About the Water Funder Initiative
The Water Funder Initiative (WFI) helps water philanthropy develop better strategies, coordinates between foundations, and mobilizes new funding toward the field’s most important needs. A lean team with diverse expertise and a proven track record is executing the project, working closely with foundation representatives and other water experts. More information is available on our website: http://waterfunder.org/.
The Strategy Officer’s role is to support the Strategy Lead in the development of philanthropic endeavors that will have the greatest possible benefit towards WFI’s goals of bringing basins into balance and strengthening resilience. Specifically, the Strategy Officer will support the Strategy Lead to:
- Build a pipeline of and incubate opportunities: WFI began with Toward Water Sustainability: A Blueprint for Philanthropy, which laid out a long-term vision for how philanthropy could advance sustainable water management. While this remains our guiding document, funding priorities should evolve as opportunities emerge. The Strategy Officer is responsible for supporting the Strategy Lead’s efforts to develop these opportunities, build them out to the point of viability, and ensure that they are as impactful as possible.
- Shape and prioritize broader WFI’s strategies: WFI is engaged in many efforts to achieve its water sustainability goals, from driving decisions with data to conserving the Colorado River Basin to expanding impact investment. The Strategy Officer is responsible for supporting the Strategy Lead in guiding these endeavors to achieve the most important outcomes, attract funder interest, broaden support across WFI outcomes and prioritize efforts across opportunities.
- Structure and execute collaborative deals: In addition to shaping longer-term strategies, WFI also seeks to create major, compelling step-changes in sustainable water management. These kinds of transformative deals generally happen when multiple funders can collaborate and fill a discrete funding need that results in long-lasting impact. The Strategy Officer will support the Strategy Lead in bringing these opportunities forward and managing funder participation to their conclusion. The Strategy Officer will also assist with grant-writing, including structuring outcomes, proposals and reports, to help deliver new and increased funding for deals.
- Advise partners: WFI works closely with funders and grantees to develop compelling strategies. The Strategy Officer will support the Strategy Lead in assisting partners as they consider different strategies, projects, and frameworks for their work and interactions with others.
- Work collaboratively with the team and outside consultants: The Strategy Officer will work most directly with the Strategy Lead. The Strategy Lead works synergistically with the other WFI capacities; in supporting the Strategy Lead, the Strategy Officer will collaborate with other team members as well as external expert advisors. Developing compelling strategies is inextricably linked to our approach to engaging funders and this position will work very closely with the Initiative Lead and Funder Engagement Officer.
Given the fluid nature of how best to achieve WFI’s goals, WFI is led by a small team of highly-committed individuals. We find that a few skills are key to being successful:
- Think strategically: Prioritize opportunities and tasks, ask good questions when presented with potential opportunities, ensure logical consistency and rigor of WFI’s work
- Generate and synthesize ideas: Synthesize across a range of options and strategies, build discrete ideas into strong overall strategies
- Build relationships: Exemplify strong interpersonal skills, build alignment between different stakeholders
- Communicate clearly: Help facilitate meetings with funders and partners, create documents that inspire, maintain strong attention to detail
Additionally, a background in strategy work, including a facility with all the technical tools necessary to illustrate and recommend solutions (powerpoint, word, excel, etc.) is helpful. Familiarity with grant-making and grant-writing is also helpful but not required. A successful candidate will have the ability to synthesize information quickly and communicate in a way that leads to insight.