Highlander is searching for a gifted Development Specialist to join our Development and Communications team’s work to mobilize resources for Highlander’s storied work and the movements we accompany. The Development Specialist will help maintain and develop constituent and donor relationships, track and document donor giving, and support and develop fundraising strategies through cross-team collaboration. The right candidate will be joining an expanding Development & Communications team during a critical period of steady organizational growth.

Highlander is an intersectional resource for the U.S. South, both a “movement school” and place where leaders, networks, and movement strands come together to interact, build relationships, craft joint strategy, and develop tools and mechanisms to advance a multi-racial, intergenerational movement for justice in our region. Cornerstones of the work are building the skills of grassroots people and capacity of organizations for long haul work, and connecting people and issues for holistic analysis and broad-based movement building. Highlander works on a variety of issues because we believe these issues are connected, because the needs in the region are deep, and because we are asked by the people and communities we serve. We also target specific issues where we believe strategic focus will maximize our impact and help develop a critical mass of people to make change.

Learn more about Highlander’s current and past work here: https://www.highlandercenter.org/our-story/


The Development Specialist will work closely with an experienced member of the Development team to build and maintain strong relationships with a large number of long-standing and new donors and constituents. Specific responsibilities will include:

Constituent & Donor Relations
● Connect with, learn from, and build relationships with Highlander’s friends, donors, and program participants
● Maintain relationships with Highlander donors
● Update and maintain donor records, including donor notes, in our “customer relationship management” (CRM) database. We are currently using Fundraiser Professional/FRP as a CRM.
● Send prompt and thoughtful thank you letters and official acknowledgements for gifts
● Send tribute gift notifications as requested by donors
● Respond promptly to donor requests for organizational information necessary to facilitate gifts
● Process requests from funders, donor-advised fund administrators, and donor portals needing input from Highlander

Recording & Memory-keeping
● Manage and update Highlander’s CRM in a way that helps tell the story of Highlander’s many relationships (past participants, guests, donors, etc.)
● Manage the donor database for Highlander’s current and past donors, entering all gifts and donor information for individuals and organizations, gift and payment information, pledges and pledge payment schedules, proper coding for gift motivation, gift purpose, and category codes
● Analyze donor trends, networks, and relationships to inform and develop fundraising strategies
● Maintain and document regularly updated processes and procedures for Highlander’s Development work
● Retrieve lists (groupings) for program and outreach purposes
● Ensure that participant lists from workshops, field events, visiting groups, and other special events are entered into our CRM, creating new entries and adding to existing entries

Reporting & Storytelling
● Provide timely and thorough reports on individual contributions, including quantitative and qualitative assessments of giving trends in recurring, returning, lapsing and new donors
● Take lead in development and dissemination of Highlander’s annual report
● Provide quantitative and qualitative fundraising reports for Development Team, Co-Executive Directors, and Board of Directors

Fundraising Strategies & Special Events
● Play a lead role in planning and generating quarterly, annual, and special mail appeals in accordance with fundraising goals and team timeline
● Assist house party host(s), host committees, and other event hosts in preparing and conducting house parties/events, providing support as requested
● Support board members with fundraising activities and Board fundraising pledges
● Provide support for special fundraising campaigns
● Coordinate tabling for special events and activities on- and off-site

Administrative Duties

● Administer Highlander’s current CRM
● Process online gifts from our primary donor platform, Network for Good (NFG), and track gifts made through several other third party administrators, e.g., ActBlue
● Process “certification” requests from employers for matched gift requirements and respond to donors with match requests.
● Collaborate with Finance Team to provide required information for annual audit and other fiscal stewardship responsibilities
● Retrieve and clearly organize data for monthly, quarterly, and annual reports
● Track and allocate gift designations

General Team & Organizational Responsibilities
● Provide support as needed for other areas of Highlander’s fundraising
● Provide support as needed for Accounts Receivable in tracking source and allocation of gifts
● Attend regular and assigned team, staff, committee & Board of Directors meetings
● Participate in organizational and team planning and evaluation
● Keep the purpose of Highlander’s work and the people with whom Highlander works at the center of our activities and decisions
● Actively engage in a highly participatory workplace alongside other staff


Applicants invited to an initial interview will show evidence of a majority of the following:

● Places a high value on relationships
● Excellent written and oral communications
● Appreciation for and skills in proofreading copy on a deadline
● Utmost discretion and confidentiality with private personal and financial information
● Experience tracking and interpreting trends in giving (new, returning, lapsed; generational and geographic demographics)
● Familiarity with multiple CRM/donor databases
● Experience with Google suite, Microsoft suite, and different project management tools (i.e., Asana, Slack)
● Able to establish rapport with donors from a range of class backgrounds, grassroots leaders, and community members in diverse ethnic, racial, geographic, social, economic, and intergenerational groups
● Understanding of progressive social change and community organizing
● Demonstrated commitment to racial, gender, economic, environmental, and social justice
● Experience in the South and/or Appalachia
● Passionate about Highlander’s purpose and able to communicate our program work effectively (or to learn how to do so!)
● Enjoys storytelling and can tell a good story
● Willingness to take risks & eager to treat mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow
● Self-motivated and communicative with colleagues
● Creative and persistent at solving problems
● Ability and willingness to travel (air and ground)
● Ability and willingness to work occasional weekends, evenings/late nights
● Ability to respond to urgent issues as they arise
● High degree of integrity among peers and colleagues
● Self-starter as well as a team player
● Ability to think and work organizationally
● Can balance multiple responsibilities with grace and with ability to set and meet deadlines
● Ability to keep organizational mission and constituents at center of the work
● Sense of humor


● Bi- or multi-lingual fluency (writing, reading, speaking highly desired, especially Spanish/English and ASL) to support our engagement with a large number of Highlander constituents whose first language is not written/spoken English
● Experience in being a part of an organizational effort to successfully & smoothly transition from one CRM to another
● Comfort reading and reviewing with budgets and other financial reports
● Digital fundraising experience


Highlander’s organizational structure consists of multiple teams. This position is directly accountable to the Development & Communications Team, which is currently supervised by the Co-Executive Director(s). The Development Specialist will work closely with an experienced counterpart on the team and attend regular working team meetings with three other team colleagues as well as the Executive Assistant to the Co-Executive Director. This position will also regularly interface with the Finance staff (especially Accountant and Accounts Receivable Specialist) and other administrative staff.


This role is set as a Level 1 salary based on Highlander’s payscale, which in this fiscal year is currently set at an annual salary of $46,725.
Highlander actively seeks to provide comprehensive and expansive benefits to its employees. The current benefits package is approximately $8-$12k in value. Benefits include employer-funded comprehensive health (medical, dental, vision and HRA) for staff and dependents, a retirement fund with an employer contribution), staff development funds, generous annual holiday and vacation leave, sick and family leave, and a sabbatical program.


This position is currently classified as non-exempt, with an average commitment of 40 hours per week required (35 work hours and 5 paid break hours). Flexibility in arrival and departure time may be needed to support the work, including some nights and weekends. Some travel may be required.


Highlander is located on 186 acres of land in rural East Tennessee (near Knoxville) and is considered a “movement home” by thousands of people from all over the world. We encourage applicants currently living in the area, and we are also open to proposals for remote work on a case-by-case basis. During the COVID-19 pandemic, all staff whose responsibilities include on-site work are expected to adhere to high standards of safety/health protocols.


Step 1: In one PDF document, compile:

● Cover letter
● Resume/CV
● At least two brief writing samples, such as a fundraising appeal(s) and/or donor acknowledgment letter(s), that show evidence of your skills in this field
● Name & contact information for three references

Step 2: Email that PDF document to apply@highlandercenter.org. Write “Development Specialist” in the Subject line. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Optional: In addition to the required information above, you can send other application content that showcases your skills, interests, and experiences. Make sure to include any explanation needed of the content. The content can come in any form of media, which can include but is not limited to:

● A timeline of your work, life, or experiences
● A video
● A Powerpoint or other form of presentation
● A graphic design, collage, or sets of pictures and photographs
● A song, poem, or other writing samples


Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, with a priority application deadline of March 30 for initial consideration. The application process will be open until the position is filled. We hope to fill this position as soon as possible, with an anticipated start date of May 2021. Select applicants will receive an initial invitation to interview with Highlander’s hiring committee. The final candidate(s) will receive an invitation to interview with the entire Highlander staff (virtually).

If you have a question about the position before applying, please send it to apply@highlandercenter.org, and someone from the hiring committee will be in touch as soon as possible.

Highlander is an equal opportunity employer, and we especially encourage applications from Black, brown, and indigenous people, women, LGBTQ+ and gender variant/non-conforming folks, and working-class/cash poor people. Folks directly impacted by the criminal justice system are also encouraged to apply.