Chief Development Officer
New York, New York (downtown Manhattan; hybrid in-office and remote
The Innocence Project works to free the innocent, prevent
wrongful convictions, and create fair, compassionate, and equitable
systems of justice for everyone. Founded in 1992, the nonprofit
organization’s work is guided by science and grounded in
Since its inception, the Innocence Project has used DNA and
other social and forensic science advancements to prove innocence.
The organization has helped free or exonerate more than 200 people.
Collectively, Innocence Project clients have spent more than 3,600
years behind bars.
The Innocence Project is committed to helping each person it
represents rebuild their life. The organization provides holistic
re-entry support, working closely with clients to ensure they have
safe and comfortable housing, access to healthcare, and meaningful
employment opportunities. It also provides one year of financial
support to each exonerated client.
The Innocence Project is equally dedicated to addressing the
inequities and failings that lead to wrongful convictions and
disproportionately harm communities of color, especially Black
people. The Innocence Project spearheads federal and state-based
legislative changes that promote greater police and prosecutor
accountability; improve access to justice, including through
post-conviction DNA testing; and meaningfully compensate the
wrongfully convicted. Its efforts have led to the passage of more
than 200 transformative state laws and federal reforms. The
Innocence Project also works to strengthen the standards governing
the use of science in criminal legal systems and urges system
actors – including judges, forensic experts, and prosecutors – to
examine evidence for scientific accuracy and reliability, as well
as to consider the broader social implications of emerging
The Innocence Project fights to advance the innocence movement
and serves as the headquarters of the Innocence Network, a
coalition of 71 organizations that provide investigative support
and legal representation to people with claims of innocence in 50
states and 12 countries outside of the U.S.
The past few years have marked a steadily changing landscape for
the Innocence Project. Donors’ response to the need for urgent
racial and criminal legal system reform resulted in unprecedented
philanthropic support to the organization from both individual and
institutional sources. A massive influx of giving ranged from
broad-based annual support to substantial gifts from
philanthropists such as Mackenzie Scott. As a result, the Innocence
Project is better financially positioned and empowered to meet the
challenges of the moment. Driven by staff growth, new programs, and
a recently approved five-year strategic plan, the Innocence
Project’s operating budget – over 90% of which is funded with
philanthropic revenue – has grown to $29 million in FY23, a $4
million increase over FY22.
Amid this positive backdrop of increased exposure and remarkable
growth, the Innocence Project seeks an experienced, passionate, and
mission-driven Chief Development Officer (CDO) to lead continued
expansion of the organization’s philanthropic revenue. This pivotal
leadership role is responsible for setting and executing the vision
for a long-term fundraising plan that ensures the strategic
identification, cultivation, engagement, solicitation, and
stewardship of individual, corporate, and foundation donors and
managing a team of fundraising experts who will deliver on
ambitious goals in their specific revenue areas.
The CDO, working closely with the Executive Director, will
provide the vision, strategy, and direction to ensure that the
Innocence Project’s fundraising operations meet its ambitious
agenda. The individual will be responsible for actively marketing
the organization to external stakeholders and increasing its
capacity to raise money, expand its funding base, reach new
constituencies, and identify and develop volunteer leadership.
The CDO reports to the Executive Director and works closely with
the Board of Directors, staff, donors, and strategic partners on
diverse fundraising initiatives. They will lead and expertly manage
a department of approximately 10 development professionals to
achieve optimal performance in a culture of equity, cooperation,
and passionate commitment to the mission. The team is poised for
further expansion in the near future, particularly in its major
gifts and digital fundraising programs.
The Innocence Project’s new CDO will be an inspirational
fundraising leader, and an effective and involved manager, with
experience successfully discovering and engaging new
constituencies. The CDO will be intellectually curious, have a
passion for, and an understanding of, criminal legal system reform
and a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and
While the Innocence Project will consider a broad range of
backgrounds, the ideal candidate will have the following
- Passion for the work of the Innocence Project and for social
justice, including a demonstrated commitment to public interest. An
understanding of criminal legal system reform and comfortable in
discussing topics related to race and justice.
- 15+ years in nonprofit fundraising with increasingly
responsible experience in the creation and execution of development
strategy and programs, and an established track record of
increasing philanthropic revenue. Broad knowledge of all functional
areas comprising a comprehensive development program (e.g.,
individual, institutional, major, and annual giving; digital
fundraising; stewardship; operations); leadership in a major
fundraising campaign; and at least five years of experience
identifying, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding major gifts
from individual and institutional donors at the level of six to
seven-figures or greater. Prior experience working with nonprofit
organizations engaged in legal and policy work will be considered a
- Knowledge of and fundamental adherence to the principles,
ethics, and best practices of modern fundraising.
- 5+ years of experience managing a team of development
professionals. Ability to recruit, lead, evaluate, and develop
staff and contribute to the ongoing fostering of a
results-oriented, multiracial/multicultural workforce. Experience
managing budgets and revenue forecasts.
- Demonstrated commitment to and understanding of how to build
diversity, equity, and inclusion in the development function;
culturally competent with respect to issues such as racial,
cultural, religious, sexual, and gender identity. Skilled at
delivering solutions in evolving, multi-cultural environments.
- Demonstrated success in developing the case for support and
strategic, innovative fundraising plans, and executing those plans
to grow fundraising and exceed goals. Experience collaborating with
executives, senior staff, and board and other volunteer leaders on
- Track record of managing complex projects.
- A forward thinker with a track record of utilizing new methods
of constituent engagement and connectivity.
- Demonstrated ability to integrate data into decision-making and
- Working knowledge of modern data management practices and
innovations that can streamline development processes and
contribute to the integration of related functions.
- CFRE Certification or similar fundraising-specific training
would be a plus.
- Ability to travel on a national scale, as needed, consistent
with public health guidelines.
The Innocence Project considers the diversity of its
workforce to be vital to our organization’s success in meeting its
mission. We strongly encourage applicants from all cultures, races,
educational backgrounds, life experiences, socio-economic classes,
sexual orientations, age, gender, and physical abilities to apply.
Individuals with personal connections to the criminal legal system
are strongly encouraged to apply.
As an Equal Opportunity Employer, it is our policy not to
discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment
because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national
origin, age, disability, familial status, marital status,
predisposing genetic characteristics, actual or perceived domestic
violence victim status, unemployment status, caregiver status, or
any other category protected by law.
The Innocence Project has retained the DSG Fundraising &
Advancement Practice of the Diversified Search Group to assist in
this confidential search process. Inquiries, nominations, and
applications (current resumes and cover letters) should be directed
Gerard F. Cattie, Jr.
Managing Director and DSG Fundraising & Advancement Practice
Diversified Search Group
The Chrysler Building, 405 Lexington Avenue, 49th Floor, New York,
New York 10174