Narrative Magazine- Director of Development and Communications

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Director of Development and Communications

Position Description

Painter Executive Search is supporting Narrative Magazine (Narrative) in its search for a forward-thinking dynamic Director of Development and Communication.

Narrative, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization headquartered in San Francisco, is the premier digital publisher of outstanding fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Narrative’s mission is to advance the literary arts in the digital age. To do this Narrative publishes online hundreds of well-known and emerging writers each year, hosts contests in search of the next generation of talent, and provides a free, ever-expanding digital library used by students and teachers in schools around the globe, including in underserved communities. Its worldwide audience exceeds 250,000 subscribers.

Building on fifteen years of continuous growth and impact, Narrative is looking to the future. Narrative is seeking a Director of Development and Communications (DDC) to own the revenue side of the business with the goal of doubling the operating budget in 3 years. Narrative is poised for significant growth and this role will facilitate bringing the organization to scale. This dynamic and creative development professional will join Narrative’s esteemed leadership team, including co-founders and Editors Carol Edgarian and Tom Jenks, Creative Director John Miller and Poetry Editor Michael Wiegers (editor of Copper Canyon Press), as a key contributing member.

Narrative is at an inflection point. The strategic voice of an experienced fundraiser and communications professional is essential to optimizing opportunities for program development, brand identity, diversifying revenue streams and building cash reserves. This role is critical to ensuring that Narrative is discovered by readers and educators across the globe and that it can increasingly mentor new, diverse voices who will extend literary culture to a new generation.

Narrative is a distributed organization with a small but highly committed long-term staff, an 11-person Board of Directors and more than one hundred volunteers around the world. Narrative’s operating budget of $850,000 is currently funded through multiple revenue streams. A third of Narrative’s revenue is earned income through various sources including a small amount of advertising revenue. Contributed income is a mix of board giving, events, individual giving and foundation grants. The focus of the DDC role will be to grow revenue, to evolve partnerships, and to build organizational capacity and visibility. This role will be supported by a shared administrative assistant, with staffing expanding as needs and opportunities require.


The DDC is responsible for all fundraising activities, including annual and major gift fundraising, corporate and foundation proposals and reports for grant funding, sponsorship and events management. H/she will assess the range of revenue opportunities within Narrative and shape the messaging and presentation of those opportunities with new and existing donors, partners, advertisers, and sponsors. Leading the founders and the board, the DDC will develop new strategic partnerships and increase the organization’s capacity to present its mission and gain support. Starting from a strong, existing base, including grants from Wells Fargo, Amazon, and Osher Foundations, as well as established, popular fundraising events and donor campaigns, the DDC will add thought-leadership, bandwidth, and expertise to complement the strengths of the organization’s existing infrastructure and efforts.

Love of words, and a deep personal interest in literature will be important for engaging the accomplished and passionate supporters of Narrative. Strong writing skills and the expertise to develop compelling messaging and engagement with donors is essential. The drive and creative problem-solving of an entrepreneur combined with deep fundraising expertise is needed for success.


Narrative is dedicated to advancing the literary arts in the digital age by supporting the finest writing talent and encouraging readership across generations, in schools, and around the globe. Narrative centers its project activity on five core objectives:

  • To encourage and sustain the audience for literature across demographics
  • To provide a free, ever-expanding library of thousands of stories, poems, and essays and to promote its use by writers, students, teachers, and readers of all ages anytime, anywhere
  • To pay writers fairly while offering readers excellent literary content, free of charge
  • To encourage reading among young adults and to mentor and publish emerging writers
  • To use technology to foster renewed and thriving literary communities and interest


Narrative was founded on the belief that there should be no socioeconomic barrier to accessing great literature. Thus, its content is free to all readers.


When Narrative launched in 2003, its goal was simple yet revolutionary; Narrative viewed the nascent and evolving digital age as an opportunity to create a renewed, vital community for the literary arts by finding readers where they already were—on the Internet and on their mobile devices—and offering them an expansive library of first-rate material, regularly updated and easily accessible.

Fifteen years later, Narrative has more than 250,000 dedicated readers. Its audience is global, loyal and growing. Narrative’s platform is refreshed daily with diversified content that includes short stories, novel excerpts, poetry, essays, interviews, cartoons, graphic novels, photography, Narrative Outloud audio and video content, iStories up to 150 words, and iPoems that fit on a single digital screen.

Narrative publishes hundreds of established and emerging artists each year, including well-known authors such as Tobias Wolff, Alice Munro, Joyce Carol Oates, and Jhumpa Lahiri. Winners of the annual Narrative Prize for best emerging writer include Ocean Vuong, Anthony Marra, Javier Zamora, Min Jin Lee, Maude Newton and Kirstin Valdez Quade. Narrative stories have been awarded the prestigious laurels of the print age—the O. Henry, Best American, and Pushcart Prizes—and Narrative authors have won the Nobel, Pulitzer, and National Book Awards.

Narrative is at a pivotal moment for opportunity and impact. The Narrative 30 Below (N30B) initiative expands Narrative’s national efforts to encourage young readers and writers to take part in literary culture. The N30B Prize and the Narrative in the Schools program including the “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest, provide a place for young writers to have their work read, edited, and published in a widely-read digital platform. Given the Narrative’s wide reach and extensive free digital library, it is a deeply valuable resource for teachers and students especially those who are hampered by limited resources. The High School Contest grew out of requests from teachers who access Narrative’s high- quality literature in their classrooms and were looking for innovative ways to deepen the engagement of students in the literary arts. Narrative’s partner school network currently serves over 20,000 students annually and reaches from San Francisco to Seoul, South Korea.




  • Develop strategic fundraising initiatives; take a lead role in relationship cultivation, individual donations, foundation and corporate sponsorship opportunities, fundraising events and grant writing;
  • Be a thought-leader within Narrative to advance strategies and tactics including compelling donor messaging that leads to increased capacity for program growth;
  • Be a trusted partner; ensure maximum value from the organization’s existing connections;
  • Leverage the founders’ time to maximum advantage;
  • Create publicity and media coverage; envision and direct social media outreach;
  • Develop creative solutions to growth challenges and identify new revenue sources;
  • Enhance, direct, and refine the board’s fundraising efforts and build the board’s fundraising capacity and comfort with solicitation;
  • Support the founders and Governing Board in the identification, cultivation, and recruitment of new board members and assist in board orientation, support, and onboarding;
  • Represent Narrative by cultivating and deepening relationships throughout the philanthropic community and among literary circles everywhere;
  • Ensure Narrative achieves its revenue goals for both annual operating and long-range goals.


  • Develop a keen understanding of Narrative’s broader vision and programs; personally commit to advancing the execution of its mission;
  • Identify, cultivate and solicit individual gift prospects; maintain and manage a personal portfolio of prospects for major gifts;
  • Craft and execute solicitation strategies for donors in your own portfolio and in those of others’; model fundraising best practices including appropriate briefings, approach, solicitation, and follow up in order to steward donations and the ongoing relationship;
  • Meet and exceed fundraising and development goals; including successful sponsorships for NarrativeNight and NarrativeSalon fundraising events;
  • Forge new partnerships with foundations and corporations; public relations; and expand the donor base.


  • Manage the daily activities of the development function including individual giving solicitations, institutional (corporate and foundation) giving, fundraising events and sponsorships, fundraising systems, and gift planning;
  • Ensure that effective donor cultivation and recognition activities, and special events are well-received, achieve stated goals, and stay within established budgets;
  • Expand an effective prospect research program and build a systematic effort to increase the Narrative’s base of support;
  • Oversee the records management system, including donor acknowledgment, data maintenance, and development reports; maintain accountability and compliance standards for donors and funding sources;
  • Develop and enhance earned revenue opportunities including paid advertising and merchandising efforts;
  • Partner with others within the Narrative family and develop methods for best using their talents and networks in support of the mission.


A successful Director of Development and Communications candidate will have:

  • Demonstrated leadership in achieving fundraising goals and scaling a nonprofit organization with similarly sophisticated donors;
  • Technical knowledge in a variety of fundraising areas, including major gifts, annual giving, planned giving, foundation and corporate grants and sponsorship, and endowments;
  • Success growing revenue and developing a strong, sustainable base of support through diverse revenue sources;
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills; ability to influence and engage a wide range of donors and partners and builds long-term relationships;
  • Experience with marketing, public relations and communications helpful;
  • Knowledge of regulations and rules affecting charitable giving;
  • Bachelor’s degree – an advanced degree is preferred.


  • A self-starter with superior organization, prioritization and time-management skills; diligent, creative and undaunted by challenges;
  • A reader with a deep love of words and an active interest in literature;
  • Nimble, compelling, and highly effective communicator, both verbally and in writing.
  • Gravitas—the sophistication, knowledge and bearing required to represent Narrative to local, national, and global cultural, business, publishing, social and philanthropic communities;
  • A ‘doer’ with a willingness to work hands-on; capable of both strategic and tactical work;
  • The ability to work independently and as a team player, to take initiative and to manage multiple tasks and projects at a time;
  • A strong internal drive toward excellence;
  • High integrity; inspires confidence and trust; processes a high-degree of emotional intelligence;
  • Strong work ethic and the willingness and ability to regularly participate in events and to travel, as required.



For additional details or to submit your experience for review, please send your materials or contact;

Nancy Painter

(415) 202- 6240