Mountain State Spotlight seeks an entrepreneurial, mission-oriented development director to manage fundraising for a growing, nationally-recognized startup investigative civic news organization serving West Virginia. The broad mandate of the role is to galvanize funding for  journalism that is more crucial than ever for West Virginians. 

You would shepherd the design and execution of critical functions in fundraising strategy to support a fast-paced, nonprofit journalism startup, working with the co-founders and our partners at the American Journalism Project. As a growing startup with significant financial backing from national and local partners, including ProPublica and Report for America, this role is a great opportunity to help build an organization from the ground up that will become a core public service for West Virginia.  

As commercial newsrooms in the state struggle with diminishing resources, a growing number of West Virginians are deprived of the information they need, and the journalism to keep government, business, and other institutions accountable. Mountain State Spotlight was created to address this crisis, and now has one of the largest news reporting staffs in the state, with a team of talented reporters and seasoned editors focused on issues including public health threats, economic development, environmental degradation, and government accountability.

You will partner with the co-founders to design and implement an annual development plan, incorporating short- and long-range goals. Key priorities include supporting fundraising efforts by overseeing the planning and management of strategic cultivation, implementing a donor communications plan, and developing/tracking a fundraising pipeline across individual donors, as well as national and local foundations..

Out-of-state applicants are welcome, and will be expected to work and live in or near Charleston, West Virginia. Our Mountain State is a beautiful place to live, is full of exciting news to report on, and faces many challenges that demand our vigorous brand of watchdog journalism.

The organization

Mountain State Spotlight was founded just months ago by MacArthur Fellow Ken Ward Jr. and longtime Charleston Gazette-Mail editor Greg Moore. They’re being joined by Pulitzer Prize-winner Eric Eyre, to power an independent, civic news organization that tells stories of importance to West Virginians about the issues, challenges and opportunities facing their communities. 

Our mission is to help West Virginians improve their state by producing “sustained outrage” journalism that exposes abuses of power by government, business and other institutions.

We are backed by Report for America, the American Journalism Project and ProPublica, and have ambitious plans to grow to meet the information needs of West Virginians, to give our neighbors the journalism they want, need and deserve.

Job responsibilities

Fundraising strategy and management:

  • Supervise fundraising, as well as the communications strategies that support growth and Mountain State Spotlight’s mission and vision.
  • Design and implement an annual development plan that incorporates short- and long- range goals

Maintain accurate,  records of progress and activity reports for the leadership team and the Board of Directors

  • Oversee the planning and management of strategic cultivation and stewardship events
  • Work with the Managing Editor to maintain working knowledge of state public affairs, including major news stories and issues that are of interest to our supporters and significant investigations by Mountain State Spotlight that drove policy impacts
  • Work with the CEO to implement a communications plan, including development of messages, materials, and explanations of our work used in strategic donor communications, Annual Reports, newsletters, and other communications that advance the Mountain State Spotlight’s mission and visibility.

Donor management

  • Support the CEO and Editor-at-large’s donor engagement as well as carry out face-to-face solicitations and other direct engagement with donors and prospects
  • Develop goals, strategies, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship plans for each donor, ensuring that each one receives personalized contact
  • Identify new prospects for major gifts and opportunities for increased giving by current donors. Oversee prospect research and actively lead identification of prospects to bring new supporters into the organization.
  • Draft donor correspondence and maintain primary responsibility for developing messages, strategy memos, talking points, and donor materials.
  • Manage donor communications and administrative tasks including, but not limited to, thank you letters, emails and responses to donor request for information
  • Oversee gift processing and acknowledgement distribution
  • Develop a CRM and maintain accurate records

Grant Development & Management

  • Develop and manage annual fundraising calendar
  • Draft grant applications and reports 
  • Manage the grants management database including tracking submissions, awards and reporting deadlines

You’re a good fit if

  • You have a strong interest in local accountability journalism and First Amendment values
  • You have at least three to five years of nonprofit development experience
  • You have excellent verbal, written and interpersonal communication skills as well as organizational and time management skills You have knowledge of writing grant applications and/or request for proposals
  • You have experience using fundraising databases (a plus)
  • You thrive in a fast-paced startup environment where you are expected to think outside the box and build things from the ground up
  • You have excellent research skills; familiarity with various internet research tools
  • You have analytical skills; familiarity with data tracking and performance management
  • You are a skilled problem-solver, you’re process- and detail-oriented, and enjoy bringing order to chaos
  • You are proficient in any of Quickbooks Online, Microsoft Excel, GSuite, Google Analytics, Newspack, Mailchimp, and project planning tools such as Trello, or are familiar with similar tools and can learn quickly
  • You are organized and can handle multiple projects and people under tight deadlines
  • You have a collaborative spirit and are calm under pressure. You believe that we are all stronger together

Experience working in nonprofits in West Virginia or other rural Appalachian states is a plus, but not mandatory. 

We encourage members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply, including women, people of color, LGBTQ people and people with disabilities. 

We encourage applicants who are ready to take on an ambitious role, but don’t meet 100% of our requirements. We’re growing, so if you’re not right for this job, you might be right for the next one.

Compensation and benefits:

Full-time, competitive salary with benefits.

Three weeks of paid time off in addition to holidays

Flexible work schedule. Some weekend and evening hours will be required.

Application process:

To apply or to ask questions, email Your application should include:

  • Your resume
  • A cover letter telling us why you are the right person for Mountain State Spotlight’s team. Describe your vision for the initial set of priorities for this role as you partner with our co-founders to build out the business functions of the organization. 

Applications will be reviewed and interviews scheduled on a rolling basis, giving an advantage to early applicants.