The Trace is looking for a director of development to help sustain and expand our high-impact, award-winning reporting on gun violence. 

At our nonprofit media organization, we’re building the only team of journalists dedicated to reporting on one of the most critical issues facing our country. Our stories are making a difference and our financial support has remained steady during these uncertain times. As we plan for the future, we are seeking a talented development leader to accelerate our fundraising. 

We hope you’ll consider applying if: 

  • You believe in the power of journalism and storytelling to drive positive change.
  • You enjoy building relationships to support organizations you’re passionate about.
  • You love spotting new opportunities — and making them happen.

In this full-time position, you’ll collaborate with The Trace’s Managing Director on establishing and expanding revenue programs essential to our long-term sustainability and impact, with an emphasis on major giving and reader donations. Ideally, you have both a track record of raising funds for mission-driven organizations and a familiarity and comfort with the logistics of nonprofit development work — we’re a small shop, and this is definitely a hands-on role. 

The Trace has been successful in diversifying its revenue sources across roughly 30 foundation funders and a growing membership base. The person in this role will work to further cultivate these sources, but will focus first on expanding The Trace’s Major Donor program. The ideal candidate is able to manage multiple projects and has extensive experience engaging individual donors from prospecting to solicitation.

Core responsibilities

The new Development Director will divide their time among several functions and work with staff across The Trace. A breakdown of this full-time position’s primary responsibilities includes: 

  • Creating and implementing a comprehensive development plan. You will use your past experience and historical data from The Trace to create an actionable plan that leverages The Trace’s resources to increase revenue over time. Part of this function will be to maintain the donor database and create streamlined systems to accurately track and report progress. 
  • Scaling up a major giving program. For most of its eight years in operation, The Trace has been funded primarily by grants from institutional donors. In partnership with the Managing Director, you’ll develop a strategy for steadily increasing the share of our $4.5 million operating budget funded by major gifts. Working from an initial list of verified prospects, you’ll facilitate the outreach, relationship-building, and requests that increase our revenues from individual supporters. As our major gifts program gains momentum, you’ll identify and research new prospective donors and help add them to our growing community of patrons. 
  • Expanding our membership program. More than a thousand of The Trace’s loyal readers have helped to sustain our journalism by making one-time or recurring donations. You’ll organize the digital marketing and email campaigns that lead to new members and renewals, conduct capacity screenings, and ensure every gift is promptly and warmly acknowledged. You’ll also work with our newsletter team and membership consultants to expand our donor funnel and maintain key conversion and retention metrics. 
  • Coordinating with our successful grants program. The Trace’s outsourced grants team has helped us earn the support of dozens of major funders. You’ll contribute to the continued growth of our grant revenues by coordinating with our grantwriters, Managing Director, and other colleagues to strategize new institutional funding opportunities and track the progress and outcomes of grant-funded projects. 
  • Maintaining the master fundraising calendar. By integrating deadlines and key dates for grant writing, major giving, membership drives, conferences, donor engagement, and other relevant events, you’ll ensure we never miss an opportunity and focus our capacity on the highest priorities.

Skills and qualifications

  • At least 5 years of experience as a fundraising professional in a nonprofit organization. 
  • Experience working directly with major donors is an absolute requirement; we are also seeking experience in managing and implementing a successful, comprehensive fundraising program and preparing work plans to achieve goals. 
  • Demonstrated success in shepherding donors through the donor continuum while systematically expanding the pool of prospective donors. Must have extensive experience making substantial asks and love the relationship-building that this work requires.
  • Experience leading and managing coworkers and/or consultants. Interest in and ability to coach, support, and advise others in becoming effective fundraisers. Prefer at least 3 years of full-time management experience, preferably at a nonprofit organization.
  • Excellent communication and writing skills, with an ability to connect with people virtually, in-person, and in thoughtfully composed letters and emails.
  • Data management, basic spreadsheet, and online research skills.
  • Track record of taking initiative and working independently in a small-staff environment.
  • Excellent organizational and time-management skills, including ability to manage multiple tasks independently. Ability to set and meet goals, prioritize, plan, manage, and complete work on deadlines. Detail-oriented. 
  • Willingness to travel and occasionally work during the evenings or weekends for donor meetings and events.
  • Ability to see opportunities, think creatively, and execute new approaches for development.
  • An understanding of the public benefits that journalism provides, a commitment to The Trace’s unique mission, and a talent for conveying the importance of our nonprofit reporting and its impact to new stakeholders and audiences.

Compensation and benefits

  • $110,000-$130,000 annually
  • Full medical/dental/vision paid by employer
  • 20 PTO days, 10 sick days, and 2 personal days annually, plus federal holidays
  • 401(k) with employer match 
  • 12 weeks of fully paid family leave
  • Professional development funding

The Trace has 25 full-time employees, with a main office in Brooklyn, local reporters in Chicago and Philadelphia, and additional staff in Washington, DC; Charlottesville, Virginia; and elsewhere.

This position may be in-person, hybrid, or remote, depending on location, with a strong preference for candidates located in Eastern Time (ET).

To apply

  • Please email your resume and a cover letter in one PDF document to [email protected] with the subject line “Development Director.”
  • The deadline for applying is January 31, 2024. We will review materials on a rolling basis and encourage interested candidates to apply without delay.
  • Questions about this opportunity? Email [email protected]. Please do not contact us to ask about the status of your application before we have contacted you. 
  • No calls, please.

At The Trace, we are committed to producing and sustaining journalism that is equitable and inclusive. We strongly encourage applications from people of color, women, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ people.