The director of fundraising at the British Red Cross, a trustee of the institute for more than three years, takes over for one year
- This story has been corrected, please see final paragraph
A statement from the institute said Astarita, who has been an institute trustee since February 2008, will become chair with immediate effect for the next year, while "changes to the institute's governance are finalised".
He takes over from Alan Gosschalk, who has been acting chair since Paul Amadi stepped down from the role at the end of 2010.
Astarita has more than 20 years of fundraising experience at large and small charities, including eight years at the British Red Cross and 10 years at the National Deaf Children's Society.
He told Third Sector his main priority would be to find a "fantastic new chief executive" for the institute. Amanda McLean, the previous chief executive, stepped down in March after only four months in the role.
Astarita said he hoped an announcement about the new appointment would be made by the time of the institute's convention, which will take place in July, and added that the organisation had started advertising for the role this week.
The giving agenda was another priority, he said, and the institute would have an important role to play in shaping this.
"The Giving White Paper is just the start of a long debate with government as to how we can get more people giving and giving more," he said.
Astarita said that, despite a number of changes at the institute over recent months, it was in an "amazingly strong position" and he hoped that it would be able to connect with even more fundraisers and organisations over the coming years.
"I want us to be really bold and imaginative and for all fundraisers in this country to be part of the institute in some way," he said.
He added he thought it was reasonable for his term to be only one year.
"I think that makes sense," he said. "I'm going to do it for a year and then someone else will do it. I think it's really important that these are voluntary roles that can be done in conjunction with another fundraising job in the sector."
- Astarita will take up the position in July, not with immediate effect as the institute had said.