Major Gifts Officer


Established in 1924, California Western School of Law is San Diego’s oldest law school. Our mission is to train the next generation of ethical, competent, and compassionate lawyers who reflect our diverse society, and who are empowered to work within the legal system to achieve positive impact.  We are proud to be ranked among the top 10 U.S. law schools for diversity, according to U.S. News & World Report. Of the 217 students within our JD class of 2022, 59% are women, 49% identify as a race or ethnicity other than Caucasian, 15% identify as LGBTQIA+, and 37% are first-generation college students.

California Western is also among the top three law schools in the U.S. for required experiential learning credits. We offer an array of exceptional experiential courses providing students with an opportunity to apply their intellect and education to some of the most challenging issues facing society, representing clients in criminal, immigration, trademark, legal aid, and internet law. This includes two of our premier programs, the Community Law Project and New Media Rights. The Community Law Project provides legal advice to low-income and indigent members of the local community while developing a commitment to public service in the students who work within the clinics. New Media Rights provides direct legal services to creators, entrepreneurs, journalists, and internet users whose projects require specialized internet, intellectual property, privacy, and media law expertise. Students work closely with program staff and clients to analyze policies related to online content creation and help create informational videos, prepare policy briefs, and contribute to the program’s work with the FCC and other agencies.

By contributing to legal scholarships, participating in public deliberations about legal matters, and serving as a community legal education resource, California Western is making significant, measurable contributions towards solving major problems in our community, our society, and our world. This is demonstrated through the achievements of our students, alumni, and faculty, which include:

  • More than 220 members of the judiciary in California and elsewhere.
  • Leaders in government, education, and business, including the California State Assembly, Clark County (Nev.) District Attorney, and more.
  • Successful client advocates in the private and public sectors.
  • Student writing cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and published by national law journals.
  • Faculty are leaders of national and international legal organizations.
  • Faculty are internationally recognized experts in areas including international law, gender and the law, and legal ethics.

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California Western School of Law is led by a dynamic leadership team dedicated to fostering a culture of diversity, inclusion, and growth. In 2020, President and Dean Sean M. Scott took office, becoming only the second Black woman appointed as President and Dean and currently the only Black woman to hold that position. An innovative leader in program expansion and development, Dean Scott has received many honors, including the Student Bar Association’s prestigious Excellence in Teaching Award and the Black Law Student Association’s Distinguished Faculty Award. The Major Gifts Officer will report to Dani Dawson, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, who brings over 15 years of nonprofit leadership and fundraising experience. A JD herself, Dani brings a unique understanding of philanthropy’s potential for reforming society through diversity and inclusion within the legal system. In her first 18 months at California Western, Dani secured a $3M gift, the largest in California Western’s history, and the anchor for an exciting gift matching campaign, in which the new Major Gifts Officer will be a key contributor.


  • Salary – $80,000 – $100,000
  • Medical, Dental, and Vision Coverage
  • 403(b) Employer Contribution of 8%
  • Life and AD&D Insurance
  • Long-Term Disability Insurance
  • Flexible Spending Plan
  • Reduces Summer Work Schedule (Paid)
  • Paid Winter Break
  • 10 Paid Holidays
  • Accrued Paid Time Off
  • Wellness Programs


This is a hybrid role with an office at California Western School of Law, located at 350 Cedar Street, San Diego, CA 92101. California Western staff are required to be on-site four days a week.


This is an exciting time to join the Philanthropy & Alumni Engagement team as we near our Centennial and are in the midst of the largest campaign in California Western’s history for the Endowed Fund for Law, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. With a goal to raise $4M, the Fund will support California Western’s efforts to create a more equitable community through an endowed chair, lecture series, and scholar-in-residence in law, diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as student scholarship support.

The Major Gifts Officer will play a critical role in building and strengthening the pipeline of donors for key campus fundraising priorities, including the Centennial Campaign for California Western. They will develop and implement creative and innovative strategies for the identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of major, planned, and leadership gifts from current and prospective donors. This is a highly collaborative role, working in partnership with fellow gift officers and cross-departmentally to optimize donor cultivation and support. The Major Gifts Officer will provide strategic and tactical support for overall philanthropy and alumni engagement programs and operations. This is an excellent opportunity for a creative, charismatic, relationship-builder with a passion for social justice!


Donor Relations

  • Develop and implement innovative prospect research and cultivation strategies and activities to build a robust portfolio of new donors.
  • Qualify major and planned gift prospects and solicit gifts.
  • Develop a “moves management” and engagement strategy for existing and prospective donors.
  • Manage, coordinate, and implement existing and prospective donor meetings, programs, and special events, locally, nationally, and internationally.
  • In collaboration with various departments, develop and implement stewardship strategies, events, and activities that promote continued involvement of donors and encourage donors to make additional contributions. These activities will include gifts, cards, telephone calls, visits, tours, letters, and special events.
  • Contribute to planning and execution of prospect cultivation and donor relations programs and events.
  • Coordinate responses to donor requests. 

Fundraising/ Portfolio Management

  • Implement an annual fundraising plan and budget in conjunction with team members.
  • Ensure that predetermined fundraising goals are met and implement program activities to achieve these goals.
  • Develop, manage, and steward a dynamic donor portfolio of 150-200 existing and prospective donors by engaging, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding gifts with an emphasis from $5,000 – $1,000,000.
  • Identify, cultivate, solicit, and steward major gift prospects and donors.
  • Develop persuasive written and oral presentations and proposals for existing and potential donors, adhering to campus policies and procedures governing fundraising.
  • Analyze and evaluate prospect and donor data to generate targeted lists and recommend strategic next steps.
  • Communicate effectively with all staff at the law school to enable effective coordination that supports Development’s fundraising priorities.
  • Support the preparation of reports, summaries, briefings, donor rosters, and donor reports relevant to stewardship activities and develop strategic opportunities to share the message of philanthropic impact with prospects and donors.
  • Audit and cross-reference donor rosters and other donor reports with the incumbent’s portfolio.
  • Coordinate all donor appointments and travel arrangements.

Program Management/Planning

  • Attend law school functions as the representative of the department.
  • Plan, organize, and direct large-scale fundraising campaigns. Participate in the prospect management system, and file timely and accurate online contact reports.
  • Evaluate programs using financial feasibility studies and market research, including planning, and evaluating annual solicitation programs and making recommendations for improvements.
  • Compile gift projections and giving-level data, summarize in report format, and make recommendations to leadership.
  • Recruit, train, and support key volunteers who assist in advancement efforts. Staff support groups and volunteer committees created to focus on donor relations and stewardship activity.
  • Proactively advise the Vice President of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement on project status, potential issues, and overall departmental progress.


  • Successful nonprofit fundraising experience with a solid understanding of fundraising strategies, systems, and processes.
  • Experience soliciting significant gifts, with a successful track record in donor relations, sponsorship development, and capital campaigns.
  • Portfolio management knowledge and experience including donor qualification, cultivation, and stewardship.
  • Strong organization and prioritization skills with the ability to manage several projects simultaneously.
  • High attention to detail and initiative-taking with excellent follow-through.
  • Superb people skills: exceptionally well-developed listening and strategic communication skills, including writing and public speaking, with the ability to connect with and inspire a wide range of stakeholders.
  • Strong analytical skills and use of data to drive fundraising, partnership decisions, and forecasting.
  • A positive, can-do personality with a desire to learn, grow and build something great!


California Western School of Law requires all employees and students coming to campus to be fully vaccinated or have received an exemption.

For more information or to apply, please contact:

Sarah Thompson, Blair Search Partners
1855 First Ave., Suite 300, San Diego, CA 92101