Position Description

Position Description

Music Academy

(Santa Barbara, CA)

Title: Director of Philanthropic Relationships

View Position Brochure Here

The Music Academy creates a space where exceptional talent can thrive by encouraging artists to stretch, experiment, improvise, and play. It gives artists the tools they need to become not just great musicians but great leaders. With the sun shining brightly on possibility and potential, it unleashes the creators who will reimagine the future of classical music, catalyzing the change that will propel classically trained musicians boldly forward.


Founded in 1947 by a group of visionary leaders in the field of classical music, the Music Academy of the West (the Academy) was established in 1947 as the first such summer training program located on the West Coast. Over the past 74 years the Academy has inspired generations of classical musicians, classical music professionals, and audiences through a unique combination of intensive individual instruction, training programs, and performance opportunities. The Academy has trained some of the foremost musicians in the world and Academy alumni are currently members of major symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, opera companies, and university and conservatory faculties worldwide.

Today, the Academy is a summer music festival, educational center, and incubator that empowers musicians to positively impact society. The Academy welcomes everyone from across all generations, cultures, and backgrounds to experience the transformative power of music. 

Mission Statement

The Academy makes a unique and enduring contribution to the world of music by:

  • advancing the development of the next generation of great classically trained musicians, and
  • cultivating discerning, appreciative, and adventurous audiences.

Current Programs and Activities

  • Summer School and Festival: The Academy accepts up to 140 exceptionally gifted musicians each year for its renowned Summer School and Festival through a rigorous international audition process. Academy fellows participate in one of five programs: Instrumental (strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion), Solo Piano, Collaborative Piano, Vocal Piano, and Voice. Academy fellows train and perform under the direction of accomplished faculty, visiting artists, and celebrated conductors. As part of its performance-based training program, the Academy presents a summer festival featuring some 170 performances by fellows, faculty, and world-renowned visiting artists. In 1998, the Academy became a full-scholarship institution, enrolling young musicians exclusively on the basis of talent and professional promise. The Academy is one of only a handful of summer music festivals worldwide to offer full scholarships, a distinction made possible each year through generous philanthropic support.
  • Training Partnerships: In 2014, the Academy enhanced its impact by developing a landmark training and performance partnership with an elite professional orchestra—the first such training partnership of its kind in the world. The Academy’s inaugural partnership brought members of the New York Philharmonic (NYP) (2014-2017) to Santa Barbara to train, coach, play side-by-side, and conduct Academy fellows. In 2018, building on this model, the Academy entered its first international partnership with the acclaimed London Symphony Orchestra (LSO). This partnership, as with the NYP, included performances by the full LSO in Santa Barbara and a training and mentorship exchange with the LSO for 12 fellows each year in London. The fellows are selected through a live audition each summer.
  • Community Access Initiative: In 2015, the Academy created a bold Community Access Initiative that offers $10 tickets and free admission for ages 7-17 to all in-person events—a commitment to affordably priced classical music unmatched in our community. To date, the Academy has provided more than 40,000 Community Access tickets to the Santa Barbara community. 
  • Sing! Program: Sing! is a free bi-weekly afterschool choral training program conducted in elementary schools chosen for their centralized locations in low-income neighborhoods that currently serves 200+ students at six anchor sites in public elementary schools. For the 2023-24 school year the Academy will undertake the next phase of planned growth for the program, expanding to more anchor sites and serving 300+ students.
  • Innovation Institute: The Academy’s Innovation Institute launched in 2020 to meet an identified need for forward-thinking, entrepreneurial training and professional capacity building to augment the alumni and summer fellow experience. Through the Innovation Institute, the Academy aspires to seed the industry with new thinking, create opportunities, develop new ideas, and become a thought leader and incubator for innovation.  


The Academy values key partnerships to elevate and increase its impact in the community, including performing venues. The Academy also partners with Westmont College to provide housing and meals for all fellows who train at the Academy each summer. To extend its reach in the local music community, the Academy collaborates with other nonprofit performance groups in the region, including UC Santa Barbara’s Arts & Lectures, the Santa Barbara Choral Society, the Santa Barbara Symphony, and State Street Ballet among others. For the Sing! program, the Academy has built a close collaboration with the Santa Barbara County Office of Education. During the non-summer months, the Academy makes its world-class performance and training facilities available to more than 35 local music teachers and nonprofits. 

For more information, please visit www.musicacademy.org.


The Academy is seeking an entrepreneurial, innovative and strategic fundraiser as its first Director of Philanthropic Relationships. Reporting to the Chief Advancement Officer, the Director of Philanthropic Relationships will be responsible for growing and leading the strategic direction and vision for the Academy’s foundations program and will be an active member of the Academy’s collaborative fundraising team. The successful candidate will be focused on building strategic alliances with diverse constituencies in order to drive major gift commitments from private foundations, as well as from a targeted portfolio of individual donors, to achieve fundraising goals. In addition to developing and executing effective cultivation and solicitation strategies for existing donors, the Director of Philanthropic Relationships will provide the necessary leadership, motivation and support to identify new opportunities and increase funding and philanthropic support for the Academy.

Responsibilities will include but not be limited to:

  • Spearhead a foundations program with a current annual goal of $800,000+ and oversee solicitation strategies, required reporting, and the stewardship of a current portfolio of 30 existing foundations. 
  • Supervise an independent contractor grant writer responsible for managing a year-round grants calendar, drafting of renewal requests and letters of inquiry, and other writing projects as assigned.  
  • Oversee prospecting, stewardship, and solicitation strategies for new annual, capital, and special project funding to grow foundation revenue incrementally year over year.
  • Work directly with Music Academy Board members and key volunteer committees to identify and engage existing and new foundation relationships.
  • Develop and lead strategies to increase opportunities and secure funding from new national and government granting organizations.
  • Collaborate with colleagues to expand the community of philanthropic leadership that supports the work of the Academy, managing a portfolio of 40-50 individual annual fund donors and working to develop a pipeline of new donors.
  • Work closely with the Chief Advancement Officer, Chief Executive Officer, to maximize philanthropic support for the organization.


The Director of Philanthropic Relationships will develop a comprehensive and effective foundations program, identifying new major prospects from local, regional and national sources while developing an in-depth understanding of the plans, goals, relevance and competitiveness of the proposed programs and projects seeking support. As such, the ideal candidate will be an innovative, forward-thinking, and collaborative relationship builder. Exceptional interpersonal and communication skills, both written and oral, are essential as this person must build trust and be able to interact effectively and productively with staff, faculty, foundation partners, board members, and donors. Strong organizational and strategic planning skills are also essential, as is the ability to effectively and proactively multi-task, meet deadlines and deliver results. The successful candidate will be solutions-oriented with strong problem solving, research, and analytical abilities. A high level of adaptability, a team player attitude and the ability to lead by example and motivate others are all important traits. The Director of Philanthropic Relationships will approach this work with a high level of integrity, professionalism and ethical standards and must maintain confidentiality and accuracy with respect to all donors and prospect information. The successful candidate will be a connector and builder who is passionate about the work of the Academy and possesses the ability to understand the aspirations and interests of funders in order to develop positive and sustaining relationships.


The ideal candidate is an experienced development professional with a successful track record of identifying, securing, and stewarding major gifts, preferably with an emphasis on foundation giving. A broad knowledge of the principles of fundraising, including metrics-based moves management and an understanding of the spectrum of frontline activity including gift policies, donor cycle management, and meaningful donor engagement would be helpful. Demonstrated experience in interacting effectively with funders and prospects while consistently meeting fundraising goals is essential and expected. Experience working in a collaborative and high performing environment with a team-oriented approach while respecting co-workers and volunteers is also important. Knowledge of the national philanthropic arts landscape and/or experience working with large national foundations would be highly beneficial.


The annual salary range for this position is $125,000 to $150,000 plus benefits.

An equal opportunity employer, the Music Academy is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of ethnic group identification, national origin, religion, age, sex, race, color, ancestry, marital, parental or veteran status, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability, consistent with applicable federal and state laws.


To apply for this position, visit www.morrisberger.com/searches.php

Morris & Berger
500 North Brand Boulevard, Suite 2150
Glendale, CA 91203-1923

1 (818) 507-1234