Advocating for 32 million blind and visually impaired Americans, AFB seeks a fundraising entrepreneur to: diversify revenue, nurture strategic partnerships, assure long-term financial sustainability, and grow the organization’s donor outreach in its centennial year and beyond.

American Foundation for the Blind’s mission is to create a world of no limits for people who are blind or have low vision. AFB mobilizes supporters, engages leaders, advances understanding, and leverages research to champion policies and practices that improve the lives of its constituents.

AFB believes that vision loss must never stand in the way of dreams. Founded in 1921 by M.C. Migel to serve blinded World War I veterans, AFB quickly expanded its mission to serve all Americans with vision loss. Helen Keller, the world-famous deafblind author and activist, joined the organization in 1924, and with AFB, paved the way for significant social change in America. Today, AFB uses its strengths and the “no limits” determination modeled by Ms. Keller to support blind or low vision people in employment, education, rehabilitation, community building, and advocacy.

AFB is shifting perspectives and building an inclusive world free of disability discrimination where vision loss and disability are viewed as characteristics of social diversity and seen as assets. The organization builds on the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act and related laws, as well as international commitments to the basic civil and human rights of all people with disabilities. Programs are grouped into Research & Initiatives, Consulting Services, News & Publications, and Blindness & Low Vision (an information resource). Key initiatives include:

Established Programs

  • AFB’s Public Policy and Research Institute conducts and shares rigorous research and collaborates with policymakers in Congress and the Executive branches of the Federal government to ensure that Americans with vision loss have equal rights and can fully participate in society. Among AFB’s research dissemination vehicles is the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, the international peer-reviewed journal of record in the field, delivering current research and best practice information and commentary from authoritative experts on critical topics.

  • The AFB Leadership Conference brings together leaders who are committed to creating a world of no limits for people who are blind or have low vision. The event fosters cross-sector dialogue and collaboration with the goal of creating inclusive, accessible workplaces, classrooms, and communities, supported by the latest research and best practices. Conference attendees include technology leaders, nonprofit, government, and corporate executives and professionals, university professors, and researchers. Speakers and attendees bring diverse perspectives and experiences and come from the U.S. and abroad.

  • The Blind Leaders Development Program (BLDP) offers emerging blind leaders a one-year intensive experience that creates formal mentoring relationships with established blind leaders and provides soft skills training; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training; networking opportunities; and attendance to the annual AFB Leadership Conference. Graduates exit the program equipped to step into higher levels of leadership and authority.

  • The Helen Keller Archive is the world’s largest repository of letters, speeches, press clippings, scrapbooks, photographs, architectural drawings, artifacts, and audio-video materials relating to Helen Keller. AFB digitized the collection so that it is accessible to 285 million blind, deaf, and deafblind people, and to those who can see and hear. AFB is also producing a documentary on Helen Keller and her impact on today’s community of advocates, who continue the fight for equity and justice.

Emerging Programs

  • Apprenticeships+ is an emerging program to address persistent poor employment numbers for working-age individuals who are blind or low vision, and who lack opportunities for economic self-sufficiency, upward mobility, and professional leadership. Of the individuals in receipt of vocational rehabilitation services through an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) during PY 2019 (which comprises all disabilities), only 0.002.2% took part in Registered Apprenticeship Training. AFB is seeking funding to embark on research and study into the root causes of this disparity for the purpose of developing future partnerships and programs to address them.

  • Digital Inclusion Talent Development Program, will leverage AFB expertise to increase the talent pool of digital engineers and designers with accessibility knowledge and experience; prepare blind and visually impaired people with sought-after career skills and pathways to competitive integrated employment in technology; and expand knowledge by producing open source content, best practices, and case studies that anyone can use to advance digital inclusion within their own organizations.

Headquartered in Arlington, VA, AFB is a largely virtual organization addressing issues with a national scope. AFB currently has a 38-member staff, 29% of whom are blind, visually impaired, or with other disabilities (including Dr. Kirk Adams, President & CEO), and an engaged, 19-member Board of Trustees. AFB’s FY 22 operating budget is $9.3 million. AFB’s investment portfolio is currently valued at $18.7 million, which includes a donor-designated restricted endowment of $5.38 million, FY 22 projected sources of revenue are roughly: 6.9% from earned revenue/program fees, 52.8% from contributed revenue, 0.2% from government entities, 15.4% from events, and the remaining from other sources.

Basic Function

Reporting to the President & CEO, the Chief Development Officer (CDO) will create a truly world-class fundraising organization, building on the strengths of a well-known disability nonprofit celebrating its centennial year by diversifying its funding and philanthropic programs. The CDO serves on the Senior Leadership Team, works closely with all leadership team members and particularly with the Chief Community Engagement Officer, oversees a staff of eight (8) Development team members, and an FY 22 departmental budget of $5.8 million in revenue and $3.16 million in expenses.

This individual will collaborate with the CEO and team to define fundraising strategy, objectives and messages, and will then provide overall direction and day-to-day management of all fundraising. An overarching objective is to aggressively grow AFB’s donor base and contributed revenue through major gifts, planned giving, foundation grants and corporate philanthropy.

The CDO will view all AFB advocacy, policy and program work, leadership development and movement building, events and publications as opportunities to market and raise funds for AFB; and all constituents, staff members, Board and other volunteers as part of the fundraising team. The CDO will be responsible for marshalling the attributes, resources and networks of AFB to raise annual and endowment funds through:

  • major gifts from individuals, foundations, corporations, government with an abiding interest in leveling the playing field and creating an inclusive society for all blind and low vision children and adults,

  • grants from local, state and national foundations,

  • grants from government sources,

  • contributions associated with particular AFB events or projects,

  • restricted giving campaigns,

  • planned giving,

  • matching and in-kind gifts,

  • mass, direct mail and web-based giving that also builds mass awareness and support for the work of American Foundation for the Blind.

In collaboration with a dynamic President & CEO, whose talent as a visionary blind leader includes record achievements as a fundraiser himself, the incoming CDO will closely collaborate with the Chief Community Engagement Officer who oversees the organization’s branding, messaging, and community engagement program. Together they will work with the Board and staff to realize and fund the new AFB strategic vision – a focus on advocating for systemic change for the world of blind and low vision individuals through Research, Advocacy, and Programs.

The Chief Development Officer will be expected to immediately:

  • Become familiar with the mission, history, programs, staff, resources, constituents, donors, prospective donors, brand, messaging and core values of AFB;

  • Grow and shape Resource Development department and its staff while simultaneously overseeing the day-to-day management of the department; work with all stakeholder groups – including donors and volunteers -- to create a powerful culture of philanthropy at AFB.

  • Support the President & CEO, key staff, and the Board of Trustees in executing their responsibilities in cultivating and nurturing donor relationships with individuals, corporations, and foundations and making strategic asks at the individual and organizational levels.

  • Work with the President & CEO and Board, help to set governance policies and practices pertaining to fundraising; help attract and train new Board members in their fundraising responsibilities; serve as staff liaison to the Resource Development Committee of the Board, and expanding volunteer involvement in AFB’s resource development efforts;

  • Personally solicit funds, while taking up the task of orchestrating all solicitation efforts by professional staff, Board members and other volunteers;

  • Oversee the completion of donor database migration as part of an organization-wide conversion from NetSuite to Salesforce with support provided by AFB’s Business Services department.

  • Work closely with Chief Community Engagement Officer to help shape development of materials and messages that tell the AFB story to funders, ensuring that they are regular, timely, impactful and consistent;

  • Participate in annual and long-range strategic planning for AFB; play an active role in shaping AFB’s organizational culture, employee experience (including DEI goals and initiatives), and stakeholder relationships.

Experience and Characteristics

In addition to being a mission-driven individual with a belief in and commitment to AFB’s work and objectives, candidates should have the following type of experience and qualifications:

  • Substantial nonprofit fundraising experience with a sizable nonprofit or institution that includes annual operating, planned giving and mass outreach elements; successful experience negotiating significant gifts from individuals and institutional sources; knowledge of or interest in disability-related issues preferred.

  • A record of personal success in raising very large gifts, including some at the seven- figure and above levels from individuals, foundations and public sector sources.

  • An ability to work closely with a wide range of people including people with disabilities (including blind and low vision), senior business professionals and philanthropic donors, academic and policy leaders, nonprofit and government professionals; the CDO must be particularly adept at collaborating with various subject matter experts and leaders of the highest caliber, and in leveraging the abilities and knowledge of such leaders for fundraising purposes;

  • Personal experience with data conversion (Salesforce a plus) and shaping fundraising systems and data that are operationally sustainable, and enable large and geographically dispersed groups to coordinate their fundraising activities; experience leveraging fundraising databases and support systems for donor segmentation, research and volunteer management;

  • A broad knowledge of brand marketing and different types of outreach to various classes of donors, with specific experience in structuring long-term relationships with donors having different priorities; demonstrated success with establishing stewardship and donor recognition programs;

  • A hard worker with a high energy level; a “doer” with a willingness to work hands-on; demonstrated management skill motivating and managing staff, volunteers and consultants, and in coordinating and supporting the fundraising activities of others.

  • A good listener; intrepid yet tactful; determined yet with the flexibility to find alternative ways to reach funding objectives when barriers arise; a skilled negotiator who does not drive themselves or others into a corner; a person able to analyze and formulate disparate information into sound, well-organized plans;

  • A charismatic communicator, able to build enthusiasm for AFB, its advocacy, policy positions and programs; exceptional verbal and written communication skills;

  • Emotionally mature with a very good sense of humor and the flexibility and sensitivity to work with diverse personalities and situations.

For more information please contact:

Lee Kappelman (202)803-6674 or leek@moppenheim.com

Oscar Quiros (415)762-2643 or Oscarq@moppenheim.com

Mark Oppenheim (415)762-2640 or marko@moppenheim.com

m/Oppenheim Executive Search
558 Presidio Boulevard, Box 29625
San Francisco, CA 94129-0625