Nonprofit Director of Development and External Relations

Location San Francisco, CA 94111
Date Posted June 16, 2021
Job ID 7447
Employment Type Retained

Scion Executive Search ( has been retained to conduct the search for a Director of Development and External Relations for Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA). SOA is a fast-growing, cutting-edge nonprofit organization focused on empowering the next generation of ocean leaders, cultivating ideas and solving the world’s greatest challenges facing our oceans.

The Director of Development and External Relations will be the lead relationship and fundraising guru for the organization, establishing strong partnerships, strategic fundraising systems and processes and helping to ground and support the organization’s sustainability into the future. This amazing leadership opportunity works with a highly motivated, productive and engaged team that is fueled by the mission and the work of creating long-term impact on behalf of our world’s oceans.

This full-time opportunity is for immediate hire and will work remotely from a home office. Some travel will be an aspect of this role eventually (Covid-pending), though development will be orchestrated remotely for the foreseeable future. All candidates must be available to work Pacific time. 


Now a fully remote organization with West Coast/Pacific time zone as its standard working hours, SOA is a global organization that advances the impact of start-ups, social enterprises and youth-centered initiatives that are developing solutions to protect and sustain our ocean. SOA’s pipeline of ocean leaders, ages 16-35, is cultivated through a chapter-based model led by students at the high school and college levels, as well as by young professionals. SOA boasts Ocean Leaders in 165 countries, Ocean Startups in 12 countries and Micro-Grantees in 40 countries. Learn more at


Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer, the Director of Development and External Relations will create and deploy a fundraising strategy to fuel SOA’s ambitious vision. This includes creation and growth of a comprehensive fundraising program from the ground up, ongoing and engaging relationship development at multiple levels (internal and external) and the ability to match donor aspirations to the organization’s mission and vision. Partnering with the CEO and other staff, this role will work to help raise the profile of SOA across the U.S., and beyond, through a multi-layered development communications plan and timely moves management.

The Director of Development and External Relations will lead the creation of various development systems and processes, create associated metrics to track progress and work with staff across the organization to ensure the general public – and key target audiences – learn and understand the incredible work of the organization. Because SOA is a growing start-up, key to success in this role will be the ability to balance strategy and systems development with on-the-ground, frontline fundraising. This role will also build out a development team based on a development strategic plan, aligning with the overall growth goals of the organization.


  • Develop and implement a robust strategy covering all fundraising aspects of the organization to include major and individual giving, corporate and foundation giving, annual giving, donor communications, event management and prospect research.
  • Set short and long-term fundraising goals and establish appropriate metrics to measure performance and progress towards those goals; monitor and report out on the progress of the comprehensive development strategy on a regular basis.
  • Continually build, monitor and manage a diverse prospect pipeline to include moves management. Regularly report out on the health of this pipeline and recommend actions to ensure effective prospect management.
  • Learn from and collaborate with internal parties to effectively communicate the importance and full scope of the organization’s work to key external audiences.
  • Establish close working relationships with a wide variety of partners including program leads, existing donors and volunteers in order to successfully cultivate, solicit and steward donors.
  • Create and implement a donor cultivation and recognition program.
  • Build out, manage and maintain donor database (Salesforce). Update data to ensure all biographical and prospect tracking information is recorded in a timely, consistent and reportable format. Develop data and metrics around prospect pools and pipelines to understand to-date engagement and to ultimately ensure current year and future year fiscal goals are achieved.
  • Help raise the profile of SOA through the identification and advancement of opportunities around speaking engagements, communications, and events.
  • Design and execute cost-effective marketing and outreach strategies to communicate with a range of constituencies through print and electronic campaigns.
  • Write tailored briefings and comprehensive profiles for prospect visits to share internally to ensure successful preparation for a meeting/solicitation.
  • Support and partner with the SOA Board and volunteers to maximize their participation in advancing SOA’s mission.
  • Serve as an effective spokesperson for the SOA’s mission and scientific activities through verbal and written communication.
  • Convene and lead regular portfolio review sessions with relevant staff to ensure appropriate composition of and discovery activity within portfolios.
  • Maintain advanced knowledge and understanding of development approaches and best practices in fundraising to effectively engage with donors and their funding representatives around charitable gifts.
  • Eventually build out a development team to support the robust growth of the organization globally.

The Director of Development and External Relations will lead the planning and execution of SOA’s fund development by harnessing the enthusiasm and energy of staff, the Board, organizational volunteers and other key stakeholders.


The ideal candidate for this position is an experienced and resourceful professional who is highly collaborative, charismatic and passionate about solving the world’s greatest challenges facing our oceans today. A strong candidate for this role is a dynamic public speaker, a persuasive writer and resourceful, entrepreneurial leader that loves to build and foster relationships with others. This person also has deep knowledge of and ability to implement nonprofit fundraising systems and strategies while also simultaneously creating and cultivating a pipeline of leads and closing gifts.

We are seeking an experienced development leader with knowledge of best practices in fundraising principles to include major gifts, corporate and foundation giving, annual giving, event management, donor communications and prospect research. This dynamic leader will be a self-starter with a proven track record of success in nonprofit fundraising as well as partnership and business development.


  • Genuine passion for SOA’s mission and previous experience working for an organization focused on the environment (ocean experience a plus).
  • Bachelor’s degree. CFRE Certification a plus.
  • Minimum 5+ years of demonstrated success in identifying, cultivating, soliciting, and closing 6/7-figure gifts.
  • Proven experience significantly growing an organization’s revenue.
  • Experience as the primary development leader of an organization.
  • Demonstrated experience with designing and implementing fundraising strategies, systems and campaigns.
  • Experience significantly growing an organization’s revenue.
  • Experience working with executive leadership and Board of Directors to set and achieve organizational development goals and strategies.
  • Resourceful and adept in a start-up development environment; demonstrated ability to manage competing demands and changing pace of priorities; comfortable dealing with all levels of institute staff.
  • Demonstrated experience translating complex organizational or program information into easily digestible content for a wide variety of audiences.
  • Equally skilled at being entrepreneurial, independent, and deeply collaborative.
  • Excellent communication skills, organizational skills, and attention to detail.
  • Knowledge of Salesforce and/or other donor databases.


This exciting opportunity offers the ability to make a significant impact through creating and implementing the development program for a nonprofit with global reach! Compensation includes a competitive salary dependent on experience, plus a generous benefits package with fully paid medical, dental and vision premiums. Additionally, SOA offers 11 federal holidays and Flexible Time Away (FTA) which is paid time off that allows an employee to recharge and live a balanced life.

This is an opportunity, position and mission that will inspire you daily!


Sustainable Ocean Alliance has retained the services of Scion Executive Search, a national executive search firm specializing in mission-driven organization recruitment, to assist in conducting this important search. For immediate consideration please apply with your resume and cover letter, in Microsoft Word format if possible, via:

Please address questions about this opportunity to:

Scion Executive Search

Attn: Rebecca Lerol

Executive Search Principal

(888) 487-8850 x126

Review of applications, nominations, and expressions of interest will begin immediately and continue on a confidential basis until an appointment is made.


Scion Executive Search is a retained executive search firm connecting executive nonprofit leadership to nonprofit organizations and foundations across the country. Born out of the nonprofit sector, we provide expert search strategies and leadership for your organization. Our executive candidates are true agents for change, and we are experts at matching their talents, motivations and passions to your organization’s mission. Scion Executive Search has led hundreds of successful executive searches. Information about our firm and successes can be found online at

Scion is an equal opportunity employer and service provider committed to not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, gender identity, national origin, citizenship status, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation or belief, or any other protected class. We are committed to the principals of Equal Opportunity Employment and are dedicated to making employment decisions based on merit and value, for ourselves, our client companies, and for the candidates we represent.

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