Development Director

Wild Animal Initiative

Job Description


Job title: Development Director

Department: Development

Application deadline: 9 am ET Monday January 23, 2023

Application materials:

Please apply using this form.

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 multiple choice, single select and short answer questions regarding requested qualifications. You are welcome to click the link for the form and preview the questions before beginning. We estimate that completing the application form will take you no longer than 1 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 - compensated skills assessment (early February 2023)

  • Stage 3 - video interviews (February-March 2023)

  • Target start date: late March 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.


  • This role is a public facing position. Our number one priority is the health and safety of our employees, donors and their families; and the community at large from COVID-19. 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 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:

  • March 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 available.

  • Four weeks of paid vacation, two weeks of paid vacation at the end of December, 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 choose when and where you work.

  • 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 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 Development Director, you will be responsible for overseeing all our fundraising efforts — thereby playing a crucial role in determining how quickly we can advance our mission of understanding and improving the lives of wild animals.

You will set 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. You will manage the development team: overseeing the Development Coordinator, hiring more staff as funding allows (likely starting with a Major Gifts Officer, then a Foundation Relations Manager), and overseeing those new hires. You will also 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).

Finally, you will be entrusted with expanding and diversifying our donor base. Most of our donors to date came to us through farmed animal advocacy and effective altruism (you can read more about our funding history here). We would like to build relationships that will eventually enable us to source most of our support from donors involved in wildlife advocacy, conservation, basic science, green technology, or related cause areas.

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 over the next 1-3 years.

Core responsibilities:

Executive leadership:

As a key member of WAI’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); and

  • 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 team 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.


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

  • Set goals and develop strategies to encourage new or increased contributions from major donors, grantmakers, and other members of our donor base. In particular, generate strategies to increase awareness of our work among conservation and/or general wildlife donor communities.

  • 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.


As a skilled fundraiser, you will:

  • Establish and maintain relationships with WAI’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.


This role will require you to have 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 or prior work experience 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.


  • Remote teamwork: Ability to thrive in a remote work environment while working effectively as part of a remote team.

  • Virtual collaboration software: Ability to use or quickly learn how to use virtual meeting platforms (e.g. Zoom, Google Meets), Google Suite, Airtable, or Asana.

  • CRM software: Familiarity with customer relationship management (CRM) platforms such as Salesforce or Funraise.

Executive leadership

  • Rational decision making: Ability to apply general rules, logic and reasoning, and relative costs and benefits to determine appropriate courses of action in the face of uncertainty.

  • Forward thinking: Ability to demonstrate initiative to proactively anticipate problems and potential solutions.

  • Original thinking: Ability to generate novel ideas and solutions.

  • Emotional intelligence and effective communication: 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.

Department management

  • Open communication: Ability to foster an environment that encourages open feedback and collaboration.

  • Executive functioning: Excellent time management and organization skills: ability to set and meet deadlines, delegate tasks appropriately, and effectively balance competing priorities.

  • Administration and management: Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, organizational leadership, fundraising, and coordination of people and resources.

  • JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion) management practices: Ability to foster JEDI values in your team and as a manager through cultivation of a collaborative and team-oriented culture which values a diversity of thoughts, backgrounds and perspectives.

  • 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.

Fundraising and strategy

  • Fundraising methods: Strong familiarity with nonprofit fundraising, marketing, and accounting strategies in relation to foundations, major donors, and grassroots donors.

  • Integrity: Demonstrated adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

  • Persuasion: Ability to encourage critical thought about complex and innovative ideas in a way that drives stakeholders to consider new perspectives and take action.

  • Relationship building: Ability to build and maintain rewarding relationships with donors, including via email, phone, and in-person communication.

This role might also benefit from you having some of the following qualifications. You should still apply 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 nonprofits.

  • Culture: Familiarity with open feedback, coaching, and servant leadership communication concepts.

  • Economics and accounting: Expertise in determining how money will be spent to get the work done, accounting for these expenditures, and producing accounting reports.

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.

Even in nature, most wild animals struggle to survive every day. Unfortunately, preserving habitats or species does not guarantee that animals themselves have good lives. At Wild Animal Initiative, we believe we have a responsibility to act to improve the well-being of wild animals, whether they live in captivity or somewhere else.

Yet, responsible action requires sound science. 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 supports the study of wild animal welfare by funding cutting-edge science, supporting the careers of researchers in the field, and contributing original research.

The success of our mission depends on the diversity of our team. This is why we center justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in our mission and program goals and enthusiastically invest in structures to hold ourselves accountable that empower us to do better. We are looking to work with people that approach our mission as an inherently inclusive endeavor and celebrate the differences of others. We strongly encourage people of every color, religion, age, origin, class, citizenship, parental status, disability status, genetics, veteran status, sexual orientation, and gender to apply. Note that 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.

Please feel free to reach out to Hiring Manager Emily Sharp at if you have questions about our hiring process or open positions, or you would like to help us find excellent candidates to join our team.

If you are interested in working with us in a capacity we’re not currently hiring for, we would be thrilled to receive your information via our Job Interest Form. Submitting this form will add you to our talent database, which we consult when hiring for new roles and when other mission-aligned organizations ask us to recommend high-quality candidates.

Thank you for considering Wild Animal Initiative as the next part of your vocational journey. We hope to hear from you!

*Please mention you saw this ad on AcademicJobs.*

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