Point Blue Conservation Science — Director of Philanthropy–COMPLETED

Full Position Description: Point Blue Director of Philanthropy Position Description f

Point Blue Conservation Science

Director of  Philanthropy

Position Description


Painter Executive Search is supporting Point Blue in their search for an experienced fundraiser who can foster and grow relationships with individual donors and increase funding to achieve the time-critical climate-smart conservation initiatives in Point Blue’s Strategic Plan.  

Point Blue Conservation Science (Point Blue) 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 while promoting climate-smart conservation for a healthy future.

Point Blue advances conservation for wildlife and people through science, partnerships and outreach. Their scientists work closely with wildlife and habitat 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.

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 collaboratively developing, testing, and implementing climate-smart conservation and is well-positioned to catalyze action and create impact far beyond its current geographic reach.

Point Blue has more than doubled in size over the past 6 years and is expected to continue growing over the decade ahead in response to the ever-increasing demand for sound science to assess and guide conservation investments in our rapidly changing world. 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 is currently building the leadership, systems, and practices required to attain the vision outlined in their Climate-Smart Conservation Strategic Plan. Collateral to this effort, Point Blue has decided to geographically distribute key advancement roles in order to increase access to a broader range of conservation donors. This position may be based in Point Blue’s Petaluma, California headquarters or at other San Francisco Bay Area locations with strategic value to the organization.


The Director of Philanthropy (Director) will be responsible for growing a portfolio of annual and major donors to increase and build the sustainable base of support to fund the initiatives outlined in Point Blue’s Strategic Plan and ensure the continuity of its core work. Reporting to the Chief Advancement Officer, the Director will work independently and collaboratively, to gradually increase support over the next few years toward the goal of achieving a portfolio of sustainable individual contributions of $1 million dollars annually by 2019.

The Director will be expected to understand the work of Point Blue’s scientists and develop a fluency in describing their work clearly and accurately to inspire support. The Director will leverage constructive and effective relationships with a wide range of people, including senior management, board members, donors, volunteers, public and private sector colleagues, and partners including financial/legal advisors in achieving annual and strategic fundraising goals.

The Director is responsible for creating donor strategies and stewarding relationships that evolve opportunities for donors to more deeply engage in and support Point Blue’s work. Effective stewardship will require participation in a range of individual and group cultivation activities, meetings over meals, planning and supporting donor events, field outings that showcase scientific work and other programs, preparation of proposals, reports and other stewardship materials, as well as accurate recording of donor relationship information.

Point Blue’s Work

Founded as Point Reyes Bird Observatory in 1965, the core values of Point Blue’s work are innovation, scientific rigor, collaboration, excellence, and integrity. 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.

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.



  • Become knowledgeable and conversant in all aspects of Point Blue’s mission, programs, and strategic plan.
  • Partner with the Management and Advancement Team members, Board of Directors, and other staff and volunteers in the cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of an increasing number of prospective and current individual donors.
  • Deepen and expand existing relationships with individual donors through cultivation, solicitation, fulfillment, stewardship, and recognition.
  • Meet or exceed annually established fundraising, relationship development, and stewardship goals to support strategic priorities.
  • Cultivate and maintain a personal fundraising portfolio of 150 donor prospects with the capacity to give $10,000+ annually.
  • Craft and execute solicitation strategies for individual donors – write briefings, prepare correspondence, set meetings, make the ask (or prepare an appropriate solicitor), follow up all solicitations and steward the donation and the ongoing relationship.
  • Ensure the accurate recording of donors, relationship status, donations, participation in events, and other cultivation information in the database and share that information with internal partners as appropriate.
  • Ensure the integrity of donor relationships and philanthropic agreements.
  • Assist with the implementation of new and existing recognition and cultivation events, participate in fundraising events and other opportunities to network with prospective and current donors.
  • Create opportunities for major donors 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.


A successful Director of Philanthropy will likely have:

  • Demonstrated success in identifying, cultivating and soliciting individual donors which resulted in a robust pipeline of new relationships and significant increases in funding.
  • Excellent relationship-building skills and agility to build rapport with internal and external stakeholders around innovative ideas and programs.
  • Exceptional communication skills; articulate, with proven ability to write effectively and speak persuasively.
  • Demonstrated experience using listening, diplomacy and tact to build strong relationships and motivate donors and volunteers.
  • Knowledge of current trends in the charitable giving in the areas of capital campaigns, major gifts or planned giving.
  • Knowledge of conservation community.
  • Proven ability to negotiate high profile or sensitive agreements.
  • Experience with fundraising database programs 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.
  • Genuinely enjoys engaging donors and the fundraising process.
  • Inspires confidence; demonstrates an affinity with the interests of scientists and conservation managers.
  • Strong interpersonal skills; enjoys working with people.
  • 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, strong work ethic, commitment to goals and sensitivity in handling confidential information.
  • Possesses a high degree of emotional intelligence and self-awareness.
  • Dedicated; ability to attend occasional evening, weekend events, regional travel 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