San Francisco Botanical Garden Society — Director of Development–Completed

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San Francisco Botanical Garden Society

Director of Development

Position Description

Painter Executive Search is supporting San Francisco Botanical Garden Society (SFBGS) in their search for an experienced, creative Director of Development to lead all aspects of fundraising at this pivotal and exciting time at San Francisco Botanical Garden (Garden).
San Francisco Botanical Garden is a well-loved community institution uniquely positioned to be a leader in conserving plants from many of the world’s most threatened regions. Known for its stunning displays of more than 8,800 different kinds of plants from around the world, the Garden is a sanctuary for rare and endangered plants, many of which are no longer found in their native habitats, and is an incredible resource for learning about all living things and the importance of plants for our own survival.

Because of San Francisco’s topography, its Mediterranean climate and coastal fog, plants from six continents can flourish here. In the context of an accelerating biodiversity crisis in which one-fifth of the world’s known plant species are threatened with extinction, the Garden’s ability to simulate the growing conditions of some of the world’s most threatened regions, including disappearing cloud forests, is of increasing value and importance.

The Garden is recognized worldwide for its significant, diverse and unique plant collections. The collections are organized primarily by geography which allow visitors to step into landscapes of other continents. The collection is not just beautiful, but invites you to visit distant, foreign environments, to understand and value their uniqueness firsthand through the distinctiveness of their plants.

While the Garden is cherished by many, the time is ripe to activate the full potential of the Garden to engage the public and invite them to fully appreciate the diversity of plant life and our dependence on it. With new board leadership and a new Executive Director, the organization is setting priorities and laying the groundwork for a comprehensive strategic planning process.

The Director of Development (DOD) will be a key leader in facilitating the support required to build on the Garden’s strengths and create a more vibrant and sustainable public asset. A hands-on expert in advancement and thought-partner to the Executive Director, the DOD, together with the leadership team and development staff, will help shape the messaging and attract the funding that will enable the Garden to deepen its engagement with the public and facilitate stronger Garden infrastructure and programs. The DOD is responsible for all fundraising activities including the development of the fundraising strategy, execution of fundraising programs and overseeing development operations. Additionally, the DOD will be critical in developing a robust culture of philanthropy, engaging across the organization to deepen communication and understanding, and facilitate shared goals. Reporting to the Executive Director, the DOD leads a team of five fulltime staff and collaborates with outside contractors

to meet the annual needs of the Garden, grow membership, increase support from institutional partners and steward donor relationships.
This is a building role for someone who is excited by the opportunity to take a cherished and respected institution from really good to great. The DOD will need both creativity and attention to detail for success, and a willingness to tackle any task regardless of size. Being a visible, participatory leader will be important in making connections to new and established donors and in shaping the new fundraising, cultivation and donor engagement programs.
Experience in institutional funding and in developing major gifts will be critical. The DOD will work closely with the Board of Trustees and key staff throughout the organization, to reach the goal of increasing contributed income.

San Francisco Botanical Garden Society (SFBGS) is dedicated to building communities of support for the Garden, cultivating the bond between people and plants, and strengthening understanding and appreciation for what we can learn from the natural world. Working in partnership with the City and County of San Francisco and its Recreation and Park Department since 1955, SFBGS develops broadbased support for the Garden and programming for the public. With the help of its members, donors and volunteers, SFBGS funds Garden improvements, provides curatorial and plant collections management services, maintains the Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture, offers year-round educational and community programming, propagates plants for sale to the public, and operates the Garden Bookstore. Last year the Garden welcomed more than 430,000 visitors from San Francisco, the Bay Area and around the world.

San Francisco Botanical Garden has undergone steady development since its opening in 1940. The Garden is constantly evolving; collections are refined or expanded, and new garden displays are added. The Garden serves as an essential outdoor classroom; its thriving youth education program serves more than 13,000 children annually, reaching almost every public elementary and K-8 school in San Francisco. Free, daily docent-led tours are available year-round to visitors of all ages. The Garden’s Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture is the most comprehensive horticultural library in northern California. Volunteers contribute more than 40,000 hours a year to the Garden’s operation.

The Garden’s Magnolia collection is considered the most important for conservation purposes outside China, where most magnolias are found. This is the world’s only garden with three cloud forest collections growing outdoors outside their native regions (Mesoamerican, Andean and Southeast Asian). Noteworthy collections of palms and conifers, a California Native Garden and century-old Redwood Grove, as well as other beautiful and culturally valuable displays can be found throughout the 55-acre site.

In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, combining the work of SFBGS’s and the Recreation and Park Department, it cost $6.5 million to operate the Garden. Approximately 70 percent of the Garden’s financial support comes from SFBGS’ donors and members in the form of private gifts and memberships, and from the Garden’s visitors in the form of admissions revenue and other earned income. Private support is more crucial than ever in realizing the vision for the Garden. Contributed income in 2018 is currently projected to be nearly 2 million.

Signature Annual Events: Flower Piano and Garden Feast
In 2015, the Garden launched Flower Piano, an interactive outdoor art exhibition and collaborative project with Sunset Piano. Its success demonstrated a new level of public interest and appreciation for the Garden. This new event welcomed many first-time visitors and solidified support for large scale public programming. Experimenting with Flower Piano has emboldened SFBGS to further develop fresh ideas that can cast the Garden in new light and deepen the public’s appreciation for this amazing asset. Night Garden Piano is a special ticketed event that raises funds for the project. Additionally, the Garden hosts Garden Feast, an annual fundraising luncheon with auction. The team is exploring creating other large events and multi-day programming and exhibits to raise funds and make new friends.


  •  Be a thought-leader within SFBGS to advance strategies and tactics that will lead to organizational sustainability and increased capacity for new initiatives and program growth;
  • Become knowledgeable and conversant in all aspects of San Francisco Botanical Garden and SFBGS’s history, mission, vision, research, programs, and long-range plans in order to effectively represent the Garden and raise its profile and visibility;
  • Learn and share best practices, benchmarks, successes and innovations from other botanical gardens and cultural institutions; be fluent in professional advancement practices and employ that knowledge to grow contributed income for the Garden;
  • Develop and implement a Fundraising Plan built upon a coherent strategy with measurable annual and long-range goals;
  • Build a productive partnership with the Executive Director to enhance the Executive Director’s role in fundraising;
  • Develop and sustain strong relationships with the Board of Trustees; support their fundraising efforts and grow their comfort and capacity for fundraising;
  • Be a model partner across the organization, understand and support the needs of each department and cultivate shared engagement in building support for the Garden;
  • Be visible and accessible to the donor community, represent the Garden by cultivating and deepening relationships with partners, prospective supporters and donors;
  • Communicate effectively across all levels of the organization, internally and externally in order to facilitate the effective use of staff resources and ensure collective efforts are aligned;
  • Model a commitment to excellence; ensure that personal and departmental output is of the highest quality;
  • Be an effective and supportive team leader; identify and acknowledge great work, value and celebrate individual and collective success;
  • Actively partner with marketing colleagues to implement strategies for increasing visitors and members, retaining current members and increasing visibility of the Garden to diverse, targeted audiences;
  • Support the organization’s efforts to identify, cultivate, and steward new trustees; work closely with trustees to maximize their opportunities for advancing SFBGS initiatives;
  • Foster a culture of philanthropy across the organization; bring the donor perspective into organizational decision-making and deepen internal partnerships to highlight and maximize support for Garden program and infrastructure needs.


  • Manage the daily activities of the Development Department including Individual and Institutional Giving and Corporate Sponsorship, Membership, Events, Development Operations, Stewardship, Gift Planning and future Capital Campaign efforts;
  • Recruit, nurture and challenge a highly-qualified and motivated professional staff; delegate specific responsibilities with appropriate authority and establish accountability and clear lines of communication;
  • Together with staff, plan and implement effective donor cultivation and recognition activities, and special events;
  • Supervise and expand an effective prospect research program, build an efficient and effective effort to increase the base of support; Establish a systematic, robust planned giving program and provide benchmarks for judging its success;
  • Direct an effective fundraising operation; ensure Raiser’s Edge, the donor database, is accurate and appropriately managed for ongoing stewardship and accurate reporting;
  • Establish performance goals, monitor results and evaluate the fund development program, make recommendations for changes or new efforts;
  • Prepare and administer the department’s annual budgets; ensuring effective use of resources and accurate monitoring of fundraising results;
  • Oversee maintenance of the records management system, including gift and membership processing, donor acknowledgment, data maintenance, and development reports; coordinate these activities with the Director of Finance as appropriate;
  • Maintain accountability and compliance standards for donors and funding sources;
  • Ensure that internal procedures are effective and well-documented.


  • Develop and maintain a personal prospect portfolio; personally cultivate, solicit and secure major and lead gifts;
  • Craft and execute solicitation strategies for individual donors in your own portfolio and others’; model fundraising processes for the Board and staff, including appropriate briefings, approach, solicitation and follow up in order to steward the donation and the ongoing relationship;
  • Support Board members, Executive Director and staff in identifying, cultivating and soliciting gifts.

A successful Director of Development candidate will likely have:

  • Successful leadership demonstrated by achieving fundraising goals in a nonprofit organization of similar size and significance;
  • Experience building a comprehensive fundraising program that resulted in significantly increased support through major gifts, annual and planned giving, events, grants, and membership; including securing multiple major gifts from individuals, foundations, and corporations; experience building institutional support would be particularly valuable;
  • Transformative leadership skills as evidenced by a track record of creativity and significant achievement;
  • Proven ability for bringing together different departments within an organization to work together towards a shared vision and goals—highly cooperative and collaborative;
  • A strategic thinker who is thoughtful about partnerships and politically savvy;
  • An ability to manage and implement change; someone who can motivate and mentor staff while increasing performance;
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills;
  • Ability to interact in an effective, tactful, and professional manner with key partners and collaborators internally, externally, and with the public at large;
  • Experience and comfort working in a small department where delegation and hands-on participation are needed to support the organizational goals;
  • A history of strong collaboration; someone who actively seeks strategic partnerships and develops effective relationships;
  • Ability to work well under pressure and adapt easily to changing situations and priorities; exercises good judgment and stays focused on overarching goals;
  • Knowledge of planned giving instruments, as well as ability to implement a robust program;
  • Experience with fundraising database programs (Raiser’s Edge preferred) as well as MS Office, PowerPoint, and other standard office software;
  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent.


  • Passion for gardens or the natural world and for bringing those experiences to the public;
  • Genuinely enjoys engaging donors and the fundraising process and is comfortable interacting with high-level donors, civic and cultural leaders;
  • A person interested in learning—open to new ideas and change;
  • A strong manager able to nurture both comradery and accountability; able to celebrate successes and build upon challenges;
  • Inspires confidence and trust; demonstrates an affinity with curatorial staff, educators and content experts;
  • Resourceful, able to do more with less, ambitious and focused on organizational success;
  • Solicits and responds well to feedback, invested in attaining excellent work;
  • High integrity and commitment to goals;
  • Possesses a high degree of emotional intelligence and self-awareness;
  • Demonstrates strong problem-solving attributes—drive, flexibility and creativity;
  • Dedicated; ability to attend evening and weekend events and put in the extra effort and time sometimes required to meet deadlines.

For additional details or to submit your experience for review, please contact;
Nancy Painter (415) 202- 6240