Chief Development Officer

  • Making Waves Education Foundation
  • Richmond, CA Hybrid
  • Jan 11, 2023
Full time Nonprofit-Social Services

Job Description

This position is perfect for an innovative fundraiser who loves building relationships and rallying others to make a powerful impact through philanthropy.  

The Chief Development Officer will lead the next chapter of our organization’s fundraising efforts and will partner with teammates, board members, students, alumni, and donors to dramatically increase the number of underrepresented students in our region who achieve college and career success. The Chief Development Officer will build new networks of donors who are excited to fund our growth strategy and will steward our current donors to fund our core college access and success program that supports students from Making Waves Academy. 

In the first two years, the Chief Development Officer will be responsible for: 

  • Creating a strategy to grow and diversify our donor base, 
  • Shaping a culture of philanthropy on our board and supporting board members to connect their networks to Making Waves programs and impact, 
  • Building relationships with and growing funding from current donors and new networks, 
  • Building inspiring programming that connects donors to our work, and 
  • Achieving the annual $3.5m fundraising goal and identifying $500k in potential new funding.  

This position reports to the CEO, Patrick O’Donnell, will hire and manage one full-time employee, and will have access to resources to hire consulting support as needed. 


We are proud of the above market total rewards package to our employees in line with our guiding principles of centering transparency and equity, rewarding expertise and performance, and championing professional wellness. The Chief Development Officer is a full-time, exempt role, and will be eligible to receive: 

  • A competitive base salary range of 146,400 – 219,600 based on requisite work experience and performance during the interview process. In line with our commitment to equity, fairness, and transparency, we have adopted a no salary negotiation policy.  
  • Signing bonus of 5% of base salary to be paid in two installments: 50% on the first eligible payroll and 50% within 6 months of the hire date.  
  • 51 total days off per fiscal year (a combination of company-paid holidays, vacation, sick, and personal time) 
  • 100% employer paid medical (Kaiser HMO Platinum), vision, and dental benefits for the full-time staff member and a spouse/domestic partner or dependent child(ren). 
  • Lunch on in-person days (5x a month) and free access to Grubhub+, 3% retirement match, a $750 HRA account to help fund mental health benefits, FSA for medical and childcare expenses, and an annual professional development stipend 
  • A hybrid work environment where staff work from the office on five (5) common days a month with flexibility to work remotely otherwise. In-person meetings with donors will also be required as part of relationship building and donor cultivation and stewardship efforts. We provide a monthly wi-fi reimbursement and a home set-up stipend to set staff up to successfully work remotely. 


This job description reflects Making Waves Foundation’s assignment of essential functions and qualifications of the role. Nothing in this herein restricts management's right to assign, reassign, or eliminate duties and responsibilities to this role at any time.  

The Chief Development Officer’s primary responsibilities include: 

Define fundraising strategy 

  • Set a vision and strategy for fundraising at Making Waves and create annual and long-term fundraising goals across revenue streams, with a primary focus on individuals and foundations, that advance the organization’ strategic plan  
  • Conduct a feasibility study, collaborating closely with the CEO and Board of Directors, to determine the needed board fundraising strategy to achieve our fundraising goals and advance our strategic plan 
  • Build donor-facing programming to connect existing and potential donors to our work 
  • Partner with the Chief Finance and Strategy Officer to set a vision for forecasting grounded in a weighted pipeline 
  • Anticipate fundraising outcomes and create smart pivots and/or contingency plans to mitigate risk 
  • Ensure that the organization is operating in Salesforce in ways that ensure strong data integrity and accurate reporting 

Lead fundraising execution 

  • Ensure that the organization consistently hits fundraising targets (estimated at $3.5mm for FY24). 
  • Directly oversee a portfolio of existing donors and donor prospects, taking an active role in building relationships, expanding networks, cultivating donors, soliciting donations, and stewarding donors.  
  • Leverage board members to actively engage their networks with Making Waves and building board members’ skill at telling our story. 
  • Support the Foundation and Academy CEOs on the portfolio of high-profile donor relationships that they manage, and deploy them as part of a larger funder cultivation strategy 
  • Maintaining existing funding levels for Making Waves Academy through strong stewardship of existing donors.  
  • Leverage the Senior Leadership Team to engage their networks, cultivate and steward donors, and define donor strategy and proposals.  
  • Serve as the board liaison, managing the scheduling, team preparation, and logistics of quarterly board meetings.  

Collaborate across Making Waves Foundation and Making Waves Academy 

  • Collaborate with the Director of Marketing & Storytelling to create donor-facing narratives, appeals, and stewardship. 
  • Collaborate with Vice President of Partnerships to increase corporate funding, state funding, and earned income revenue. 
  • Collaborate with the Chief Program Officer to translate programmatic efforts into creative, impactful appeals to prospective funders 
  • Collaborate with the Chief Finance & Strategy Officer to create donor-facing budgets and to prepare revenue forecasting and projections 
  • Collaborate with the Director of Product Innovation and VP of Community Development & Social Impact on funding our AI College Advisor and on government funding opportunities.  

Lead, manage, and develop a high-performing and inclusive team 

  • Partner with the Chief People & Operations Officer to hire and onboard a development support staff member 
  • Lead team’s annual goal setting, reflection, and continuous learning  
  • Monitor programmatic performance, assess strengths and growth areas, spot patterns, and define opportunities for action that put the team on track to achieve our student impact goals. 
  • Set vision for and implement systems, processes, and rituals to cultivate a high performing, inclusive team (e.g., consistent 1:1 check-ins, team meetings, clear communication, etc.) 
  • Set clear expectations for direct reports and empower them to lead with a commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 
  • Leverage experience and resources (e.g., team management software, MWF-sponsored management training) to build a culture of continuous feedback and development  

Contribute to important cross-functional projects 

  • Serve as a member of the Senior Leadership Team and Leadership Team 
  • Participate in organization-wide systems, processes, and rituals (e.g., annual and quarterly goal setting, employee engagement surveys, All Hands); commit to providing feedback to improve our work in the future 
  • Contribute to the development of a growing, fast-paced organization, including participation in events and programming as well as database and technology oversight and maintenance 
  • Prioritize professional growth by researching, scheduling, and participating in professional development opportunities in service of your professional growth and impact on the organization 


Minimum Qualifications: 

  • 10+ years of experience in and a passion for frontline fundraising, preferably in individual and/or foundation giving 
  • Fundraising experience that includes leading the entire donor lifecycle with individuals and institutions resulting in 5, 6, and 7-figure gifts 
  • Experience working with boards of directors to engage the board’s networks so that the board is playing a catalytic role in the organization’s ability to fundraise.  
  • Experience working on a development team that successfully forecasts and conducts regular progress to goal conversations 
  • Experience managing full time staff members to strong job performance and satisfaction 

Preferred Qualifications:

  • A working knowledge of education systems, including schools and college access, and an excitement to stay current on trends within education at the national level and local to the Bay Area 

 Skills you have developed and knowledge you have acquired: 

  • An adept operator who is capable of complex project management in a relationship funnel context and is highly effective at managing others to outcomes through solid and dotted lines  
  • A highly relational professional with the capacity to build strong, trusting relationships at both Making Waves organizations and the gravitas to compel existing and potential donors to support our work 
  • A strategist who approaches work through an analytical lens in service of thoughtful prioritization, disciplined and purposeful pivots, and contingency planning to ensure outcomes are met 
  • An experienced fundraising professional with the content knowledge necessary to find success in this role: 
    • Knowledge of best practices to identify and build network maps of high wealth individuals and institutions
    • Full understanding of the major gift donor life cycle and a depth of knowledge to drive differentiated strategy and approach across donors 
    • Ability to oversee team and stakeholders towards strong data integrity 
    • Ability to lead effective forecasting and progress to goal conversations 
    • Ability both fully own donor relationships and to support executives to fundraise efficiently and effectively

How you work and what you value: 

  • You relate with and align with our core values (drive impact, promote equity, build community, do hard things, learn and grow) 
  • You have a deep and authentic commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and are eager to manage staff, serve on our leadership team, and lead our development function in ways that are fully centered on these values 
  • You are excited to innovate, enjoy the iterative nature of that work, and are an entrepreneurial self-starter 
  • You enjoy working on a team and will operate in ways that will build trust with teammates (integrity, reliability, empathy, etc.)
  • You enjoy fundraising, are driven by results, and will be satisfied in a leadership role that fully spans high level strategy to tactical execution
  • You have a deep belief in people and enjoy managing others and are adept at coaching and developing others to strong job performance and satisfaction outcomes 


Making Waves Foundation is an education nonprofit that supports historically underserved and underrepresented students to pursue college and career pathways that set them up for a thriving career, financial independence, and a choice-filled life.

We support Making Waves Academy (MWA), a 5-12 grade public charter school in Richmond, CA. After high school graduation, each of our students (we call them “Wave-Makers”) are invited to join our college success and early career program, where they can receive a need-based scholarship, one-to-one college coaching, and financial literacy training. Each year, we support over 1,200 students grades 5-12 and over 500 college students on their journeys to and through college. In 2020, Making Waves Foundation launched a new strategic plan to serve more students and families. We will do this by taking the best of what we’ve learned at Making Waves Academy about college access and the best of what we’ve learned at Making Waves Foundation about college success and work to increase the college attendance and graduation rate for low-income students across Contra Costa County and beyond.


Making Waves Foundation is requiring all staff members who work on-site to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as defined by the CDC. Accommodations or exceptions can be requested directly to someone on the People & Culture Team for medical or religious reasons. 

Making Waves Foundation strives to build a staff that reflects the cultural diversity of the communities that we partner with. Making Waves Foundation provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment and prohibits discrimination and harassment of any type without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, genetics, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local laws. We encourage BIPOC identifying individuals to apply. 


University, Other, Work at Home, General-Other: Project-Program Management, Fundraising, Social Service




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