For the full job description, please visit the Careers page on our website here – https://www.wildanimalinitiative.org/careers.

Job title: Development Director

Department: Development

Application deadline: 9 am ET Monday, June 5, 2023

Application materials:

Please apply using this form – https://tinyurl.com/2p8h7atv

Please note that we do not ask for a cover letter. Instead, we ask that you submit a resume and an application form.

The form will ask you to provide answers to short answer and multiple choice questions regarding your qualifications. The short answer section will ask you to describe how your past experience prepares you to excel at organizational leadership (modeling culture, defining strategy), department leadership (people and project management), and frontline fundraising related to major gifts and foundation relations. You are welcome to preview the other questions before beginning as well. We estimate that completing the application form will take you no longer than one hour, but there is no time limit.

If you’re interested, this academic paper provides an overview of the reasons to favor application forms that collect certain, specific kinds of information over resumes and cover letters. We are currently determining if application forms are a good fit for our organization and appreciate your help!

Application process timeline:

Stage 2 — phone screen (early June)
Stage 3 — compensated skills assessment (mid June)
Stage 4 — video interviews (late June)
Target start date — July 2023

Terms of employment

  • Full-time remote; exempt position.
  • United States preferred; applicants in the United Kingdom are also encouraged to apply.
  • Must be able to meet with colleagues in Eastern Time (US) (GMT-4) and Mountain Time (GMT-7) most days of the week and to meet with colleagues in European time zones (GMT+1 & GMT+2) and Pacific Time (US) (GMT-8) a few times a week.
  • Note: We are not able to sponsor work visas and are only considering applicants who are eligible to work in the country where you plan to live and work.


  • Because this role is a public-facing position, public health is a high priority. Proof of up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination is required for employment and service in this role no later than the start date. Your COVID-19 vaccination is “up to date” if you have completed a COVID-19 vaccine primary series and received the most recent booster dose recommended for you by the CDC.
    *Please refer to the CDC for current guidance on full vaccination.
  • If you are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons or sincerely held religious beliefs, we will consider requests for reasonable accommodation consistent with our policy and applicable law. No accommodations will be provided if doing so will cause undue hardship to the organization giving due regard to the role and its expected duties.

Expected start date: 
July 2023

Expected salary: 

  • $82,020-$100,247, depending on the approximate cost of living in your area.
    For a complete description of how we set and raise salaries, see our salary algorithm.


  • Comprehensive health and dental insurance. Vision insurance is available.
  • Six weeks of paid vacation (four flexible and two to be used in December or January) and 12 additional holidays.
  • Two weeks of paid sick leave, which may also be used for caring for human or non-human family members.
  • A fully remote work environment that allows you to balance work and family requirements.
  • A friendly, open work culture that encourages feedback, collaboration, experimentation, and evidence-based innovation.
  • Opportunities to increase responsibility as our team and programs continue their growth trajectory.
  • Leadership and colleagues dedicated to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, including a dedicated internal JEDI committee, annual staff and manager training to combat our biases at work, and support for employees with visible and invisible disabilities.
  • Note: This benefit structure is what we use for our US staff and is largely similar to what we offer to many non-US staff, but may be different depending on the legal requirements of the country you work in.

Reports to:
Executive Director Cameron Meyer Shorb


  • Travel within the United States and Europe may be required for staff retreats (one to three per year), in-person conferences and events (about one to ten per year), and donor meetings (about one to ten per year, but typically bundled with other travel).
  • Must possess a valid passport or be willing and able to obtain one within two months of employment.

Position mission statement: 
As Wild Animal Initiative’s first Development Director, you will play a crucial role in determining how quickly we can advance our mission of understanding and improving the lives of wild animals.

You will coordinate with members of other teams who contribute to development, including the Executive Director (who maintains many major donor relationships and gives public presentations), the Communications Director (who oversees our content production, social media, and press relations), the Operations Director (who oversees budgeting), and programmatic staff (who help report on the progress we’re making).

Spanning everything from front-line fundraising to organizational strategy, this role requires a wide range of skills and offers a large amount of autonomy.

  • You will collaborate with other leadership to chart Wild Animal Initiative’s course forward.
  • You will manage the development team.
  • You will be entrusted with expanding and diversifying our donor base. (See here for a summary of our fundraising history and goals.)
  • Finally, you will set a development strategy: calculating our funding needs, developing plans to meet them, forecasting the likelihood of their success, and preparing for scenarios where we raise substantially less or more than planned.

Supervisory responsibilities: 
You will oversee, direct, and organize the work of the Development department. You will initially manage one direct report, growing up to five additional reports over the next one to three years.

Core duties and responsibilities:
Executive leadership:

As a key member of Wild Animal Initiative’s leadership team, you will work with the Executive Director and other department directors (Communications, Operations, Science, and Strategy) to:

  • Advise on major decisions about organizational strategy and operations, especially as they relate to development.
  • Provide honest and critical feedback to members of leadership as needed (and solicit it from others).
  • Promote a positive organizational work culture that fosters high levels of staff satisfaction, facilitates continuous improvement in how we fundraise, values inclusivity as a core strategy to be effective and ethical in our work, and celebrates the different strengths and backgrounds of our staff.

Department management:

As the director of the Development team, you will work with your team and with members of other departments to:

  • Oversee, direct, and organize the work of the Development Coordinator (and any additional Development staff hired) to ensure projects are completed well, on schedule, and within the department’s budget.
  • Support direct reports by advising on task load and time management, providing positive and constructive feedback, and encouraging their professional development by helping them to set personal goals and identify opportunities for growth.
  • Share progress updates on overall fundraising status and major development projects with key stakeholders, including our Board of Directors, Executive Director, leadership team, and rest of staff.
  • Hire more staff as funding allows (likely starting with a Major Gifts Officer, then a Foundation Relations Manager).


As the director entrusted with defining our development strategy, you will:

  • Calculate our funding needs, develop plans to meet them, forecast the likelihood of their success, and prepare for scenarios where we raise substantially less or more than planned.
  • Set goals and develop strategies to encourage new or increased contributions from major donors, grantmakers, and other members of our donor base.
  • Generate strategies to increase awareness of our work among wildlife-supporting donor communities like wildlife advocacy and conservation, as well as basic science, green technology, or related cause areas.
  • Use data-driven methods to evaluate and inform the efficacy of our fundraising activities.
  • Formulate policies and procedures related to fundraising programs, collection and safeguarding of contributions, and disbursement of funds.
  • Ensure development programs are inclusive and equitable and that we are in compliance with relevant laws and regulations in the jurisdictions in which we conduct fundraising activities.

Front-line fundraising: 

As a skilled fundraiser, you will:

  • Establish and maintain relationships with Wild Animal Initiative’s donor base and external partners to cultivate new fundraising opportunities.
  • Develop cases for support for multiple donor audiences, which may include donors interested in conservation, wildlife, animal welfare, and effective altruism.
  • Oversee the development of materials to submit to granting or other funding organizations.
  • Design a suite of reports to track team/fundraising performance and record donor communications.
  • Advise the Executive Director and other relevant staff on their participation in fundraising efforts and ad hoc development opportunities as they arise.
  • Explore opportunities to incorporate special fundraising events into our development strategy and lead the planning and execution of such events.
  • Collaborate with the Communications team to craft materials and strategies for successful fundraising efforts through mass communication channels, such as email, social media, our website, our annual report, and others.
  • Support the Science team’s efforts to work with science funders to expand our Research Fund (funds restricted to regranting to academic researchers).

Other duties: Responsibilities and activities are likely to change as we continue to grow our team and improve our strategy.

For this role, we are looking for the following qualifications. Within each section, qualifications are listed in approximately descending order of importance.

Note that we do not require any specific academic credentials for you to be considered for this position, as research shows that such requirements can diminish the quality of candidate pools by deterring individuals from applying who would otherwise be a great fit for a role. Instead, we look for evidence of the skills that matter most for your success in this role. Below we’ve specified where we expect these qualifications to require prior work experience and some examples of what qualifications could look like.

If you’re not sure whether you have the right qualifications, we encourage you to apply anyway. We’d love the chance to consider your application.

Remote effectiveness

  • Comfort working remotely: Proven ability to fundraise, work independently, be accountable, and build relationships with funders and staff as part of a small, remote team.
  • Software: Fluent with multiple platforms including customer relationship management (CRM) such as Salesforce, virtual meeting platforms such as Zoom, email, cloud computing (we use Google Suite), project management (Asana), database, and social media, with the flexibility to learn and implement emerging technologies.

Executive leadership

  • Rational decision-making: Proven ability to apply general rules, logic, and reasoning, and consider relative costs and benefits to determine appropriate courses of action in the face of uncertainty.
  • Forward thinking: Proven ability to take initiative, proactively anticipate problems, and source or generate potential novel ideas and solutions.
    Emotional intelligence and effective communication: Proven ability to recognize and influence the emotions of others and adapt perceptively to communicate both in writing and verbally with donors, coworkers, and leadership with high levels of respect and dependability.
  • Expected evidence — at least one year of experience as a development director or another member of the top leadership of a nonprofit organization or growth-stage startup, or at least two years as a deputy development director or the equivalent.

Department management

  • Open communication: Ability to foster an environment that encourages open feedback and collaboration.
  • Executive functioning: Highly organized with the ability to shift from big-picture thinking to detail execution, while maintaining momentum on multiple projects.
  • Guidance: Knowledge of business and management principles and proven ability to guide strategic planning, provide organizational leadership, and coordinate people and resources.
  • JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion) management practices: Personal commitment to fostering and incorporating the values of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in your team and as a manager through the cultivation of a collaborative culture that values the diversity of thought, background, and perspective.
  • Systems optimization: Ability to evaluate systems (e.g., workflows, data storage, work culture norms) to identify ways to improve their efficiency, effectiveness, dependability, and measurability.
  • Expected evidence — at least six person-years of management experience (i.e., managing three people for two years, two people for three years, or one person for six years).

Fundraising and strategy

  • Fundraising methods: Strong familiarity with nonprofit frontline fundraising, marketing, and accounting strategies in relation to foundations, major donors, and grassroots donors.
  • Achievement: Proven ability to strategically develop a comprehensive fundraising program that sets, carefully tracks, and achieves ambitious goals while upholding a high moral and ethical standard and adhering to all applicable rules and regulations.
  • Integrity: Demonstrated adherence to moral and ethical principles, soundness of moral character, and honesty.
  • Persuasion: Demonstrated success in frontline fundraising over email, phone, and in person. Demonstrated success in increasing donor engagement, with experience diversifying a funding base strongly preferred.
  • Relationship building: Proven ability to engage and build relationships with new and existing donors, including via email, phone, and in-person communication.
  • Expected evidence — at least two years achieving a fundraising goal of at least $2 million and at least one year spending a significant amount of your time working with major individual donors or foundations.

This role might also benefit from you having some of the following qualifications. You could still be a highly competitive candidate even if you don’t have any of these qualifications.

  • Funder knowledge: Knowledge of the funding landscape (e.g., major donors, foundations, donor trends, communication norms) for wildlife or environmental protection and/or advocacy nonprofits.
  • Grants: Proven success researching, pursuing, and securing grants, ideally for scientific research.
  • Culture: Familiarity with open feedback, coaching, and servant leadership communication concepts.
  • Finance: Expertise in determining how the money will be spent to get the work done, accounting for these expenditures, and producing accounting reports.

About Wild Animal Initiative

About our mission
Wild Animal Initiative is an entirely remote 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit working to understand and improve the lives of wild animals. Read more about us here.

We believe we have a responsibility to act to improve the well-being of wild animals. There is still so much we don’t know about which animals are sentient, what their lives are like in the wild, and how we can responsibly help them. Our work funds cutting-edge science, aids the careers of researchers in the field, and contributes to original research.

We are looking to work with people who approach our mission as an inherently inclusive endeavor and celebrate the differences of others. We strongly encourage Black, Brown, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of the global majority to apply. We welcome applicants of any religion, age, origin, class, citizenship, parental status, disability status, genetics, sexual orientation, and gender.

Note: We are unfortunately not able to sponsor work visas at this time and require candidates to already be eligible to work in the jurisdictions where they live or will live by the start of their employment.

Thank you for considering Wild Animal Initiative as the next part of your vocational journey. We hope to hear from you! Please feel free to reach out to Hiring Manager Emily Sharp at hiring@wildanimalinitiative.org if you have questions about our hiring process or open positions, or if you would like to help us find excellent candidates to join our team.

Requests for accommodation: If you are a qualified individual with a disability, we welcome requests for reasonable accommodations if you are unable or limited in your ability to apply for this job as a result of your disability. You can request reasonable accommodations by contacting Hiring Manager Emily Sharp at emily.sharp@wildanimalinitiative.org.