Communications Manager

Minnesota Zoo Foundation | Apple Valley, MN
Salary Range: $50,000 - $56,000

How to Apply: Email cover letter, resume, and 3 writing samples to

Applications received by July 27 will receive first consideration. Applications should include writing samples (from 3 different types of communication).

The Organization
The Minnesota Zoo Foundation (Foundation) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose purpose is to help realize the mission of the Minnesota Zoo by raising contributed income from individuals, corporations, and foundations; securing planned gifts; hosting cultivation and fund-raising events; leading and/or participating in Zoo programs and activities; and advocating on behalf of the Zoo.

The Minnesota Zoo opened in 1978 as a state agency with a mission to connect people, animals, and the natural world to save wildlife. Today the Minnesota Zoo is the state’s largest environmental learning center and an international leader in providing high-quality education and conservation programs that bring families in touch with the diverse habitats, cultures, and animals of the natural world. The Zoo Foundation Board of Trustees and the Minnesota Zoo Board of Directors are separate but complementary groups. With different charters but many compatible and overlapping goals, the two Boards work closely together to advance the mission of the Minnesota Zoo.

The Foundation and Minnesota Zoo have recommitted in the past year to a close collaboration in achieving our joint mission, most recently in our COVID-19 Impact Recovery Plan as we rebuild our capacity and build on our donor enthusiasm in the wake of the pandemic. The Foundation’s Priorities for this plan are People First, Data Driven, Sustainable Business Model, and Donor Journey.

Position Description
As a member of Minnesota Zoo Foundation’s Annual Giving team, the Communications Manager advances the philanthropic goals of the Minnesota Zoo Foundation by supporting, executing, and evaluating the strategies for individual annual giving, Foundation communications, and donor stewardship/cultivation.

The Communications Manager is tasked with creating strategic communication and donor stewardship/cultivation content that elevates the awareness and perception of the Minnesota Zoo Foundation within the philanthropic community and heightens donor engagement and retention.

In this position, the Communications Manager guides Minnesota Zoo Foundation communications and works closely with the Foundation’s leadership team and the Minnesota Zoo’s Chief Strategy and Engagement Officer. This position will work closely with the Donor Programs Officer on annual giving messaging, and collaborate cross-departmentally with Minnesota Zoo membership, communications and content/exhibit teams.

Reporting to the Director of Annual Giving, the Communications Manager is a key driver of the Minnesota Zoo Foundation’s brand and representation in the community, strengthening the Foundation brand within the Foundation and Minnesota Zoo organizations, and in the greater philanthropic community.

As the Minnesota Zoo Foundation’s Communications Manager, this role will apply fundraising best practices and guide the creation and implementation of effective, strategic Foundation communications, working both vertically and horizontally across the Minnesota Zoo Foundation and the Minnesota Zoo.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Lead internal and external Minnesota Zoo Foundation communications efforts
  • In collaboration with the Foundation Directors, create, implement and evaluate an annual, comprehensive, strategic Minnesota Zoo Foundation communications plan to raise internal and external awareness of the Minnesota Zoo Foundation’s philanthropic giving priories and initiatives among key donor prospects, stakeholders and influencers, and to amplify and reinforce the Minnesota Zoo Foundation's and Minnesota Zoo’s brands and reputation.
  • Develop Minnesota Zoo Foundation annual giving key messages (i.e. mission based general support – update as needed).
  • Develop all content for Minnesota Zoo Foundation communications designed to acknowledge/thank, cultivate, steward and solicit individual donors, including annual report; quarterly newsletters; print collateral and direct mail; email, website, and social media content; event invitations; presentations; and video communications.
  • Support the Major Gifts and Institutional Giving teams with program communications.
  • Develop compelling cases for support for the Minnesota Zoo Foundation solicitation efforts.
  • As the brand champion, ensure that all Minnesota Zoo Foundation communications are consistent and aligns with Minnesota Zoo Foundation and Minnesota Zoo key messaging and organizational branding.
  • Utilize audience data and analysis to effectively understand and communicate with both existing and new audiences.
  • Work collaboratively across Minnesota Zoo Foundation and Minnesota Zoo teams to align donor and member messaging to build engagement with the audience throughout the donor journey.
  • Understand the needs of different donor audiences and effectively target key messages to specific groups using a variety of mediums.
  • Manage outside vendor relationships as applicable (i.e. designers, printers, etc).
  • Willingness to both create as well as manage communications related work.

Collaborate with other departments throughout the organization
  • Work closely with Minnesota Zoo Communications team to ensure collaboration on planning, strategy and to maximize media and other opportunities.
  • Coordinate with the Minnesota Zoo social media team to expand and grow the Minnesota Zoo Foundation’s social media presence; explore using social media to interact with new donor audiences.
  • Represent the Minnesota Zoo Foundation in team meetings with Minnesota Zoo Communications teams as applicable.
  • Act as the point of contact for Minnesota Zoo Foundation crises communications.
  • Develop relationships with Minnesota Zoo content/program/exhibit teams to learn about their programs and create compelling stories that inspire donors and influencers.
  • Lead regular meetings with key internal stakeholders to determine topics for upcoming donor emails, newsletters, and other pertinent mass communications.
  • Develop and maintain digital reporting dashboard (emails, site performance, social, etc)
  • Additional responsibilities as assigned based on changing needs of the organization.

Work Experience and Qualification Requirements

Core Requirements
  • Excellent writing, editing and verbal communication skills;
  • Demonstrated success leading and implementing strategic fundraising communications for multiple audiences, internal and external, on multiple platforms;
  • Demonstrated comprehension of fundraising and fundraising communications best practices;
  • Experience supporting the development of diverse and inclusive environments;
  • Demonstrated collaborative style; cultural competency; and effective relationship building;
  • Ability to position communications discussion at both strategic and tactical levels;
  • Demonstrated experience working with all constituent groups including staff, board, volunteers, donors and other supporters;
  • Demonstrated success integrating social media into communications strategies;
  • Demonstrated experience working with design and other vendors;
  • Demonstrated success in managing multiple projects concurrently and completing on time;
  • Demonstrated success in working effectively with staff at all levels of the organization;
  • Ability to easily adapt to change;
  • Proficiency with donor and contact management databases.

Preferred Skills and Experience
  • Experience working in a nonprofit organization;
  • Experience with charitable fundraising campaigns and campaign communications;
  • Familiarity with Minnesota philanthropic community;
  • Experience with graphic design and HTML;
  • Experience with Wordpress or other CMS systems;
  • Experience with Tessitura data management system (or comparable CRM).

General Foundation Qualification Requirements
  • Collaborative style and the ability to work with a diverse group of individuals both inside the organization and out in the community. Experience, ability, and commitment to working with individuals and teams that are mixed across lines of difference such as race, gender-identity, sexual orientation, religion, ability, age, class and immigrant status;
  • Ability to clearly represent and present the mission and vision of the Minnesota Zoo;
  • Ability to work independently and proactively while keeping supervisor apprised of issues, opportunities, and progress;
  • Ability to work collaboratively and effectively with colleagues in multiple departments/divisions;
  • Strong organizational skills, including the ability to prioritize and manage multiple deadlines;
  • High degree of integrity, ethical decision making, and commitment to maintaining confidentiality;
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office; Teams, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.
  • Occasional evening and weekend work required and must be capable of planning and managing independent travel.

Required Education and Experience:
  • Professional certifications, coursework, or relevant professional experience;
  • Preference to Bachelor's degree in communications, journalism, business communication or related field.
  • 3-5 years’ experience in strategic communications writing; preferences for focus on comprehensive, fundraising related communication project management.

Physical Demands and Working Conditions:
  • Must be able to perform the essential duties of the position with or without reasonable accommodation;
  • Physical Demands: Required to use a computer and a phone; Frequent use of computer for communications, document editing, web based application use, and other application use.
  • Working Conditions: Moderate noise level, occasional exposure to prevalent weather conditions.
  • Will involve regular presence in the Apple Valley, MN office.

Reports to: Director of Annual Giving
Supervises: n/a
Type of Position: Full-time, exempt
Salary Range: $50,000-56,000 annually
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