New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Vice President of Development NJSO

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

Vice President of Development


As an integral part of the musical landscape in the country’s most vibrant cultural corridor, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO) continues to enrich lives through a passion for musical excellence and a commitment to New Jersey, its people, and its communities. The NJSO has been recognized by The Wall Street Journal as “a vital, artistically significant musical organization,” led by Music Director Xian Zhang—a “dynamic podium presence.” The New York Times has praised Zhang for her “technical abilities, musicianship, and maturity.”

The NJSO, with a current annual operating budget of $13 million and an $8 million endowment, serves as the resident orchestra of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, with additional performance series in five other outstanding venues throughout northern New Jersey. With over 140,000 guests attending more than 160 performances each year and numerous partnerships with arts organizations, universities, and civic organizations, the NJSO enjoys broad support from approximately 3,000 donors and 6,000 subscribers.

The orchestra enjoys a unique collaborative culture between its more than 60 musicians, 50 trustees, and 35-member staff (including nine full-time, highly motivated fundraising professionals). Its Music Director, President & CEO, and board leadership embrace their roles as fundraisers. A dedicated and experienced administrative team, an engaged and generous board of trustees, a five-year contract with its musicians, and a comprehensive new strategic plan have positioned the NJSO for exciting growth.

At the forefront of addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the orchestral industry, the NJSO has built one of the most comprehensive arts education and community engagement programs in the state. The NJSO offers a large variety of programs and presentations, including Concerts for Young People, NJSO Youth Orchestras, and NJSO CHAMPS (Character, Achievement, and Music Project), an intensive education program inspired by the Venezuelan social change and music education program El Sistema.

The NJSO has seen significant progress in the early phases of its $50 million comprehensive campaign, having already achieved more than a third of its goal through initial leadership gifts. The campaign will culminate with its centennial celebration in 2022. Campaign gifts will fund new artistic and community engagement opportunities in addition to expanding the endowment.


The NJSO is based in Newark, ideally located with easy access to Manhattan just eight miles to the east and to Philadelphia just a one-hour train ride to the south. Thanks to exceptional transportation options­—including major air, rail, bus, and highway systems—Newark is among the most conveniently located metropolitan areas in the country. The city is home to more than 280,000 residents and is at the crossroads of New Jersey’s Gateway Region with four million residents. It has long been an important center of higher education, with more than 50,000 students, faculty, and staff filling the six colleges and universities located in its downtown business district. As the financial, commercial, and transportation nucleus of the Garden State, as well as its largest city, Newark and its surrounding communities offer both a cosmopolitan and suburban lifestyle, boasting a wide selection of exceptional dining, shopping, entertainment, and sports venues.

This historic city is experiencing rapid growth. A multitude of new restaurants and services have opened to support the thousands of residential units recently completed, under construction, or being planned. Already home to several Fortune 500 companies, such as Prudential Financial, numerous corporations have recently moved significant operations to Newark, including Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S., Audible, and Broadridge Financial Solutions. Newark also offers easy access to many regional attractions, including 61 state parks and forests, 130 miles of beaches, and four professional sports teams.

The Newark area is the state’s premier center for the performing and visual arts, offering a rich variety of theater, dance, and music as well as an array of museums and galleries showcasing art and history. According to Arts and Economic Prosperity V, a study conducted by Americans for the Arts, the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $178 million industry in the City of Newark. In 2017 the SMU National Center for Arts Research ranked Newark as the ninth most arts-vibrant community in the nation out of more than 900 communities surveyed across the country. As an anchor institution committed to the revitalization of downtown Newark, where 3,000 jobs have been added in the last year and more than $2 billion in commercial investments have been made, the NJSO is one of 17 nonprofits currently working in partnership with corporate philanthropists and city government to spearhead a model of inclusive economic growth.



The Vice President of Development will provide an extraordinary opportunity at a pivotal moment in the institution’s storied history for an ambitious and entrepreneurial fundraising professional to lead a dynamic mission-aligned team of staff, volunteers, and artists in the planning and implementation of a multi-year comprehensive campaign. Reporting to the President & CEO, the Vice President of Development will be an integral part of the NJSO’s senior management team. This individual will work closely with organizational and community leadership to expand contributed income opportunities as well as NJSO’s donor base by building on the strong foundation of successful patron-centered advancement activities that are already in place.

Roles and Responsibilities

Donor Cultivation Engagement

  • Inspire and guide the efforts of the development, campaign, special events, and other fundraising or project committees.
  • Develop trust and build relationships with a portfolio of key donors and high-level prospects interested in helping advance the NJSO’s mission.
  • Create and deliver a comprehensive prospecting effort with staff and volunteer teams to identify and engage potential new supporters.
  • Expand the NJSO’s culture of philanthropy by ensuring donors receive ongoing cultivation and stewardship.
  • Be a highly visible presence at NJSO and community functions, setting an example as a tireless and proactive advocate for the NJSO’s artistic and community impact and facilitating connections with donors and prospects.
  • Embrace other donor cultivation and engagement responsibilities as needed.

Development Strategy and Operations

  • Serve as a thought leader and partner, collaborating with the NJSO’s executive team, volunteer leadership, and staff to advance key organizational and development strategies to meet or exceed fundraising goals.
  • Efficiently organize and implement a departmental work plan to achieve annual and campaign goals.
  • Hire, train, supervise, and mentor development staff, mobilize volunteers, and oversee the effective use of financial and technological resources to achieve the organization’s contributed revenue goals and objectives.
  • Set clear expectations with the development staff, motivate and inspire the team, assist in their professional development, and maintain the highest level of professionalism.
  • Prepare and monitor revenue and expense budgets, provide accurate reporting and analysis, and oversee the accurate maintenance of donor and prospect records.
  • Ensure appropriate departmental structure to support the ongoing fundraising operations of the NJSO.
  • Embrace other development strategy and operations responsibilities as needed.

Public Visibility and Campaign Messaging

  • Direct efforts to refine and implement development initiatives in the NJSO’s strategic plan and focus on achievable objectives to advance long-range departmental goals.
  • Assess and refine current development practices to ensure maximum efficiency and results.
  • Oversee the production of all development collateral, including copy and design of donor materials, and work closely with the marketing team to ensure consistent branding and messaging.
  • Lead the staff in utilizing data to analyze donor capacity and fundraising results and integrate campaign case statement messaging into the overall organizational brand strategy.
  • Develop relationships with all key colleagues and personnel to support annual giving programs, campaign efforts, sponsorships, and special events and to create donor stewardship and recognition opportunities.
  • Embrace other public visibility and campaign messaging responsibilities as needed.

Traits and Characteristics

The Vice President of Development will be a confident frontline fundraiser and strategic thinker with a strong passion for music and the arts. The selected individual will bring energy and a well-rounded array of fundraising competencies to inspire, guide, and mentor an effective development team committed to advancing the NJSO’s mission. A creative leader with an optimistic and positive demeanor, the Vice President of Development will be comfortable taking initiative and challenging preconceptions. This self-directed individual will exhibit a drive for excellence and will be motivated by a desire to learn and implement best practices to achieve ambitious fundraising goals. The Vice President of Development will possess keen prospecting skills along with the ability to effectively cultivate and solicit high-level donor prospects.

Other key competencies include:

  • Donor Focus – Displays superior interpersonal and communication skills and articulates strong and compelling customized messages to generate enthusiasm and financial support among a wide array of stakeholders.
  • Leadership – Develops positive relationships and works effectively with a wide range of people at varying levels of the organization to achieve results.
  • Problem Solving – Anticipates, identifies, and resolves problems regardless of obstacles.


Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree preferred, plus a minimum of eight years of progressively responsible senior development expertise in the arts, arts education, or a related field. Experience with a significant capital or endowment campaign is strongly preferred. Candidates should have a well-rounded knowledge of and proven track record in major and individual gifts, institutional support, planned giving, and/or special events. The selected individual will possess strong written and verbal communication skills, demonstrated capacity to lead and motivate both staff and volunteers, and adeptness in building consensus among a diverse set of stakeholders. Candidates must be proficient with Microsoft Office, along with development CRM systems and software. The NJSO development team is currently utilizing Raiser’s Edge. Experience with and knowledge of the New Jersey donor community will be viewed favorably.

Compensation and Benefits

Compensation will far exceed industry benchmarks, with a benefits package that includes a generous health insurance plan, pension, parking, paid time off, and other employee benefits, as they become available.

Applications and Inquiries

Please submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred) to:

Dr. Bruce D. Thibodeau, President

ACG Contact Logo

292 Newbury Street, Suite 315
Boston, MA 02115-2801
Tel       (888) 234.4236 Ext. 201


The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra is an equal opportunity employer that
welcomes and values diversity, inclusion, and equity in all forms.



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