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Vice President for Development

The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) is a nonprofit consortium of nearly sixty universities and research institutions worldwide, with operations in three countries and research and education stations in Costa Rica and South Africa. For the last half century OTS has been the world’s leading institution in the study of tropical biology, with more than 350 graduate courses in tropical ecology and conservation and over 8000 students trained, including many of the world’s leading tropical ecologists. Recently, OTS has recognized that to be a successful, 21st century organization, we need to evolve. We have clarified our purpose: To protect our tropical ecosystems by driving scientific discovery and knowledge, enriching human perception of nature and enhancing worldwide policy actions in the tropics. To build on our legacy and to expand our impact, OTS is in a phase of rapid expansion. We are launching several new programs and our culture is evolving to be innovative, interdisciplinary, entrepreneurial and connected. We are ready to expand our impact.

The VP for Development reports to the President and Chief Executive Officer. (S)he works closely with the COO and the VP Global Programs and Partnerships, and collaborates closely with country, research station and program directors. (S)he is key a member of the organization’s leadership team.


  • With significant input from the President and CEO and other staff, plans, creates, manages, directs and executes a comprehensive donor development and fundraising program to expand OTS’ annual unrestricted revenue to $5M per year.
  • Ensures OTS has the infrastructure in place to support expanded fundraising
  • Sets and meets ambitious fundraising objectives, evaluates results and implements corrective strategies and actions.
  • Effectively cultivates, develops and manages a portfolio of at least 20 individual donors at the $25,000 level and above. Ensures that every major donor has a clear strategy, including timeline for cultivation, solicitation and stewardship.
  • Provides leadership for developing and managing a portfolio of several seven figure grants from federal, bilateral and multilateral donors. Ensures that OTS responds to the right funding opportunities, submits effective proposals, and implements grants with the necessary communication and compliance.
  • Serves as a dynamic ambassador for the organization, both internally and externally, capable of inspiring support from a variety of stakeholders, ranging from dedicated OTS supporters and alumni, to foundations, governments and venture philanthropists. Has, or can quickly gain, substantive knowledge of OTS’ mission, purpose and scientific programs, projects and activities to effectively present potential giving opportunities, verbally, visually and in writing to prospective donors. Communicates effectively with donors through extensive face-to-face solicitation, stewardship meetings, as well as through ongoing and tactical written and e-communication strategies.
  • Oversees the planning and supports execution of targeted donor events.
  • Leads the development team and plays a leadership role in interdepartmental teams to coordinate and mentor the fundraising work of peers and team members.
  • Provides monthly revenue forecasts, reports and statistical analysis to the President & CEO, senior staff and the Board.
  • Intelligently and strategically organizes the President & CEO’s and board members’ time in matters of fund-raising and ensures they have appropriate preparation and support materials for donor visits, including talking points, appropriate solicitation materials, background, strategy and follow-up proposals.
  • Compellingly conveys the mission and purpose of OTS to generate excitement among diverse audiences.

Qualifications and Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience
  • 7+ years of demonstrated nonprofit fundraising success, especially with individual donors
  • Tangible success with donor stewardship and with expanding donor relationships over time
  • Successful experience soliciting gifts at > $1M
  • Strategic thinker, with proven ability to design and lead fundraising initiatives, including prospect research, proposal preparation, individualized cultivation, solicitation and stewardship and recognition of major donors
  • Strong network of relationships with high net worth individuals, program officers and corporate social responsibility executives
  • Exceptional interpersonal, oral and written communication skills with the experience and ability to bring the OTS mission and purpose to life, inspiring and motivating a diverse community, including OTS’ multi-cultural board, staff at all levels, member institutions, donors and partners
  • Able to lead, train, motivate, build consensus and manage cross-functional teams to deliver reliably
  • Results oriented, creative and resourceful, with the ability to prioritize and manage multiple projects simultaneously and solve problems while maintaining attention to detail within budget and deadlines
  • Strong computer skills including knowledge of fundraising software tools and platforms
  • High energy and thrives in a dynamic, distributed environment
  • Passionate about the mission and purpose of OTS


  • Fluency in spoken and written Spanish
  • Multicultural experience
  • Experience working remotely and/or with a distributed workforce

Supervisory Responsibilities/Authority Allocated

  • Supervise distributed development staff. Lead staff to deliver on individual fundraising goals and metrics
  • Manage relationships with outside consultants, contractors and interns as needed
  • Budget management with an eye on maximizing return on investment

Working Conditions

  • The preferred location for position is Seattle, WA or the Bay Area, or potentially Durham, NC and is likely to involve working remotely
  • Domestic and international travel, up to 25% time may be required
  • Willing to work outside of normal business hours when needed to accommodate meetings involving participants from multiple time zones

To Apply

Both a resume and a cover letter are required. Applications received without a cover letter will not be considered. Please send both documents (in PDF format) to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it including "Vice President for Development" in the email subject line.

The Organization for Tropical Studies is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, age, protected veteran or disabled status, or genetic information.


Last Updated ( 04/02/18 )
Organization for Tropical Studies
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