Senior Strategic Partnerships Officer

Water FoundationFlexible

About Water Foundation

The Water Foundation is a nonprofit philanthropic intermediary working to support lasting water solutions for communities, economies, and the environment. The Foundation complements strategic grantmaking with creative field-building and engagement with high-level decision makers and community leaders, and helps funders identify and act on opportunities to better manage water.

The Water Foundation works in key watersheds across the West, recognizing that water crosses political boundaries and natural places face similar challenges across the region. As a funder with a singular focus on water, the Foundation deploys staff expertise to move resources to the groups that can most effectively improve water systems for the benefit of people and nature. The Water Foundation’s partners span a broad spectrum: conservation organizations, environmental justice groups, Tribes, agricultural associations, water providers, academics, business groups, and local, state, and federal agencies.

In 2019, the Water Foundation launched an ambitious 5-year strategic framework to guide organizational efforts and maximize impact. This strategy, which reflects extensive field input from partners and stakeholders, takes a systemic approach. It prioritizes securing safe, clean water for people, restoring and sustaining freshwater environments, and building resilience to a changing climate. In pursuing these goals, the Foundation supports the field in tackling immediate water problems, including polluted drinking water and collapsing ecosystems, in ways that alter system drivers, such as social inequality and outmoded infrastructure.

Inequity and injustice underlie many of the challenges the Water Foundation is working to address, such as the failure to provide clean, safe, and affordable drinking water or access to free-flowing rivers and green space to all communities. The Foundation is currently engaged in an initiative designed to provide the learning, competencies, and tools necessary to ensure that the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice are embedded and embodied in individual behavior, institutional operations, and strategic programming. While this two and a half-year initiative is concluding in the coming months, the Water Foundation is deeply committed to ongoing growth, practice, and learning in this area.

The Water Foundation’s culture is one that values respect, kindness, and a sense of humor.

More information about the Water Foundation can be found at

The Opportunity

The Water Foundation seeks a creative, seasoned development professional to join a vibrant and dynamic organization with a compelling mission to ensure reliable, clean water for people and nature. Reporting to the Director of Strategic Partnerships, and working in close partnership with the Strategic Partnerships, Program, and Finance and Operations teams, the Senior Strategic Partnerships Officer is responsible for helping to design and execute strategies to raise $20M – $25M annually to support the Water Foundation’s programming and overall operations. This role offers the opportunity to hone strategy-driven fundraising leadership and funder engagement skills, while supporting the organization and its partners in advancing solutions to address some of the most critical water issues of our time. 

Key Responsibilities

The Senior Strategic Partnerships Officer will hold the following responsibilities:

Collaborative Fundraising Strategy Across Programs

  • Work with Management and Program teams to develop fundraising budgets for priority areas of the Water Foundation’s work
  • Build fundraising strategy for specific program areas with Program team colleagues
  • Advise and staff program team colleagues to participate in fundraising activities, including funder and prospect meetings, webinars, and donor cultivation events
  • Lead the fundraising strategy and donor cultivation for a portfolio of specifically identified donors
  • Coordinate with the leadership of the Water Table funder collaborative to ensure coherent funder engagement across a range of programming and priorities

Compelling Fundraising Materials

  • Write high-quality, persuasive grant proposals and reports—ranging in size, scope, and complexity—to foundation, corporate, and individual donors (Collectively, the Strategic Partnerships team works together to submit upwards of 75 reports and proposals on an annual basis.)
  • Build strong working relationships with appropriate program staff in order to understand and translate program specifics into compelling proposals and reports
  • Improve the grant proposal and reporting process as needed
  • Partner with the Director of Strategic Partnerships and the Senior Communications Officer to create, update and provide input into fundraising materials, such as: template narratives, program talking points, one-pagers, fundraising decks, and relevant website copy

Team Mentorship

  • Partner with the Strategic Partnerships Associate on project management for grant proposal and report submissions
  • Provide guidance and mentorship to the Strategic Partnerships Associate to develop additional grant-writing capacity for the team

New Funding Streams

  • Track and forecast trends and preferences in foundation and individual giving
  • Research and prioritize new potential funding sources, including high-net-worth individuals, donor-advised funds, and institutional funders in water-adjacent sectors (e.g., climate, health, equity and justice, civic engagement, etc.)
  • Support where needed on public funding solicitation and reporting

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ)

  • Embrace and embody the Water Foundation’s commitment to DEIJ in interactions with both internal and external colleagues and partners
  • Participate in institutional DEIJ learning and practice
  • Help to identify where and how Water Foundation can advance and demonstrate DEIJ principles in water philanthropy’s engagement with field partners

Ideal Candidate

Above all else, the ideal candidate will bring a strong interest in the issue, a sense of purpose and optimism, and a drive to significantly increase funding to support lasting clean water solutions that advance freshwater ecosystems, social justice, and human health. With an excitement about joining a team committed to making systems-level, sector-wide change, the incoming Senior Strategic Partnerships Officer will bring the intellectual curiosity and passion for water to quickly learn sector-specific knowledge. As a seasoned fundraiser, a successful candidate understands how to leverage the power of storytelling to relate to the various stakeholders and their respective interests and goals.

The Water Foundation seeks an individual who possesses a strategic mindset and works collaboratively and supportively with all relevant stakeholders. The ideal candidate will be an effective thought partner with the program staff and serve as a primary contact for distinguished, high-profile funders. Candidates bring a track record of substantive fundraising experience with a focus on foundation relations. They follow new developments in philanthropic giving and development, allowing them to anticipate where the Water Foundation can successfully be positioned in those spaces. The Senior Strategic Partnerships Officer will have demonstrated experience writing large and complex grant proposals and extensive experience creating compelling fundraising materials.

The Water Foundation’s culture is one that values hard work, respect, kindness, and a sense of humor. As a functional expert in the organization, it is essential that the Senior Strategic Partnerships Officer has the ability to collaborate with, listen to, and learn from content experts and other partners, while bringing a sense of humility and enthusiasm to their work.

Desired Qualifications

Fundraising Skills

  • Experience writing substantive grant proposals, grant reports, and communications materials
  • Experience managing a personal portfolio of donors and all associated stewardship
  • Experience engaging with funders and prospects, both foundations and high-net-worth individuals
  • Experience with donor-advised funds and/or philanthropic intermediaries preferred
  • Demonstrated understanding of how fundraising strategy supports effective programs and operations

Professional Orientation and Skills

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Very strong attention to detail
  • Ability to handle multiple assignments and meet overlapping deadlines while maintaining strong collegial relationships, both internally and externally
  • Ability to work collaboratively and independently in a mostly virtual setting
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite and Google Docs
  • Familiarity with Salesforce or other similar fundraising databases
  • Resourceful, creative, and adaptable
  • Patience, grace, and humor under pressure

Compensation and Benefits

The Water Foundation offers an excellent benefits package and a competitive salary that is commensurate with experience. The base salary range for the position is $128,000 to $150,000, depending on experience. The Senior Strategic Partnerships Officer will ideally be based near Sacramento or the San Francisco Bay Area; however, remote work may be considered for those with easy access to a major airport in the western US. Intermittent travel will be required. The Water Foundation strongly encourages people of color, from under-resourced communities, immigrants, and LGBTQ +to apply. Full Covid-19 vaccination is required.

To Be Considered

Please submit your resume and cover letter expressing your interest in the position and fit for the role via the “Become a Candidate” button. Letters may be addressed to Melissa Merritt. 

Applicants applying by October 31st will be given priority consideration, with the position open until filled.

Senior Strategic Partnerships OfficerWater FoundationFlexible

GoodCitizen has been exclusively retained by the Water Foundation to lead this search. For questions, please contact:

Melissa Merritt
Managing Director
Direct: 206.792.4300

Celene Haque Tanner
Engagement Manager
Direct: 206.462.6189

Gabe Sapuay
Senior Associate
Direct: 206.792.4221