Managing Director of Development Communications

March 2019 | New York, NY Download PDF

About National Audubon Society

A Legacy of Conservation Success
The National Audubon Society is one of the oldest, largest, and most influential conservation organizations in the United States. Since 1905, a passion for birds and nature has been the driving force behind Audubon’s conservation legacy. The organization has played a critical role in some of the most significant victories for birds and the environment, including: the establishment of the first National Wildlife Refuges; the banning of DDT in 1972; landmark legislation like the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts; the establishment of the federal Environmental Protection Agency’ the Congressional passage of the RESTORE Act; and new protections for Greater-Sage Grouse on 67 million acres in the American West.

The most effective network in conservation
Audubon boasts a national network of more than one million members, 463 chapters, 23 state offices, 41 nature centers, 23 wildlife sanctuaries, and the four million people the organization reaches each year, both on the ground and online. Furthermore, dozens of international partnerships extend Audubon’s reach and impact throughout the Western Hemisphere, supporting protection of migratory birds both in the U.S. and on their wintering grounds in the Caribbean and Latin America.

The Turnaround Story: Leadership at Audubon
The National Audubon Society is a $120M+, 700+ employee, 1.4M member organization that works seamlessly across large geographical areas to protect birds and people and the places they need to thrive. But it wasn’t always this way. Only under the leadership of David Yarnold, who joined Audubon in 2010 as its 10th President and CEO, has Audubon been able to make good on its claim of having the most effective network in conservation. When launching a new case study about Audubon in the fall of 2017, the Harvard Business School remarked, “It was the most impressive turnaround of a legacy organization we’ve ever seen.

National Audubon Society Birdwatching National Audubon Society - girl with bird

About Development at National Audubon Society

It is an exciting time to join Audubon’s development team of 65. At the midpoint in a five-year strategic plan, Audubon is now embarking on the most ambitious multi-year fundraising effort in its 100+ year history—a nine-figure campaign that generates the resources needed to achieve the goals laid out in the strategic plan, substantially increases annual operating revenue, recruits new volunteer leadership and major donors, and raises Audubon’s profile in the conservation sector (and nonprofit space more broadly).

Led by Chief Development Officer Sean O’Connor, Audubon is tackling this campaign in the midst of a complete reinvention of its development operation. Less than a year ago, Audubon made the pivotal decision to reorganize development staff across the country—shifting the reporting lines of all state- and center-based development staff, who had historically reported through our state office infrastructure, to create one national development team. This fundamental shift was made to enable all Audubon donors to dedicate their biggest gift to their greatest passion and has experienced substantial support and investment from the Audubon’s Board.

About the Position

As a newly created leadership position, the Managing Director of Development Communications will join Audubon during this pivotal time—and help reinvent Audubon’s approach to development communications. Audubon seeks a dynamic, strategic leader with a demonstrated ability to build out and run a top-notch development communications shop.

In close partnership with the Vice President for Strategic Giving—and working in collaboration with the Development leadership team and key executives across the organization—the Managing Director will serve as the chief architect of Audubon’s donor communication efforts.

S/he will assess and strengthen donor communications initiatives in addition to developing and overseeing new strategic donor communications efforts—including but not limited to—the implementation of an organization-wide fundraising messaging framework, the creation of a dedicated donor stewardship function within Development Communications, and the establishment an annual leadership giving fund.

National Audubon Society capitol meeting with legislators

Key Responsibilities

  • Develop and implement a comprehensive and integrated donor communications plan to support Audubon’s development efforts across the country.
  • Oversee the Development Communications team of three (currently one writer/editor, one writer and one graphic designer), which is likely to expand in the coming year.
  • Design and execute a comprehensive and scalable stewardship program including gift acknowledgements, fund reporting, principal gift stewardship, special acknowledgements, recognition societies, and high-level stewardship touches—with a primary focus on six, seven, and eight-figure donors and prospects, while also delivering a scalable stewardship program for annual giving and assisting in reporting to private foundations on institutional grants.
  • Develop and lead the implementation of an organization-wide training plan for the organization’s first ever messaging framework for fundraising.
  • Design and implement a comprehensive development communications strategy (including the creation of necessary materials) specific to leadership donors in advance of a future campaign launch.
  • Serve as the creative director and executive editor for a wide variety of donor materials including case materials, stewardship pieces, proposals, reports, backgrounders / brochures, presentations, letters, mailings, etc.
  • Work with internal stakeholders to understand programmatic goals for new and existing funding programs, and write/update/edit/review proposals and other donor collateral as needed.
  • Assess and build upon internal communications for Development—with an eye towards strengthening development culture and fostering the integration of staff from across the country into one team.
  • Manage relationships with relevant external consultants / vendors.

Key Qualifications

The successful candidate will be a strategic and creative communicator and team leader with a keen sense of the prospect lifecycle and how best to support development staff in engaging donors through cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship. S/he must have the ability to work effectively and quickly in an entrepreneurial environment as well as a demonstrated track record in building, managing, and mentoring highly effective, diverse teams.

One of the most critical qualifications for this position is the ability to build and maintain excellent working relationships across the organization—managing up, down, and sideways with ease and professionalism. Effective collaboration across the development team as well as relevant business units (e.g. Executive Office, Conservation, Network, Communications, Finance, etc.) is a pre-requisite for success.

  • A good eye for design; experience art-directing and conveying messaging goals to graphic designers; a thorough working knowledge of print production; ability to shepherd print publications from concept to delivery.
  • Superior and distinctive writing ability demonstrated through 8-10 years of relevant, progressively responsible writing and strategic messaging experience in a fundraising setting (environmental experience is ideal but not required).
  • Strong communication and editing skills, with experience giving constructive feedback to peers/staff.
  • Excellent project management, including proactive and independent development of work plans, timelines, and budgets.
  • Ability to initiate and manage relationships with internal and external partners.
  • Strong analytical skills and well-developed business acumen; natural relationship management instincts; savvy for gaining buy-in from various stakeholders.
  • Orientation as a team player and leader with strong management skills.
  • A metrics-driven, entrepreneurial, strategic mindset.
  • The ability to succeed in a distinct and dynamic culture.
  • Strong knowledge of the principles of fundraising.
  • Ability to easily network and establish rapport and connections with individuals and groups.
  • Ability to maintain a high level of diplomacy, and to work independently as well as part of a team.
  • An advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Flexibility and a sense of humor.
  • Bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, communications or an equivalent combination of education, training, and expertise.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office and other relevant software programs.
National Audubon Society Climate Watch Program Presentation National Audubon Society March for Science

Audubon’s Statement on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Just as biodiversity strengthens natural systems, the diversity of human experience strengthens our conservation efforts for the benefit of nature and all human beings. Audubon must represent and reflect that human diversity, embracing it in all the communities where we work, in order to achieve our conservation goals. To that end, we are committed to increasing the diversity of our staff, board, volunteers, members, and supporters, and to fostering an inclusive network of Audubon Centers and Chapters in all kinds of communities, from rural to urban.

Equity, diversity and inclusion is not only a best practice for business, it’s a strategic imperative. Our business and conservation strategies are enriched and made stronger by the contribution of the experiences, perspectives, and values of diverse individuals and communities.  Protecting and conserving nature and the environment transcends political, cultural and social boundaries, and so must Audubon in order to expand our network’s reach and engage more people in protecting birds and habitat.

We are dedicated to providing a work environment that prioritizes fairness and respect. At Audubon, all employees are treated equally and are encouraged to achieve their fullest potential. We respect the individuality of each member of our community, and we are committed to a workplace free of any kind of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, national or ethnic origin, politics, or veteran status. Read more about our approach to EDI.

Please email your cover letter and resume in confidence to:

Katharine Kaplan
Vice President
Development Guild DDI

Additional Searches for National Audubon Society

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To learn more visit the AESC website and read Our Search Standards.


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