Traverse City Film Festival: Director of Development

The nonprofit Traverse City Film Festival seeks an experienced, driven Director of Development to help lead the organization into its next chapter.


The Traverse City Film Festival (TCFF) is a charitable, educational, nonprofit organization committed to the idea that “One Great Movie Can Change You: Just Great Movies” and to helping save one of America’s few indigenous art forms — the cinema. In addition to running the State and Bijou by the Bay historic theaters year-round in downtown Traverse City, Michigan, TCFF holds an annual film festival for one week in late July, bringing hundreds of films and filmmakers from around the world to a dozen venues in Northern Michigan for a week of movie magic supported by a team of hundreds of local volunteers. The festival is entering its 15th year.

The festival also presents classic movies free of charge on a giant, inflatable outdoor screen overlooking Grand Traverse Bay in the Open Space at dusk. Free panel discussions with directors, writers, actors, and other members of the film industry are offered daily. And an affordable film school runs throughout the festival, offering twice daily classes for film students and film lovers.

Academy Award-winning director Michael Moore is the Festival’s founder and volunteer programmer, selecting the best of cinema’s present and past.

Job Status: Full Time – some evening and weekend work will be required. During TCFF – held in late July – work hours will be extended to accommodate the influx of people to the area including donors, sponsors, and friends both past, present, and potential. Some travel to prospects will be required, no more than 30% of the time.

Salary: Commensurate with experience, competitive for region, performance-based bonuses available.

Job Description:

TCFF seeks to hire its first-ever full-time Director of Development, a dynamic role with leadership opportunities and the ability to grow not only professionally but also the organization as a whole. Reporting to the executive committee of the Board of Directors, the DoD will be the main architect of a new, multi-tiered development strategy that will help TCFF further its mission both within Traverse City and across the region. You will be responsible for vital revenue streams including individual donors, corporate and foundation support, sponsorships, and grants – simultaneously maintaining historic giving and growing the program overall. You will strategize, execute, and analyze fundraising activities, manage the development budget, and activate the Board around development. As the Director of Development, you will be the organization’s main cheerleader, evangelizer, and outward-facing champion – building affinity across constituiences that lead to real, tangible impact through annual, major, and principal giving.

Key Responsibilities Include:

  • Identify, build, and manage a comprehensive portfolio of individuals, foundations, and organizations poised to make impactful gifts to TCFF – ranging from new acquisition of annual donors to principal giving.
  • Maintain and build relationships that move prospects through the donor pipeline in a timely and thoughtful manner.
  • Develop cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship plans tailored to specific donors and prospects, aiming for 50-75 solicitations annually with a closure rate in the mid-six figures.
  • Conceptualize, prepare, and present funding proposals and other materials necessary to solicit and close gifts, including those that require collaboration with Board of Directors and other key leadership leading to an increase in fundraising dollars 15% in first year.
  • Staff and provide a high level of leadership for the Board of Directors and Founder, including strategically and thoughtfully prioritizing their time around current and prospective donor cultivation.
  • In collaboration with Founder and Board of Directors, draft comprehensive 5-year strategic plan within first year of hire and oversee its initial execution.
  • Thoughtfully assess current giving for growth opportunities across the giving pyramid and shepherding donors from annual to major and major to principal gifts.
  • Develop a strategy around Planned Giving for TCFF including cultivation and stewarding of Planned Giving prospects.
  • With assistance from historic staff, understand current sponsors and identify potential new sponsors regionally and nationally, and collaborate with historic team to cultivate new local film festival sponsorships to deepen partnerships for TCFF and its mission.
  • In collaboration with Director of Sponsorship, identify key individuals within historic sponsorship organizations for individual cultivation and long-term sponsorship opportunities.
  • Develop case statements, talking points, proposals, and briefing materials for all fundraising activities, ensuring fundraising dollar goals and deadlines are met; monitor, analyze, and report on results to internal and external stakeholders including Board of Directors, Founder, and community supporters.
  • Work collaboratively with current TCFF staff to understand programming, identify funding opportunities, and provide touchpoints for donors and prospects.
  • Advise staff, Board of Directors, and Founder on fundraising Best Practices and set development expectations across the organization to ensure common goals, shared efforts, and a collaborative spirit.
  • Seek opportunities for organizational awareness and brand recognition across the Midwest and beyond that will expand TCFF funding opportunities and create prospect pools nationally with a primary focus on Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.
  • Identify opportunities for recurring and annual giving strategies tied to programming priorities and the TCFF-owned theaters.
  • Other duties as assigned or identified.

Key Competencies:

  • Proven metrics and understanding of advancement best practices around giving – gift closures, proposals awarded, donors stewarded.
  • Comfort with prospect identification and research – and the judgement to prioritize donors based on data.
  • An understanding of fundraising data and trends and the ability to apply these to organizational best practices.
  • Demonstrated effective decision-making, while working autonomously and exercising good judgement.
  • Demonstrated ability to utilize resources effectively and efficiently to reach metrics.
  • Proven track record in relationship-building across constituencies – individual, foundational, corporate, governmental, etc.
  • Awareness of estate giving vehicles and their appropriate alignment with donors.
  • Executive presence and confidence to represent TCFF in a variety of forums.
  • Superior communication skills – oral, written, presentation, and listening.
  • Comfort and experience working both as a member of a team as well as independently.
  • Excellent time management skills and the ability to prioritize tasks so that goals are met in a timely, efficient manner.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills – the ability to relate well to individuals at every level of an organization both internally and externally.
  • Exceptional ethics and tactful exercise of judgement and discretion with sensitive and highly confidential information.
  • An exceptional work ethic and track record of personal initiative.
  • Flexibility and adaptability to new programs in an emerging and changing environment.
  • An understanding of AFP (or similar) development ethics and professional conduct.

Additional Requirements:


  • Bachelor’s degree or higher required.
  • Advanced degree preferred.


  • Five to seven years of progressive experience in fundraising or development, arts or higher education preferred. Resumes with experience in alumni relations, donor relations, nonprofit management, research, marketing, communications, or sales will be considered.
  • A minimum of two years managing both people and projects independently required.
  • A minimum of two years of experience working closely and collaboratively with senior leadership, high-level individuals, boards of directors, trustees, or high net-worth prospects required.
  • A minimum of one year of experience developing and monitoring budgets required.
  • Proven track record of accomplishment in solicitations and cultivation of prospective donors (or sales clients) required.

Technical Knowledge or Skills:

  • Proficiency in development tools – prospect database (SalesForce, Raiser’s Edge, Ellucian, etc), prospect research (DonorSearch, WealthEngine, TargetAnalytics, etc), and mass solicitation (ConstantContact, Convio, Marketo, etc).
  • Proficiency in the operating environment of your choice – Microsoft Windows or MacOS with a particular awareness of Excel tools.
  • Web and online tool awareness and proficiency preferred. Social media proficiency a plus.

To Apply: 

Email Cover Letter and Resume/CV to apply(at)