Mersky, Jaffe & Associates, a national executive search and consulting firm, has been engaged to conduct a search for a Director of Major Gifts for Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York.


Congregation Emanu-El offers a warm and majestic environment to congregants while also acting as a bold leader in the greater New York Jewish community. Founded in 1845 by German Jews who invited “all who come in peace” to partake, Emanu-El is the biggest Jewish prayer space in the world with one of the largest and most remarkable memberships in the country. Led by Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson, it provides spiritual, religious, educational, and cultural programming to community members of all ages. The synagogue features a top-rated nursery school, an award-winning religious school, the Stettenheim Library, the Herbert & Eileen Bernard Judaica Museum, and the Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center with Judaic, cultural, and socio-political adult educational programming.

Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York is the oldest Reform synagogue in New York City, grounded in a rich history of Jewish communal leadership in the city and beyond. Our congregation is dynamic and forward-looking, and as our current membership of 2,300 families grows, we remain committed to ensuring that new and current members alike, of varied ages, backgrounds, and interests, continue to have the highest quality experience in all aspects of synagogue life.

Over the years, the worship that congregants experience at Congregation Emanu-El was labeled “Classical Reform.” Today, we prefer to say simply “Reform Judaism.” It evokes our spirit of peace, justice, inclusion, relevance and sensitivity to the needs and desires of our diverse membership. As the congregation embraces the changes of the 21st century, it will continue to boldly innovate.

“In keeping with our founding in 1845 as the first Reform Jewish Congregation in New York City, Congregation Emanu-El continues to build upon its legacy of leadership and the timeless values of Jewish tradition as we strive toward a more just, ethical and compassionate world. We commit our spiritual, intellectual, physical and financial resources to strengthening our community today for a vital tomorrow.” 

Position Overview

Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York seeks a bright, experienced, passionate, and ideas-driven Director of Major Gifts (DMG). This full-time position, reporting to the Vice President, Development and working closely with both the staff and leadership of the congregation, the DMG is responsible for cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of major gifts across the institution. As one of the most distinguished congregations in the world, and as part of its ambitious 175th Anniversary Campaign for $100+ million, the DMG will focus on major gifts for the campaign, as well as the annual fund and Streicker Center sponsorships. The range of compensation is $125,000-$150,000 plus benefits depending upon experience.

Collaborating with departmental senior staff as well as senior colleagues in the institution, the DMG will devise and implement strategies to acquire, renew and upgrade major donors, developing appropriate projects based on the campaign plan.

Essential Functions for the Director of Major Gifts

  • Maintain a portfolio of major donors and prospects by proactively creating and implementing strategies for the cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of donors with the capacity to make 5- and 6-figure annual gifts and 6- and 7-figure leadership gifts;
  • Conduct 100+ face to face meetings with donors and prospects annually;
  • Build a pipeline of donors; and
  • Strategize on portfolio assignments and fundraising goals to maximize the success of the congregation’s overall fundraising.

Additional Duties

  • Write customized proposals and presentations for major individual donors;
  • Work in partnership with the development team, the board, volunteer committees as necessary, and colleagues across the institution, including membership, the religious school, and the Streicker Center, both to engage potential donors and develop giving opportunities;
  • Accurately track activities and update information in the CRM;
  • Assist in planning and executing cultivation and stewardship activities;
  • Provide stewardship for donors, including reports as needed; and
  • Help arrange meetings with or for other senior leadership, including clergy and Board members, as needed;
  • Be engaged in the overall community, through events, holiday programs, and services as appropriate.

The successful candidate is organized, but not rigid—a ‘get stuff done’ kind of person who can create and follow a plan of action—a person who has

  • 7 to 10 years of experience in a donor-centered development program with a record of closing major gifts;
  • experience with capital campaigns and the interaction with annual fund;
  • strategic, and excellent oral communication and writing skills;
  • an ability to set priorities, manage projects and meet deadlines;
  • capacity to deal with ambiguity and organizational change;
  • a sophisticated and comfortable way in dealing with significant philanthropists;
  • sound judgment in communications and one-on-one meetings with major donors;
  • a thorough and specific knowledge of effective major gifts fundraising strategies and tactics as well as individual and family stewardship and solicitation strategies;
  • an ability to devise creative upgrade strategies for your donors;
  • experience with multi-year pledges and planned giving strategies;
  • the wherewithal to think creatively, especially as applied to fundraising opportunities; and
  • a willingness to work evenings and occasional weekends to participate in events.

Mersky, Jaffe & Associates is proud of its association with Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York and to be conducting the search for its Director of Major Gifts. If you, or someone you know, might be a suitable candidate for this position, please forward, in confidence, the person’s name, cover letter, resume, salary requirements and contact information to Lori Fodale at