Asian Art Museum–Chief Philanthropy Officer–Completed

Congratulations to the Asian Art Museum and Nancy Sackson for the successful completion of this search.


Asian Art Museum

Chief Philanthropy Officer

Position Description

Painter Executive Search is supporting the Asian Art Museum in their search for a seasoned Chief Philanthropy Officer to lead all aspects of fundraising, ensure the success of their capital campaign and increase the organization’s ability to attract, steward and grow philanthropic support.  

The Asian Art Museum (“Museum”) is one of the premier fine arts museums in the San Francisco Bay Area, and one of the largest in the Western world devoted exclusively to Asian art.  With a collection of over 18,000 artworks spanning 6,000 years, it offers one of the world’s most striking and complete presentations of Asian art.

As Asia’s prominence on the global stage continues to grow, the Museum’s mission, collections and geographic location uniquely position it to be the leader in creating exhibitions, programs, and on-site and on-line experiences that will serve as a portal to ancient and contemporary Asian art and culture. With Asia as the lens and art as the cornerstone, the Museum hopes to sparks connections across cultures and through time, igniting curiosity, conversation, and creativity.

The Museum has embarked on a major multi-year effort to transform the Museum and will invest significantly over the coming decade in a new portfolio of programs, exhibitions and visitor experience enhancements, as well as expanded facilities that increase its ability to achieve its brand promise—Awaken the past, inspire the next. In 2011, the Museum rolled out its striking new logo: its upside-down capital letter “A” is the mathematical symbol signifying “for all” and represents the Museum’s commitment to engaging a broader audience and shift from presenting stunning artworks to delivering captivating art experiences centered around stunning artworks. The Museum’s focus is on creating a model 21st century museum that puts visitors first, creates innovative experiences, and invites in a diversity of people, thoughts and ideas. Recently, the Museum announced plans for a new exhibition pavilion and renovation project which is being designed by architect Kulapat Yantrasast. The Museum has raised over $50 million toward this effort and is in the quiet phase of a capital campaign to support this transformation and build the endowment.

The Chief Philanthropy Officer (“CPO”) is a key leader in structuring and executing the fundraising that will allow this transformation to take place. A deeply strategic thinker, first-rate fundraiser, experienced and inspiring manager and a collaborative leadership style will be required to shape, build and sustain the fundraising program and the culture of philanthropy required for this effort. The CPO will join a fast-paced, energized team transforming the way Asian Art and Culture is experienced at the Museum and online.


The CPO is the leader of all fundraising activities for the Museum. Reporting to the Executive and Artistic Director, Dr. Jay Xu, and working closely with Museum Commissioners, Trustees, and the senior management team, the CPO will lead fundraising strategy, execution of fundraising efforts (particularly the current capital campaign), and oversee development operations. Success will require being seen as a valued partner, trusted resource and reliable collaborator who instills confidence and actively builds fundraising capacity and enthusiasm across the whole organization.

Working closely with a development team of 20, the CPO will spearhead the fundraising for annual operations while cultivating major gifts and ensuring that donor development and stewardship efforts are well-formed and effective in growing support for the Museum. The CPO will oversee the daily activities of the capital campaign, in addition to individual giving, institutional giving, museum events, and fundraising strategy, operations and analysis with a team of direct reports that currently include the Directors of Individual and Leadership Gifts, Director of Institutional Partnerships, Director of Fund Strategy and Analysis, Director of Museum Events, Director of Campaign Leadership Gifts, as well as an Administrative Assistant.

Experience in campaigns and in developing leadership and major gifts will be important. The CPO needs to build upon the development department’s capacity to be an active resource partner for others throughout the museum. Being a visible, hands-on fundraiser will be important in building connections to new, as well as established donors, and in supporting the Trustees and Senior Management in their fundraising efforts. Engaging peers, Trustees, collectors, art interest groups, civic, business and cultural leaders in a growing enthusiasm for the museum’s vision and goals and in particular, their increased financial support and commitment to fundraising, will be critical for long term success.

Organizational History, Business Plan and Capital Campaign

The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, was formed in 1959 from the personal collection of industrialist Avery Brundage and housed for the majority of its history in a building adjacent to the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. The Museum moved in 2003 into a larger, renovated, and dedicated space in the City’s former main library in San Francisco’s Civic Center. The move to the new facility, the bond debt incurred to renovate it, and the resulting growth in operations had significant impacts, both positive and negative on the Museum.

Today, the Asian Art Museum is recognized and respected as one of the leading institutions and resources for the study and display of Asian art in America. Its holdings range from tiny jades to monumental stone sculptures, and include paintings, textiles, furniture, arms and armor, puppets, basketry and more. Avery Brundage’s contribution includes some of the Museum’s most celebrated objects—including a gilt bronze Buddha dated 338CE—the oldest known dated Chinese Buddha in the world and often cited as a textbook example of Chinese Buddhist art. The Museum has organized and hosted dozens of exhibitions of international stature, featuring prized works of art from all over Asia. Its strong exhibition program is supported by a broad range of public and educational offerings that explore the cultures represented in the museum collection and are designed for visitors of all levels of education and awareness of art. The Museum’s signature education programs present an ambitious lineup of performances, artist demonstrations, and hands-on activities. Additional offerings include daily gallery tours, K-12 education programs, performances, workshops, storytelling, lectures, and young adult and family programs. Over the past five years, the Asian Art Museum has attracted an average of 250,000 visitors per year, including 16,000 member households and over 25,000 students on K-12 school tours. In 2011, before the start of the transformation, the Museum drew 210,000 visitors, with admission fees contributing $931,000 toward the operating budget of $30 million. In 2015, the Museum drew 270,000 visitors, bringing in $1.1 million.

The Museum has a current annual operating budget of approximately $30 million, approximately one-third of which is contributed by the City and County of San Francisco, with two-thirds generated through earned and contributed income. The FY 2017 proposed contributed income goal is $10.3 million, up from a projected (June 30 YE) 2016 forecast of $9.8 million. The Museum is governed by a twenty-six member Commission and a forty-seven member Board of Trustees who work together for the benefit of the Museum, frequently working together on their respective committees.

Over the past few years, the leadership of the Asian Art Museum has had a clear-eyed view of its vision and a realistic understanding of its challenges, both financial and with the physical space. During the original 2003 Library renovation, the museum building was value-engineered for financial reasons and key spaces for temporary exhibitions and other public functions were cut from the plan. In September 2013, a comprehensive business plan was formally ratified by the Museum Board. Guided by a desire to create a powerful new visitor experience that more holistically supports the Museum’s mission and vision, the business plan provides a detailed framework for investment, growth, and transformation through the year 2020. The plan addresses the challenges that have limited the Asian Art Museum’s ability to take full advantage of its core strengths and assets, and charts a clear trajectory for growth, ultimately moving the institution into a financial position which aligns its programmatic and business strategies with a comprehensive long-term vision. Over the span of the business plan, annual contributed income grows from $9M to $12.2M, an increase of $3.2M.

The core strategy of this business plan is a transformed visitor experience that calls for building a portfolio of exhibitions and newly interpreted collection galleries grounded by an exciting and engaging interpretive approach. The new exhibition pavilion will encompass about 12,000 square feet, including a 9,000-square -foot gallery that will be among the largest in San Francisco. Also planned is a renovation of the museum’s entrance lobby, classrooms, and existing collections galleries and other spaces.

Capital Campaign

The planned transformation – and the growth in both operating budget and endowment required to fuel and sustain it – sets a new bar for excellence at the Museum. Early success in securing significant commitments from Board members, national and local foundations, corporations, U.S. government granting agencies and a $10M Challenge Grant (due to the generosity of The William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation and a Chicago-based Trustee) has secured more than $50M of the project’s total anticipated financial need of $125M. Although the building project has been announced and has begun formal authorization steps with the San Francisco Planning Commission, the capital campaign is still in its quiet phase. The capital campaign plan was primarily developed in-house with the use of outside counsel. The public phase of the campaign is currently scheduled for late 2017.

With the completion of the business plan, buoyed by the newly designed Kalapat Yantrasast renovation, gallery reinstallation, more robust pipeline of special exhibitions, new interpretive theory, and integrated digital technology to support the entire museum experience, the Museum expects to significantly increase its audience and achieve financial sustainability by 2021.




  • Together with development department staff and other museum leaders, develop, plan, and implement the annual and long-range strategies to ensure the Asian Art Museum achieves its funding goals for both annual operating needs and capital campaign goals;
  • Participate on the Museum’s leadership team so that a fundraising perspective is embedded in all strategic decisions;
  • Be a trusted partner to the Director; ensure maximum value from his diverse connections, effectively utilizing his time and personal participation in fundraising efforts;
  • Develop and sustain strong relationships with the Foundation Board of Trustees and the members of the San Francisco Asian Art Commission;
  • Collaborate and support all the fundraising efforts of the Capital Campaign Chair, ensuring that she has the information, access and support that will enable the success of the campaign;
  • Be visible and accessible to the donor community, represent the museum and department initiatives by cultivating and deepening relationships throughout the community;
  • Communicate effectively across all levels of the organization, internally and externally, in order to facilitate the effective use of staff resources and to support regular, effective information flow;
  • Be an inspiring and supportive team leader; identify and acknowledge quality work and value and celebrate individual and collective success;
  • Coordinate with Marketing and Communications colleagues to develop and implement strategies for increasing membership and retaining current members and ensure that development communications reflect and amplify the Museum’s brand;
  • Support the Commissioners, Trustees and Director in the identification, cultivation and recruitment of new Trustees and assist in Board orientation, support and onboarding;
  • Support the Commissioners, Trustees and other key stakeholders in their fundraising activities;
  • Foster a culture of philanthropy across the museum through deepened internal partnerships that highlight and maximize support for department and institutional initiatives.


  • Manage the daily activities of the Development Department including individual giving, institutional (corporate and foundation) giving, fundraising events, fundraising systems, and planned giving;
  • 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;
  • Diligently manage the human and financial resources of the department to ensure appropriate levels of productivity, quality and camaraderie that result in successful achievement of shared goals;
  • Ensure that effective donor cultivation and recognition activities, special events, and volunteer programs are well-received, achieve stated fundraising goals and stay within established budgets;
  • Supervise and expand an effective prospect research program and continue to build a systematic effort to increase the Museum’s base of support;
  • Establish and monitor performance measures, evaluate the effectiveness of the fund development programs, and make recommendations for redesigning the current programs or creating new efforts;
  • Oversee maintenance of the records management system, including gift processing, donor acknowledgment, data maintenance, and development reports; coordinate these activities with the Finance and Membership & Guest Experience Departments, as appropriate;
  • Collaborate with the Finance team to ensure the accurate and timely reporting and forecasting of contributed income and departmental expenses;
  • Maintain accountability and compliance standards for donors and funding sources.


  • Develop a keen understanding of institutional priorities and the Museum’s broader vision, and personally commit to support those priorities and vision;
  • Identify, cultivate and solicit major and principal gift prospects; maintain and manage a personal portfolio of high-level prospects;
  • Support Board members, Board chief executive, other fundraising volunteers and staff in identifying, cultivating and soliciting gifts;
  • Mentor others in fundraising best practices and support the development of individual donor strategies for significant gifts to the Museum.


A successful Chief Philanthropy Officer candidate will have:

  • Successful leadership demonstrated by achieving fundraising goals in a nonprofit organization of similar size and complexity;
  • Proven ability for bringing together different departments within an organization to work together towards a shared vision and goals—highly cooperative and collaborative;
  • Capital campaign planning and implementation experience;
  • A strategic thinker with an ability to manage and implement change; someone who can motivate and mentor staff while increasing individual and team performance;
  • Experience with developing and maintaining achievable financial projections and budgets;
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills;
  • Flexibility and capability to think creatively, communicate broadly and demonstrate solutions-oriented leadership;
  • Ability to interact in an effective, tactful, and professional manner with the internal and external teams, the media and the public;
  • Experience fostering deep relationships with volunteers and valuing their contributions of time, expertise and passion;
  • Ability to work well under pressure and adapt easily to changing situations and priorities, exercise good judgment and stay focused on overarching goals;
  • Knowledge of museum operations, demonstrated interest in Asian Art and culture preferred;
  • Bachelor’s degree – an advanced degree is preferred.


  • Genuinely enjoys engaging donors and the fundraising process;
  • Comfort interacting with high-level donors and patrons;
  • A warm and approachable person interested in learning—open to new ideas and change;
  • A strong manager able to nurture both comradery and accountability;
  • Capable of both strategic and tactical work;
  • Superior organization and time-management skills;
  • Able to inspire confidence and trust; able to celebrate successes and build upon challenges;
  • Ambitious and focused on the success of the department in service to the museum’s mission;
  • High integrity and commitment to goals;
  • High degree of emotional intelligence and self-awareness;
  • Strong problem-solving attributes—drive, flexibility and creativity.
  • Gravitas—the sophistication, knowledge and the executive bearing required to represent the Museum to local, national and global cultural, business, social and philanthropic communities;
  • Strong work ethic and the willingness and ability to regularly participate in evening events and to travel, as required.

For additional details or to submit your experience for review, please send your materials or contact;

Nancy Painter

(415) 202- 6240