Lead, Funders Collaborative: The Water Table

Lead, Funders Collaborative: The Water Table
Sacramento or Oakland, CA - Flexible Remote
Organization Name: 
The Water Foundation

About the Water Foundation

The Water Foundation works with and through partners to advance lasting solutions to secure safe water for people, restore and sustain freshwater ecosystems, and build climate resilience. As a public foundation, the Water Foundation does this through direct grantmaking, field building, and campaign strategy development. By working with both high-level decision makers and community leaders, the Water Foundation helps funders identify and act on opportunities to better manage water. The Foundation’s current work builds on its efforts to secure and implement innovative policy, pilot on-the-ground innovations, amplify calls for equity and justice, and engage in new models of grantmaking and fundraising for the field.

More information about the Water Foundation can be found at www.waterfdn.org. As a funder with a singular focus on water, the Foundation deploys a strong team with deep expertise in water and collaboration to move resources to the groups that can most effectively improve water systems for the benefit of people and nature. The Water Foundation’s partners span a broad spectrum: conservation organizations, environmental justice groups, Tribes, agricultural associations, water providers, academics, business groups, and local, state, and federal agencies.

What is the Water Table?

The Water Table was started five years ago as an experiment to see whether funders could do more by joining forces and collaborating across the field on water issues on a larger scale. It has grown into a committed funder collaborative dedicated to identifying and activating promising water solutions through strategic philanthropic investments. The proof of concept is the recent successful completion of a four-year Water Campaign that generated over $250 million in aligned funding, provided $32 million in matching grants, and engaged more than 85 funders and 85 nonprofit partners. In early 2022, the Water Foundation became home to the Table, which is now poised to formalize its new organizational structure and capitalize on this institutional integration.

By joining forces, the Water Foundation and the Water Table have greater capacity for impact. The integration of capital, relationships, and expertise under one roof will help grow the field of water philanthropy. It will lead to more—and better coordinated—resources available to support the leaders and solutions needed now and the innovations needed to face what’s coming. The Water Table is entering a new chapter; one with an ambitious vision of growing, aligning, and deploying philanthropic resources to advance lasting water solutions for people and nature.

The Opportunity

We seek a new staff member, the Water Table Lead, to play a central role in guiding and supporting the funders collaborative during an exciting time of transition and growth in an emergent field. This is an exceptional opportunity to respond to one of the defining challenges of our time by advancing funding collaboration, and impact. The role offers a platform for influence and leadership on an important issue with an inspiring network of critical voices and perspectives in the water field.

The Lead will be the driving force for advancing the Water Table’s collaborative mission, helping to move the Table’s overarching priorities and focus its resources. To do so, the Lead will work in close partnership with Water Foundation’s CEO, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Director of Programs and Strategies, and the Water Foundation’s program team members, as well as a consulting team that includes the Water Table’s founding consultants.

Position Responsibilities 

At a high level, the Lead will coordinate, convene, leverage, and facilitate the engagement of current and prospective funders, field partners, Water Foundation colleagues, and consultants in support of the Water Table’s priorities, which include:

  • Mobilizing and aligning water philanthropy, and leveraging and influencing other sources of public and private funding
  • Facilitating and growing a learning community of water funders
  • Elevating a compelling, inclusive vision for water as a nexus issue linking topics like health, climate, equity, land use, and food systems.

Specifically, the Lead for the Water Table will be responsible for the following:

Funder Relationship Management

  • In collaboration with the Managing Director and the Program and Strategic Partnerships teams, the Lead will build member engagement and support the Water Table’s efforts to nurture new funders and increase funding to water.
  • The Water Table is a place for peer-learning and for collaboratively advancing ambitious solutions to tough problems. The Lead will create dynamic convening opportunities for members and interested potential water funders.

Field Engagement

  • Working at the nexus of funding opportunity and need, the Lead will elevate the perspectives and priorities of partners in the field, particularly those serving frontline communities, to mobilize resources where they are needed most.  They will consider whose voices are at the table, whose views are being centered, and which outcomes provide the most equitable solutions for people and nature.
  • The Lead will navigate complex information and the dynamics of a diverse network with clear, consistent, data and strategic communication with all parties.

Collaborative Management and Implementation

  • The Lead will provide strong, adaptive management of day-to-day Water Table operations, workplans, and planning processes to advance the Table’s objectives and facilitate integration and partnership with the Water Foundation’s suite of teams and programs.
  • The Lead will develop and guide the Water Table workplan to prioritize and align efforts across a complex environment of funder members, numerous field partners, a growing group of prospective funders, and team/consultants.

Ideal Candidate

Above all else, candidates will bring a strong interest in the issue, a sense of purpose and optimism, and a drive to significantly increase funding to support lasting clean water solutions that advance freshwater ecosystems, social justice, and human health. This is an ambitious endeavor; candidates should approach this work with a sense of purpose and clarity about the change they can make in the world.

A natural collaborator, the ideal candidate has an aptitude for identifying pathways for impact with diverse groups of stakeholders. The multi-stakeholder nature of the Water Table’s work requires an effective listener who is intellectually curious and at ease discussing issues with, and balancing priorities of, leaders in the field.

Working with and across sectors in the water community, this person must possess the intuition and emotional intelligence to navigate complex relationships and contexts with confidence. Skilled facilitation is imperative.

Capitalizing on the promise of integration of the Water Table into the Water Foundation will require proactive internal coordination and a skillful approach to cross-team collaboration. The ideal candidate will also need to pay attention to detail while also driving the broader vision of the collaborative. The incoming Water Table Lead will flexibly navigate through change and ambiguity, leveraging the clarity of the Foundation’s mission and approach to guide the work of the Water Table moving forward.

The Water Foundation places high value on bringing in talent that diversifies its ways of operating and thinking. Varied experiences – lived, academic, and professional – have the power to push the Foundation to greater levels of impact and efficacy in ensuring just and equitable approaches and outcomes. The Water Foundation’s culture values patience, grace, and humor under pressure. 

Qualities that are key to success in this role include:

  • Mission-focused: Maintains “north-star” focus; helps align team, funders, and partners to a common mission, while embracing a diversity of approaches for advancing that mission; identifies a range of ways to navigate through competing priorities
  • Relationship-oriented: Builds relationships, exemplifies strong interpersonal skills, articulates and navigates dynamics between parties with differences of opinion and/or priority
  • Outstanding communicator: Creates written products that lead to insight and action; engages effectively with a variety of audiences; inspires while maintaining strong attention to detail; navigates gracefully through complicated networks of relationships and can reliably assess who needs to be aware of and/or offer input on an ongoing stream of activity
  • Adaptable: Thrives when faced with new opportunities while maintaining focus on existing priorities; embraces changing conditions in a dynamic work environment
  • Driven: Shows strong initiative and follows through


Candidates must possess at least ten years of substantive, relevant experience working with funders, either in/with nonprofits or philanthropy. Prior or current experience organizing, and leading funder collaboratives is an asset. Experience in and knowledge of water or natural resources is desired, but not required.

Compensation and Location

The Water Foundation offers an excellent benefits package and a competitive salary that is commensurate with experience. The midpoint of the salary range for the position is $150K. Ideally the role will be based near the Water Foundation’s offices in Sacramento or Oakland, CA; however, remote work for those with easy access to a major airport in the Western US will be considered. Travel to the Foundation offices will be required.


To Be Considered

The Water Foundation encourages people of color, from under-resourced communities, immigrants, LGBTQ+, and others with diverse perspectives and experiences to apply. Please submit your resume and cover letter expressing your interest in the position and fit for the role via the Become a Candidate button on the position profile.

View the Position Description