Students for Sensible Drug Policy is looking for Development Director
Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Type:  Full-time permanent, exempt
Location:  Washington, DC
Supervisor:  Executive Director

Students for Sensible Drug Policy

SSDP is the only international network of students dedicated to ending the War on Drugs. At its heart, SSDP is a grassroots organization, led by a student-run Board of Directors. We create change by bringing young people together and creating safe spaces for students of all political and ideological stripes to have honest conversations about drugs and drug policy. Founded in 1998, SSDP comprises thousands of members at hundreds of campuses in countries around the globe.

Mission statement

SSDP is an international grassroots network of students who are concerned about the impact drug misuse has on our communities, but who also know that the War on Drugs is failing our generation and our society. SSDP mobilizes and empowers young people to participate in the political process, pushing for sensible policies to achieve a safer and more just future, while fighting back against counterproductive Drug War policies, particularly those that directly harm students and youth.

Hiring and compensation policies

SSDP is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Women or non-binary people, people of color, and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply, particularly those who have been adversely affected by the War on Drugs. We understand that unraveling the harms of the War on Drugs requires us to engage in practices and adopt policies aligned with the values we seek to engender in the world. We leverage our opportunity to create a more just and equitable workplace through our Hiring and Compensation Policies. We do not conduct drug testing of candidates or employees.

Organizational management

SSDP uses Holacracy to define and organize domains, roles, and accountabilities for staff. Work is conducted using the Getting Things Done time management system, and all staff capture their work in Asana, promoting a very high degree of transparency. Responsibility is distributed throughout the entire team and successful team members are driven, accountable self-managers who are open to constructive feedback, enjoy iterative processes, and embrace well-managed risk.

Core cultural values


The position

The Development Director envisions, oversees, and executes SSDP’s ethical fundraising practices and philanthropic relationships to generate and sustain support (approximately $700,000 in FY20) for chapter members’ education, development, and grassroots change-making. They are primarily responsible for developing and executing the annual fundraising strategic plan, collaborating with the  Executive Director to cultivate individual donors, managing the grants portfolio, and supporting and supervising the Development Associate in their work. This position holds fiscal management responsibilities. Additional roles and responsibilities will be assigned based on experience, training, interest, organizational need, and competence.

Primary roles & accountabilities

Fundraising strategist

  • Setting, monitoring, projecting, and meeting or exceeding annual fundraising objectives
  • Writing, tracking, and evolving our fundraising strategy; communicating that strategy effectively to board and staff
  • Staying up to date with fundraising compliance matters and ensuring compliance
  • Identifying fundraising opportunities, conceptualizing how we’ll capitalize on them, and executing implementation
  • Directing planning and implementation of fundraising events including date selection and approval of venue, food, and other variables with staff, alumni, donors, and members

Fundraiser for Sensible Sustainers and Sensible Sponsors ($1,200-10,000 annually)

  • Initiating and cultivating meaningful relationships with donors
  • Closing gifts and coordinating stewardship with staff and network members who fundraise
  • Representing SSDP favorably at events and conferences to cultivate supporters and identify potential supporters
  • Writing compelling fundraising appeals for campaigns, events, and solicitations, including a major year-end giving push

Grant manager

  • Collecting stories, data, and narratives to support grant proposals
  • Writing high-quality grant proposal narratives and supporting documents
  • Managing grants schedules and relationships with existing foundation funders
  • Identifying, researching, and cultivating relationships with potential foundation funders

External communicator

  • Drafting and delivering compelling, values-driven messages for publications, digital assets, media, speaking engagements, and to the SSDP network

Additional roles & accountabilities

Intersectionality: Inclusivity participant

Removing barriers and identifying opportunities for more intentional inclusion; ensuring members feel welcomed, supported, and included in our spaces

Global team: Fundraising committee liaison

Communicating priorities, limitations, capacities, and resources between committees and staff

Movement Building, Education & Advocacy: Fundraising coach

Occasionally coaching & training members, staff, and board members


The successful candidate is likely to be an SSDP alumni member but regardless has demonstrated deep commitment to the principles of drug policy or adjacent reforms, particularly those which are driven by youth or other impacted communities. They are committed to ethical and grassroots fundraising practices and dedicated to continual improvement rooted in experience, best practices, and effectiveness. Strong communication skills are essential and a solid sense of humor helps.

Necessary skills and experience:

  • Proficiency in extensive donor engagement, including solicitation
  • Experience successfully leading or coalescing in marginalized communities including but not limited to people of color, who are neuro-atypical, with disabilities, who identify as LGBTQI, or of course young people
  • A flexible approach to fundraising and talent for arranging work to maximize the development team’s efficacy
  • Exceptional written, verbal, and presentation communication skills; openness in interpersonal communication, conflict resolution, and expression in the workplace
  • Ability to drive a process, stay organized, and hold oneself and team members accountable
  • Experience managing at least one employee or significant mentoring experience
  • The equivalent of 3+ years relevant work experience with demonstrated success managing a fundraising program
  • Impeccable attention to detail

Compensation and benefits

SSDP offers a salary commensurate with experience and similar positions in the local market and ensures a living wage to all full time employees. The salary range for this position is $50,000-$60,000 with team performance bonuses and annual salary adjustments available according to the Hiring and Compensation policies. The benefits package includes health, dental, vision and life insurance, a generous paid time off policy, and an Employee Assistance Program. SSDP offers flexible work scheduling and observes all federal holidays except Columbus Day, instead closing the office the day after Thanksgiving.

Application process

Please submit your application by email to referencing “Development Director” in the subject line. Applications should include your résumé or your thorough LinkedIn profile, work samples, and a cover letter or other form of case for support detailing why you should be SSDP’s next Development Director. Applications will be reviewed immediately and accepted until the position is filled.
Note: Only those candidates under consideration will be contacted.

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