Director of Development

Great Plains Institute
Organization Summary

The mission of Great Plains Institute (GPI) is to transform the energy system to benefit the economy and the environment. With a 20+-year track record, GPI has become one of the premier energy institutions in the country, implementing the most promising energy policies, technologies, and practices. Increasing demand for GPI’s expertise and collaborative, nonpartisan approach has driven rapid growth, roughly tripling GPI in the last five years with an annual operating budget of $6.5 million. Indeed, GPI’s footprint is now national in scope (see map), even as the organization retains a core competency in the vast Midcontinent (area of the central US from Canada through Texas). GPI is powered by more than 30 professionals in MN, IL, ND, and NY, with an increasing presence in Washington DC; and is rated in top 15% nationally by Charity Navigator, the largest NGO evaluator in the country.

Posting Date
Closing Date
Location in MN
Job type



40 hours a week

Primary Duties

At this new inflexion point, the Great Plains Institute seeks an experienced and dynamic Director of Development who sees GPI’s trajectory as an irresistible challenge and opportunity, and has the skills, experience, and passion to chart the organization’s fundraising strategy for our next phases of growth and impact. The Development Director will be part of GPI’s management team, reporting to and working in close collaboration with the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Director of Communications. The Director of Development will help build out the organization’s internal fundraising capacity and functions to match the external ambitions for mission success. As a first step, this strategy will build upon our strength in the institutional space, in which we are supported by some of the nation’s most respected philanthropies, including but not limited to MacArthur Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Joyce Foundation, and the McKnight Foundation. S/he also will form and manage the Great Plains Institute development team, as well as support the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in fundraising as needed.

Design and lead development strategy for Great Plains Institute:

  • Work with the CEO and COO to identify funds needed, preferred funding targets, and approaches, building on our strength and reputation in institutional giving. Lead and coordinate GPI’s efforts to grow and diversify its unrestricted revenue as part of an overall fundraising strategy. Initial focus areas include:
    • Institutional gifts for general operating and/or capacity
    • Corporate sponsorships
    • Current board or staff contacts who are high net worth individuals
    • Capital grants for office renovation and IT development
  • Participate as a member of senior management team for the organization to coordinate strategic planning and revenue development that matches GPI’s strategic ambitions. The management team includes the CEO, COO, Director of Finance and Administration, Director of Communications, and VPs for all program areas.
  • In the future, work with COO, CEO, and Board of Directors Development Committee to lay the foundation for major individual giving program and capital campaign/innovation fund.

Form and manage development team:

  • Work with the COO to identify and implement staffing needs for immediate and long-term development needs. In the immediate, this will at minimum include hiring a development assistant or associate as well as assessing current staff support in event planning, digital content and graphic design, and grant management.
  • Oversee development staff and coordinate with other staff in communications and finance.

Manage execution of all fundraising activities:

  • Conduct research, prospecting, and application to multiple institutional and other donor sources.
  • Manage gift processing and stewardship, including, if needed, evaluation of database software for long-term functionality and integration with GPI’s other financial and information management systems
  • Supervise, manage, and improve the effectiveness of information in donor/funder database.
  • Manage data analysis and ongoing evaluation of fundraising activities, including board reports.
  • Work with Management Team to cultivate relationships with current and prospective funders and supporters.

Collaborate to ensure integration of fundraising and communications:

  • Work with Director of Communications to manage and improve donor communications.
  • Work with the Director of Communications in organizational level messaging, as well as train staff and board in that brand messaging.
  • Partner to ensure that GPI’s fundraising strategy is integrated into its communications and events in an effective and nuanced way that protects the integrity of its programs and brand.
  • Work with the Director of Communications to staff and support the Board of Directors’ Fundraising and Communications Committee.
  1. Development/Fundraising: Proven success in development for a complex nonprofit with multiple revenue sources. Preferred: Experience running capital campaigns and success fundraising from multiple donor channels.
  2. Project Leadership: Experience in planning, leading, and managing development projects, including coordinating with peers to achieve desired outcomes, and tracking and reporting on progress to senior managers/board of directors.
  3. Entrepreneurial Spirit: Takes initiative and actively seek to deepen current donor relationships and to forge new ones.
  4. Communications: Skilled in creating powerful, compelling written and oral communications for fundraising. Ability to convey complex ideas through brief, simple materials. Experience and credibility when presenting materials to external audiences.
  5. Collaboration: Effective at working with others to reach common goals and objectives.
  6. Relationship Building: Skilled at establishing and cultivating strong relationships with peers, across different levels of the organization and externally.
  7. Professionalism: Ability to represent the CEO and the Institute with a high degree of professionalism.

Additional experience and attributes:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • 5-10 years of hands-on experience with fundraising and CRM databases
  • Demonstrated data and database management proficiency
  • Fluent in Microsoft Outlook, Excel, Word and common fundraising and communications platforms
  • Detail-oriented and able to work independently, accurately, and with minimal direction
  • Excellent time and deadline management, project management, and team relationship skills
  • Proven effectiveness supervising staff
  • Technologically savvy, with an ability to point to examples of having worked with staff to develop and implement new processes and systems that increase efficiency in a fast-moving environment
  • Personal qualities of integrity, credibility, authenticity, and a commitment to GPI’s mission
How to Apply

Send your application materials including a one-page cover letter and resume, with the subject line: “Director of Development - [your surname]” to A single PDF of all materials is preferred. Deadline for application is 5 pm. Central Time, July 22, 2019.


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