San Francisco, CA

Development Communications Specialist, Public Advocates

The Organization

About Public Advocates

For nearly 50 years, Public Advocates Inc. has been at the forefront of social justice movements in California as a nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination in areas such as education, transportation equity, climate justice and housing.

Public Advocates’ leadership and staff are committed to creating a work environment and society free of all forms of oppression.  Our workplace honors our individual and collective identities and fosters the ability to work effectively in cross-cultural situations and engage in courageous conversation about power, privilege and identity.  We strive to build a culture of cooperation and mutual support and value flexibility, resilience, optimism, curiosity and a sense of humor.

Position Overview

About the Position

We are seeking a Development Communications Specialist to play an essential role in our organization’s pursuit of social justice by increasing our capacity to raise revenues from foundation and individual donors to support our work.  This position will report to the Director of Development but will work very closely with the Grants Manager as well as the Managing Attorneys on the Education Equity and Metropolitan Equity program teams.

Our small but mighty development team has significant organizational responsibility – our annual operating budget is $4.2m – so we are looking for an effective and responsible communicator who can skillfully “manage up” and motivate team members to accomplish the organization’s foundation and individual donor fundraising goals.

Are you an excellent writer and editor with proven grant writing experience and an interest in leveraging your communication skills to strengthen our outreach to individual donors?  If so, please read on!


  • Grant Writing (approximately 40% of the role):
    • Develop strong understanding of and ability to communicate PA’s programs, strategic plan and funding priorities
    • Under the direction of the Grants Manager and in consultation with Managing Attorneys and other program team members as appropriate:
    • Draft and format LOIs, proposals and reports in Google docs; prepare all materials for timely internal review, editing and approval
    • Submit proposals and reports when requested to foundations
    • Assist Grants Manager in developing program updates to foundation donors
  • Research & Cultivation (approximately 25% of the role):
    • Proactively research foundation prospects and qualify additional grant funding opportunities
    • Work with appropriate program and development team members to coordinate foundation/individual donor meetings, site visits and other events
  • Individual Donor Support (approximately 25% of the role):
    • Develop strong understanding of and ability to communicate PA’s programs, strategic plan and funding priorities to individual donors
    • Work with the Director of Development to develop individual donor campaign outreach strategies
    • Support the cultivation and maintenance of individual donor relationships
    • Develop individual donor marketing, solicitation and stewardship communications and collateral for print and digital media as needed
    • Contribute to the development of digital communications and fundraising programs
    • Proactively research DonorSearch database for outreach opportunities
  • Other (approximately 10% of the role):
    • Database management: includes ensuring that foundation contacts data are kept current, dates for all required actions are scheduled and stewardship notes are entered and supporting production of reports as needed
    • Process Management: includes collaborating with Development Team in managing grants pipeline tracking, including deadlines for submissions and reminders for renewal conversations, and working with various staff to track grant deliverables and gather information necessary for grant submissions
    • Assist with other Development Team fundraising projects as needed


You could be great for this role if:

  • You’re an excellent writer with sharp editing skills who has at least 3-5 years of grant writing experience, specifically with private foundations, and a track record of success to prove it.
  • You have experience developing individual donor messaging campaigns.
  • You’re a self-starter with a high degree of initiative who can take an idea and run with it, while also keeping your team in the loop to ensure they provide feedback at the right points in the process.  This is a small team with significant organizational responsibility – we need drivers, not passengers.
  • You can meet strict deadlines and handle multiple assignments in a fast-paced environment without letting things fall through the cracks.
  • You can both give and receive feedback well, and you can work cooperatively with other staff and team members in the accomplishment of a goal.
  • You know your way around Microsoft Office and Google Suite.
  • You have excellent organizational skills.
  • You have a passion for social justice, and you’d be excited to deploy your particular skills to advancing our mission.

Although not required, a really strong candidate might have some of the following:

  • Experience* in digital communications and demonstrated understanding for effectively leveraging digital tools to spur action; experience growing a user/follower base through social media
  • Strong research skills – knowledge of fundraising information sources a plus
  • Database management experience – DonorPerfect experience a plus
  • A bachelor’s degree

“Experience” does not have to be full-time, paid experience.

Qualities expected of all Public Advocates staff include integrity, high professional standards, commitment to progressive social change and working successfully with diverse colleagues, clients and community partners.  This includes active participation in promoting healthy workplace culture through our organizational diversity and inclusion initiative – an ongoing and intensive process of communication, trust-building and learning about our individual and organizational areas for growth.

Compensation & Work Setting

This is a full-time, exempt position reporting to the Director of Development.  The starting salary range for this role is $57,000-$68,000 depending on experience.  Benefits include full health and dental insurance for employee and eligible family members; life and long-term disability insurance; generous vacation; 403(b) retirement plan; and paid sabbatical after 7 years.  Our San Francisco office is currently located on the Embarcadero near the Ferry Building in San Francisco, convenient to public transportation (we offer access to tax-advantaged commuter benefits).

*At the time of this posting all our staff are working from home through March 31, 2021.  We anticipate a return to the office when it is safe to do so.

How To Apply

Application Instructions

Please email to 1) your resume, 2) a thoughtful cover letter, 3) at least one writing sample that illustrates your grant writing skills and 4) names and contact information for three references, at least two of whom have directly supervised your work.  Your cover letter should:

  • Explain your particular interest in this role and your qualifications to excel in it;
  • Explain your interest in Public Advocates; and
  • Highlight examples of grant proposals (and individual donor messaging, if available) that you wrote or otherwise meaningfully contributed to, along with a description of the role you played in each.

Questions about this position or the application process can be sent to the same email address.

The deadline to apply for this position is 11:59 pm on Friday, October 30, 2020.

Public Advocates reflects the rich diversity of California.  More than half of our employees and two-thirds of the members of our Board are people of color.  Our senior leadership team also reflects our commitment to diversity.  Four of seven members — including our President & CEO — are people of color, and three of seven members are women.

Public Advocates seeks to fill this position with someone who shares our values, including our organizational commitment to diversity.  We encourage all interested individuals to apply — especially Black, Indigenous and People of Color; women; people from low-income backgrounds; people with disabilities; people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender or anyone belonging to any other federal or state protected category.  Read our Diversity Vision Statement here.

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