Director of Development & Communications
Onward Neighborhood House
Location: Chicago, IL
Job Information:


For 129 years, Onward Neighborhood House (Onward House) has been opening doors to improve lives and uplift communities through educational, economic, and support services. Onward House is a community hub where residents of Belmont Cragin – and the surrounding neighborhoods on Chicago’s Northwest Side – can access the programs and services they need to build a better life for themselves and their families.

Onward House provides educational opportunities for all ages including early childhood education, tutoring, and adult English, GED, and computer classes.  The organization offers free resources and services for immigrants, refugees and new arrivals including citizenship classes. They also provide community health services, as well as food and basic supplies through a food pantry, and connections to resources and other partner organizations.  Onward House currently serves approximately 13,000 socioeconomically disadvantaged households, through programs, services, community workshops, and events. The Belmont Cragin community is 80% Hispanic/Latino and primarily Spanish speaking, with 42% of that population born outside of the U.S and 68% not yet citizens.

Onward House envisions a city where every community can achieve economic, social, and educational success.  It’s in this spirit of hope that Onward House has adopted a new, three- year strategic plan that outlines several ambitious new initiatives and significant expansion of programs to meet the increasing demand for its services. The organization seeks to hire a talented Director of Development to join the team and lead the fundraising efforts, growing and diversifying philanthropic revenue to support the expansion. For more information about Onward House please visit: our website


The Director of Development designs and oversees all aspects of development and communications strategies and ensures that they align with the organization’s strategic plan to support the growth and long-term financial sustainability of the organization. As a member of the senior leadership management team, the Director offers insights and expertise regarding critical decisions about long-term planning and growth, especially in connection to how philanthropy can positively influence the financial health of the organization.

In addition to the Director of Development, the Onward House development team includes a full-time development associate, professional grant writer, and an experienced fundraising and capital campaign consultant. Reporting to the Executive Director, the Director of Development will work closely with the Executive Director, the Board of Directors, the Auxiliary Board, and the Director of Programs to identify, develop, and steward relationships and fundraising activities with individuals, corporations, and foundations to implement and evaluate successful development strategies. These strategies will secure $650,000 in philanthropy as part of a $4.5 million overall FY23 budget with the aim of growing the annual philanthropic revenue by 10-20% annually. Additionally, the Director will spearhead a multi-year capital campaign to raise between $2 – $4 million to outfit a newly acquired 31,000 square foot building, which will allow Onward House to expand many of its programs, including envisioning a new grocery store model for the food pantry that also will allow them to serve more families.

This is an externally oriented and revenue-generating role; however, the position carries significant management responsibilities. The incoming Director of Development will need to be a self-starter who knows how to scale the fundraising program, lead and manage the team, leverage the activities of the Executive Director and Board members, and drive his/her/their own revenue results. They will need to effectively network to identify new prospects and cultivate professional relationships with all donors. Working in a highly collaborative environment, the Director also will oversee marketing and communications activities.




    • Develop, oversee, and execute diverse fundraising strategies that build relationships with funders and grow philanthropic revenue.
    • Oversee all development operations, including the hiring, training, and supervision of department staff and consultants.
    • Develop actionable annual and long-term fundraising plans with clear goals to guide the team. Track progress towards quantifiable goals and make mid-course adjustments as necessary.
    • Serve as a valued senior leader who interacts with the Executive Director, Board of Directors, and Auxiliary Board to implement fundraising strategies and offer timely and supportive staffing.
    • Establish and monitor the department’s annual income and expense budget. Prepare financial analysis needed for fundraising and evaluation reports. Communicate regularly to the Board and staff the status of fundraising projects.
    • Serve as an articulate, passionate, and visible spokesperson for Onward House and represent the Executive Director externally in his absence.
    • Stay abreast of major trends or changes in philanthropy.

Annual Operating and Programmatic Fundraising

    • Develop a strong, compelling case for support; create fundraising campaigns and appeals; and oversee logistics for the success of these strategies.
    • Implement and expand upon existing individual giving strategies, including donor prospecting, cultivation, and serving as a lead solicitor and steward of donors.
    • Develop a prospect tracking system to ensure strategic, timely, and personalized interactions with donors and prospects.
    • Lead our existing annual events, including a gala, golf outing, and smaller cultivation events. Develop innovative ways to expand revenue and increase their effectiveness, including leveraging volunteers.

Foundation and Corporate Fundraising

    • Maintain existing and develop new relationships with key foundations and philanthropic corporations and local companies.  Strengthen relationships and participate in site visits.
    • Supervise the grant writer who manages the grants calendar, develops proposal narratives, and prepares reports.
    • Research new prospective foundations and corporate funding sources.
    • Coordinate meetings with program directors to determine program needs and develop compelling proposals.
    • With Executive Director, engage in research and planning to develop new revenue streams and corporate sponsorship opportunities, especially related to our two signature events, the golf outing (raises $25,000) and winter gala (on hold until 2024).

Capital Fundraising

    • In collaboration with the Executive Director, campaign consultant, and Board of Directors provide the staff leadership for the anticipated capital campaign to outfit the new building.
    • Oversee an internal readiness plan to ensure adequate staff, information, tools, and processes are in place to support the campaign.
    • Work with a campaign consultant to execute a campaign plan that will provide a successful roadmap for the expanded fundraising effort.
    • Carry a portfolio of prospects and regularly meet with donors to tell the Onward House story and inspire support for the campaign and solicit gifts.


    • Lead development team meetings, actively participate in other staff and board meetings.
    • Ensure that the donor database is maintained and that acknowledgements are sent in a timely way.
    • Ensure that development and accounting records are reconciled.


    • Oversee the strategy for marketing and communications, working collaboratively with the Executive Director, grant writer, and development associate who will own specific tasks around communication activities.
    • Increase brand visibility and monitor quality, ensuring that messaging to donors, funders, prospects, and the public is consistent across all channels.
    • Supervise the production of professional quality online and print materials including donor collateral, website, e-newsletter, and social media posts.
    • Serve as project manager with project-based contractors (ex. website redesign).
    • Serve as primary copywriter and editor for all external communications.


A self-starter, the Director of Development will be a proficient fundraiser with a minimum 5 years’ fundraising and communications experience in the nonprofit sector. Ideally, the new Director will be Spanish speaking, however, we encourage all candidates with interest in and passion for the Onward House mission to apply.  The experience, skills, and attributes of an ideal candidate include:

  • Proven ability to raise a minimum of $500,000 annually from a diverse base of donors and funders
  • Experience in a multifaceted individual giving program (annual, mid-level, major donors, campaign, and special events would be ideal)
  • Experience with grant writing and prospect research
  • Experience with, and preference for, growing a small development department
  • Previous experience supporting a Board of Directors as fundraisers and working with volunteers
  • Works independently with a team orientation
  • Strong interpersonal skills, with the ability to engage multiple, diverse stakeholders
  • Excellent research, writing, and editing skills
  • Excellent managerial skills, working cross-departmentally and building a sense of team
  • High level of professionalism, attention to detail and excellent organizational skills
  • Outstanding verbal communication, public speaking, and writing skills
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite, donor database systems (Onward House uses Neon), social media platforms and email listservs (ex. Constant Contact)