ThinkingAhead Executive Search

Major Gifts Officer
Houston, Texas



Best Friends Animal Society is the only national animal welfare organization dedicated exclusively to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. When Best Friends began in 1984, some 17 million animals died every year in America’s shelters, simply for not having homes. Today, that number is down to about 2 million. That’s incredible progress, but it also means that more than 5,500 wonderful dogs and cats are still losing their lives every day. For 30 years, Best Friends has been running the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals and building effective programs all across the country that reduce the number of animals entering shelters and increase the number who find homes.

Headquartered in Kanab, Utah, Best Friends Animal Society is a $100 million organization with more than 700 staff located throughout the country.

We were top-rated in 2017 by Great Non-Profits and a Guide Star Gold participant, and was named 2016 Animal Welfare Brand of the Year by Harris Poll Equi-Trend. 


Reporting to the Director of Major Gifts, the Major Gifts Officer will be responsible for building a major gifts program and soliciting six-figure gifts and above for the Houston region.  This position will be instrumental in establishing, implementing and promoting the goals of Best Friends Animal Society, raising funds, creating strong and solid relationships with significant prospects and donors. The Major Gifts Officer will work from a home office based in Houston, with travel throughout the state of Texas, to meet with donors up to 60 percent of the time.


We are seeking a dedicated, energetic and passionate Major Gifts Officer to support the work of Best Friends Animal Society.  The ideal candidate will have a track record and history of cultivating, soliciting, and closing major gifts (including gifts of $100,000+); a track record of developing a portfolio of donors that have major gift giving potential; success as a builder of sustainable donor engagement and relationships; knowledge of best practices in major gift philanthropy; ability to see the big picture and translate strategy into targeted goals and actions.

As a member of our staff, you will enjoy a common purpose with your colleagues along with challenging and rewarding work that provides a sense of purpose and superior emotional rewards. Best Friends employees are passionate in their love for animals and share the same goals and ideals in helping make the world a better place for them and for us all.

Best Friends is at the mid-point of a five-year fundraising campaign that is dependent on major gifts as well as gifts from corporations, foundations and the organization’s entry level donors.


  • Identify and cultivate new relationships with new prospects and current donors.
  • Research prospects, provide monthly cultivation touches and fulfill the acknowledgement process for stewardship of donors.
  • Solicit major gift prospects in consultation with the Director of Major Gifts and in collaboration with Major Gifts’ team.
  • Develop and maintain a major gifts portfolio of at least 100 major gifts prospects with the ability to secure minimally $1+ million annually for the organization.
  • Raise major gifts, including gifts of $100,000 and above.
  • Maintain working knowledge of institutional priorities that may match donors' area of interest.  These priorities are clearly articulated in the campaign case for support.
  • Work and interact with respective local program staff and participate in key Best Friends’ special events, with a focus on engaging major gift donors and prospects. 
  • (NY Only) Lead Gifts Officer in the planning and execution of annual NY Gala as well as other small cultivation events with the goal of identifying, qualifying and meeting potential major gifts prospects.
  • Manage expense reports according to Major Gifts and organizational protocols.
  • Maintain up-to-date CRM reports and contact log.
  • Other duties as needed and assigned.


  • Minimum of 7 years development experience, with a successful track record in major gifts fundraising in a non-profit organization, preferably in a regional setting.
  • Embodies the Best Friends’ Mission and embraces the guiding principles with enthusiasm and positive presence in all interactions; ability to professionally advocate Best Friends’ positions on issues.
  • Knowledge of companion animal welfare, sheltering, and rescue work desired
  • Nonprofit events experience required; especially house parties, small dinner parties, and larger cultivation events.
  • Understanding of planned giving principles and vehicles; and ability to coordinate interactions with donors and planned giving officers to facilitate a gift.
  • Self-motivated, strong work ethic, takes initiative; ability to work autonomously and set and meet goals on an individual and team basis.
  • Able to work collaboratively with Development team and with peers across the organization.
  • Must be a willing learner with a flexible and adaptable attitude.
  • Familiarity with the region’s philanthropic and business communities.
  • High level of communication skills and customer service approach to express Best Friends’ mission and fundraising objectives orally, and in writing to varied audiences, including potential donors and community members.
  • Proficient in fundraising databases such as Blackbaud CRM, Raiser’s Edge, or similar systems.
  • Above average technical skills in using the Internet and a variety of computer software applications such as Windows, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, GoToMeeting, and Google.
  • Comfortable learning new software programs and using online information systems.
  • Valid Driver’s License and access to transportation to travel on organization business.
  • Ability to work nights and weekends as needed.


  • Work at a computer with extended periods of time with repetitive typing, arm and hand motion.
  • Make public presentations to large and small groups.
  • This position requires frequent travel throughout assigned region as much as 60 percent throughout the year.  Employee is expected to make travel arrangements and be comfortable and competent with various forms of transportation and accommodations on behalf of organization business.


Bachelor's Degree required, CFRE a plus.


Best Friends Animal Society has retained the services of ThinkingAhead Executive Search. Please submit your resume, expression of interest and salary history and requirements to Chris Spagnola, Recruiter, at and Jessica Martinez, Recruiter, at

Thank you for your interest in pursuing a career at Best Friends Animal Society.  Best Friends Animal Society is an equal opportunity employer.  All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to their race, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, marital status, domestic partner status, or medical condition.