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Job Title:
Advancement Program Specialist (Gift Officer), IS-1001, Grade 12; $93,175 - $121,128 per year*
Type of Position:
Trust Fund (non-federal), Temporary, Not to Exceed Three Years**
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:

AREA OF CONSIDERATION: This position is open to all qualified candidates.

*Position may be eligible for remote work; salary range included reflects duty station of Cambridge, MA and may be different based on remote location.

** Position is funded through 2026 and may be extended indefinitely based on success of program.

NOTE:  First consideration of candidates may be made after 14 days.                    


The Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) is a joint institution connecting the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) and the Harvard College Observatory (HCO).  The CfA is a diverse astrophysical institution at which more than 800 scientists are engaged in a broad program of research in astronomy, astrophysics, and earth and space sciences. The CfA is at the forefront, internationally, of the scientific exploration of the universe. Its multiple programs range from ground-based astronomy and astrophysics research to space-based research, the engineering and development of major scientific instrumentation for space launch as well as for use in large ground-based telescope facilities, and research designed to improve science education. The research objectives of SAO are carried out primarily with the support of Government and Smithsonian Institution funds, with additional philanthropic support. The SAO Advancement program was established to engage individuals, foundations, corporations, and other organizations in furthering the Smithsonian’s mission through philanthropic support.


The position is located within the Office of Advancement at SAO.  The purpose of the position is to serve as the Advancement Program Specialist (Gift Officer) with responsibility for assisting with prospect engagement, donor stewardship and donor relations with the goal of soliciting individual prospects and donors and increasing the amount of support from individuals to SAO. 


Program Management 

The Advancement Specialist (Gift Officer) cultivates and manages relationships with prospective donors including identifying, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding donors for solicitations of individual annual and major gifts; working with other staff, to identify, cultivate, solicit, and steward prospective prospects and donors; and managing the relationships with prospects and donors.

Manages all aspects of the planning, development, and execution of projects in collaboration with staff and volunteers, as appropriate, to meet the fundraising goals and performance metrics. Prepares correspondence and develops cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship materials. The incumbent determines strategies in accordance with donor interests and SAO/Smithsonian objectives.

Prospect Management

The incumbent will build and manage an active portfolio of prospects and donors. The incumbent will lead SAO’s pilot direct response program aimed at donors $1,000 - $9,999.  The incumbent will also manage and build SAO’s new high level patrons’ program (gift range $10,000 - $25,000+) including coordinating cultivation opportunities in Cambridge, MA, Washington, DC, and globally.

Executes prospect management practices in accordance with established guidelines and seeks to maximize the opportunities for prospecting. Ensure activity and information is recorded accurately, and timely, into the Smithsonian database to identify and engage the appropriate stakeholders. Works collaboratively with the Smithsonian Office of Advancement and other Smithsonian unit staff as needed.

Incumbent is expected to be available to periodically work late at night and on weekends and to travel as required.


Successful candidates will possess specialized experience that has equipped the applicant with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform successfully the duties of the position to include:

  • knowledge of fundraising and marketing methods, techniques, and practices to develop new concepts and approaches;
  • skill in making oral presentations to various internal and external groups to inform about SAO’s programs, objectives and activities;
  • skill in applying a variety of analytical techniques in gathering and evaluating complex data to develop appropriate recommendations for consideration;
  • skill in establishing and maintaining effective working relationships with groups of diverse levels of understanding and backgrounds;
  • skill in written communication in order to convey information and clarify operations and activities.

Two or more years of experience in special gifts fundraising is strongly preferred. A bachelor’s or master’s degree is highly desired.

Qualification standards can be found:


Application Procedures:  We are only accepting applications online for this position. To apply please visit and submit resume and cover letter.

Conditions of Employment

  • Pre- and Post- background investigation.
  • May be required to serve a one-year probationary period.
  • Direct Deposit/Elect Funds Transfer required for salary payment.

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in our workplace.

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Learn more about SAO Human Resources

Visit the SAO website