New York, New York

Chief Development Officer, Innocence Project

The Organization

Innocence Project
Chief Development Officer
New York, New York (downtown Manhattan; hybrid in-office and remote work model)

The Innocence Project works to free the innocent, prevent wrongful convictions, and create fair, compassionate, and equitable systems of justice for everyone. Founded in 1992, the nonprofit organization’s work is guided by science and grounded in anti-racism.

Since its inception, the Innocence Project has used DNA and other social and forensic science advancements to prove innocence. The organization has helped free or exonerate more than 200 people. Collectively, Innocence Project clients have spent more than 3,600 years behind bars.

The Innocence Project is committed to helping each person it represents rebuild their life. The organization provides holistic re-entry support, working closely with clients to ensure they have safe and comfortable housing, access to healthcare, and meaningful employment opportunities. It also provides one year of financial support to each exonerated client.

The Innocence Project is equally dedicated to addressing the inequities and failings that lead to wrongful convictions and disproportionately harm communities of color, especially Black people. The Innocence Project spearheads federal and state-based legislative changes that promote greater police and prosecutor accountability; improve access to justice, including through post-conviction DNA testing; and meaningfully compensate the wrongfully convicted. Its efforts have led to the passage of more than 200 transformative state laws and federal reforms. The Innocence Project also works to strengthen the standards governing the use of science in criminal legal systems and urges system actors – including judges, forensic experts, and prosecutors – to examine evidence for scientific accuracy and reliability, as well as to consider the broader social implications of emerging technologies.

The Innocence Project fights to advance the innocence movement and serves as the headquarters of the Innocence Network, a coalition of 71 organizations that provide investigative support and legal representation to people with claims of innocence in 50 states and 12 countries outside of the U.S.

Position Overview

The past few years have marked a steadily changing landscape for the Innocence Project. Donors’ response to the need for urgent racial and criminal legal system reform resulted in unprecedented philanthropic support to the organization from both individual and institutional sources. A massive influx of giving ranged from broad-based annual support to substantial gifts from philanthropists such as Mackenzie Scott. As a result, the Innocence Project is better financially positioned and empowered to meet the challenges of the moment. Driven by staff growth, new programs, and a recently approved five-year strategic plan, the Innocence Project’s operating budget – over 90% of which is funded with philanthropic revenue – has grown to $29 million in FY23, a $4 million increase over FY22.

Amid this positive backdrop of increased exposure and remarkable growth, the Innocence Project seeks an experienced, passionate, and mission-driven Chief Development Officer (CDO) to lead continued expansion of the organization’s philanthropic revenue. This pivotal leadership role is responsible for setting and executing the vision for a long-term fundraising plan that ensures the strategic identification, cultivation, engagement, solicitation, and stewardship of individual, corporate, and foundation donors and managing a team of fundraising experts who will deliver on ambitious goals in their specific revenue areas.

The CDO, working closely with the Executive Director, will provide the vision, strategy, and direction to ensure that the Innocence Project’s fundraising operations meet its ambitious agenda. The individual will be responsible for actively marketing the organization to external stakeholders and increasing its capacity to raise money, expand its funding base, reach new constituencies, and identify and develop volunteer leadership.

The CDO reports to the Executive Director and works closely with the Board of Directors, staff, donors, and strategic partners on diverse fundraising initiatives. They will lead and expertly manage a department of approximately 10 development professionals to achieve optimal performance in a culture of equity, cooperation, and passionate commitment to the mission. The team is poised for further expansion in the near future, particularly in its major gifts and digital fundraising programs.

The Innocence Project’s new CDO will be an inspirational fundraising leader, and an effective and involved manager, with experience successfully discovering and engaging new constituencies. The CDO will be intellectually curious, have a passion for, and an understanding of, criminal legal system reform and a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

While the Innocence Project will consider a broad range of backgrounds, the ideal candidate will have the following qualifications/experience:

  • Passion for the work of the Innocence Project and for social justice, including a demonstrated commitment to public interest. An understanding of criminal legal system reform and comfortable in discussing topics related to race and justice.
  • 15+ years in nonprofit fundraising with increasingly responsible experience in the creation and execution of development strategy and programs, and an established track record of increasing philanthropic revenue. Broad knowledge of all functional areas comprising a comprehensive development program (e.g., individual, institutional, major, and annual giving; digital fundraising; stewardship; operations); leadership in a major fundraising campaign; and at least five years of experience identifying, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding major gifts from individual and institutional donors at the level of six to seven-figures or greater. Prior experience working with nonprofit organizations engaged in legal and policy work will be considered a plus.
  • Knowledge of and fundamental adherence to the principles, ethics, and best practices of modern fundraising.
  • 5+ years of experience managing a team of development professionals. Ability to recruit, lead, evaluate, and develop staff and contribute to the ongoing fostering of a results-oriented, multiracial/multicultural workforce. Experience managing budgets and revenue forecasts.
  • Demonstrated commitment to and understanding of how to build diversity, equity, and inclusion in the development function; culturally competent with respect to issues such as racial, cultural, religious, sexual, and gender identity. Skilled at delivering solutions in evolving, multi-cultural environments.
  • Demonstrated success in developing the case for support and strategic, innovative fundraising plans, and executing those plans to grow fundraising and exceed goals. Experience collaborating with executives, senior staff, and board and other volunteer leaders on development-related activities.
  • Track record of managing complex projects.
  • A forward thinker with a track record of utilizing new methods of constituent engagement and connectivity.
  • Demonstrated ability to integrate data into decision-making and strategy development.
  • Working knowledge of modern data management practices and innovations that can streamline development processes and contribute to the integration of related functions.
  • CFRE Certification or similar fundraising-specific training would be a plus.
  • Ability to travel on a national scale, as needed, consistent with public health guidelines.

How To Apply

The Innocence Project considers the diversity of its workforce to be vital to our organization’s success in meeting its mission. We strongly encourage applicants from all cultures, races, educational backgrounds, life experiences, socio-economic classes, sexual orientations, age, gender, and physical abilities to apply. Individuals with personal connections to the criminal legal system are strongly encouraged to apply.

As an Equal Opportunity Employer, it is our policy not to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, familial status, marital status, predisposing genetic characteristics, actual or perceived domestic violence victim status, unemployment status, caregiver status, or any other category protected by law.

The Innocence Project has retained the DSG Fundraising & Advancement Practice of the Diversified Search Group to assist in this confidential search process. Inquiries, nominations, and applications (current resumes and cover letters) should be directed electronically to:

Gerard F. Cattie, Jr.
Managing Director and DSG Fundraising & Advancement Practice Leader
Diversified Search Group
The Chrysler Building, 405 Lexington Avenue, 49th Floor, New York, New York 10174 | 212.542.2587

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