VP, Major and Principal Gifts

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 that welcomes diverse perspectives, talents and contributions, 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 the Core Values that allow us to experiment courageously in our work while staying true to who we’ve been as an organization for 50 years. Are you a results oriented individual who is passionate about creating environmental solutions that make a lasting difference in the world? Do you respect diverse perspectives, talents and contributions? Do you value innovation and enjoy designing and using a wide range of problem-solving tools? Do you embrace environmental goals with a sense of optimism while taking into account real-world dynamics? If you have integrity and a strong desire to uphold a commitment to science, rigorous analysis, intellectual honesty and ethical action, then EDF is the place for you.

Overall Function

The Vice President, Major & Principal Gifts will oversee the major and principal gifts team at EDF. This team consists of front line gift officers as well as a group of coordinators who support the major and principal gifts team. This includes 21 people in total, with eight direct reports. The VP will work closely with the Senior Vice President of Development to guide day-to-day operations for the major and principal gifts team, which currently generates about $100M annually.


Additionally, the VP will collaborate with the Associate Vice President for Information & Strategy and the Vice President of Development (overseeing membership and mid-level giving) to develop and cultivate an ongoing pipeline of donors, as well as the Vice President of Institutional Giving to ensure a streamlined and coordinated approach to shared donors and prospects. This Vice President will work to manage a coordinated strategy of donor cultivation across the mid-level, major, and principal giving spectrum.


This position is ideally based in New York City and reports to the Senior Vice President for Development. The team reporting to this Vice President is located across the country, in New York, Georgia, Colorado, and California.


Key Responsibilities



  • Retain, hire, manage, and mentor a team of high-performing major and principal gift officers.
  • Support the Senior Vice President of Development in developing and executing a strategic plan to support increasing revenue from major and principal gift donors and prospects.
  • Manage a small portfolio of principal-level donors and prospects; engage in donor cultivation activity when the primary relationship manager is unavailable.
  • Offer input into portfolio assignments in support of the Senior Vice President of Development and the Associate Vice President of Information & Strategy.
  • Keep current with new and innovative giving vehicles, such as charitable limited liability corporations, that pertain to major and principal gift prospects; train and advise the team on these methods.
  • Work to develop robust team goals that go beyond dollars raised to include metrics.

Team Building

  • Assist and support strategic program development in coordination with gift officers, the Senior Vice President of Development, Program Vice Presidents, and other senior leadership as appropriate.
  • Collaborate with the Vice President of Development and Vice President of Institutional Giving to ensure the coordination of donor cultivation and strategies across major, principal, mid-level and institutional giving.
  • Ensure a free flow of information across the major and principal gifts team, especially with staff located in regional or remote offices.
  • Ensure the integration of international gift officers and planned giving with the major and principal gifts team.
  • Collaborate with gift officers to review and edit talking points for executive leadership.
  • Assist with special projects that contribute to overall Development goals.

Major Objectives

  • Within the first 12 to 18 months, the Vice President, Major & Principal Gifts will achieve the following major objectives:
  • Partner with the Senior Vice President of Development to retain and grow the major and principal gifts team.
  • Foster collaborative relationships with peers within the Development department to establish a cohesive team strategy across giving channels that will ensure coordinated donor cultivation toward ongoing revenue growth.     
  • Identify opportunities to integrate international giving and planned giving into the major and principal gifts team; test the potential for programmatic campaigns in key areas.



The ideal candidate will possess most of the following qualifications:

  • At least 12 years of success cultivating major and/or principal gifts and managing a high performing team in a complex organization.
  • Strong and motivational people management skills to support a growing major and principal gifts program, while promoting cross-collaboration with other development teams.
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal, and the ability to partner closely with senior leaders across the organization, including the CEO and program leadership.
  • Significant management savvy; able to provide day-to-day oversight of a talented team while respecting long-standing relationships and partnerships with existing leaders.
  • A proactive strategic thinker capable of problem solving within a complex structure; a high level of comfort serving in a strategic operations role.
  • A high degree of intellectual curiosity, with the capacity to quickly understand a wide breadth and depth of programs.
  • An entrepreneurial spirit to figure out how to accomplish goals balanced with the ability to collaborate within a highly complex organization.
  • Proven aptitude to communicate complex issues in a clear and compelling manner, and to work well with senior leadership and other inter-dependent Development groups, including: Membership, Catalyst Circle (mid-level giving), Prospect Research, Events, Planned Giving, Communications, and Information & Strategy.
  • Familiarity with and passion for advancing environmental issues is ideal; an understanding of the environmental sector and the major funders that support work in this space.
  • Prior experience with international fundraising would be beneficial.
  • Experience managing complex multi-million-dollar budgets.
  • A high level of personal and professional confidence, and the savvy to navigate a unique culture and hierarchy.
  • The ability to travel as needed.
  • Bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree would be preferred.

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.