Senior Director, Foundation Relations

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Senior Director, Foundation Relations

Conservation International protects nature for the benefit of humanity. Through science, policy, fieldwork, and finance, we spotlight and secure the most important places in nature for the climate, biodiversity, and for people. With offices in 30 countries and projects in more than 100 countries, Conservation International partners with governments, companies, civil society, Indigenous peoples, and local communities to help people and nature thrive together.

POSITION SUMMARY - This position is based in Arlington-VA, Seattle-WA or remote in the US

The Senior Director of Foundation Relations oversees the foundation fundraising function for the Development Division at Conservation International. As a leader within Development, they are responsible for leading a high-performing team of Foundation Relations officers and guiding their efforts to meet a foundation revenue goal of $15-30 million each year. The Senior Director will work closely with the Foundation Relations team to develop and implement strategies to identify and cultivate prospects and ensure high-quality stewardship and grants management for existing donors, and with Development leadership to contribute to divisional goal-setting, strategy, and metrics and reporting.


Leads Foundation Relations team responsible for raising $15-30M or more in revenue, annually

  • Leads foundation fundraising efforts for CI and is responsible for meeting and growing the annual foundation revenue goal (typically $15-30 million) approved by the Board.
  • Develops/implements fundraising strategies for strategic foundation donors and prospects, with the goal of securing multi-year, six-, seven-, and eight-figure grants.
  • Identifies and cultivates strategic foundation prospects to ensure a strong pipeline for funding, in collaboration with Major Gifts, Prospect Research, and other teams as needed.
  • Collaborates with senior leadership within Development and programs as well as executive leadership to identify and build strategic relationships with foundation partners.
  • Ensures that the appropriate systems, accountability, staffing, and procedures are in place to support foundation fundraising and pipeline development goals.
  • Ensures high-quality stewardship and management of existing donors and grants in strategic foundation portfolio.

Manages a high-level portfolio and plays a leadership role within the division and organization

  • Manages a portfolio of high-level donors and prospects, often in partnership with members of the Foundation Relations team or in support of senior Development leaders.
  • Negotiates complex and sensitive grant agreements.
  • Represents the Development Division in cross-divisional fundraising initiatives as needed, and may represent Conservation International in multi-partner fundraising efforts.
  • Collaborates with Development leadership and other team leads in goal development, team-building exercises, and other activities to strengthen and grow the division as a whole.
  • Oversees institutional reporting efforts (relating to projections, revenue secured, and other metrics) and team budget management.

Cultivates a high-performing team that achieves ambitious goals and models best practices for the Division

  • Supervises and mentors a team of approx. 6 Foundation Relations officers and provides strategic guidance and oversight for their foundation fundraising efforts and account management of donors.
  • Ensures that team members are successfully recruited, onboarded, trained, and coached for performance and professional growth.
  • Sets clear team direction in alignment with Conservation International mission and strategic plan.
  • Creates a learning culture and proactively supports professional development opportunities for the team.
  • Applies best practices around people management and hiring relating to DE&I, conflict resolution, crucial conversations, etc.

Other duties as assigned by supervisor.


  • Typical office environment.
  • This position follows a hybrid work structure, working some days from the office and some remotely. Guidance will be shared during the interview process.



  • Bachelor’s degree and 10 or more years of experience in fundraising, with a demonstrated track record of successfully soliciting and stewarding significant grants from professional and/or family foundations.
  • 5 or more years of supervisory experience.
  • Advanced writing and editing skills and excellent management skills are absolutely necessary for the success of this position as are an ability to juggle multiple projects simultaneously and work with interdisciplinary teams.
  • Ability to work with teams involving expertise outside own functional and programmatic area and to develop ideas or solutions to complex problems that go beyond established practices.
  • Ability to communicate effectively internally and externally.
  • Superb interpersonal skills, including the ability to listen, use diplomacy and tact, and build strong relationships with donors, volunteers, and all levels of staff.
  • Commitment to advancing the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion and working productively and respectfully across various cultural contexts in a complex global organization.
  • Ability and experience managing staff (3-5 years) and establishing job objectives, goals, and strategies for self, staff, and fundraising teams.
  • Ability to operate effectively and independently with limited oversight and supervision.


  • Experience with Raiser's Edge or a similar fundraising database software package and proficiency with the Microsoft Office suite.
  • A demonstrated understanding of environmental management or conservation, development (health, poverty alleviation, etc.), and/or social justice issues is preferred.
  • Expert knowledge of current and evolving trends in foundation fundraising.
  • Ability to navigate and communicate on behalf of Indigenous peoples and local communities respectfully and effectively preferred.
  • Proficiency in a CI operating language in addition to English preferred, including Spanish, French, Portuguese, or Indonesian.

To apply for this position please submit a resume and cover letter.

See all Conservation International Career Opportunities HERE

Conservation International is an equal opportunity, affirmative action, and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility-committed employer. We are proud to have a diverse, global workforce where employment decisions are based on qualifications, experience, position requirements, business needs, market conditions, merit, and other legitimate nondiscriminatory factors.

As a science-based organization, CI follows CDC recommendations for COVID-19 and other vaccines. Accordingly, for the health and safety of our employees, their families, and our community, subject to applicable local law, all Conservation International staff are expected to be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, vaccination is no longer a mandate or condition of employment and employees are not required to provide proof of vaccination. This means we will not require an individual to be vaccinated to enter a CI office, attend CI events or travel on CI-related trips. This applies for our community partners as well. This vaccine expectation applies to all team members working remotely, in a hybrid work arrangement, and on-site. Job applicants are NOT required to state their COVID-19 vaccine status in their application.