Free Press Indiana seeks a chief development officer to build and lead fundraising for an ambitious nonprofit startup that is on a mission to close information gaps across the state.
With almost $10 million raised so far and growing momentum in support for local news across Indiana, this position presents an opportunity for an experienced and motivated fundraiser to increase our local support base, ultimately building a lasting civic institution serving Indiana with community-centered journalism for decades to come. The chief development officer will hire and lead a development team that works closely with our CEO to develop and cultivate our pipeline of institutional funders and major donors, and work with our director of audience development on small donor campaigns. They will be integral in the development of our strategic messaging to help potential supporters understand our mission, vision, values and impact, so more Hoosiers will feel motivated to join the movement for local news and a stronger democracy.
Our journalism and storytelling builds real connections with the community and our development plan should match it. The successful candidate will be an affable, motivated team player who is a meticulously organized, creative free-thinker. We need someone who is excited by building scalable systems — who knows the solid framework and foundational support needed to accomplish our goals, and who can execute and successfully root a development plan for a startup nonprofit. But they must also recognize that, for us to be successful, they need to encourage a bit of calculated experimentation.
Free Press Indiana is a new nonprofit, statewide network of local newsrooms beginning with Mirror Indy, which serves Indianapolis area residents. Almost $10M has been raised so far from a dozen philanthropies and individuals to meet our mission to strengthen Indiana’s communities and preserve its democracy. The organization fills information gaps with original, community-based non-partisan local reporting free to all to read and works collaboratively with the Indiana news ecosystem until every Hoosier has the information they need.
In 2021, a steering committee of local journalism, community and business leaders worked with the American Journalism Project to conduct a comprehensive statewide research study, working with 27 community ambassadors around Indiana and collecting input through text messaging and online surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Through the study, more than 1,000 Hoosiers across 79 counties said they needed more unbiased, fact-based information about their communities. Out of those findings, a coalition of organizations in and around Indiana, local community leaders, and the American Journalism Project, partnered to launch Free Press Indiana.
The organization, governed by a board that is representative of Indiana’s diverse communities, inclusive of race and ethnicity, gender, and political perspectives, is beginning by launching the robust 20-person newsroom Mirror Indy, facilitating investments in journalism outlets around the state, and fostering collaboration among Indiana outlets to amplify local journalism for all Hoosiers, especially underserved communities. It will have an innovative, community-focused structure, and work directly with residents to report on and elevate voices and stories from their own communities in addition to providing much-needed accountability and service journalism across critical topics. It will also house Indianapolis Documenters, a program that will train and pay residents to participate in news gathering. It will be sustained by a combination of philanthropy, membership and sponsorships.
We’re committed to building an inclusive organization that represents the people and communities we serve. We encourage members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply, including women, people of color, veterans, LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities. Free Press Indiana is dedicated to equal employment opportunities for all applicants and employees. We encourage people of all races, colors, national origins, ancestries, creeds, religions, genders, ages, disabilities, veteran status, sexual orientations, and marital statuses to apply.
We hope to fill this role as soon as possible, though the hiring process can typically take from a few weeks to a few months. We will do our best to communicate with you about timing expectations throughout the process. Candidates who advance to later rounds of this process can expect several interviews, including with a panel of community members. Semifinalists will be asked to complete a written assignment designed to help us understand your thinking and approach to the role, and you will be offered an optional prep session to ask any questions that will help you put your best foot forward in this process. We aim to truly get to know you, to help you fully understand the role you’re applying for.