Skip to main content

Posted on May 20, 2020

Director of Foundation Relations

San Francisco, CA or New York, NY or Chicago, IL

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We take on the biggest, most precedent-setting cases across the country. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health; to preserve magnificent places and wildlife; to advance clean energy; and to combat climate change. We partner with thousands of groups, supporters, individuals and communities to engage the critical environmental issues of our time, and bring about positive change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.

Founded in 1971, Earthjustice has a distinguished track record of achieving significant, lasting environmental protections. We achieve this by hiring people who share a passion for justice and a healthy environment. Our headquarters are in San Francisco with offices in Anchorage, Chicago, Juneau, Los Angeles, Tallahassee, Miami, Honolulu, New York, Philadelphia, Denver, Seattle, Bozeman, and Washington, DC.

Earthjustice seeks a highly skilled strategist, manager, and fundraiser to serve as Director of Foundation Relations. The Director serves as a key member of the Development Departmental leadership team to support a collaborative, holistic and cohesive fundraising environment, working directly with colleagues on joint strategies from major gifts to donor relations.

Foundation grants currently provide nearly 30% of the organization’s annual $100M+ revenue. Earthjustice has launched a $750 million, five -year fundraising campaign of which $150M will come from institutional donors. The Director develops and maintains relationships with key principal funders and identifies and seeks out new funding opportunities; leads a team of 10, including a Deputy Director, Associate Director of Systems and Operations, Senior Development Officer, five Development Officers, and a Foundation’s Associate; and helps the Development Leadership with strategic planning and departmental administration. The Director of Foundation Relations works closely with the President, VP and Associate VP of Development, SVP of Program, VPs of Litigation, Program Staff, Communications Staff, and Board Members to develop and implement strategies for meeting revenue goals.


    Strategic Direction: 30%

    • Sets goals for and directs a centralized grants program to increase foundation support for Earthjustice programs.
    • Participates in program strategy groups, develops and supervises goals, objectives, and strategies for cultivating foundation supporters.
    • Collaborates with the Board of Trustees, Council, President, Program Staff, Development Officers, and Foundation Staff to deepen and expand relationships with key foundations.
    • Develops strategies as well as policies and procedures in collaboration with Development Directors.
    • Attends departmental and organizational retreats for shared planning, team building, and professional development.
    • Collaborates with interdepartmental teams on goal development and work products.
    • Develops and tracks annual work plan for Foundations Department.
    • Projects grant income for budgeting purposes, monitors grant revenue, and revises fundraising strategies as necessary to meet revenue goals.
    • Writes regular reports on foundation fundraising for Board of Trustees.

    Management 20%:

    • Recruits and hires qualified candidates who fit position requirements and the work environment.
    • Promotes change in terms of the expected benefits, as well as removing or lowering the impact of potential obstacles.
    • Sets clear team direction that aligns with Earthjustice strategy, mission, and vision.
    • Develops staff by identifying and encouraging training and professional development opportunities appropriate to role and creating development plans for all staff.
    • Provides staff with consistent performance feedback – both positive and constructive -- and acts as a coach and mentor.
    • Creates a learning culture, by encouraging debriefing after completion of significant stages of projects.
    • Ensures that any direct reports who have supervisory responsibility are properly executing those functions.
    • Creates a respectful and inclusive work environment for team and models respectful and inclusive behavior.
    • Promptly addresses micro-aggressions and other concerns brought to their attention.
    • Resolves interpersonal conflict among team members and brings in outside facilitators as needed.
    • Communicates regularly with existing employees and encourages staff to raise concerns and to provide ongoing feedback.
    • Creates or identifies strategic opportunities for team building and individual and overall staff engagement with one another in order to strengthen teamwork, interaction and collaboration. 
    • Values and uses individual differences and talents to improve employee satisfaction and the quality of collective work.
    • Celebrates successes and helps team members to understand and manage setbacks.

    Foundation Solicitation and Relationship Development: 40%

    • Manages portfolio of foundation grants including:
    • Researches background of Earthjustice’s work. Remains conversant in the casework of regional offices and monitors programmatic developments at relevant foundations.
    • Actively engages foundation program staff to cultivate, solicit, and steward the institution’s giving; coordinates appropriate Earthjustice program staff involvement at each stage.
    • Partners with staff at other environmental organizations to solicit joint grants.
    • Collaborates with development staff on various cultivation activities, special events, site visits, solicitations, and writes/submits timely gift acknowledgments.
    • Oversees development of and edits letters of intent, proposals, and reports with input from attorneys and program staff; manages multiple deadlines in coordination with attorneys’ schedules.
    • Oversees development of and edits budgets and financial reports in coordination with program and finance staff and occasionally with staff of organizations that perform program work in partnership with Earthjustice.

    Collaboration and Partnership: 10%

    • Collaborates closely with our Major Gifts program to develop a strong donor pipeline, ensures that new major/family foundation donor prospects are identified and cultivated, and that current donors are engaged and stewarded in the best way possible.
    • Collaborates with Operations to strengthen our internal systems and procedures to support Foundation officers and management of the Foundations program.
    • Engages Program staff, Board members and volunteers in identifying, cultivating, and soliciting institutional gifts.

    Directly Supervises 3 FTE: Deputy Director; Associate Director of Systems and Operations; and Senior Development Officer.


  • Bachelor’s Degree required. Advanced degree is a plus.
  • Seven to ten years successful grant-seeking experience in a fundraising department, with progressively greater responsibilities.
  • Experience in staff supervision, leadership and management.
  • Management and other essential skills:
  • Ability to effectively manage and lead a diverse team with emotional intelligence (self-awareness and understating of the impact of their behavior) and cultural humility (an understanding of the need for additional learning about different cultures, backgrounds and orientation and implementation of that learning in daily management practices).
  • Ability to give and receive regular formal and informal feedback in a timely, constructive, respectful, and consistent manner and to incorporate debriefing into the team’s operations.
  • Understands the individual and team strengths and areas for development and develops plans accordingly. 
  • Commitment to and experience in developing team skills and talents to meet the evolving needs of an organization.
  • Demonstrates an awareness and sensitivity to the needs and concerns of individuals from diverse cultures, backgrounds and orientations.
  • Contributes to recruiting, hiring, developing and retaining a diverse and inclusive workforce. Proven leader, coach and motivator of staff.
  • Ability to develop and implement strategic short- and long-terms plans for significantly growing income from institutions at the principal gift level.
  • Strong initiative and self-motivation, and a keen interest in leading an entrepreneurial team.
  • Experience in successfully working with volunteer leadership and program staff.
  • Team player who is able to build support for goals and strategies, overcome obstacles and achieve results.
  • Excellent research skills; strong fundraising instincts and adept donor development skills.
  • Ability to travel domestically as needed to support fundraising and engagement efforts –20%+ travel time per year.
  • Interest in climate change and clean energy, environmental protection and public health concerns; support for and belief in the Earthjustice mission and programs.
  • Ability to interpret and understand programmatic goals and translate to intended audiences (e.g. funders).
  • Excellent writing skills, including the ability to develop successful proposals and other materials. Ability to synthesize complex material, to translate it into readable and engaging prose, and to communicate it clearly and succinctly.
  • Outstanding written, verbal, and interpersonal communication skills.
  • Ability to construct and manage a budget.
  • Environmental and/or legal background preferred. Knowledge of foundations that emphasize environmental giving also preferred.

We offer a competitive salary and excellent benefits that are comprehensive and competitive. We also offer an extremely congenial work environment and a casual dress code. 


Earthjustice has retained the services of ThinkingAhead Executive Search.  Please submit your resume and expression of interest to Chris Spagnola, Partner, at and Jessica Martinez, Senior Recruiter, at

Earthjustice is driven by a passion for justice, partnership and excellence. Our core values lead us to seek a broad range of perspectives and backgrounds to achieve our mission and to maintain an inclusive environment where all staff are valued and respected. As an equal opportunity employer, we are committed to employment practices that ensure that employees and applicants for employment are provided with equal opportunities without regard to race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, religion, physical or mental disability, medical condition, veteran status, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information or any other factor that is not related to the position.

For positions located within the City and County of San Francisco:  Pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, we will consider for employment-qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.

For positions located within the City of Los Angeles:  We will consider qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring.


If you need reasonable accommodation in order to complete the application, interview or some other portion of the selection process for a job at Earthjustice, please contact Human Resources at

What You Should Know About Earthjustice

A short guide on who we are & what we do. Find out