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Chief Development Officer

Boston Symphony Orchestra
Job Title: Chief Development Officer
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Job Search Ends:
November 18th, 2020
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The dynamic Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is a world-renowned institution with one of the largest and most prestigious orchestras in the country. Engaging more than 1.2 million people each year, the BSO celebrates its 139th season by maintaining the dream of its founder, Henry Lee Higginson. He envisioned and embraced the notion of creating orchestral mastery in his hometown of Boston by inspiring a myriad of audiences and producing transformational experiences. Today, the BSO is known for its diverse programs, excellent performances, and a longstanding tradition of innovation. The goal of these programs and experiences has always been to enhance the quality of life for many communities and promote a sense of belonging for all. 

The BSO is ranked among the greatest cultural assets in the City of Boston, the Berkshire region, the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond. With an enviable reputation, the BSO provides the broadest range of performance, educational and community programs providing Boston with cultural vibrancy through a number of artistic vehicles, namely; The Boston Symphony Orchestra/Symphony Hall, The Boston Pops and Tanglewood. 

Reaching a diverse audience, the BSO leads the way in classical and popular music through concert performances in Boston and Tanglewood but also via the internet, radio, television, educational programs, recordings and tours. In 1996, the BSO launched its website and it is the largest and most visited orchestral website in the United States, receiving approximately 7 million visitors annually on its full site as well as its smart phone-/mobile device – friendly web format. The BSO is also on Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, video content from the BSO is available on YouTube. 

In an ongoing quest to attract new audiences, innovate and create even greater impact, the BSO’s new Tanglewood Learning Institute has expanded its reach. Today, it includes educational opportunities that intersect with music and other contemporary arts. Academic fields like history and philosophy are woven into the portfolio of offerings. This has created greater possibilities for all, including an enhancement of the experience for patrons. 

From inception, the BSO has been led by legendary conductors, each of whom has put their unique imprint on the Orchestra and its listeners in terms of musical traditions, performance repertoire, educational programs, international tours, and musical recordings. In May 2013, a new chapter in the history of the BSO was initiated when the internationally acclaimed young Latvian conductor, Andris Nelsons became the Music Director, a position that he took up in the 2014-2015 season, following a year as Music Director Designate. Named Musical America’s 2018 Artist of the Year, Mr. Nelson leads 14 of the BSO’s 26 subscription programs in 2018-2019. 

Most recently, under the direction of Andris Nelsons, the BSO has been proud to foster a five-year multidimensional collaboration with the historic German Gewundhaus Orchestra of Leipzig (GHO). Andris Nelsons is the principal conductor of both orchestras. This unique collaboration explores each ensemble’s music-making and the historic traditions and accomplishments that have built their reputations as two of the world’s great orchestras. A major highlight of the five-year alliance is an annual focus on complementary programming celebrating each other’s musical legacy in thoughtfully curated concerts which is core to the BSO’s mission. 

The BSO produces a plethora of concerts, lectures, educational events and activities. International tours and major worldwide outlets widely publicize the BSO through events such as the Boston Symphony Millenium Concert in Paris and the Boston Pops appearances at major sporting events including the Super Bowl, the World Series, and NBA Finals. The BSO has launched its own recording label, BSO Classics, which, in 2010, garnered the Orchestra’s first Grammy win in over 45 years for its recording of Daphnis et Chloe. Numerous Grammy awards have been celebrated including a fourth Grammy won by the BSO’s engineering team for the recording of Shostakovich’s 4th and 11th Symphonies. 

Additionally, the BSO makes a significant contribution to the local and state economies as an employer and market for goods as well as a critical component of the tourism product for the Commonwealth. In fact, the BSO contributes significantly to the Massachusetts economy and is an international treasure; inspiring thousands of audiences and impacting the global community. 

The Opportunity 

At this important moment in its history, the BSO is seeking an outstanding Chief Development Officer (CDO) to lead its philanthropic efforts and promote transparency between the board and staff on all development issues. One of the main goals of the successful CDO will be to promote and build a culture of philanthropy for the BSO. As the BSO continues to create impact, the ideal Chief Development Officer will be a commanding fundraising leader who will be an integral part of the BSO’s senior management team. 

Reporting to the CEO, Mark Volpe, the CDO will be responsible for the creation of the overall strategic development initiatives producing revenue goals in support of the BSO’s mission and vision for the future. The CDO will lead a team of 36 including 7 direct reports. Through this leadership hire, it is anticipated that the BSO will reach new and aspiring levels of stewardship and philanthropic success organization-wide,  engaging current stakeholders at the highest levels and attracting new donors.  This will include developing strategies to further engage high-level constituents, including corporate partners, individual and institutional donors. 

The newly formed Philanthropy Committee of the Board has fiduciary oversight of the overall Development function. The CDO will partner with the Philanthropy Committee to establish a bond between the Board of Trustees and the staff. A new governance model has been implemented which is attracting a new generation of leaders to join the Board and Advisors. Simultaneously, a significant cohort of longstanding and generous donors will be considering their legacy gifts over the next five years and the organization is undertaking a process to more fully explore “mission, program and engagement.” 

This is a special time in the history of the BSO as planning is underway to determine the future of Symphony Hall and the surrounding campus. The CDO role offers a unique opportunity to shape the role of philanthropy in a project of multi-generational impact. Currently, philanthropic efforts comprise roughly half of the operating revenue each year for the BSO’s $100 million+ budget; 25% through endowment income. The BSO commits close to $8 million a year to support the Development function. The Development Function is a vital part of the BSO’s foundation. 

Key goals will include the following:  

  • Creating an organizational culture of philanthropy 
  • Promoting transparency between board and staff 
  • Providing regular reporting on fundraising activities to the Board 
  • Methodically producing a detailed dashboard with pertinent matrices 
  • Effectively communicating with all parties 
  • Promoting the BSO throughout the community and raising financial support by engaging with a wider range of potential donors and further accelerating BSO’s reach and brand.  

The BSO will continue to build a friendly and inspiring environment in which musical mastery, growth, common purpose and community thrive. 

Candidate Profile 

The successful CDO must be a proven fundraising visionary and strategist. The CDO will be an effective listener and strong collaborator with the ability to build a meaningful and robust network of partnerships. The CDO will collaborate with other senior executives, Development Staff, and Board members to develop overall strategy for philanthropic activities to continue to elevate and support BSO’s mission. 

Key responsibilities include:  

  • Achieving strong fundraising success for the BSO by creating, communicating and implementing a robust strategic fundraising plan. This will include all development activities including engagement, solicitation, and stewardship of donors and prospects, 
  • Providing leadership and collaborating effectively with Board Leadership, Trustees, Advisors, key volunteers and the Development Staff creating an approach that builds a sustainable culture of philanthropy throughout the organization and encourages multiple transformative gifts. 
  • Increasing the effectiveness and productivity of the committed team by serving as a coach and mentor, motivating team members with energy and passion, and ensuring clear expectations and accountability. 
  • Strengthening the existing donor base and building a vibrant network of major gift donors who feel connected to and supportive of the mission of the BSO and are appreciated for their generosity. 
  • Collaborating with the Chief Operating Officer to ensure that the departments that are responsible for contributed and earned income work collaboratively to optimize and maximize lifetime value of all patrons. 
  • Providing ongoing strategic guidance that supports the new governance structure of the Board by working closely with the CEO and the Chief Strategy Officer & Corporate Clerk. 
  • Ongoing collaboration with the CFO in an effort to produce regular information and updates on the achievements. Furthermore, this is an opportunity to establish and monitor fundraising benchmarks towards the annual operating funding and capital funding. 
  • Overarching oversight of all fundraising procedures to ensure that the BSO’s fundraising architecture operates at the highest level, utilizing all mechanisms for generating philanthropic support including the maintenance of a robust planned giving program.  
Core Competencies 

While we will consider a broad range of backgrounds, the ideal candidate would have the following qualifications/experience:  

  • A minimum of 10+ years of experience leading all aspects of development as well as demonstrated success in setting and exceeding philanthropic goals. The Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) certification would be considered highly desirable. 
  • In-depth knowledge of all best practices and metrics in the development functions including all contributed revenue streams, stewardship, and development operations. 
  • Experience on the leadership team of a transformational capital campaign. 
  • Significant campaign experience required with direct involvement with solicitations at the $1 million+ gift level. 
  • Bachelor’s degree is required and an advanced degree in a related field would be attractive. 
  • Blend of expertise in development and change management. 
  • Experience with working closely with Board and Development Staff. 
  • Strategic and entrepreneurial approach required. 
  • Superb management skills with demonstrated success in building, managing, leading, and motivating development professionals. 
  • Commitment to and experience with creating an inclusive environment. 
  • Excellent interpersonal, communication and coaching skills to counsel a wide range of staff and volunteers; ability to interact sensitively with a variety of personalities. 
  • Strong problem-solving skills. 
  • Exceptional time and project management skills with an ability to manage and prioritize multiple high-level projects simultaneously. 
  • Skilled at delivering solutions in evolving multi-cultural environments. 
  • World class fundraising leader with an understanding of Boston’s history and culture. 
  • Commitment to BSO’s mission. 
  • Organized, flexible, detail-oriented and creative thinker. 
  • Knowledge of classical music will be considered an asset. In general, a passion for the arts is helpful. 
  • Flexibility to travel is required including attending concerts in Boston, Tanglewood, New York, and on tour.  

Maureen Alphonse-Charles, Liz Lombard and Nadine Coleman of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential. 

Boston Symphony Orchestra is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+ applicants.

Link to complete job description

133 Federal Street, Suite 802 | Boston, MA 02110
Phone: 617.426.2606
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