Our Memphis-based nonprofit newsroom is growing. We launched five years ago with just $3,000 donated by the founder’s friends and family. Today, we have more than six national and regional funders and a $1.2 million budget.

The development director will be expected to lead the planning and implementation of MLK50’s revenue strategies to match the organization’s values and ensure our long-term sustainability. We are looking for someone who can dream big and map the steps to get us there. 

They will join our founding editor and publisher and part-time development specialist as the newsroom’s first full-time business-side hire. The development director will work closely with our development specialist, who will lead their onboarding and support in all revenue projects.

They will be expected to work closely with an array of stakeholders, including MLK50’s advisory board, donors, foundation partners and contractors.

This is a full-time, exempt position that will report to the editor and publisher. 

About MLK50

Founded in 2017, MLK50 is an ambitious nonprofit digital newsroom focused on poverty, power and policy in Memphis, Tennessee. Our mission is to report on the intersection of poverty, power and policy, and to bear witness to movement-making and lived experiences. At MLK50, we believe journalism is a tool for liberation and we are here to help people – especially Black people, people of color, poor people and everyone who has been pushed to the margins – get free.

MLK50 and its journalists continue to garner national recognition for work that makes a meaningful, tangible difference in people’s lives, including the Selden Ring Award for investigative reporting. We believe in collaboration: We’ve partnered with national outlets such as ProPublica and The Marshall Project. Our investigative reporting led a hospital system to erase nearly $12 million in medical debt for more than 5,300 patients and helped stop an oil pipeline that would have threatened a low-wealth Black community.  

We are fiscally sponsored by the MuckRock Foundation. Our core funders include the Surdna Foundation, Ford Foundation, Racial Equity in Journalism at Borealis Philanthropy, Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the Inasmuch Foundation and the Emerson Collective. We are also a partner newsroom with Report for America.

We believe in taking good care of MLK50 staff so they can keep up “good trouble” in the spirit of the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis. If you’re looking to work somewhere committed to dismantling the status quo, then we’re looking for you. 

Essential duties

  • Develop and implement a comprehensive, strategic, donor-centered fundraising plan that aligns with MLK50’s revenue goals for foundation grants, major gifts, individual donors, sponsorships and events
  • Develop and maintain donor cultivation and stewardship processes for current donors/funders
  • Be responsible for major gift solicitation and stewardship. This includes supporting the founder, other internal influencers and volunteer staff as needed for donor acknowledgments 
  • Identify new prospects for the major gifts portfolio and opportunities for increased giving by current donors
  • Draft donor correspondence and maintain primary responsibility for developing campaign messages, project plans, talking points and donor materials
  • Work with MLK50’s development specialist to develop and maintain fundraising roles of our advisory board to increase MLK50’s ability to raise funds and loyal supporters
  • Develop and maintain a calendar of grant opportunities, manage the grant application process, and ensure timely and accurate grant reporting, with assistance from the development specialist
  • Plan and manage fundraising and special events and supervise contractors hired to assist with events, if needed
  • Recommend and manage donor software to include data entry, gift processing and acknowledgment, data extraction for reports and remain proficient in the software
  • Monitor all revenue received and provide statistics, analysis, and reports to leadership monthly, quarterly or annually
  • Represent MLK50 publicly at industry events as needed

You’ll be a good fit if you … 

  • Thrive in a startup environment where you have the agency to co-develop best practices and fundraising strategies 
  • Have 5+ years experience writing compelling, concise and polished fundraising content, including grant applications, financial reports, solicitations and donor/funder correspondence 
  • Have 5+ years experience developing, growing and maintaining a range of nonprofit revenue streams
  • Have working knowledge of donor software and other relevant fundraising technology 
  • Have experience setting and meeting annual revenue goals
  • Have experience organizing and managing multiple projects as well as contractors
  • Possess excellent oral and written communication skills


  • Salary starting at $95,000, depending on experience and location
  • $3,000 hiring bonus 
  • At least three weeks paid vacation, 10 paid holidays per year and two “dark” weeks  for a total of 35 paid days off per year 
  • $1,000 annual professional development stipend
  • Unlimited sick time 
  • 100% employer-paid health insurance for the employee, 75% for dependents
  • Company-supplied computer
  • Life insurance, long and short-term disability 
  • $50 monthly tech stipend 
  • 4% employer 401K match 
  • Annual cost of living raise

Location and work travel

  • This is a remote position, with preference for candidates who live in Memphis or are willing to move to Memphis.
  • The development director will be expected to travel to Memphis regularly — as frequently as monthly for at least three days at a time — for relevant donor meetings, in-person fundraisers and strategic planning sessions.

Physical requirements/work environment

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this position. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the functions.

  • While performing the duties of this position, the employee is regularly required to talk or hear.
  • The employee is frequently required to use hands or fingers, handle, or feel objects, tools or controls.
  • The employee is occasionally required to stand, walk, sit, reach with hands and arms, climb or balance, and stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl.
  • The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds.
  • Specific vision abilities required by this position include close vision, distance vision, color vision, peripheral vision, and the ability to adjust focus.
  • The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.

We encourage applications from people 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.

Want to apply for this position? Email a cover letter and a current resume to jobs@mlk50.com This position will remain open until it is filled; applications are being reviewed as they are received.