Point Blue Conservation Science, Director of Institutional Philanthropy–Completed

Congratulations to Dana Earl (Director), Quinn White (Associate Director) and Point Blue for the successful conclusion of this search.

To view PDF: Point Blue Director of Institutional Philanthropy Position Description f

Point Blue Conservation Science

Director of Institutional Philanthropy

Position Description

 Painter Executive Search is supporting Point Blue Conservation Science in their search for an experienced fundraiser to foster and grow relationships with foundations and agencies to increase funding to achieve the time-critical climate-smart initiatives in Point Blue’s Strategic Plan.   

Point Blue Conservation Science (Point Blue, formerly PRBO), based in Petaluma, California, is a growing and internationally renowned nonprofit with over 140 staff and seasonal scientists. Their highest priority is to reduce the impacts of accelerating changes in climate, land-use and the ocean on wildlife and people while promoting climate-smart conservation for a healthy future.

Point Blue advances conservation of nature for wildlife and people through science, partnerships and outreach. Their scientists work closely with wildlife managers, private land owners, ranchers, farmers, other scientists, major conservation groups, and federal, state, and local government agencies and officials.  They understand that real solutions come from working together.

Point Blue has more than tripled in size over the past 12 years and is expected to continue growing over the next 5-10 years in response to the ever–increasing demand for sound science to assess and guide conservation investments in our rapidly changing world.  Point Blue is currently working with PwC’s Sustainable Business Solutions group to build the leadership, metrics and practices required to attain the vision outlined in their Strategic Plan.


The Director of Institutional Philanthropy (Director) will be responsible for securing foundation and agency funding for priority programs, and managing all aspects of Point Blue’s foundation relations. Reporting to the Chief Advancement Officer, the Director will collaborate with the Chief Science Officer, Group Directors, and other organizational leaders on the development and planning of strategic initiatives, assist staff scientists in the production of technical proposals and reports, write foundation proposals and reports, and support the advancement staff in written communications to major donors.

The Director is responsible for maintaining foundation and agency support at the current level of nearly $4 million annually and growing support among current and new funders in the next five years as the overall budget increases to ~$15 million annually. The current foundation and agency portfolio includes a robust mix of annual and multiyear grants that support a wide variety of programmatic needs. Continuing Point Blue’s excellent relationships with funders and expertly communicating the results of current work and the requirements to accomplish future work will be an important focus of this role. In additional to well-demonstrated interpersonal skills, this role requires significant writing skills, detail-orientation and the ability learn Point Blue’s conservation work and communicate it with passion and accuracy.

Point Blue has over 90 current conservation projects, approximately half of which are funded through contracts.  Currently income by source is roughly 50% from contracts, 30% from foundations, and 20% from individuals. Since much of Point Blue’s work is funded by contracts and government grants secured by the science staff, the Advancement Team also supports them by developing matching funds as required in their grants and by supplementing funding for important but underfunded research and outreach programs to drive the organization’s strategic goals. The Director will be expected to understand the work of Point Blue’s 140 conservation scientists and develop a fluency in describing their work clearly and accurately to inspire support.

Point Blue is a stable, healthy organization with net assets totaling ~$11 million and the equivalent of 6 months of operating funds in cash and investments.

Point Blue History

Point Blue was founded as Point Reyes Bird Observatory in 1965 to study the birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway, and has conducted the longest running population study of landbirds in western North America. The bird ecology study methods they developed, tested and refined at their Palomarin Field Station (at Point Reyes National Seashore) are now used by scientists throughout the world.

Point Blue’s long-term data sets provide a unique window on environmental change and climate impacts. In the early 1990’s, The Nature Conservancy invited Point Blue scientists to evaluate their Sacramento River habitat restoration program using birds as indicators. Point Blue has been assessing, guiding and improving conservation actions across the west and beyond ever since.

Point Blue’s Work

At the core of Point Blue’s work is innovative science. By studying birds and other environmental indicators they create the knowledge required to assess and protect nature’s benefits. Using their long term data, they evaluate natural and human-driven change over time. This data allows them to guide their partners in adaptive management for improved conservation outcomes. They publish in peer-reviewed journals and contribute to the “conservation commons” of open access scientific knowledge as well as communicate their findings to a wide variety of audiences to improve conservation outcomes.

Point Blue has grown its informatics capacity significantly in the past decade. They store, manage and interpret almost half a billion bird and ecosystem observations from across North America and create sophisticated, yet accessible, decision support tools to improve conservation today and in an uncertain future.

This is a pivotal moment in the history of life on our planet requiring unprecedented actions to ensure that wildlife and people continue to thrive in the decades to come. Point Blue is very well-positioned to collaboratively develop, test, and implement the conservation actions needed.

Working in their priority focal areas including the Sierra Nevada, California’s Central Valley, Pacific Coast, San Francisco Bay Estuary, California Current (including greater Gulf of the Farallones), Ross Sea (Antarctica), and the Internet, Point Blue will implement climate-smart conservation and disseminate this information globally. Point Blue has set out to achieve the following over the next five years:

Secure Water and Wildlife on Working Lands

Point Blue works with farmers, ranchers, foresters, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the US Forest Service and others to increase groundwater storage; gradually filter and release water downstream; increase soil carbon storage; sustain birds and other wildlife; and make working lands more economically productive. Their goals include “re-watering” 1.1 million acres through changes in grazing and other practices on rangelands to benefit wildlife and ranchers’ bottom lines.

Protect Our Shorelines

Point Blue is identifying and prioritizing the best places and practices to protect coastal wetlands, streams, dunes and beaches in the face of more severe storms and rising seas.  Working with scores of partners from San Francisco Bay to the Pacific coast of the Americas, they are translating data into decision support tools to assess future impacts on natural and human infrastructure and to develop conservation solutions to benefit wildlife and people today and in our changing future.

Conserve Ocean Food Webs

Point Blue is identifying and prioritizing ocean food webs for protection to give marine wildlife and fisheries more opportunities to adapt to rapid environmental change. Collaborating with public agencies, NGOs, universities, fishing and shipping industries, and others, they monitor ocean ecosystem health, develop and assess new approaches to management, prioritize stronger protections as needed, and help to reduce conflicts between wildlife needs and human uses of the marine environment (e.g., clean energy, shipping, and fishing). One project, “Whale Aware,” uses a mobile app that engages commercial and recreational fishers, whale watchers and others in real-time reporting of whale locations.  The result: shipping traffic has already been slowed or redirected during times of high whale use to reduce whale strikes. Our goal is to expand this program across the entire West coast and beyond.

Climate-Smart Restoration

Working with local communities and scores of public and private partners, Point Blue is developing innovative approaches to help ecosystems and people adapt to accelerating climate and land-use changes. They are designing habitats to better withstand extremes, provide food year-round as timing of animal life cycles change and sustain nature’s benefits into the future.

Make Natural Resource Plans and Policies Climate-Smart

As leaders in major conservation collaborations and pioneers in climate-smart conservation, they are helping public and private natural resource management entities, from local municipalities to international commissions, to incorporate climate-smart principles into their ocean and land-use plans and policies, and to put climate-smart conservation into action.

Train the Next Generation

Point Blue is providing hands-on training for future scientists and educators, equipping them with tools to protect nature’s benefits and help secure life as we know it. Building on Point Blue’s hands-on field internship program that has graduated more than 1500 budding conservation biologists over the past few decades, they will engage scores more scientists-in-training, graduate students and school children in climate-smart conservation science over the next 5 years.



  • Meet or exceed annually established foundation fundraising, relationship development, and stewardship goals to support strategic priorities.
  • Increase the ability to successfully identify and secure necessary funding with existing or new funders by working collaboratively with the Chief Science Officer, Group Directors, Advancement Team members, and other staff leaders on the development of strategic.
  • Strengthen the integration and coordination of Program, Administration, and Advancement departments by developing positive relationships and fluid internal communications.
  • Increase successful solicitations, produce accurate and informative reporting, and build strong long term relationships with funders.
  • Manage all aspects of Point Blue’s foundation relations in order to build the organization’s portfolio of foundations and funding agencies and maintain its reputation as an excellent partner and grantee.


  • Deepen and expand existing relationships with institutional funders through cultivation, solicitation, fulfillment, stewardship, and recognition.
  • Create opportunities for funders to deepen their knowledge of Point Blue by arranging visits to research and program sites and facilitating conversations with key Point Blue leaders as appropriate.
  • Research, identify, and engage new institutional funders to build a greater base of financial support for the organization.


  • Work with Chief Advancement Officer and Advancement Team to develop foundation fundraising goals, strategy, and tactics.
  • Develop and write timely and accurate letters of intent, proposals, reports, correspondence, and other communications as needed.
  • Work closely with Finance and Program staff to construct project budgets for proposals and reports.
  • Coordinate and track all proposals and reports to foundations, agencies and other major funders in order to provide timely and accurate business decision-making information to the executive team and to ensure timely fulfillment of obligations to funders.
  • Enhance the ability of Point Blue to successfully engage a range of funders by providing proposal and stewardship guidance and support to Chief Science Officer, Group Directors, Advancement Team Members and other organizational leaders.
  • Coordinate, translate and help write technical proposals and reports, as well as draft summary versions for lay audiences.
  • As a key member of the Advancement staff, support the overarching Department goals by participating and providing guidance on proposal planning, donor recognition, and other fundraising activities, assist with the development of other proposals, major donor solicitations and stewardship efforts and participate in the development of fundraising campaigns.
  • Maintain accurate and timely records of all relevant interactions with funders and potential funders in the donor database; monitor personal and departmental productivity.
  • Develop the Institutional Philanthropy fundraising budget and track expenses as part of annual Advancement Group budgeting and expense management.
  • Supervise the Associate Director of Institutional Philanthropy and external vendors as required.


A successful Director of Institutional Philanthropy will likely have:

  • Significant success growing foundation support, ideally for another conservation or scientific organization.
  • Experience cultivating new foundation relationships and deepening existing relationships through strong interpersonal skills and communicating the value and relevancy of programmatic work in effective proposals.
  • Proven ability to translate complex ideas into single, compelling narrative that accurately represents the science.
  • Excellent written communication skills; clear, accurate and compelling writing.
  • Strong attention to detail while also able to see and communicate strategic, big picture vision and priorities.
  • Proven ability to work well among other high-performing professionals.
  • Ability to manage multiple, simultaneous projects and deadlines while maintaining a high level of accuracy.
  • Proven project management skills; able to assemble information from a variety of sources to create a clear plan and cohesive product.
  • Knowledge of conservation community.
  • Experience with fundraising database programs (Raiser’s Edge preferred) as well as MS Office, PowerPoint, and other standard office software.
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher or comparable professional experience.


  • Passion for the environment and nature; knowledge of conservation science and ecology preferred.
  • Strong interpersonal skills; enjoys working with people.
  • Inspires confidence; demonstrates an affinity with the interests of scientists and conservation managers.
  • Ability to manage deadlines, work collaboratively, prioritize and work under pressure with a smile.
  • Thrives in a fast-paced, goal-oriented work environment.
  • Highly self-motivated and independent yet a consummate team player.
  • Solicits and responds well to feedback.
  • Demonstrates exceptional integrity and strong work ethic.
  • Possesses a high degree of emotional intelligence and self-awareness.
  • Dedicated; ability to attend occasional evening and weekend events and put in the extra effort and time sometimes required to meet deadlines.

Point Blue is an equal employment opportunity employer and does not discriminate against applicants or employees because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, citizenship status, disability status of an otherwise qualified individual, membership or application for membership in a uniformed service, or membership in any other class protected by applicable law and will make reasonable accommodation for applicants with disabilities to complete the application and/or participate in the interview process.

For additional information or to be considered for this role contact:

Nancy Painter


(415) 202- 6240