Assistant Director, Philanthropy Communications

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is the nation's most effective environmental action organization. We use law, science and the support of 3.1 million members and online activists to protect the planet's wildlife and wild places and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things. NRDC was founded in 1970 and our staff helped write some of America's bedrock environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, and many of the implementing regulations; our water enforcement cases played a major role shaping current water policy throughout the country. Today, our staff of more than 500 lawyers, scientists, economists, policy and communications experts, and others, work out of offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Bozeman, Montana and Beijing.


Position Summary:


NRDC is seeking an Assistant Director of Donor Communications to work with the Development team in either our New York or Washington DC offices.  This is a unique opportunity for a seasoned, sophisticated philanthropy professional with superior writing skills and proven management experience to become part of the development team at one of the nation’s premier environmental organizations. Reporting to the Senior Director of Donor Relations, the Assistant Director of Donor Communications will be responsible for leading the team which develops written materials that inform and inspire NRDC’s current and prospective major and principal gift donors.


The Assistant Director will lead and mentor the team of writers that creates inspirational philanthropic materials for the organization’s current and prospective major and principal gift donors. In addition, the incumbent will maintain a portfolio of writing assignments supporting some of NRDC’s most important relationships. The Assistant Director will collaborate with leadership, gift officers, program staff, and others to conduct background research, develop concepts for funding, and write donor reports, proposals, letters, and a variety of other materials that advance philanthropic relationships. These donor-centric pieces must convey donor impact as well as the organization’s appreciation of donor support.


  • Manages a team of three talented philanthropy writers, providing mentorship and guidance, and ensuring that the team balances productivity and excellence. Engages consultants as needed.
  • Ensure all donor communications policies are documented and routinely evaluates the performance of the program.
  • Writes inspiring materials to build philanthropic relationships, including proposals, reports, letters, donor stories, newsletter copy, and program updates—creating personalized narratives that transform complex material into highly readable and compelling cases for support. 
  • Coordinates closely with Program and Development staff and with others across NRDC to complete projects to strategy and schedule.
  • Works closely with Foundations, Communications, and Board Relations colleagues to ensure sharing of programmatic information, consistent messaging, branding, and to avoid duplication of effort and resources.
  • Maintains a working knowledge of the interests and expectations of the organization’s major funders and proactively seeks program information to cultivate major donors based on their interests.
  • Serves as point person within the Development team for selected NRDC program areas.
  • Performs other duties as assigned.


Necessary Experience:


  • Bachelor’s degree required.
  • At least 8 years of professional work experience writing for a high-volume non-profit Development department, and at least 2 years managing a top-functioning team.
  • Should have experience writing for both print and multimedia communications vehicles, as well as experience working with designers and printers.

Essential Skills:


  • Exceptional writing, editing, and verbal communication skills, including the ability to write in a range of voices and styles for varied projects with diverse audiences. Solid interviewing and research skills.
  • Superior organizational skills, including ability to independently manage the timeline, communication, and production of multiple donor pieces, often working with numerous partners to achieve a high-caliber final product, while also mentoring and supporting the team you manage.
  • Able to translate complex information into clear, jargon-free language that conveys key messages.
  • Collegial team player able to work well with diverse internal and external constituencies.
  • Flexible, responsive, and able to balance a variety of activities while meeting deadlines.
  • Able to quickly synthesize complex information. Familiarity with environmental issues, conservation, or related sciences preferred.
  • Strong analytical skills, and experience working with project budgets and financial reports.
  • Able to work effectively and maintain composure under pressure. Good sense of humor helpful!
  • Demonstrated passion for NRDC’s mission.
  • Fluent in Microsoft Office, with very high level of skill in MSWord including editing and formatting. Donor database experience preferred.

NRDC is committed to workplace diversity and inclusion. We are equal opportunity employers and do not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity and expression, marital status, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law. We offer competitive salaries, excellent benefits, and a pleasant working environment. Salary is based on a nonprofit scale and commensurate with experience. Pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, for positions based in San Francisco, CA we will consider for employment qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.


To apply, please visit and upload your resume and cover letter through our online portal.  We would like you to upload any additional papers or project work that you think would showcase your abilities. Please no phone calls, emails, faxes or in-person resume drop-offs. Please reference where you saw this posting. NRDC is an Equal Opportunity Employer. 


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