Development Director

Candidate Profile & Core Values

Spark seeks a Development Director for our Chicago Region.

Successful candidates will demonstrate exceptional relationship building, communication, and project management skills, fluency in innovative thinking, and a make-it-work mentality. Candidates will also embody Spark’s Core Values: being a student and a mentor, working with passion and compassion, committing to collaboration and diversity, aiming high and true, and trusting/respecting each relationship.

Reporting to the Chicago Executive Director (ED), the Development Director (DD) will play a key “right hand” role to the ED. The DD will lead revenue generating activities for the region by building sustainable funding relationships through corporate partnerships, foundation, and public/government sources. The DD also oversees and leads all fundraising events and communications strategies for the region. Working collaboratively with program staff, the DD will also supervise the Corporate Partnership Coordinator (CPC) and the part-time Development and Operations Coordinator (DOC).


  • Bachelor’s degree required; Demonstrated commitment to continued learning preferred;
  • Demonstrated superior writing, presentation, and communication skills
  • At least 5 years of experience and demonstrated success with corporate fundraising, relationship management and grant writing;
    • Willingness to ask for and close gifts of $10,000+ and proven ability to cultivate, solicit, and steward donors and prospects;
    • Demonstrated experience crafting effective pitch decks and other marketing materials;
    • Experience fundraising across multiple channels (cause related marketing, workplace giving/ employee engagement, sponsorships, grants, in-kind donations)
  • Display a positive attitude, demonstrate presence, self-confidence, common sense and good listening ability;
  • Professional experience in development, marketing, corporate sales, corporate social responsibility experience preferred; for-profit experience is welcomed;
  • Experience and interest in managing and developing early career employees;
  • Familiarity with Salesforce a plus;
  • Legally eligible to work in the United States; no sponsorship provided.
  • In addition, to be successful as a member of the Spark team in this role, you will:
    • Be an independent, results-focused, highly-organized self-starter;
    • Have a strong desire to impact an up-and-coming nonprofit organization;
    • Thrive in a fast-paced, entrepreneurial environment, operating with a results-orientation and exceptional attention to detail;
    • Have a proactive personality; no work is ‘beneath’ you and you are eager to serve others, rolling up your sleeves when necessary;
    • Demonstrate mature judgment, with a high level of personal and professional integrity and trustworthiness;
    • Have a sense of humor, even under stress;
    • Be comfortable giving and receiving honest, constructive feedback;
    • Value relationships and accountability, empowering others to achieve superior results.

Core Responsibilities

In partnership with the ED, Lead Chicago Fundraising and Financial Management

  • Lead and enhance Spark’s local fundraising strategy for Chicago, in collaboration with the Executive Director and the local development team, ensuring that Spark in Chicago exceeds fundraising goals in this fiscal year, with a plan to grow funding in future years.
  • Ensure a diverse mix of revenue, including corporate partnerships, foundation support, and individual contributions – including local board giving and special events.
  • Serve as principal relationship manager for corporations and foundations supporting the Chicago region.
  • Oversee grant writing and reporting done by part-time DOC for Spark in Chicago. Review and provide feedback to the DOC on proposals. Engage as primary grant writer on complex proposals when necessary.
  • Support ED in engaging Spark Chicago’s Executive Board and CPC in oversight of the Chicago Advisory Council, ensuring board members are engaged and effective in providing strategic guidance, introductions, and fundraising support.
  • Develop and execute a comprehensive communications strategy to promote Spark in Chicago to its donors and maximize public awareness.
  • Must be able to think strategically, and practically, to implement results-oriented development plans that include traditional and innovative strategies.
  • Be a self-starter and goal driven to initiate donor visits and fundraising calls.

Develop and Execute Strategy to Secure and Build Partnerships

  • Manage a comprehensive corporate fundraising program to engage local corporations/organizations in supporting Spark in Chicago with 1) volunteer mentors 2) sponsorships, grants, in-kind gifts, and partnership dollars.
  • Effectively lead the identification, qualification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of corporate prospects and donors.
  • Develop effective strategies to position Spark for short and long-term revenue growth including the diversification of the partner industry portfolio and comprehensive solicitations across multiple funding channels (i.e., gift in kind, cause related marketing, workplace giving/employee engagement, sponsorship, grants).
  • Provide strategic direction and day-to-day support to the Chicago team to ensure renewed and increased commitments from existing corporate partners, while broadening the base of support through the acquisition of new partnerships to support Spark Labs and Mentorships.

Lead Spark in Chicago Event Strategy

  • Oversee strategy and execution of signature fundraising and programmatic events, working toward established revenue goals and budget targets;
  • Build relationships to create new event opportunities.
  • Project manage all aspects of event production including volunteer engagement, securing in-kind support, managing costs, event promotion, raffle and silent auction efforts, etc.; with event preparation and execution support from CPC, DOC and other regional staff.
  • Work with development staff to develop digital and print materials including letters, brochures, appeals and communications associated with all events;
  • Liaise with event committee chairs to coordinate logistics, training, communication and fundraising events for committee volunteers;
  • Track revenue goals and progress on all events; 

Manage Chicago Development Pipeline

  • Manage the regional Development staff to ensure that Salesforce data projecting revenue is accurate and timely.
  • Prepare regular reports on progress, recommend corrective actions and pivot when necessary.

Compensation & Benefits

  • Salary: $70-75k, Commensurate with experience.
  • Health Benefits: Full health coverage is provided, including medical, dental and vision no more 30 days after an employee’s first day. Spark covers up to 100 percent of monthly medical premiums, and a portion of the monthly premiums for dependents. Employee-funded flexible spending accounts for health and dependent care are offered. A life insurance policy providing $50,000 of coverage is also included.
  • Learning Benefits: Spark highly values staff’s personal learning pursuits. Priority is placed on opportunities to pursue your choice of professional training opportunities, including workshops, conferences, and more.
  • Retirement Benefits: For all contributions through Spark’s 401K plan, Spark will match retirement contributions dollar-for-dollar up to 4 percent of total salary in 2019.
  • Paid Time Off: Spark has a unique flexible time-off policy, which empowers staff to collaboratively determine and schedule time off as needed. Spark staff may take time off based on the status of their work- related goals and results within the organization. This policy is part of Spark’s focus on a balanced and healthy life for staff.
  • Non-Monetary Compensation: The opportunity to be an integral member of an energetic, innovative, hard-working and rapidly growing team, within an organization that has the potential to significantly change the trajectory of middle-school education nationwide.


Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis with a targeted start date of July 15.

Spark is an equal opportunity employer. We encourage applications from all individuals regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, and evaluate all candidates based on merit; we strongly encourage and seek qualified applications from underrepresented groups.

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Please note that unless otherwise noted on the job description, Spark requires employees to be located in one of our operating regions and does not provide relocation assistance.

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Voluntary Demographic Questions

At Spark we believe that building a diverse team is essential to fulfilling our mission, and we are commited to creating an inclusive and equitable workplace where everyone can bring their whole selves to work and thrive.

With this goal in mind, we respectfully request the following demographic information in order to track our talent recruitment and hiring outcomes. We invite applicants to self-identify this information based on a short list of options. We recognize that questions that ask respondents to check boxes inherently do not capture the complexity of identity; however, we hope that the options represent an earnest attempt to collect data at scale while also respecting all identities. We ask that in participating you select the option that most closely aligns with how you self-identify. 

Responses to this survey are entirely OPTIONAL, and your responses, or declining to respond, will not impact the status of your application. Any information that you do provide will be recorded separately from your employment application and will not be visible to hiring managers. The data will only be analyzed retrospectively by our operations staff and reported in its aggregate form. Thank you!