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Director of Strategic Philanthropy

A thriving future for California’s environment and communities requires bold vision, creative problem-solving, and relentless determination. This is a critical decade for action and River Partners is growing our team of talented, tenacious change-makers to meet the challenge head on. Join us!

Who We Are
River Partners brings life back to California rivers. We’ve revitalized more habitat along impaired California rivers than any other entity in the western U.S., having led hundreds of projects across nearly 20,000 acres throughout California. We restore thriving native forests and ecosystems that support imperiled wildlife, improve flood safety, boost the state’s climate resilience, replenish and improve freshwater resources, create open space for communities, and build stronger local economies. Since 1998, we have pioneered an innovative, entrepreneurial approach to conservation, combining modern farming, cutting-edge science, and diverse partnerships.

We are meeting the urgent need this decade to restore our riverways and seek passionate team members to help us grow our restoration footprint at an unprecedented pace and scale.

Why You Should Join Us
River Partners offers competitive salaries and benefits, including comprehensive health care insurance, flexible spending accounts, a 401(k) plan with immediate employer matching, life insurance, disability coverage, employee assistance programs, and other well-being benefits. We’re proud of our supportive culture and focus on work-life balance. We strive to create an environment that brings fulfilment to our team members’ personal lives by offering paid time off, an alternative work schedule, and flexible hours.

Position Description
River Partners seeks a creative, seasoned development professional to play a major role on a small, highly effective team growing high-impact philanthropic partnerships for River Partners’ programming and overall operations. This role offers the opportunity to flex your strategic donor engagement and fundraising leadership skills, while supporting the organization and its partners in advancing solutions to address some of the most critical wildlife, water, climate and community challenges facing California.

The Director, Strategic Philanthropy is a new role that serve as a critical member of a small team devoted to expanding donor partnerships and philanthropic revenue to support River Partners’ next critical phase of growth. Among various sources of unrestricted funds and philanthropic investment, this position will be chiefly focused on individuals and family foundations, facilitating annual, multi-year and planned philanthropic gifts as well as philanthropic loans (impact investments). The Director will propel a growing individual and foundation giving program, reporting to the Chief Advancement Officer, and coordinating closely with the senior leadership team, communications team, members of the Board of Directors, and others across the organization to foster the strongest possible culture of philanthropy.

Essential Functions and Responsibilities

Collaborative Fundraising Across the Organization

  • Embody River Partners collaborative values and purpose in all interactions with internal and external partners.
  • Lead fundraising strategy and donor cultivation for a portfolio of approximately 150 donors and foundations.
  • Meet or exceed annual unrestricted revenue goals from all sources and achieve retention and renewal targets.
  • Match prospect interests to River Partners’ priorities including operating support, low-interest loans, and planned/estate gifts.
  • Grow relationships with funding partners through every phase of the donor journey and cultivation cycle by advising and managing River Partners’ staff and volunteers to participate in funder and prospect meetings, webinars, cultivation events, and personalized stewardship.
  • Participate in and lead regular cultivation strategy meetings with Advancement team and others.
  • Leverage existing relationships and conduct research to expand family foundation and private office portfolio, matchmaking foundation interest with program needs.
  • With Chief Advancement Officer, President and members of leadership team, recommend annual budgets and goals to support 3-year strategic plan as well as establish short- and long-term philanthropic objectives.
  • Support Chief Advancement Officer in organizing effective, informative quarterly meetings for board Advancement Committee, including shaping agendas, reports and presentations and tracking next steps.

Compelling Fundraising Communications

  • Build strong working relationships with program and communications staff in order to understand and translate program specifics into compelling proposals and reports.
  • Organize site tours, in-person and virtual gatherings and meetings for philanthropy partners as a key method of sharing River Partners’ mission, vision, and impact and expanding philanthropic giving.
  • Maintain proposal, reporting and stewardship calendar for portfolio contacts, and write high-quality, persuasive grant proposals and impact reports—ranging in size, scope, and complexity.
  • Partner with the Chief Advancement Officer and Communications team to create and evolve fundraising communications, such as: monthly e-newsletter, program narratives, one-pagers, fundraising decks, and relevant website copy.

New Funding Streams

  • Research and prioritize new potential funding sources, including high-net-worth individuals, donor-advised funds, and institutional funders in conservation and adjacent sectors (e.g., climate, health, equity and justice, community well-being).
  • Team with Chief Advancement Officer in launching program for estate gifts to permanently protect riverways.
  • Match-make low-interest loan opportunities with qualified prospects.
  • Track and forecast trends and preferences in foundation and individual giving.

Donor Portfolio Capacity Building

  • Strengthen major donor acquisition and stewardship practices: research and qualify prospects introduced through annual giving, volunteer and staff leads. Expand prospect research and lead generation through research tools as necessary.
  • Direct fast-growing annual giving program including solidifying use of e-marketing and CRM tools. Team with the Communications staff to design and execute annual and special solicitation campaigns that tap new supporters. Ensure responsive, highest quality donor stewardship.
  • Team with Salesforce Manager to ensure effective use of Salesforce CRM including accurate and timely prospect and donor data entry, donor moves management, cultivation and revenue reports. Recommend needed system and process improvements in partnership with external Salesforce consultant.
  • Improve the grant proposal and reporting process as needed.

Required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Exceptional communications skills, including strong persuasive written and verbal abilities.
  • Exceptional judgment, discretion and listening skills that inspire the trust and confidence of River Partners staff, closest partners and lead donors.
  • Ability to cultivate new donor relationships.
  • Comfort moving between different departments and bridging different goals and strategies within the organization.
  • Ability to effectively set priorities, while managing a variety of projects and tasks to successful completion.
  • Display creativity, flexibility and initiative; meet deadlines and respond quickly to needs and changing priorities.
  • An energetic team player, resourceful and a demonstrated problem-solver.


  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience.
  • Minimum of five years’ experience in nonprofit fundraising across multiple donor channels including annual giving, major gifts, and foundation cultivation.
  • A demonstrated track record of successful direct solicitation of gifts of $50K+ • Experience integrating marketing and digital strategies into a holistic development strategy.
  • Experience with multi-year campaigns that raise funds for organizational advancement.
  • Experience creating project budgets that match donor interest with budgeted organizational priorities.
  • Demonstrated proficiency in common office procedures and software, including Microsoft 365 and Office Suite, PowerPoint, Word, & Excel.
  • Experience and comfort with CRM systems, preferably Salesforce.
  • Experience in finance and impact investing a plus.
  • Familiarity and/or experience in conservation or ecosystem restoration issues a plus.

This is a full-time, exempt position that will be compensated with a salary commensurate with candidate skills, experience, and location, anticipated to range from $100,000-$140,000 annually. Total rewards beyond salary include paid time off, employer contributions to health savings accounts, matching funds for retirement, a supportive and inspiring team environment among a group of big thinkers and doers, and more.

The location for this position is flexible throughout California. This position is a remote/work-from-home position and requires reliable internet access and a dedicated workspace. Ability to travel to River Partners projects and offices throughout California required.

To Apply
Please submit a cover letter, resume, and contact information for three references in a PDF saved with your last name and the position name separated by an underscore (e.g., Smith_Director Strategic Philanthropy) to

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until this position is filled.

River Partners is an Equal Opportunity Employer
River Partners is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action (EEO/AA) Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, pregnancy, disability, medical condition religion, age, military or veteran status, or any other protected group status or non-job related characteristic as directed by law.

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