francisco, but we are open to considering qualified candidates to be based in the U.S. but work remotely. 


Key Responsibilities

  • Execute a strategic plan for increasing the revenue generated from donors in a portfolio with a concentration on seven and eight figure gifts.  

  • Design and implement overall engagement and fundraising strategies as part of the national development team, in order to continue the exponential growth of revenue coming from individual gifts.

  • Generate approximately $10M per year in sustainable annual revenue, with appropriate increases in each subsequent year.

  • Identify, cultivate and steward major gifts prospects with an identified gift level of $1,000,000 and up.

  • Meet one-on-one with prospects/donors and coordinate program staff and volunteers in the cultivation and solicitation of major gifts prospects. Staff meetings and appropriately brief program staff for meetings.

  • Effectively represent and articulate the work of EDF, presenting a compelling case for support of the organization.

  • Stay abreast of changes and innovations in federal and state tax laws that may be relevant to major gifts prospects.

  • Oversee the drafting and editing of proposals and reports for potential donors, working closely with the donor communications department to ensure they are compelling, visionary program ideas to present to donors and prospects.

  • Assist in setting and meeting annual income goals for major gifts prospects and donors in portfolio.

  • Assist other development officers on special projects or efforts that contribute to the organization’s larger regional and national development goal




The ideal candidate will possess the following:

  • Demonstrated success as a front-line fundraiser.

  • Well-honed skills in developing donor cultivation and solicitation strategies.

  • At least ten years of professional experience in nonprofit fundraising.

  • A commitment to Environmental Defense Fund’s mission and values.

  • Outstanding interpersonal skills; a high level of comfort with direct donor interaction, including discussions of personal and family finances.

  • Well-developed communication skills, including excellent writing ability and public speaking skills.

  • Knowledge of, and ability to use, fundraising databases.

  • Creativity, energy, confidence, and integrity. High level of discretion and respect for donor privacy.

  • Initiative and independence combined with the ability to work well as part of team.

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.

  • A valid driver’s license and ability to drive.

  • Willingness to travel out of state.


Environmental Defense Fund is an equal opportunity employer where an applicant's qualifications are considered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other basis prohibited by law.