Chief Philanthropy Officer

First Look MediaNew York, NY / Flexible

About First Look Media

Boundary-defying innovation. Fierce independence. A deep passion for exploration and excellence defines First Look Media (FLM). We are a unique enterprise with one purpose and two missions. Our nonprofit work breaks stories through fearless, investigative journalism and produces documentary cinema that explores the world through fresh new perspectives. Our for-profit enterprise houses an award-winning entertainment studio that operates across film, television, and podcasts and brings to the screen some of the most culturally significant stories of our time, and we recently launched a new streaming service with premier, original, and hand-selected content from around the globe. We are founded on a fundamental belief in the power of storytelling to hold the powerful to account. Our purpose is based on the pursuit and vivid portrayal of truth.

When eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar launched FLM in 2013, his investment was just the beginning. Becoming a strong, sustainable media company requires diverse sources of support. During our first years, that vision and our values were repeatedly and rigorously tested. We have grown from a startup news site into a well-established, multifaceted media company.

Today, the nonprofit organization — First Look Media Works (First Look) — is home to The Intercept renowned for its dedication to fearless, adversarial journalism; Field of Vision, the filmmaker-driven documentary unit; and The Press Freedom Defense Fund, supporting journalists, whistleblowers, and others standing up for press freedoms and public access to information of public concern.

The Intercept

The Intercept has published thousands of stories that have reverberated through the corridors of power, including some of the earliest reporting on the Russian government’s interference in U.S. elections and vulnerability in our voting systems; the story that first revealed the existence of a letter detailing sexual assault accusations against then-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh; a George Polk Award-winning exposé of a U.S. military raid gone wrong in Yemen; a series of exclusive stories about Google’s secret plan to launch a censored version of its Dragonfly search engine in China, which sparked a concerted protest campaign by a global coalition of 60 human rights groups; and an explosive investigative series from The Intercept’s team in Brazil based on a leaked trove of materials about political bias and ethical violations on the part of the prosecutors and judges behind the imprisonment of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

In March, The Coronavirus Crisis series was launched, with more than 500 articles and counting; in addition to reporting on the obvious damage, it features stories overlooked by mainstream media: “As markets collapse, Donald Trump stumbles, and governments around the world scramble to contain the pandemic, predatory capitalism moves in for the kill.” By mid-August, The Intercept had run more than 50 pieces about the protests ignited by the George Floyd murder, as well as the systemic racism expressed on the prosecutorial end of the process. In what is being called the equivalent of the Pentagon Papers for U.S. law enforcement, “BlueLeaks” is the largest leak of police documents ever, totaling nearly 270 gigabytes of data; the stories The Intercept has published so far only scratch the surface — but there is more to come.

Field of Vision

Field of Vision has supported scores of inspiring filmmakers and produced numerous award-winning documentaries including: the Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated Strong Island, which tells the story of a family across history, geography, and tragedy beginning in the Jim Crow South; the Oscar-nominated short A Night at the Garden based on archival footage that brings to light the shocking gathering of 22,000 Americans for a Nazi rally at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1939 that has largely been forgotten; Crime + Punishment, which chronicles the remarkable efforts and struggles of a group of black and Latino NYPD whistleblower cops and the young minorities they are pressured to arrest; and the Oscar-nominated Hale County This Morning, This Evening, a richly detailed glimpse into life in America’s Black Belt. Field of Vision has a longstanding commitment to supporting innovation and diversity: 54% of Field of Vision-supported films have been directed by women and 43% by filmmakers of color. Their work has premiered at Sundance, Cannes, Toronto, Berlin, SXSW, Hot Docs, Tribeca, and IDFA, among many festivals, winning multiple Grand Jury and other awards and nominations. Recently, IF/Then Shorts joined Field of Vision from its original home at Tribeca Film Institute, bringing funding and a mentorship program that support storytellers in breaking barriers to access, exposure, and sustainability. 

In response to the coronavirus pandemic and its massive impact on journalists and filmmakers, Field of Vision and Topic Studios created a $250,000 relief fund to provide grants for documentary filmmakers and freelancers affected by the pandemic’s corresponding economic shutdown. More than 500 artists received grants in the U.S. and 60 other countries. Field of Vision distributed another $70,000 directly to filmmakers already at work on FOV projects (and the video streaming service of First Look Media, Topic Consumer, granted an additional $20,000 to its own community).

The Press Freedom Defense Fund

The Press Freedom Defense Fund fearlessly and relentlessly dedicates itself to protecting the First Amendment. The Fund provides essential legal support for journalists, news organizations, and whistleblowers who are targeted by governments, corporations, and other powerful figures because they have tried to bring to light information that is in the public interest and necessary for a functioning democracy. The Fund provides legal resources for operational needs of reporters and news organizations through a pro bono law firm, and provides training and education programs to an array of journalists, lawyers, and nonprofit organizations.

The Fund has supported several key cases over the past few years, including the defense of Reality Winner, the first whistleblower prosecuted under the Trump Administration’s “war on leaks.” The case became a catalyst for media lawyers, national defense experts, and academicians to develop a new First Amendment theory specifically for the defense of whistleblowers. The Fund has also provided legal support to defend against Duterte government’s prosecutions of Rappler, founded by the highly regarded Filipino-American journalist Maria Ressa, who was named one of Time’s 2018 Persons-of-the-Year for her decades-long work in investigative journalism and combatting misinformation. Less than a week after George Floyd’s murder, PFDF partnered with the National Press Photographers Association to provide up to $100,000 of funding for reporters and photojournalists who were arrested and/or assaulted while covering the police brutality/George Floyd/BLM protests. Later in June, the $200,000 Journalists Emergency Relief Program was created specifically to provide cash assistance up to $1,500 to help journalists deal with the dire financial conditions after their layoff or furlough; $100,000 was awarded by early August and a second round of grants is slated for September.

The Opportunity

Events surrounding the civic protests over the past several months, and specifically the accelerated threat to journalists and storytellers who are covering such critical stories around equality and justice, on top of the 2020 election cycle—with its own unprecedented scope and scale of investigation-worthy material—have placed First Look’s work in new and essential light. First Look’s collective work is even more vital today than when it began. It is redoubling efforts to ensure its illumination of transparency and truth endures and can be expanded.

This is a rare occasion for a development leader to advance the fight for democracy and freedom on a global scale. First Look is operating at the cutting edge of the movement to hold those in power to account and to defend democratic values in the U.S. and abroad, without regard for party or political affiliation. In this newly created role, the Chief Philanthropy Officer (CPO) will be at the forefront of some of the greatest challenges and threats of our time, and will support First Look’s growth by mobilizing new levels of philanthropy for the organization.

Reporting to the CEO and a member of the senior leadership team, the CPO will design and execute a new and comprehensive fundraising strategy with the aim of diversifying the organization’s funding streams. In this respect, the primary focus will be on establishing and growing a community of high-net-worth individuals and institutional funders for First Look, and to anticipate where and how all three programs can successfully activate new levels of philanthropy for impact.

Key Priorities

Strategy

  • In partnership with the CEO, COO, senior leadership, and First Look’s Board of Directors, the CPO will design and implement a sophisticated development strategy to diversify funding streams by establishing a major and principal donor program, identifying opportunities within new and existing networks to initiate new funder relationships.
  • Define clear engagement/participation roles and support needs to effectively deploy the CEO, COO, and senior leadership team. Additionally, the CPO will seek to understand and then design engagement tailored to the Board of Directors to leverage the unique value and networks they bring to the development strategy.
  • Convene leaders across the organization to build and curate new or enhanced program pillars for First Look in a way that will be compelling and aligned to donors’ philanthropic objectives.
  • Align the emergent major donor program with The Intercept’s young but remarkably successful membership effort, which has grown to nearly 75,000 members in the U.S. and Brazil in less than four years, so that prospects for increased giving from the membership pool are skillfully upgraded to major donors.

Fundraising and Communications

  • Steward and grow relationships with institutional funders and principal/major donors in alignment with the overall development strategy, including building a progression track for donors to promote higher levels of giving over time.
  • Staff senior leaders to support engagement of top prospects, conduct due diligence, and prepare briefing materials.
  • Partner and collaborate with content experts across verticals and with the Communications team to craft clearly articulated narratives around First Look’s mission and work, tailoring messaging in particular to high-net-worth and institutional prospects and donors.

Operations and Infrastructure

  • Oversee existing development and membership staff, and build the team and systems required to support frontline development efforts.
  • Manage development program performance and report out to senior leadership and the Board of Directors, as needed.
  • Create and implement best practices around sophisticated donor cultivation, stewardship, and engagement to ensure consistency and efficiency throughout all funder interactions.

Ideal Candidate

First Look Media Works seeks a bold and innovative fundraising professional who is deeply passionate about taking an unabashed stance against forces that infringe upon democratic values. The successful candidate will bring impeccable leadership and people management skills as well as a demonstrated track record of diversifying funding streams for mission-driven organizations, movements, or causes.

Candidates must bring a nuanced understanding of how to engage an organization in developing a culture of philanthropy that prioritizes cross-functional collaboration. Given the unique structure of First Look and its for-profit commercial counterpart, First Look Productions, the CPO will partner closely with senior leaders across the organization to honor the integrity of the First Look environment while leveraging the power of storytelling and the unique company-wide assets to create compelling giving opportunities for discerning funders. The ideal candidate will bring a sophisticated development/advancement and professional campaign background with an acute understanding of high-net-worth gift progression. 

While domain expertise in First Look’s areas of focus is not required, candidates must possess a genuine desire to understand its work and the intellectual curiosity and horsepower to ramp up quickly, as well as the ability to articulate its unique mission. The CPO will move seamlessly between high-level strategy and tactical implementation, thriving in a fast-paced, entrepreneurial environment that values bold and audacious thinking. The position requires an agile strategist and fundraiser who is skilled at moving initiatives to scale quickly and effectively, and is an expert in collaborating and communicating with a diverse set of partners. In navigating the complex yet powerful structure of First Look Media, the CPO must display flexibility, humility, and relentless drive to pursue the truth and operate with the utmost integrity.

The ideal candidate is a poised and refined professional who inspires funders and individual donors with significant wealth. Supportive, respectful, discreet, and service-oriented, but not star struck, the CPO should be an effective listener, thoughtful, well-spoken and warm, with the intellectual prowess that is needed to pull multi-issue, cross-sector stakeholders, strategies, and content areas together to generate diverse support from the philanthropic community.

Candidates must possess a minimum of ten to fifteen years of executive fundraising experience in mission-driven organizations. A demonstrated track record of architecting philanthropic support strategies and securing principal gifts in the six and seven-figure range is necessary. Experience leading through influence, building teams, and diversifying funding streams with an eye towards growth is essential.

Location and Response to COVID-19

In creating the Chief Philanthropy Officer position, it was initially anticipated to operate out of First Look’s office located in New York City. Additionally, regular domestic travel was expected in the course of carrying out the position’s key responsibilities. However, due to circumstances caused by the novel coronavirus, the First Look team is currently working remotely full-time through end of 2020. Additionally, work travel for the role will only resume once it is determined to be completely safe to do so and is compliant with relevant public safety recommendations.

Recognizing that this is a highly unusual and rapidly evolving situation, questions around flexible location options across the U.S. as well as work logistics will be actively addressed during the course of the search process.

To Be Considered

First Look Media Works values, celebrates, and supports a diverse and inclusive environment throughout its organization. An equal opportunity employer, all qualified candidates who contribute to First Look Media Work’s broad commitment to diversity are strongly encouraged to submit their materials for consideration.

The search for a Chief Philanthropy Officer for First Look Media Works is being assisted by a team from GoodCitizen:

Jeff Waldron
Senior Advisor
Direct: 415.529.2150
jeff@goodcitizen.com